A girl finds herself in the middle of nowhere, but manages to stumble upon a hotel after wandering around. As it turns out, the hotel hosts spirits that are lost between the world of life and death, unaware of what their current situation is in reality. After discovering her identity, Tsukahara Neko decides to work at the hotel to pass time until she regains her memories and can go to her supposed “destination”, helping other guests find out the circumstances behind their “deaths”.
It’s a wild not otome game thoughts post! Surprise! I also wrote up a guide/walkthrough for the game you can refer to on the second page of this post.
Name: 誰ソ彼ホテル / 黃昏旅店 / Tasokare Hotel
Genre: Escape adventure novel
Official site: Here
Type: Free (has in-game purchases)
Platform: Android / IOS (links to the English version of the game)
Language: Japanese / Mandarin / English
As much as I like SEEC’s games, I don’t know why I don’t keep a closer look on them. I was only aware that the game existed thanks to a friend posting about it. It’s been so long since I played The Prison Boys and Alice’s Spiritual Judge…anyway, moving on.
The system menu and interface. Very sleek. The options are pretty simple, as per a mobile game.
What’s a mobile game without a gacha nowadays? Jokes aside, this is pretty much a fun bonus thing for you to roll extra coins and other in-game items.
The “My Room” function. Trash builds up over time and you click on them to clear them out, gaining experience. You can occasionally earn coins from clearing trash. The gaining experience thing is incorporated into the story (missions), where to proceed with some stages you must have a certain level of experience. It basically serves as a roadblock in that even if you buy all the tickets you need to read the story in one sitting, you cannot go any further without also gaining experience in My Room. Not that it means anything as long as you have the power of money and can buy coins for bells that will add to your experience total, but otherwise, you’ll just have to be patient with time to conquer it.
The game usually uses real life stock photos for a majority of the background and item graphics, but I think it does well at keeping a sense of cohesion.
The game’s system. It’s pretty straightforward if you’re familiar with ticketed mobage. The game gives 5 free tickets every day at 5AM. Reading 1 chapter consumes a ticket. You can essentially read the entire story for free, but of course, it will take approximately a month to. You either pay for the game via money or time.
There’s an incentive to clear chapters within a time limit to unlock character and gallery-exclusive content. It’s pretty neat, though you might have to resort to buying tickets if you’re short on them. In any case, if you fall through on clearing a chapter early, the game will still let you unlock the content via coins.
As for re-reading, you can unlock the function for each chapter with coins. Chapter 1 can be unlocked for free. You can pretty much play and unlock everything in this game for free (sans the special stories) provided that you’re patient with it. The story itself spans 8 chapters consisting of 213 stages. The main story is 174 stages, so there’s quite a number of alternate routes and endings on the side you can discover.
Gameplay elements. Other than being a visual novel, Tasokare Hotel also has parts where you get to search rooms and question people. If you’ve played Ace Attorney, it’s something similar to that. Read the story, talk to the other characters, gather evidence, and reveal the truth!
The official PV. It gives you a pretty handy overview of what the game has to offer.
Regarding voices! The game has partial voice acting that comes out in the form of short quips such as “ohhh” or “hmm” every now and then in the dialogue. On the home screen, you can switch between all the characters to hear three different fully-voiced lines from each of them. If you’ve cleared the true ending in the game, you can hear the voiced lines via the character profiles. In the “My Room” function, Neko has fully-voiced lines, and the guest characters have a fully-voiced line when summoned. The game’s special stories (paid items) are fully voiced. IMPORTANT NOTE: Voices are only available for Japan, US, Canada, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, Hong Kong, Taiwan. If you live outside of these regions, you will need to use a VPN to mask your location to access the voices. (Thanks to commenter mayseptembee!)
The insert song for the game, Meitei – Inebriety- by Sasaki Rico. It’s incorporated into one of the in-game chapters!
Overall thoughts on the characters and the story:
Tsukahara Neko (CV: Momokawa Rika) – The protagonist. Canonically described with “eyes of a dead fish”. Looks quiet, but is pretty loud and active. I like Tasokare Hotel mainly because of Neko. I LOVE YOU. Neko’s a girl not above violence and is always ready to throw down. Hell yeah. She exhibits a lot of very crude traits that I thought was unusual to see in a female protagonist, and has very high sense of individuality. When Neko gets angry, you better believe she acts on it. She is a delight and I profusely grateful towards SEEC for creating her. Also has a lot of very good expressions.
