Elisa: The Innkeeper is a visual novel that features branching narrative, with the take being you control all of the character responses that leads to varying endings. As a VN that doesn’t feature your typical highschool romance with some weird dramedy, it’s as good as its sequel. Although this is a similar retread from Elisa: The Innkeeper - A New Customer Arrives! (technically it’s the otherway round since this came first but was reviewed after, weird addendum over).
Beginning with the prince, your first option is whether or not he should get out of bed or sleep in. Which is a very weird to have as your opening branching narrative, but this game does a surprisingly decent attempt at creating a branching narrative. Whilst certain moments feel rather cumbersome, it manages to stick the landing - even if it stumbles a little in the process. The art has slight variation of quality. Certain moments lean more towards the Anime aesthetic, which arguably ruins the overall flow and pace of a scene to create funnier situations. Whilst the same could be said the other way round, with the Western stylisation being more prominent in its dramatics. Which is more successful in blending into the moment, as opposed to being a more “one and done situation” that some of the more comedic moments are, at the detriment of the overall quality and pacing. A caveat to this is the more cute scenes, one involving a stray cat that is throw away in nature but helped to serve and run with Elisa’s characterisation as a fun, mischievous, and deviant(?) character.
Okay the weird punctuation is deliberate, this is one of the ways that Elisa: The Innkeeper maintains a consistent evolving narrative. With each decision you make within the story, it’ll affect how each character responds and its future consequences. To not make comparisons with Elisa: The Innkeeper - A New Customer Arrives! would not be apt for a review of this version. The content difference and how they are delivered are somewhat worlds apart. The character writing is strong between the two titles but when compared. This version lacks the consistency and impact of its characters as the other version does. But this has much better story writing, with the pacing being slightly better.
Describing the characters would be spoilery in nature, but much like its other version. Elisa is still as charming and ethereal as her other portrayal (minus the eroge). Other characters are in this version, but again, spoilers. The only caveat in the characters as a whole, would be the time given to develop them being either too short or long, which is a complaint derived from the comedic areas lacking the impact they should have. The “side quests” are very nice asides to the main story, alluding to other areas of the story and the character's background. It does feature somewhat lengthy backstory information, for those that enjoy background reading, it’s a nice addition - as it is in its other version.
But, as complaints were raised in the Nutaku version. The some can be applied to this version, it’s game options are lacking. Autoplay can’t be adjusted, skip function worked kind of better (I accidentally clicked it and it skipped a bunch of text, although it was set to read only text and it didn’t skip a later section of the game), log worked as intended (which fixed my previous misclick, but it doesn’t automatically load at the bottom as a gripe), and its Extra section is better slightly. A weird thing that happened during the review process was that the saves between the Nutaku and Steam version conflicted, which might have caused some of the problems experienced. Whilst it was relatively easy to rectify, it should be worth noting if you do purchase both versions. One thing that wasn’t mentioned in the review of the other versions but is worth mentioning for the two is the ability to change the font and text colour. A really nice feature that should’ve been mentioned.
Post Review Note
Post publishing this review, the kind folks at Neoclassic Games have updated the game to feature the adjustable text option which is a great quality of life improvement. As well as several other feature improvements in patch 1.7 which can be read in their Steam post (link).
Elisa: the Innkeeper (Reviewed on Windows)
This game is great, with minimal or no negatives.
A much better and well rounded version in comparison to A New Customer Arrives! but this serves to rectify the complaints and deliver in some sections as opposed to other. Overall, an easy recommendation for someone wanting to dabble into VNs. One of the best VNs I read this year? Maybe, considering I’m planning on reviewing 18+ more. We’ll see. A review of the lewd may follow.