Let’s be frank. A lot of otome dating sim visual novels’ plots are completely out there. They’re pure flights of fancy. But of all the ones I’ve played, and consider that includes every localized Otomate game so far, Cupid Parasite is the one that best embraces the absurdity of the situation. It gets absolutely bonkers, which makes it all the more amusing and appealing.
So right away, Cupid Parasite barges in with big guns. Our heroine is Cupid, goddess of love. Her adopted father, Ares, is upset because people aren’t getting together and getting married. He wants her to work harder. Which drives her to her Aunt Minerva, a huge fan of humans who introduces her to movies and social media. Cupid learns about Cupid Corp, a matchmaking company that also handles weddings. Cupid tells her dad humans can handle love better than gods. He disagrees. Minerva helps Cupid sneak down to Earth, and she goes to college and gets a job with Cupid Corp as their top matchmaker/Bridal Advisor.
Things get even crazier from there. Cupid is so good at her job that the company president Shelby Snail assigns her the Parasite 5. They’re the five bachelors nobody can find partners for. Why? In some way, they’re all sort of not great people. It falls to her to help her college friend Gill, actor Raul, designer Ryuki, playboy pillow saleman Allan, and Monsieur Esse (Shelby) find partners. Which in turn leads to a reality TV show, opportunities for Cupid to be the one they fall in love with, and various shenanigans.
Which means Cupid Parasite presents players with a challenge. Why would anyone like these guys? Okay, they are very handsome (well-drawn) men. But this Switch otome game begins by putting all of their faults on display. We’ll groan along with Shelby Snail each time Cupid eviscerates him with her words. We’ll roll our eyes at Ryuki’s demands. We’ll be glad we didn’t actually have to get away from Raul’s tirades. While all that might be off-putting, I feel it also makes character development more satisfying. Because the love interests do grow and become more attractive and identifiable.
However in some routes, there are editorial issues. That is, the Raul and Ryuki routes have parts that aren’t edited. Spoilers aside, it is noticeable. The patch to rectify this still isn’t out. (Siliconera even held its review a month, since original timeline promised a fix by the end of November 2021.) Which is quite unfortunate. These are the sorts of errors and issues that should never make it into a retail release. As much as I enjoyed the routes that are handled well, it breaks immersion in Raul and Ryuki’s stories.
As yet another Otomate Switch otome visual novel, the basic foundation is the same. There’s a common route, which involves all the guys, and that then branches out to the solo stories. Quick save and load options are here. You can review past text. Skip functionality is available. There’s a love gauge page and flowchart to help you check your progress, look at your path, and even head back to scenes for choices. The UI is, like all elements of the game, extremely vibrant and in-your-face. It’s bright, poppy, and completely suits the extremes this game hits. At times it might even be a bit too much, but Cupid Parasite itself is a lot, so it works. For the most part, you are playing from Cupid’s perspective. Though at some moments, you will see things from the guys’ perspectives as well.
The one unique element is, early on, “Cupid” will take a test Cupid Corp is developing. It’s a test to help pair people up. The responses to the quiz suggest which bachelor might best line up with your values. It doesn’t send you on a specific route, mind you. For example, during my first run my responses suggested Gill, but the first route I went through ended up being Shelby’s.
While Cupid Parasite is a lot of fun and can be ridiculous in good ways, it can often get a bit too out there and extreme. For example, in the common route, Otomate seemed to be trying too hard to make certain people unlikable. Especially once the reality show portion begins. I get that it’s a send-up of actual reality shows, but it went a bit too overboard for me. I cringed my way through an entire scene. Partially because it tried too hard for the sake of fanservice. But namely because I couldn’t shake the thought that every character seemed somewhat out of character. Even Allan, as obnoxious as his views could end up being, seemed dialed up to 11. But people going in should know that there are a lot of “out of left field” elements here. Which might detract from the overall experience or make it difficult to connect with characters in certain stories for some people. However, I will say going in that the parasite I thought I’d like the least, I felt had the best story.
But through it all, Cupid herself is a shining beacon. She’s a fantastic heroine. While she is a bit naive about some matters, she’s got a great personality. She’s passionate about her work. Good at it, too. She genuinely cares about these parasites, even before we start seeing their better qualities. When people act up or get crazy, she can be a voice of reason. Her best friend and co-worker at Cupid Corp Claris also shares the same sort of powerful personality traits. Which makes her equally delightful.
Otomate knows how nonsensical the concept for Cupid Parasite is, rolls with it, and I am here for it. It is absolutely a lot. But it’s so different that it’s refreshing. Especially since Cupid is a great heroine. That does mean that, for some, it’s so ridiculous that it might be distracting. Especially since part of the game is dedicated to making the men seem incredibly weird. But the real heartache comes from the fact that it launched in such a state. Especially since, a month later, it is still like this. I enjoyed it, but I strongly recommend waiting for the patch.
Cupid Parasite will come to the Nintendo Switch on November 2, 2021 in North America. Europe will get it on November 5, 2021.