- Atori Haruto (CV: Sakai Koudai) – Neko’s senior colleague, another spirit who came to the hotel before her and is working there to pass the time as well. Very serious about his work.
- Hotel Manager (CV: Yamamoto Kanehira) – The head of the hotel who constantly slacks off and dreams about cabaret clubs. I love how how the game varies his expressions by the colour of his burning head. I support Neko in wanting to roast marshmallows on his head.
- Osoto Masaki (CV: Shirai Yuusuke) – One of the hotel guests. He’s cool and calm, for sure. It’s Complicated.mp3.
- Ruri (CV: Nagano Yuki) – A chef of the hotel who is usually in the kitchen. Neko is constantly gushing over how cute she is. “I constantly think about you.” “Creep.”
- Menow (CV: Sasamoto Natsue) – A hostess of the hotel’s bar. Terrifying when mad, though the game never really shows that happening. “What happens when Menow gets angry?” “Fear.”
- Kiriko (CV: Narumi Takashi) – A regular who frequents the hotel’s bar. Scoping out those good views. There is a in-game choice where Neko can comment on his “peeking” sounding either like an erotic or criminal thing.
Anyway, here’s my thought dump. I’ve whited it out for spoilers.
- Chapter 7. I can’t believe Osoto is canonically into vore. I liked how the choice to not shoot Osoto wasn’t because Neko was hesitating on killing him, but rather if she would suffer consequences for doing so if the gun she was holding was a real one rather than some fantasy item capable of sending him to hell. I liked how it ultimately tied into the final chapter in what you have to be prepared for to do what you want to do.
- The Manager. The game doesn’t really touch on who he is, other than that he built the hotel and runs it. From how he talks, I wonder if he’s some kind of grim reaper? He knows the state of all the people that arrive but says he can’t decide on who should live and die. Thus there’s this in-between world where people wander and decide for themselves. On that note, I wish there was a bit more on Menow and Kiriko as well. I quite enjoyed the special stories that elaborated more on them. There’s the whole “not humans with a different sense of morality” thing going on with them that I think the game could have done more with, but you do catch a glimpse of it through a couple of the bad endings.
- Osoto. I thought it was interesting how there was literally no redemption for him as a character. He is straight up a terrible person, and the only ending options are either for Neko to send him to hell or to join him in his crimes rather than convincing him to change. I like how the game does not for a moment let you think Osoto is at all a good person even in the alternate routes, ha ha. It was pretty fun to read his interactions with Neko in the hotel where they can kind of get along until things come crashing down. Neko does not hesitate to call him out any time he makes an offhand comment, which is great. “You just blamed an innocent woman.”
- The hotel. Considering the events that lead to Neko arriving in the real world, working in the hotel sure is a great benefit…all your memories intact, and you even get to go back in time. Wouldn’t most people want to sign up as a staff member, then? Or do they not talk about the benefits? Ruri does know about the kind of salary the hotel gives out, though…is it something you have to ask about? I only think about this because it seems like the Manager had no problem with taking Neko on as a worker the moment she asked (though the game does say that he is pretty short-handed around the place) even though her main intention was to kill time. I have so many questions.
- The hotel, again. According to Menow, it was built 70 years before. It makes me wonder if before the Manager built it, were lost spirits wandering around the wilderness aimlessly until they remembered who they are? Does the hotel give the spirits more of a stimulus to remember their identity through the guest rooms…? It is a mystery.mp3. There’s admittedly some aspects of the game that feel a little lacking to me if I think too much about it.
- True End and Another End. The True End felt like it lacked some punch to me, as much as I enjoyed seeing Neko and Atori meet again. I mean, Neko does send Osoto to hell in the True End and accepts that she will go to hell if she has to for it, but something there feels like it’s missing to me. It feels like the intended true ending of the game was Another End, with how the themes felt more consistent overall. “Are you ready to fall into hell?” “I am ready to fall into hell, so I am ready to fall into evil.” If Neko teams up with Osoto and the gate of hell is never opened, Atori probably won’t have his recurring nightmares as well…it’s strange, in a way. It makes the True End feel like the elaborate alternative universe with brimming possibilities next to what Another End offers that’s largely limited to Neko and Osoto’s relationship. It’s either one or the other – you can’t have both.
