Visual novel season has begun once again! By “visual novel season” I mean “the entire year” because these things never stop coming out and I never stop writing about them. Today’s visual novel du jour is Strawberry Vinegar, the latest from Ebi-hime, author of depression story Asphyxia and stabbing story The Way We ALL GO.
The game sweetens up the formula somewhat, only with most of the stabbing being performed on delicious meals.
Strawberry Vinegar stars Rie, an antisocial girl who ends up meeting the demon Licia. Over the course of spending a week with Rie’s family, Licia learns all about what it means to be human…as well as about human food. Especially the food part. This is a full-fledged visual novel rather than a kinetic novel, so there are choices to be made, (completely innocent) romance might bloom and so on, but the real focus here is on the food.
See, there are plenty of visual novels out there that could be considered porn. Strawberry Vinegar, meanwhile, could be considered food porn. At multiple times during the plot, the game gushes about some delicious meal or another, paired with a loving image of the grub in question. It’s kind of endearing, really, and unlike the Sakura series of games the cheesecake here is actual cheesecake. Players who find themselves getting tired of the usual fanservice might find some reprieve in Strawberry Vinegar’s foodservice.
As for the rest of the game, it’s surprisingly light coming from the writer of Asphyxia and The Way We ALL GO. There are multiple endings, including a death option here and there, but generally everything is fluffy and adorable. And hunger-inducing. Mostly hunger-inducing, really. At around 4-5 hours the game’s length is typical for visual novels, though as mentioned there are multiple endings so you can come back if you’re still hungry for more.
The game’s writing and art are both solid examples of what you’d expect from ebi-Hime. There’s a typo here and there, but nothing too distracting. The usual pastel colors and ethereal art style are on show here and they’re paired with some gorgeous food art. The game’s easily navigated and enjoyed, though special mention needs to be made of the font and background – the light-on-light style might make the text a little difficult to read.
Connoisseurs of visual novels and the Food Network are going to enjoy Strawberry Vinegar most. I never thought I’d say that, but here we are. Ebi-hime continues to be one of the rising stars of Steam’s visual novel scene, such as it is, and their games continue to be worth a look for fans of the genre. It’s nice to see this author taking on a topic that’s a little less dreary for a change!