Sweetest Monster
Gameplay 9
Graphics 9
Sound 8

Sweetest Monster is the latest release from ebi-hime, which means interesting characters and memorable situations. It is defintely a much darker title than what you might think, but one that kept us hooked right to the very end. At only about 40,000 words it is slightly shorter than the average visual novel, but the story is good and the price very reasonable. Anyone looking for something with a bit more substance than the typical lighthearted cat-girl visual novels should definitely give this kinetic novel a try.

Gameplay: Beautifully written and definitely very memorable despite the lack of choices or story branches.

Graphics: The game only features a limited amount of character sprites and backgrounds, but they are all great.

Sound: There is no voice acting, but the background music and sound effects are of a very high standard

Summary 8.7 Outstanding
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Sweetest Monster

Developer: ebi-hime | Publisher: Sekai Project | Release Date: 2017 | Genre: Adventure / Casual / Indie | Website: n/a | Purchase: Steam

There is definitely a trend amongst visual novel developers to create feel-good tales that are filled with fan-service and fluff. There is nothing wrong with this, of course, as sometimes it is nice to just escape into worlds with adorable cat girls and lighthearted situations. However, anyone that goes into Sweetest Monster, a kinetic visual novel from ebi-hime, expecting something like the Nekopara or Sakura series is in for a bit of a shock. Yes, this is a title that contains fanservice, sexual content and even some outright nudity, but each instance actually serves a purpose and are not merely tacked on in a cynical effort to generate more sales.

The protagonist of Sweetest Monster is Robin Hawkins, a middle aged music teacher who is going through a very rough patch. Not only is he drifting further apart from his wife, Sally, but also his daughter Melody. After yet another fight with Sally, Robin storms off into the night to clear his head and this is where his world is turned upside down. During his stroll he encounters a beautiful girl named Bell, who has some mysterious ties to his past. Even stranger, Bell is not an ordinary human, but instead a catgirl. Robin isn’t sure what is real and what is a dream after crossing paths with Bell, but one thing is for sure, she has her sights set on him and will stop at nothing to be at his side.

Of course, there is a lot more to the tale, which is about 40,000 words in length, but to say anything more would be criminal. The story might be a little on the short side, but it is beautifully written, very gripping and features some jaw dropping revelations. So, while Sweetest Monster features a cute catgirl and has elements of a love story, it also has some very creepy undertones that will leave you on edge during even the most innocent scenes. Kudos to the writer for managing to blend these different genres into a story that isn’t just cohesive, but also very engaging. Since this is a kinetic novel, there are no choices, branching stories or alternate endings, but adding any of these would have diluted the powerful story.

Sweetest Monster uses the Ren’py engine and while it was obviously created with a very limited budget, it certainly doesn’t feel like a low budget title. The visuals look beautiful thanks to some great character sprites and interesting backgrounds. The color palette used for the different scenes also add a lot to the mood of the game and the CGs look great, despite there only being about eleven of them scattered throughout the game. The fact that the story is contained to only a handful of locations doesn’t limit it in any way and the author has such a way with words that she is able to paint quite a vivid picture of the events taking place even while the actual visuals are largely static.

The game doesn’t feature any voice acting, but personally, we find this preferable to poor voice acting that could easily have ruined the story and atmosphere. There isn’t a ton of musical tracks either, but the eight tunes you’ll hear in the background are all really good and definitely contribute to the unique feel of the game. Likewise, the sound effects are really good and some of the clips, such as the wind and rain are downright shiver inducing when playing with a good pair of headphones.

Although Sweetest Monster doesn’t have a lot of replay value, you do unlock some nice extras after completing the game. These include an art gallery for viewing the CGs, music box for listening to the background tracks and “Author’s Notes”, which offer some great insights about the story and characters. The game also features three achievements, which can all be netted by simply finishing the story, along with some nice trading cards. A word of caution when crafting badges though, as one of the backgrounds is actually a bit of a spoiler, so make sure you complete the game first.

At the end of the day, Sweetest Monster is certainly not the longest or most lavish kinetic novel that we have ever played, but there is no doubt that its story will be one we won’t soon forget. It is probably not going to be a title for everyone and some of the content definitely pushes a few boundaries, but if you are looking for something that really stands out in this crowded genre then this comes highly recommended. Just do yourself a favor and avoid any spoilers before playing or it won’t have the same impact.

System Requirements

  • OS: Win XP+
  • Processor: 1.2 GHz Pentium 4
  • Memory: 512 MB RAM
  • Graphics: DirectX® 9 Compatible Graphics Card
  • DirectX: Version 9.0
  • Storage: 300 MB available space
  • Sound Card: DirectSound-compatible sound card
  • OS: MacOS
  • Processor: Any 64 bit processor
  • Memory: 512 MB RAM
  • Graphics: OpenGL compatible card
  • Storage: 300 MB available space
  • Sound Card: Any audio output
  • OS: x86/x86_64
  • Processor: 1.2 GHz Pentium 4
  • Memory: 512 MB RAM
  • Graphics: OpenGL compatible card
  • Storage: 300 MB available space

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