Whilst browsing Steam’s ever-growing visual novel library a new release titled Love at First Sight caught my eye (no pun intended.) Published by the folks at Sekai Project, this high school romance chronicles the blossoming relationship between a shy girl named Sachi Usui and a transfer student called Mamarou. What is so distinguishing about this generic plot I hear you ask? Well, if the game’s picture hasn’t given it away already, Sachi happens to be a Cyclops. The novel’s leading lady was born with a single giant eye and no nose… although that isn’t too odd, as anime characters tend to be lacking in the schnoz department. Love between a human and a monster girl sounds weird to me, but then again what do I know? Monster Musume sells by the bucket load so clearly there is a market out there for geeks who lust after mythological creatures.
Our unorthodox tale of love begins with Mamarou bumping into a tearful Sachi. The ocular challenged cutie is feeling low, as a nasty classmate has been tormenting her. Although taken aback by her distinct appearance, Mamarou cannot get Sachi out of his head after their inaugural encounter. Wanting to get to know her better Mamarou begins to meet up with Sachi during recess. After learning that Sachi is an avid reader he begins to woo her with a stockpile of manga before eventually asking her out to a movie. Ah, so that’s what I have been doing wrong. I keep wasting money on flowers and chocolates. Next time I try to court a beauty I will shower her with comics instead.
Love at First Sight’s supporting cast, which you can count on one hand, includes Mamarou’s two best friends. Akemi is a bubbly lass blessed with a motor mouth and is the polar opposite of Tomonori who is much more reserved and sombre. Although likable, Mamarou’s chums are fairly one-dimensional and no I’m not talking about the way they are drawn. The same applies to Rui – the bully who picks on Sachi. Always seen with a scowl on her face, she is presented as a stereotypical troublemaker who preys on the meek. Perhaps the most fleshed out character from the bunch is Sachi’s aunt. She is initially presented as a cold-hearted foster parent, but the novel’s later chapters reveal that her relationship with Sachi is a bit more complex than that.
My rating for Love at First Sight is three stars. It’s a sweet short story brought to life by some striking artwork. Creepy Cute is the artist responsible for creating the novel and it must be said that he lives up to his moniker. Although the graphics have an eerie quality to them he still manages to make the scar covered Sachi look adorable. Even though the story is sold on starring a mono-eyed girl the narrative doesn’t dwell too deeply on Sachi’s looks and reads like a standard teen romance. The only thing weird about the plot is Sachi’s fondness for having her wounds caressed. Is this a clever way of exploring intimacy without resorting to potentially controversial sex scenes? Nah. In the extras section the author openly admits to having a scar fetish.
I would award Love at First Sight a higher score if it weren’t for its steep asking price. The whole thing can be read in just two hours, which isn’t great given that the download costs £7.00. A bit more content would have been nice, especially as Sachi’s final confrontation with Rui feels a tad rushed. Due to time constraints (the whole project was made in a couple of weeks to meet a convention deadline) there are also no branching paths to explore, which hurt the title’s replay value. Those quibbles aside, I still give Love at First Sight a thumbs up. Sachi’s plight should resonate with any readers who suffer from shyness, victims of bullying or anyone who has self-esteem issues pertaining to their physical appearance. Don’t let the cost put you off sampling this treat. If money is an issue “eye” recommend waiting for an inevitable Steam discount.