Developer: Paco Project
Publisher: Paco Project
Release Date: Out Now
ESRB: N/A (G-Rated)
Sometimes the creative capacity of the mind truly terrifies me. If you only pay attention to mainstream video games, you may be unaware of what the independent scene is capable of putting out and how there really is no such thing as too small of an audience. Case in point, Paco Project have brought a different spin to the visual novel genre with Paca Plus, a game that asks players how they would react if they started seeing their girlfriend as an alpaca.
No, you read that correctly. High school student Saeki Kazuma goes on a date on his girlfriend“s birthday to the Alpaca Kingdom. After falling asleep on the way home, he wakes up to see something unfathomable: a fluffy alpaca wearing human clothes. For reasons unbeknownst to him, Kazuma begins seeing his girlfriend as a real-life alpaca. As the story progresses, he has to come to terms with this development and unravel the mystery behind this phenomenon.
It“s a goofy plot, but it“s also what attracted me in the first place. It was too stupid of concept for me not to try, as I“m a big fan of games that manage to plant their tongue firmly in their cheek. To that extent, Paca Plus delivers. It“s definitely humorous and full of situations worthy of a chuckle. That said, if you“re hoping for any sort of seriousness, touching moments, or gameplay choices, this really isn“t for you.
To be truthful, a decent part of the humor and absurdity comes from the translation. I won“t mince words; it“s an absolute mess and I don“t think it was ever actually read by an English speaker. It seems like a script that was run through a translation service, perhaps multiple times. While this can add to the humor, it also ruins any chance of emotional involvement by forcing you to spend too much time trying to figure out what you“re reading. You can generally scrape by with context clues, but some parts just don“t make sense, even after multiple rereads.
Issues with the translation are worsened by the storytelling and art. It“s not bad, but the developers definitely prefer to tell rather than show. While there are plenty of everyday situations you might want to see an alpaca in, you“re just told about them instead of being shown amusing pictures of what“s happening. Ultimately, the art assets are just too few and, as wrong as it feels to say it, I was left wanting more alpaca than was offered.
Closing up a shaky experience, the audio design is a mixed bag. The Japanese voices are well done and, while the main character isn“t voiced, it“s surprising how many side characters are. The music is on the border between decent and good, though sometimes it feels like it ruins the mood by setting the tone better than the story. You end up feeling like it“s a sad scene not because of what“s happening, but because of the music. It“s a little distracting, but not as immersion-breaking as the translation.
You might be able to tell at a glance, but this game isn“t for everyone. If, like me, you“re going into Paca Plus looking to laugh at an absurd concept, chances are you“re going to be pretty satisfied. It“s one situation where the translation is a plus, adding a B-movie feel to the experience. Those looking for a serious romance or some heart warming monument to love being more than skin deep will quickly find the translation issues to be too much to look past. Maybe the original Japanese story is stronger, but the English translation is no bard“s tale.
+ Amusing concept
+ Humorous execution
+ Strong audio work
- Few story choices
- Laughably bad translation
- Not enough art assets
Overall Score: 5.5 (Out of 10)
Paca Plus is a pretty good game for a laugh. Unfortunately, most of those laughs will be at its expense.