In Onsen Master, you play as an apprentice who must run the onsens of his sensei while trying to find out where his mentor has gone while helping the ailing citizens and creatures of the fantastical island.
A copy of this game was provided for the purposes of this review.
Onsen Master is a hot spring customer management game where players must create ingredients to match the various customer ailments. Customers range from the elderly, disorderly, and mythical, with everyone having different needs and different traits that affect your ability to run the onsen perfectly. Some move slower than others, some have much less patience, and some drip puddles until you help them. So within your allotted time, you must aid as many patrons as possible while keeping the place clean.
In order to serve your customers’ needs, you’ll need to bring them to a bath, grab their desired ingredient, prepare said ingredient, and deliver it to their bath before their patience runs out. You also need to clean the tubs and other messes so you can be able to serve more people. The objectives are straightforward, and it is very reminiscent of Overcooked with the gameplay.
Where the game runs into issues is with the controls. They do recommend you use a controller, and I can confirm that it is a much better experience playing with a controller over a keyboard. Keyboard was kind of a nightmare to play with, particularly the rolling motion needed when cleaning and prepping ingredients. It just didn’t feel intuitive, and it was much better with a controller. I still had some issues with the controller, mainly the grabbing mechanic, but I think if I changed the bindings for the controls that would fix my issues. I do think that some balancing needs to take place, mainly with movement speed and grabbing because you can easily run past what you wanted to grab and it gets a little frustrating. The highlight for grabbing needs to be easier to see because I found the highlight they have used a little too hard to see. So running past something and being unable to properly see if you’ll be grabbing what you want makes the game unnecessarily difficult.
There were some bugs, but nothing game-breaking. I really only noticed them in the tutorial where it would incorrectly instruct you to use certain buttons that are on a different method than what you were using. For example, when I was playing controller, the tutorial said to use space. The opposite happened as well. Again, not game-breaking, but still things that need to be fixed.
Now for things done well, I am a fan of the art, especially in the dialogue portions. And the story and setting are compelling. Onsen Master has a lot to offer and with just a few tweaks, it can become a really great game. It is fun and has good difficulty progression, plus you can play the arcade mode if you want to try and master your onsen without your sensei at all. Or give it a go with a friend in co-op, which to me seems like the optimum way to play.
Overall, I do recommend Onsen Master if you enjoy customer management games like Overcooked and isn’t yet another cooking version of the genre. The Ghibli-inspired aesthetic is fitting and the gameplay is fun, just needs a little bit of tweaking.
This post is an Indie Game Collective Showcase
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