Elisa The Innkeeper - A New Customer Arrives! is a visual novel that is available on Nutaku. Reprising the role of Alphonse, you attempt to seduce the maids of Elisa’s inn. Inspired by the story La Locandiera (The Mistress of the Inn), the change in scenery and setting proved to be a breath of fresh compared to your typical VN. What it makes for with good character writing, lacks in story and setting.
As far as quality of life features are concerned, this is slightly lacklustre in that regard. Without the ability to change the text’s speed, it become a test of patience reading. Constantly tapping the spacebar to make the text appear, it just emphasised the sluggish UI. It lacks the immediate response some might come to expect from VNs as a whole. With the main bug being that the game’s skip function will bypass everything even if changing it to seen text only. The log is very barebones, and was the main means to counteract the constant missed dialogue, with the overall UI being basic in that regard. Whilst not a negative by any means, it undermines the visual quality of the game.
Lengthwise this isn’t long a long VN either. There’s some replayability with scenes changing their responses, but the main story lacks some sense of nuance. Falling short in scenes and pacing, it struggles to maintain a consistency and doesn’t flow due to the player’s choice. This ultimately leads to scenes being missed out entirely, with characters acknowledging them even if they didn’t technically happen. Although, this also had a slightly nasty bug in which dialogue was looping on itself in certain scenes. Unfortunately, resetting the game’s data didn’t fix this issue, which meant some scenes weren’t playing properly.
The character artwork and CG scenes are incredible to look at, which is unfortunate considering what downsides this VN has. Having a slight anime style to its characters, they still feel rather Western at heart with their stylisation. On top of this, each of the characters look visually stunning. When paired with their character traits, it helps give them a form of life at an ethereal state. A bit over the top, but when the artist sells the characters - in the CGs especially. It elevates what the writing lacks, creating emotions that it often struggles to convey. Each of the characters feel grounded to a certain extent, with the background writing in the Extras giving them the needed attention the main story just doesn’t do.
Unfortunately, the same can’t be said for the main character. It’s easy to enjoy a good villain or even a bad one. But when the villain is bad in the sense that they’re absolute self centred, megalomaniacal jerks, lacking a sense of creativity, or even methodology. The narrative is turned from a leisurely coach journey, to a nightmare of a stuffy road trip. Whilst many VNs struggle to maintain a consistent narrative when it comes to evolving characters based on the player’s choice, there are usually elements within the game that help alleviate these pitfalls. Whether or not the dialogue glitching out exasperated this as an issue. Alphonse despite the options given, regardless of nice or nasty actions, never make him someone to root for. A direct contrast from the maids, who you would want to root for and treat them right, makes Alphonse even worse than a wolf in sheep’s clothing. Actively treating them negatively leads to the characters feeling sad and broken, in effect showing Alphonse's true intentions but this leads to worse responses from the characters. Boiling down to a balancing game of ripping a plaster away slowly or in an instant, either one causing pain in their respective ways.
Whilst Alphonse does get some “comeuppance” (being left with a hardon), it fails to deliver the typical “Bad Ends” you’d come to expect from VN Dead Ends. It’s rather devoiding when the main cast is likable with how he treats them. This is more poignant after several playthroughs which hammers in his terribleness and his misforgivings. Although the hentai scenes are really well drawn with the quality of it being in line with the other fantastic CGs, it’s a shame the overall package doesn’t quite deliver. Either as a well executed VN with Hentai, or even as a Hentai VN. The less that’s said about the price, the better as an addendum.
Elisa The Innkeeper - A New Customer Arrives! (Reviewed on PC)
Game is enjoyable, outweighing the issues there may be.
Elisa The Innkeeper - A New Customer Arrives! Is a VN with solid character writing making the slightly lacklustre story from a C- VN to a B- or C+ grade VN. Requires a bit more polish with the UI and fixing that annoying dialogue bug, to earn a higher score. If eliminated, then maybe the price could be swallowed. But without playing the Steam version to know the game’s overall context, this is something for a sale at time of reviewing.