Café Enchanté is the latest in a growing list of otome game localizations for the Nintendo Switch by Aksys Games, and right off the bat, it had me hook, line, and sinker. Coffee? Check. Monster boys? Check. Stellar development team? Check. With gorgeous art by Yuuya (Cupid Parasite), a scenario by staff who also worked on Code Realize, and a narrative centering around a quaint cafe with other-worldly patrons, I had high hopes for this one right off the bat. Read on for my full, spoiler-free review!
In Café Enchanté, you play as Kotone, a young working woman who is utterly miserable in her office job. When her grandfather passes away and leaves his cafe to her, she’s reminded of all of the wonderful times she spent there as a child and decides to take a leap of faith and quit her job to take on managing the cafe full time. Little does Kotone know that this cafe is extra special because inside it is a portal to other realms! She soon gets caught up in the lives (and, of course, drama) of all of the other-worldly patrons of the cafe, along with the human organization tasked with making sure the order between worlds remains stable.
For this review, instead of following a guide from the beginning, I decided to take my chances with my answers in the common route and see whose route I ended up with first. After an extremely beefy common route which frankly dragged on a bit too long for my tastes, I found myself thrust into the otome game-loving angel Il’s route. Il has one of the more story-heavy routes so guides usually suggest playing his route later on, but I appreciated getting to see more of the interesting sides of the story earlier on to really get me hooked on the game. The other three initial routes don’t have as much of a connection to the overarching narrative, so they tend to feel more like side stories than major contributors to the large plot points explored in the final route.
After Il, I played through Canus and Ignis, followed by Rindo. I like to think of this as lukewarm buns around an extra spicy patty, because Ignis was by far my favorite, and I had anticipated as much going in. Aside from Il, all of the other pre-Misyr routes felt rather short, especially after the super long common route. Nothing felt more lackluster than Canus’ super short route that didn’t feel nearly satisfying enough in terms of the romantic development between Kotone and Canus, which was honestly rather disappointing because I had high expectations for a headless horseman route! Still, I really enjoyed how different each route was in terms of the characters’ worlds and individual backstories, though “I’m a horrible monster so we can never be together” is a recurring theme in more than one route.
Rindo, who is voiced by Junichi Suwabe and is both the oldest man and the most “boring” of the lineup due to the fact that he’s just a regular human dude, was a sleeper hit for me. His route was surpisingly fun and had a lot of twists and turns I wasn’t expecting! After Ignis, he might actually be my favorite.
Once you get the good end for each of the other characters, you’ll unlock the ability to play Misyr’s route. Though the other routes don’t have much crossover in terms of story, elements of each are referenced in Misyr’s route, and major plot points are revealed over the course of it, making it the clear true route in terms of romance and narrative development. Without spoiling anything, I was very interested to see more of Misyr from the beginning due to his fun and sassy personality, but I didn’t end up being very satisfied with how the story developed in his route. In particular, the final after-credits scene left me with more of a grimace than a smile.
Plot points aside, the world of Café Enchanté was one I very much enjoyed being in. All of the supporting characters were a lot of fun, and despite feeling that the common route dragged on a bit, all of the individual character routes helped me grow to appreciate the characters and their interactions with one another. I’d definitely like to see a fan disc that fleshes out some more of the side characters, but I feel like I shouldn’t get my hopes up, especially since this game doesn’t seem to get nearly the same fanfare as other Nintendo Switch otome games in Japan…
One thing I do need to discuss that marred the experience of playing Café Enchanté in English was the rather patchy localization. For almost every route (the one notable exception being, oddly, Rindo’s), the text was often riddled with a range of errors, such as one character named Kororo being referred to as Kokoro multiple times and inconsistently gendered. I wish the LQA had caught more of these hiccups, as these types of issues really take you out of the experience when playing a text-heavy game like an otome game.
Even so, I had a great time with Café Enchanté and recommend it to anyone who likes otome games and enjoys fantasy themes. If you like coffee and/or super quaint cafes, all the better. Café Enchanté has the perfect mix of fluff and angst, and plenty of monster boys to go around!
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