Platform: PC | Release Date: April 30, 2019 | Hours Played: 4
Think of your perfect partner and the things you would like them do or say or act.
Now how would you feel if one day you get a mysterious package delivered to your house and it turns out to be an anything-you-want boyfriend that you freely manipulate and change to your liking?
That is the question (and plot) that is presented to us in Signed and Sealed With a Kiss. The game is a visual novel with stat-raising elements in which you “raise” different personality stats of a doll accidentally sent to you by a suspicious company called Reine Works. The doll tells the MC that he is willing to do or change himself into anything they want him to be, as his sole purpose is to be their boyfriend. In spite of their initial uneasiness of the situation, the MC decides to let the boyfriend (as he will now be referred to) stay at their house and see whether or not they would like to return him.
There are currently 4 different routes that you can play through, with two yet to be released. These routes are determined by the stats you choose for your boyfriend (who is nameable) and thus, are based on the different personalities you have.
The 4 available routes/personalities are Normal (default), the Prince, the Bad Boy and the Flirt – with a good and bad ending (each route taking about an hour or less to complete). Having a stat-building mechanic is always a plus for me as my attention span becomes non-existent when there is no interactivity. The game takes place within the span of 115 days, with its progression depending on the stats you increase. However, a problem I had was the lack of visible increase or decrease to these stats as these were only indicated by a bar. It becomes easy to get the hang of, although in later playthroughs, this does become tedious and repetitive.
The game has a good amount of events spread throughout. Even the default ones have subtle changes based on certain options you choose earlier in the game, so it was interesting to see the different responses for the same situations. They explain that your boyfriend’s personality is affected by any external stimuli such as your attitude towards them, so I thought that aspect was well executed.
The routes themselves have intriguing plots, other than the main “Do I keep him?” one. I found myself to be more invested in some then others, and even a few bad endings were especially good. They even alluded to the MC having a secret government job (there is an instant game over in one route if they reveal it) which unfortunately, is never fully explored. The interactions and relationship between the MC and the boyfriend varied from route to route, they did keep the growth of their budding romance consistent although some were much more believable then others.
There are also sexual scenes that are optional if you want to see them or not (although not doing so would mean missing out on a CG). These aren’t too explicit but are clear enough for you to understand what they currently doing are indeed, the dirty. There is no extreme nudity apart from being topless, but there is DLC free to download which DO include the… erect sword. Although I did not download it asI thought the 18+ was good fanservice enough, I commend them for offering the option for those who may be more sensitive to these topics.
A big problem I had with the game was the MC themselves and their personality. There were some instances where it tried to be relatable or edgy but instead came off as obnoxious and self-important. Some choices in the beginning may affect certain scenarios later on but before then, it comes off as incredibly inconsistent as once the boyfriend is introduced, they are mean to him, emphasising how much they don’t want him here. I get it, anyone would be confused and wary – but their reaction is outright hurtful and honestly, I prefer the generic nice protagonist trope over this. They do soften up much later in the routes, but this intial attitude was very jarring for me, especially as it was NOT how I would choose to respond in the least.
Another problem I also had was the interface, which I felt clashed with the art and distracted me at times. While I love the aesthetic and its use of seals and letters (with the title screen being incredibly aesthetic), the bright and bold use of pink on the side and colour of the text was uneasy on the eyes.
There also seems to be some sort of game imbalance as I struggled through countless of playthroughs to get a bad end for one of the routes… and never succeeded. No matter how I changed up my playstyle, I kept getting a good end, but then found myself in an opposite situation for another route. I’m unsure if it was me or my bad luck but I found this frustrating and eventually gave up.
Despite all this problems, this didn’t detract from the overall appeal of the game. To end it on a positive notes, the graphics, from the character art to the CGs were lovely. I appreciated the variations that the artist came up with for each personality, while still being able to tell it’s the same person. There are also about 5-6 CGs you can collect from each route and although you can see the art varies in certain CGs, they were all still worth to play through to collect.
Overall, I think this is worth a try if you are looking for something simple and short to play. I really enjoyed the concept as it reminded me of a manga called Absolute Boyfriend, about a girl who recieves a robot-boyfriend (maybe there were some influences?). Although Signed and Sealed With a Kiss don’t go TOO deep into the ethical problems of that, I did enjoy the different ways they went about it. In spite of the polishing that could be done, I found the it to be light and fun while being able to give a little something for everyone. Although the stat-building does get repetitive when you’re trying to get all the routes, I think its worth it and am definetely excited for the new update and expansion routes to come out!