Does anyone remember sitting in front of a computer screen on a hot summer day browsing newgrounds.com? If you were anything like me, you had one or two fans pointed at the desk while browsing anime adventure games. Those games had some “spicy” content–and more often than not, it took quite a bit of grinding to get there, for questionable reward (in more than one sense!). Love on Leave reminds me of those times.
Fast-forward a decade and some change, Orgesta Inc alongside qureate has captured those sweet summer memories and developed their own premium, original version of those classic anime adventure games. Yet, as always, the question must be asked–is the price of admission worth the fun of this ride?
A Two-Week Escape
As you may have picked up from the title of the game, Akito, the player character, is on vacation. Just before the start of the game, he quits his job at an explotative company and decides on spending the next two weeks in the small Japanese village he was born in, Tsukimisawa. He spends his time on the bus thinking about his childhood friends, three girls he hasn’t had contact with in over 10 years.
As he gets off the bus, players see the portrait of a young woman, who notices something and immediately goes off-screen. After getting off the bus, Akito walks to the inn he was planning on staying at, only to be greeted by a sign saying it’s closed for renovations, leaving him with no place to stay. After all, in this village, that’s the only hotel around!
In this grand dilemma that our main character has no doubt brought upon himself, he is granted some extremely convenient protagonist luck. The mysterious portraited girl earlier? It happens to be Hibiki, the cheeky youngest sister of his trio of childhood friends. Akito, Hibiki, and the two other sisters chat for a bit, leading to Kanami, the eldest sister, inviting Akito to stay at their house instead (a certified onee-san move). After some mild protesting from the tsundere middle sister, Amane, it’s decided that he will stay with the Amakusas at their house–Let the hijinks commence.
Side Scrolling Adventure
The hijinks are simple: walk around town, do some minigames, collect some items, and get closer and closer to the sister of your choice. The game has an old-school adventure game aesthetic, there’s no quick travel–to get to the furthest points of the map, you’ll have to go left-to-right or right-to-left across a number of screens. And you’ll want to, in order to access the variety of minigames Love on Leave has to offer.
Coincidentally, in order to get closer to each of the sisters, players will need to focus on specific activities. Kanami, the eldest, can be won over by planting, watering, and harvesting produce from the family farm. You can get closer to Hibiki by playing any of the games available at the local store and arcade. Amane can be won over by fishing, repeatedly.
The game has a collection portion to it as well, with players able to turn in produce, fish, and other items that can be picked up across the map to get pocket change and unlock new fishing areas, among other features. Most actions done in-game do pass time–you can only fish, game, and farm so much. So, in order to collect everything in the game, there is a bit of RNG involved, but spend your time wisely and pay attention to the dialogue and it won’t be too strenuous.
For CG hunting, the game does have a NG+ mode with some cheat items that make leveling the heroines’ affection up much easier. Just be prepared to skip time hour-by-hour, as there’s no clock feature to skip hours or days.
I must start off by saying that I find the game’s art direction lovely. The three heroines look great and are drawn beautifully. Waon Inui did a terrific job with the character design and art. The three main heroines look great, and what we see of Tsukimisawa is cute–a main street, some houses, and a whole lot of nature.
A high point of the game is certainly the voice acting. This game is fully voice-acted, with every NPC line getting a full voice line in Japanese. Unfortunately, you’ll have to do Akito’s lines yourself, but besides that, you can relax and listen to everyone else in town. In particular, I really enjoyed Hibiki’s voice lines–I found her voice actor to capture her character in a really charming way. But really, all three of the heroines’ voice actors play their characters at a professional level.
Another point that liked was the character sprites. Akito’s face is a bit funny (I think he would have been better served by the H-game protag meme haircut), but everyone else in town is quite charming (all 5 of them)!
Lastly, the English script editing and translation quality gets my stamp of approval. You can see my previous notes on another game here (The Alchemist of Ars Magna) for an idea of how closely I read for typos. I didn’t have a single note for a typo in this game, though I did note that the editing did get a touch looser as the game went on (and to be doubly fair, Ars Magna’s script is at least two magnitudes larger). As for the translation, it does help that the game is fully voiced to compare those lines to the script–I can’t say I listened to everything, but what I did listen to matches up with the English text pretty well.
Unfortunately, Love at Leave had some spots leaving me wanting more. Before getting into some criticisms of the erotic content in this game, it’s important to establish that this game does not have any R-18 content, unlike other qureate games such as IdolDays. On VNDB, this game is rated as 17+, but I would go a step lower, and place it around 15+. Love on Leave’s CGs only go as far as to show lingerie–there’s no explicit content to be had in this game.
All that being said, an absence of ecchi doesn’t have to mean an absence of excitement. Regretfully in this case, I don’t think Love on Leave quite hit the mark. Event scenes are very formulaic: one of the three main heroines is in some sort of dilemma where the main character needs to help them–for example, an early scene requires Akito help Kanami shut off a faucet that’s gone haywire. So, as the player character, you have to click on and around her to try and find the faucet. Of course, you’ll probably click on her right thigh once or twice first, instead of directly going for the shoulder like she was asking for. Oops!
These scenes feel like a bit of a tech demo, where touching certain areas causes a fun little Live2D animation to go off. For most scenes, I felt them lacking a punch to push the excitement over the top. For example, you can touch the girls’ thighs, feet, and shoulders to some effect, with other areas prompting no reaction. For areas that you can touch, the reaction is a merely bit of a wiggle and an “ahn!” It’s just a bit, boring. This conservative approach could partly be explained because the game received a Switch release… But, I dunno–there are games with “Hentai” in the title for sale in the eShop after all.
One thing I thought while playing this game was, “This would be great to play on a controller!” (Steam Deck owners, take a peek!) Unfortunately, I don’t have a controller that easily links up to my computer, so I was left using the awkward keyboard and mouse controls (but it’s really mostly just keyboard). The weird thing is that while players can use both keyboard and mouse in visual novel segments, exploration is keyboard only (and you can’t edit the controls in-game). You might expect to be able to move around by clicking and dragging, but that’s simply not an option.
One spot where this really sticks out is in the Super Ball Scoop Minigame, where you might expect to only be able to use the keyboard for controls, and if you do, the scooper moves incredibly slowly. To get the 5,000 points for a Steam achievement is a bit of a challenge. However, you can control the scooper with the mouse, and scoop with Enter, and moving the scoop with a mouse is easily 10 times faster. With that speed, 5,000 is easy. This is just one illustrative example among other inconvenient, but not deal-breaking, control issues.
I love the concept, the art direction, and the investment put into the voice acting. Unfortunately, outside of that, it’s lacking some punch to give it real lasting appeal. However, I still enjoyed it. If you want something that’ll take you back to Newgrounds as this summer comes to a close, (and there’s absolutely something to be said for playing summer-themed games during the summer), I recommend that you pick this up on sale.
WAIT FOR SALE ON LOVE ON LEAVE
If you would like to see more Anime Games, you may be interested in our review of Dungeon Travelers 2: The Royal Library & the Monster Seal.
Many thanks go to Qureate for a PC review code for this title.
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A self-professed ero researcher for as long as he could access the internet, Mac is always on the search for the next great ero-mangaka on Pixiv, Twitter, and Skeb. Catch his R18 Twitter likes and ‘research’ @erohonscholar