Kabaret Review – The Local Folklore Doesn’t Seem Scary
How do you greet folklore when you meet them in person? A shriek in terror? Stoic silence or do a Vampy and bite the sucker?
Kabaret has thrown in their suggestion with the third option as this tea-making, friendship building and Guli/Congkak playing concept of a game is the latest from the fine folks at Persona Theory Games.
And while I commend their efforts, some foibles could have made Kabaret much more enjoyable.
Kabaret’s premise is quite simple really, you were a lowly human and after a life-altering event, you are now part of a mystic folklore, where monsters and otherworldly beings are hanging out within a cabaret, complete with friends and enemies of which are from many Asian supernatural tales of mystery. One of the few friends you can make is Pontianak and Garuda, amongst the many beings you can meet during the game.
The artstyle and music look and sounds incredible, with how it blends with the narrative feels pretty good as the traditional tones of these parts of Asia are being used to heighten the storytelling at times. As the amazing art accompanies the overall tone of the story greatly as well, with the monsters looking like something you would hear and see from other media or even stories.
Speaking of which, while the premise is quite unique, the storyline for Kabaret is quite weak and rather mean-spirited in nature, in my opinion. Its introduction act kinda sets the tone of what happens afterward but it reads (well to me, anyway) as an edgy entrance that would scare off potential players from trying it. And though it sets the tone, the starting point to the gameplay section feels jarring, to say the least.
Like its local peers, Kabaret has a bunch of mechanics that intertwine with the story, as they mostly tell them within the confines of a visual novel. The tea-making ceremony is one of the few vital parts that sometimes advances the story after creating a drink for your clientele.
This also brings me to a negative that I had with this section, as the version that I’ve been playing had some very egregious input delay per click that makes this section more troublesome than it should be, and if you mess up a tea order and wanted to start over, it involves a process of having to drench your tea companion with a terrible tea before you can do it again, all very cumbersome and slows the game more than it needs to be.
And at times, some scenes (that I feel aren’t exactly important) cannot be skipped and though I do understand some things that need to be explained, the text still feels sluggish enough that it kinda makes the pace crawl to a slower pace than it needs to be. Not to mention you can’t Save/Load at any moment, making an important mechanic a chore isn’t good for this sort of game.
But besides that, it’s pretty much your standard Visual Novel affair, as you try to gain likeness to certain characters and doing important choices that impact the story as you also enjoy some rounds of Guli (or marbles for you Western folks) and Congkak, at the same time bonding with your fellow monsters.
Kabaret is quite an interesting game, with the distinction of being a visual novel so your playtime can vary from player to player, where you can complete the entire game within either 10 hours or so, depending on if you want to see all the endings.
It might not be everyone’s cup of tea though due to its nature of being a reading game but hey, you might enjoy this sort of game, perhaps?
In all honesty, I kinda was disappointed with this one. It has the flavors of a great story but the writing and technical issues kinda put me off from this one. And though I love the artstyle and music, it’s failing on being a good enough Visual Novel makes me hesitant on recommending it unless some fixes have been done.
Kabaret disappoints me as they have all the right notes to make itself unique within the local gaming scene but a rocky start and some fundamental choices that could have been made better. I recommend getting this one on sale if you are interested in the supernatural flavors of Southeast Asia.
Played on PC, Review copy provided by Persona Theory Games.