Review: Syrup and the Ultimate Sweet
Publisher: NomNomNami, Ratalaika Games, eastasiasoft
Platforms: itch.io, PlayStation 4, PlayStation Vita, Nintendo Switch, Xbox One, Google Play
In a magical town, there lies Atelier Sweets, a pleasant candy shop that seeks all sorts of Delectables. Syrup, and her assistant Pastille, get by with their creations. One day, an unexpected visitor emerges from the basement and a gelatinous candy woman appears. Literally made of Candy, she begs for you to eat her, fulfilling her destiny, but instead, there is a choice. Carelessly eat her or discover the truth as to how she wound up in your Candy Shop. From developer NomNomNami and music composer Mock Off comes Syrup and The Ultimate Sweet, a warm visual novel created during YuriJam 2015. Having been ported to modern systems thanks to Ratalaika Games, Syrup and The Ultimate Sweet is a remarkably warm and cheerful visual novel I encourage all players to experience, as it may bring some light into your day, no matter what you are currently facing.
Syrup and The Ultimate Sweet is a visual novel. Players play as Syrup, the head candy engineer of Atelier Sweets. When a random girl awakens in her lab, she is caught off guard. The normally cold and reserved engineer is curious as to how she got there. As a visual novel players decide what happens next. They could choose to just eat the candy girl and end the game in less than five minutes, which is also a trophy to be earned if you play on PlayStation. Of course, there is much more to Syrup and The Ultimate Sweet than that, and the other choices lead to a more fulfilling adventure. On her quest, Syrup will encounter an assortment of characters from a Neo to a witch to Chocolate Brothers trying to defeat their rivals at Atelier Sweets. During key moments, players can make important decisions, many of which can completely change the outcome of the story. There are multiple endings to unlock and different choices will lead to these endings.
Syrup and The Ultimate Sweet immediately impress players with its soft, pastel presentation and vibrant colors, evoking a sensation of a world focusing on magic and candy. There are bright blues, pinks, and yellows scattered throughout the experience, and the characters are all designed with genuine friendliness, with even the potential antagonists being made in such a way that is charming. The music score is also welcoming, providing the right emotions at the right time. The visuals may be soft and welcoming, but that does not mean Syrup and The Ultimate Sweet doesn’t have moments of peril and adventure. Those Moments will have to be discovered on your own.
Syrup and The Ultimate Sweet is the kind of game that is needed in the year of 2020 and every moment took me by surprise, primarily due to the fact that as a reviewer of many games, Syrup and The Ultimate Sweet was a game out of my comfort zone and it surprised me immensely. In addition to the visuals, a huge part of Syrup and The Ultimate Sweet is the humorous and witty writing, which had me smile and chuckle throughout the way. This writing, coupled with the visual presentation, actually had me invested in the characters and the story, as well as the mystery behind the greatest dessert recipe in existence, the Ultimate Sweet. There were even moments of heartbreak and despair that actually had me invested in the outcome of the characters as well. The writer should be commended, creating a story that wasn’t just cohesive but kept me engaged with the characters and overall narrative.
Playing Syrup and The Ultimate Sweet would have been special in any other year, but now, in this particular moment of our lives, it feels extra special. Syrup and The Ultimate Sweet has a nice, witty, humorous, but dynamic story of warmth, friendship, forgiveness, and peace. Naturally, as with most visual novels, your choices can affect the outcome of the game to one of several endings. Perhaps Capitalism will make Syrup happy, or her heart is so cold that nothing can heal it. Whatever choices that are made, there is an endearing story of friendship to be seen. Other games and movies perform similar feats, but where Syrup and The Ultimate Sweet succeeds is being rather self-aware and welcoming. Syrup and The Ultimate Sweet doesn’t take itself too seriously, but just serious enough to have more emotional moments arrive with impact. When the credits rolled on Syrup and The Ultimate Sweet I was remarkably impressed, surprised, and genuinely very happy I got to play this game.
The only real fault that could be made is the game’s length. Syrup and The Ultimate Sweet was created during YuriJam 2015, which was a 2 month-long game that challenged creators to make a game about relations. Naturally, Syrup and The Ultimate Sweet is specifically designed to be short. One playthrough will last approximately one hour, with subsequent playthrough padding out the length to an additional hour, unless you use a guide and breeze through the rest of the text. I encourage players to replay Syrup and The Ultimate Sweet, find alternate paths and appreciate the artwork placed into the game. Syrup and The Ultimate Sweet is playable on just about all platforms, but I found it more remarkably charming to play the game on the go. I personally played Syrup and The Ultimate Sweet on my PlayStation Vita, but if you have a Nintendo Switch, this should be in your digital library.
If you've been following me here, I normally play many hardened action games, ranging from anime-inspired games to hardened shooters. Lately, with the world the way it currently is, both for myself and everyone else around me, I’ve been more willing to branch outside my comfort zone and play the game I normally don’t play. I am incredibly happy that got to play Syrup and The Ultimate Sweet and would even call it a game that is certainly one of the big highlights of 2020. Playing Syrup and The Ultimate Sweet is such a nice break from the grey worlds of war and the embers of fire bursting from war-torn lands. It’s a witty and special game about magic, friendship, and maybe learning about yourself in ways that you never sought possible. This si a game I’d strongly recommend to everyone, including teens that are unfamiliar with video games but would like to start learning.
Some are calling 2020 the worst year ever, and others say it’s just a bad year. There’s a silver lining to it all. 66 million years ago, an asteroid wiped out all the dinosaurs on planet Earth, and that hasn’t happened, so that is a good way to look at things. Regardless of who you are or how you are feeling, take a moment out of your day to play Syrup and The Ultimate Sweet. It might be the thing you needed all along.
Syrup and The Ultimate Sweet was reviewed on the PlayStation Vita handheld gaming system, thanks to a key generously supplied to Stack Up by Ratalaika Games.