11 people found this review helpful
Recommended
0.0 hrs last two weeks / 4.9 hrs on record
Posted: Jan 4 @ 2:52pm
Updated: Jan 4 @ 3:00pm

Overview

You know those romance films that certain TV channels broadcast repeatedly in the run-up to, and throughout the Christmas season? The ones which invariably conclude with the lead protagonists surmounting their inevitable hiccups and winding up getting together? Which cause certain people (ahem) to come over all weepy at the thoroughly predictable and yet utterly heartwarming happy ending?

You do? Great, so you like them, too! It's too late now, you just admitted it, and as a fellow fan of such romantic festive adventures, I have good news for you. Wrapped With A Kiss is the visual novel equivalent of those movies, and one which comfortably nestles within the upper reaches of the quality range available for our enjoyment.

Story
Noel (Noelle?) is not in a happy place in her life. Eight years in the big city slaving away as a business manager for a big corporation in a job she hates but took on because her dad pushed her into it; only to be fired with no right of appeal, simply for being honest. We join her as she packs up her life and moves to a small, picturesque town to spend the festive period with her widowed sister and young daughter. Once there, she's introduced to a close family friend, who just so happens to be an unattached, attractive tradesman.

Features
The game plays like any other traditional otome VN with a series of choices along the way which add colour and variations to the story and apparently offers two different endings. At time of typing, I have found only the (good) one (not to say the other one may not be better?) which I was perfectly happy with, despite replaying and choosing different options throughout for the alternative reactions available.

Graphics are pleasant, the sprites being fairly simple (but including a full body MC instead of just a portrait on the text box), have different expressions, and blink; and also benefit from some limited voicing which feels very well cast. Each character does sound how I'd expect them to by looking at them, even the child. Backing tunes are both pleasant and festive, and careful use of supporting effects add to the package rather than become a distraction.

Some QoL features aren't included – which for the price, really shouldn't be an issue – there isn't a gallery, for example, and while you can hide the attractively presented text box, there is no opacity feature and it's totally colour-solid; but the essentials are all present: a fast skip, save with plenty of slots, backstep including through choices, escape-to-menu.

Verdict
The story in Wrapped With A Kiss is everything you'd hope it would be in this kind of game. The gradual, natural feeling development of the relationship between Noel and Elliot the love interest is pleasing and has you encouraging them along enthusiastically, Elliot himself is of course everything you'd want in a romance story – handsome, thoughtful, caring, dependable and financially secure; the MC has a believable character with strengths and weaknesses and the two main supporting characters are very nicely defined too. The sister Natalie comes over as sympathetic and supportive, while the daughter Zoey falls the right side of likeable rather than irritating. You become swept up in wanting her to sort her own little problems out, and she also gets some of the best lines in the script.

I particularly appreciated the artistic implementation of the characters blushing, as shown here:

https://steamcommunity.com/sharedfiles/filedetails/?id=3130676720
A light flushing of the cheeks rather than an awful red warpaint stripe across the nose as you see in many lesser VN graphic offerings; this being a clear demonstration of a creator who cares about what they publish, something which is clear throughout the script, too.

While the relationship conclusion between the main players is unsurprising (and, let's be honest about it, exactly what we were hoping for), it was little Zoey's personal battle resolution which gave me the bigger emotional bump. Family issues are a constant underlying theme through the game and help to give it a more rounded feel than a simple love story alone.

For the price this game is very good value, and although it is Christmas holiday themed, the enjoyment from reading through should be undiminished if played at any time of the year.

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2 Comments
Foxxelle Jan 5 @ 12:07am 
Thanks @Emlin. I spotted it just after the previous Christmas so didn't get it straight away. Sure, playing it during the period *probably* adds just a little more of an appropriate feel to proceedings, but the nature of the story is timeless and doesn't really deserve to be pigeonholed as a game that should only be played in December.
Emlin Jan 4 @ 5:22pm 
Thanks for the insightful review. They are always a pleasure to read. It sounds like a cute little game and I'm glad to read the child isn't annoying; I've only found one game where the kid was cute and that wasn't in any VN. I might check this out in the (distant) future after Ive cleared out my backlog a bit.