38 people found this review helpful
1 person found this review funny
2
Recommended
0.0 hrs last two weeks / 11.4 hrs on record
Posted: Feb 25, 2023 @ 2:41pm
Updated: Feb 25, 2023 @ 2:52pm

Hang on, this costs how much?

When Under Maintenance was first brought to my attention by Steam's Discovery Queue, I was immediately taken by the original concept for the story: the MC is someone who plays otomes on her phone, and her favourite one is down for maintenance, leaving her at a loose end. So, what to do with the unexpected free evening after a crap day at work in her unrewarding, temporary retail job?

Overview
We begin the game at the end of the working day dealing with phone contact with the current employer, during which we (as the player) get to name both the protagonist and her best friend, in addition to setting hair colour and skin tones for the MC. Conversations with the best friend are regular and exclusively via text chats (a clever way of allowing us to select any gender name without ever having a mismatch with a sprite if we met this friend in person) and these are both realistic and frequently amusing. It's during our initial exchange that the friend convinces the MC that she should use the game downtime to get a date for real. The question is, via dating app or by going to a local bar and meeting someone new face to face. To have this two-ways-of-entering-a-route option is both refreshing and fun. It's worth doing both ways for each one.

The LIs
There are “officially” four love interests all with completely independent routes, although for any player who is fond of cats – especially the extra fluffy, affectionate ones – you might want to consider that five love interests, albeit still just the four routes; as a certain feline insinuates itself into the MCs life no matter who she decides to hook up with.
I started with Tristan, the nerdy one lacking in self confidence, and this was a great first choice to get me into the novel as most of the game's humour can be found in this route. The witty remarks are frequent with much observational humour and it all rings true to real life. I had a smile on my face at the end of every session playing his route.
Mark is completely different, snarky and confrontational on the outside but with a softer side if you're prepared to dig. He's certainly very well characterised, though I didn't warm to him. I'm afraid a sweet and tasty centre with an outer shell of coarse sandpaper would be a chocolate that I'd leave in the box when throwing the packaging away.
Luca is the token ultra hot bartender who is musically talented and whom the MC fancies immediately; and he has the personality to match, though you still have to play it carefully if you don't want to blow your chances with him.
I left the barely-disguised AC/DC fan Theo until last (of course I would lol) and his is arguably the most challenging good end to pin down as he is not loose and free with his affections.
Theo's dad is Ted. Hmm. Ted. Theodore (a rock music fan). I wonder if the family name is Logan? (cheesy reference for those of a certain age!)
I enjoyed his route, though for true otome lovers, Luca is probably the most satisfying of the options.

Features
- First person narrative, rendering self-insertion possible if you wish, though the MC is plenty rounded enough to read from a third person perspective with no loss of enjoyment.
- The game has attractive sprites of the five main characters (six if you include the cat), with expression changes and transitions for the MC; and a wide variety of pleasant and often strongly detailed backdrops.
- Secondary characters appear as silhouettes but are still very well defined.
- All of the usual UI controls that you would expect, with the primary functions accessible during gameplay via a pleasing hifi-style buttons run along the top of the text box. Infinitely better than a row of text commands.
- Additional features including text box opacity, font alternatives for the visually impaired, and continuous autosaving in the background on top of quick save and regular save options.
- Partial voice acting for the four love interests.
- Five possible endings for each route, plus two during the prologue.
- Steam achievements.
- Routes are long enough to allow the characters to become sufficiently fleshed out to be believable, and short enough for the determined reader to run through in a single session.

Verdict
So long as you accept that the story told here is simply that of an adult, unattached woman on a manhunt and therefore are prepared for all possible realistic outcomes, then there is no sensible reason why you should not find this game highly entertaining and very enjoyable.
Bad ends are, like much of the content, relatable. There are no silly, forced bad ends where the MC or the love interest have to suddenly die horribly or randomly turn out to be psychotic without any clues up front; just realistic conclusions which make sense if you have paid attention to your choices throughout. This makes finding all endings a challenge, but a fairly light one.

Having played the game right through to all endings, I can say without any doubt at all that I would have been happy to pay for this and still have felt satisfied afterwards. It would sit very comfortably in the £5-£7 price range and still be one of the better value games of its type available on Steam. I cannot get my head around how or why this is free. The developers have done a great job (I'm even willing to let the smattering of typos go!) and are offering you a freebie that – if you enjoy light hearted romance stories – you would have to be a fool to yourself not to take up.

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1 Comments
Emlin Feb 26, 2023 @ 12:50am 
Ehehe very informative and funny review. I look forward to meeting the cat xD the guys are secondary to me haha, and it must be really good for you to overlook the typos :lunar2019crylaughingpig: