Love at First Sight is a visual novel created by first time developer Creepy Cute, which actually only consists of one person know as Ray-kbys. He has stated that his reason for deciding to make Love at First Sight a visual novel instead of a doujinshi was due to the fact that it is much harder to get a doujinshi published in the US than in Japan (which he has knowledge of due to being born in Japan but living in America). However he did end up realizing that creating a game is not an easy task and even saying that he may have bit off a bit more than he could chew (though that isn’t a direct quote mind you).
Love at First Sight is made to feature an original character Ray created through Deviantart submissions before he ever considered the idea of the game. Said character was a shy girl named Sachi Usui who has only one eye and lot of scars (which he admits in the game’s extra features was because he had a fetish for both Cyclops and scars). The story is not told from her perspective however. It is instead told from the point of view of Mamoru, a boy who falls for her moe charm.
Pretty much everything about Sachi’s character is clearly an attempt to make her endearing. She is very shy and anxious, she is ignored and/or bullied by other students for having only one eye, and she is just downright cute. While it is plainly obvious how much Ray wanted you to find Sachi endearing, it is still done in a very effective manner and she never comes across as annoying. The storyline details Mamoru and Sachi’s relationship starting when Mamoru discovers that Sachi is alone. Mamoru turns out to be the first person to have paid attention to her and cared about her so she gets attached to him, while Mamoru finds her cute and just wants to protect her and make sure she’s happy.
A majority of the story is basically seeing these two interact and connect with each other. The romance definitely feels realistic, and is a lot like what someone’s first romance would be like. At the same time, however, that also means it can come across as shallow as if they are rushing into things. As such, it isn’t a profound deep romance, but it is still a pleasant and fun one. However, if one is expecting the story to be grand or exciting then this is not the game for you.
Other subjects of the story include Sachi being introduced to Mamoru’s friends Tomo and Akemi, her relationship with her aunt, and her bully Rui Sadokawa. The greatest strength in Love at First Sight’s writing is in its character interactions. Mamoru’s two friends, Akemi and Tomo for instance, may seem like the stereotypical deadpan snarker and genki girl. However both of them keep said traits at a reasonable level and none of them come across as irritating. Furthermore the way they interact feels real and not forced. Sachi’s aunt Ayumi is also an interesting character in terms of her characterization and backstory, but I can’t go over it due to it being a spoiler.
Unfortunately these praises cannot be applied to the bully, Rui. Her only motivation for picking on Sachi that is given is “because she’s weak and doesn’t stand up for herself.” Yes these people are typically who bullies target, but the problem is that Rui states that Sachi being weak is why she hates her. She isn’t bullying Sachi for her enjoyment; it is because she literally hates sachi for being bullied. To be completely honest, that is one of the stupidest motivations for a villain I have ever heard.
However that is not the biggest flaw with Love at First Sight’s story. The key problem is that, despite the fact that it is a major aspect of Sachi’s backstory AND a major selling point of the game, there is never any explanation given for why Sachi has only one eye. The game does not even try to explain it. The game does not even acknowledge the fact that such a thing is impossible when the rest of the game is grounded in reality. This entire aspect of her character could have been written out of the plot entirely and nothing would have changed. Not explaining why she has her eye the way it is would be the equivalent of a murder mystery book not revealing who the killer is.
In terms of the game’s presentational values, the art style and illustrations are excellent. There is a unique edge to this style that separates it from other visual novels and each character and setting give off a different feeling. The only problem is that it often feels like there are not enough of them. There is no voice acting either but that is not something I view as a problem. The music was rather unmemorable and bland but it was not necessary bad. One last complaint is that there is no option to rewind or fast forwards through text. Thankfully one can still save at any point in the game and there are plenty of save files.
Love at First Sight was a game I enjoyed. I found it especially enjoyable since I completed it on Valentine’s Day as an aside. It may not be an epic, sweeping, and passionate romance that comes up whenever someone thinks f the greatest love stories. However it does remind me a lot of my own first romance, and fittingly enough its creation process resembles a first love in a lot of ways.
Both involve someone thinking something that one thinks should be easy, but ends up being a lot harder to manage than one expects. There ends up being a lot more obstacles and one feels that they bit off more than they can chew. In the end though, despite the result not turning out as great as one hopes, it still turns out as an important growing experience and still something to look back on fondly.
I myself am certainly looking forward to future releases from Ray and his company creepy cute since they have proven to show some great ability here. As for the game, considering that it is only two hours long but costs ten dollars full price, that might not be enough value for most people. Also there is the fact that a straight up cute romance is not going to appeal to everyone. There isn’t really any symbolism or deeper meanings involved so it won’t have much appeal unless you are looking for this type of cute game.
However one cannot deny that there is still plenty to like about Love at First Sight. Its characters were likable and there is a definite feel good nature to this story. As such, I can safely recommend keeping an eye out for this one during sales, (no pun intended) and even at full price it could be a fair price if this is what one is looking for.
This review was originally posted to GameFAQs on February 25th of 2016 and has since been re-edit with enhanced presentation.
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