‘The Fox Awaits Me’ Review – Nintendo Switch

Game: The Fox Awaits Me
Genre: Visual Novel, Adventure
System: Nintendo Switch
Developer/Publisher: COSEN
Age Rating: EU 12+| US Teen
Price: US $44.99 | CA $56.69|AU $ 61.50 | £36.89 | €40,99
Release Date: 16 April 2020

Review code used, with many thanks to COSEN!

There’s A Fox In My Boots!

There are many interesting and delightful things to love about Japan and Japanese culture; one of these things is the stories of their various spirits. From yuurei (Japanese ghosts) to youkai (for lack of a better word: demons) there are so many cool and interesting stories of creatures hundreds of years old that can be malicious, neutral, or even friendly.

Here in Canada, many of our first nations people have equally as interesting myths, legends, and folklore. Some of the stories I love are the ones about the tricksters.

Many cultures seem to have them: the Norse had Loki, many first nations groups have the coyote, and in Japan it seems like the tanooki (raccoon-dog) and the kitsune (fox) are the tricksters of legendary yore. (Tom Nook and Redd from Animal Crossing, anyone?)

The Fox Awaits Me is a tale of fear, love, hope, struggle, desperation, pride, and more. All of this lovely story stuff is wrapped around the main character of Shua, a particularly cute fox (who mostly takes the form of a beautiful woman), but this fetching female visage is still a kitsune (or fox) underneath.

Can Anyone Really Control A Fox?

The gameplay of The Fox Awaits Me is standard visual novel fare, you’re mostly going to be reading and pressing the A button to move on to the next panel of reading. Sprinkled in with all of those words will be the occasional choice option that will alter the path the story takes.

There are multiple endings (if you take a look at the extras, you can see there are THREE different bad endings! Three! That’s so many bad endings!), and there are collectible images and artwork that inject that extra bit of replay-ability into the visual novel genre.

That is the gist of the control and game-play mechanics, so start working out your best button-pressing-finger and get on that A button because The Fox Awaits Me is one of the more engaging visual novel stories I’ve immersed myself into in a long time!

A Fluffy Pink Tale and a Fluffy Pink Tail

When I first started playing/reading The Fox Awaits Me I will admit, it kind of creeped me out…

The story starts off with one of the most overused tropes in storytelling: amnesia. You wake up and can’t remember who you are or why you’re aimlessly wandering through a bamboo grove. 

A sudden rustling of bamboo leaves makes you turn, and a very cute young woman is standing in front of you; she begins to cry profusely. These seem to be tears of great joy as she keeps saying how glad she is to have Master (you) back.

You, and your lack of memories, are taken to the Fox’s house. The background images show lovely rock gardens and tatami mat flooring. The kind of house I wish I actually lived in. 

You slowly remember a few crucial pieces of information: this cute fox’s name is Shua, and your name is (was?) Kaito. That’s about it. You decide, with the encouragement of Shua, to use some fox magic and attempt to get your memories back. 

However, strange things seem to be happening at night: you wake up with sweet tasting marbles in your mouth, voices and feelings compel you to go to the bamboo grove, and memories of blood, death, and pain keep flashing into your mind.

I don’t want to mention too much else, because I think this story is really really good, and I’d rather players experience it for themselves.

If a Fox Falls in the Woods, Does It Make a Sound?

The music in this game does an excellent job of creating the mood of the scene. As in many visual novels, there are a limited number of musical scores; each piece of music is used to help create a mood: playful, tense, battle music, romantic, etc.

I thought all of this mood-music in The Fox Awaits Me did a good job of making me feel a particular way. I especially liked it when Kaito (you) are remembering something spooky and the music simply stops and leaves you in silence for a few seconds. 

There are also several sound effects that are splashed in throughout the game. There is an interesting “twang” noise (that sounds like someone plucked a guitar string really hard) when something weird happens, there is a slapping kind of noise that I think was used a lot in those “facepalm” or “hentai!” (pervert) kind of moments, and my favourite was a “da-dum” (or “doki-doki”) heartbeat sound when you are feeling tense or afraid.

These sound effects were usually good at transitioning between various scenes and feelings throughout the story.

A big shout out has to go to the voice actors as well. I listened to the story in Japanese (but you can also choose Korean if that is  more your jam). At first, I thought the voice of Shua was really strange, and it was a bit off-putting; she had this especially strange laugh that would constantly happen (and it has already become a bit of a meme for me personally). However, once I got a bit farther into the story, and Shua’s character started to develop a bit more, I found the voice to be absolutely perfect, and it suited her character to a T.

I really find Japanese visual novel games to be a great way to immerse yourself in the Japanese language. If you are taking this time, during some self-isolation, to study a language (and that language happens to be Japanese) then this game will be a great way to just let your brain listen to the language and soak it in.

AND, as I said earlier, you can also play this game in Korean; if you are studying Korean you can also pick up this game and submerge yourself in that language’s bathtub while also enjoying an engaging story! Win-win!

What Would a Visual Novel Be Without Visuals?

It would probably just be a novel…

Let’s talk about the artwork, shall we? It’s lovely! Each character (and there aren’t many) has a particular colour palette: Shua the fox is pink and white, Mimiru (a mountain deity) is blues, and Karin (the shinigami, or reaper) is black and grey. 

They are all very well drawn, and their faces and heads will move around while you are reading. For example, Karin gets flustered very easily, and her character sprite will always be shaking as she speaks. 

One thing that kind of threw me off at first was that the characters’ faces will change and look more like emojis if they are sitting in a particular emotion. For example, Shua – as is expected of a trickster fox spirit – gets a little devious every now and again, and her eyes will simply become this U with a line over top of it. Or when the characters are mad, they will have eyes like this: >.<

Again, I will say that this was off-putting for me at first, but once I got used to it I found that it actually made sense. This is a story about being in a world of magical foxes, deities and grim reapers after all, so why not allow my brain to let a little emoji-emotion shine through on the character’s faces? 

The background artwork is beautifully coloured. There are only a handful of environments, but you can tell that all of them were lovingly created. I particularly like the bamboo grove: its lovely shades of green during the day, the oranges and reds during sunset, and the dark blues, grays and blacks at night. 

The Little Niggles

There is only one niggle I had with this game, and it is that sometimes the text on the screen – only at particular times – will seemingly glitch. Then part of the text, that is explaining important plot and story points, is jutting off onto the right side of the screen. Here’s an example:  

Final Verdict

Even with the strange text glitch, I found the story super engaging, spooky, heartwarming and heart wrenching. It tackles some pretty deep themes, and tells a story worthy of being read. 

I’d recommend it to any visual novel lover with some spare moolah burning a hole in their Nintendo-online-store-pocket.

Final Vedict: I like it a lot!


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