Special stories! They’re only available for reading after having played the true ending of the game. They are paid items, so I guess it’s kind of like a “if you enjoyed this game, here’s where you can put your money at to enjoy more content” thing. There are a total of 8 special stories, and all of them are fully voiced. There are 9 CGs exclusive to them. For around 20 – 30 bucks, I’d say it’s worth getting if you like the characters and their interactions. The game already provides to you a hefty amount of content for free, so I don’t mind paying that amount for the special stories to support the developers in some way. Also, the art is gorgeous. I can’t believe the ones you get to see throughout the main story are free…
The game’s system has the voices carry over until the next voiced line, so a character’s spoken dialogue won’t be cut off unless another character speaks up. The auto reading function behaves pretty weirdly with the voices – it seems to forget to account for them (since the majority of the game isn’t voiced), so there are points where it moves to the next written or spoken line before the character is even done talking.
If you’re on the fence about buying, the game provides you 1 of the stories out of the 8 available as a reading sample, which is pretty generous. 1 out of the 9 CGs are available for viewing through it. I am very glad I can get to hear Neko calling Atori “paisen” at least once. (That’s in one of the paid stories, not the given sample.)
Again, IMPORTANT NOTE: Voices are only available for Japan, US, Canada, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, Hong Kong, Taiwan. If you live outside of these regions, you will need to use a VPN to mask your location to access the voices. (Thanks to commenter mayseptembee!)
Some nitpicks. I checked out the JP version of the game, and while the EN version does make an effort to localise some of the more language-specific nuances, the ones that don’t…stand out quite a bit. Examples:
Just as keikaku (keikaku means plan). I think the game might be going more for using Japanese terms and explaining them in an English context along with keeping the usage of honorifics, but maybe having a keyword section to refer to would be more useful since it’s kind of distracting to read a word with a trailing description behind it every time it pops up. Or maybe just go with the translation in the parenthesis, in the case of “itadakimasu”. There are times when the translation can feel somewhat clunky.
I do appreciate that there were parts that were edited for the EN version. There were some puzzles based off the Japanese language the game didn’t edit, but compensated for it by giving extra hints.
There are a couple of bugs in the EN version where the game hangs at certain parts of the story (main one is in chapter 6 where the game hangs when you’re given the option to help Atori or not and you have to restart the application), or one vital clue in the chapter 8 puzzle being completely inaccessible (the third page of the diary where you can hear the page turning but the visual isn’t updated) and requiring you to probably view the answers to know what you have to do. The EN version is still fairly new, so I hope that those are things future updates will fix.
I haven’t been able to check Chapter 8, but the Atori bug has been fixed as of the Ver1.0.9 update! The inaccessible clue in Chapter 8 has been fixed as well (as of the Ver1.1.10 update). Another weird thing is the character profiles. The JP version comes with developer notes, but for some reason it’s completely removed from the EN version. One big empty space. Huh? I’m not sure if they’re planning to add it in a future update, or they weren’t interested in translating them. It’s a bit puzzling, in any case. This has been fixed in the Ver1.0.9 update! The “behind the scenes” notes are now viewable through the character profiles.
I do wish the game had some unlimited reading function I could pay for like with Yotsumegami rather than tickets…I think the tickets do help you to savour the experience and it did make me excited to read it every day when I was waking up for work, but at the same time, I just want to blaze on through. I enjoyed it a lot, in any case.
The My Room missions are also a pretty annoying roadblock to a point of feeling gratuitous – it’s cute, I like the graphics, it’s a way to earn coins on the side, but it being tied with story progression can feel like a drag. It’s pretty cute at first, but as the mission thresholds get higher, gaining experience starts to feel very tedious with a lot of tap-tap-tap sessions as you play the game.
Anyway, I think it’s a fun game to check out if you have time. Mysteries! It’s free! Tsukahara Neko! The game is rated 12+ for moderate violence and mild swearing, so keep that in mind. I’m looking forward to SEEC’s other works.
If you’re interested in SEEC’s other works, check out Yotsume God!