Please note, I am not affiliated with this company or being paid to talk about this game. I truly love this game and I wish there was more hype about it, which is why I’m fangirling about it here.
It shouldn’t come as a surprise that I’m always searching for indie otome game developers, lesser-known games, and of course supporting the mainstream visual novels that come out. However, there are times some indie games don’t get the recognition they deserve, and I’m going to name one of my favorites here.
I’m going to talk about Backstage Pass by SakeVisual, this is a fully voiced game with amazing components to help engage the readers. It’s one of the few games that conjure the idea of the emphasis that whatever choices you make and lifestyle you choose, that the main guy character will fall in love with you over time due to the lifestyle choices you make.
This game has a romance element, however, it brings in the reality of real-life and the drive it takes for someone to reach their goals. You can end up with dating no one in this game, which is A HAPPY ENDING too, however, the game is unique with its gameplay and is sure to have any otome fan raving with how well done the game was created.
You play as Sian Goodin, you’ve just entered college, and along with your best friend, Adam Eaton, you both start the beginning of the year with a bit of a backtracking start. You find out that your father has collapsed, you are already strapped for cash as a college student, but you want to find some way to support your family as well. It’s from here that you as the reader must make the choices of what will pioneer Sian’s life, whether for the best, the good, or the worst the choices you make based on how you want to live your life steer you to either love, career, happiness, or none at all.
Sian isn’t a voiced character but she is relatable, she’s a bit of a blank slate when you start; which is a great thing! As you help develop this character to be what you want her to be, her life is just starting, and making choices in college that either can help or hinder you is tough. However, you’re a strong character, if you wish to be and you’ve got the support of your friends and loved ones to help you through the tough times.
While you may meet Adam Eaton at the beginning of the game, you meet the other romanceable characters a bit more into the week.
THE ROMANCEABLE CAST:
Benito is the youngest out of all the guys you meet, and him being voiced by Casey is amazing as hell! You meet this fellow on campus, and he asks you to become his assistant for his magic shows. You’re a bit hesitant at first when he asks for your help as he doesn’t really ask the question appropriately, which causes a bit of an issue with you two in the beginning.
However, as you progress through the story and if you choose to pick up work with him and get closer, you’ll find a goal-driven character who is on a mission to succeed. Benito may seem childish at times, but it’s rare when he shows that side of him as he’s focused on making it big one day and doing what he loves. When I decided to get closer to him in the game as his assistant, we organically became close and fell in love with one another.
The characters support each other in both goals and personal affairs, plus, when he does fall in love is when you actually see his childish moments; but they’re cute and he’s definitely the underdog in the game.
Oh boy, and I mean ‘oh boy’ in a good way! John Brandon is voiced by the incredible Ian Sinclair and the acting is immensely well done besides the fact that it’s damn sexy AF, LMAO. John is Adam’s manager, and he a strict businessman with morals that seem to be far out of reach for you in the beginning. You generally don’t get along with him in the beginning because he seems like a tyrant to Adam (who is your best friend), and of course, John doesn’t seem fond of you because you seem at a loss with what you want to do with life.
If you choose to get closer with John, you’re going to actually be thrown in for a loop, and I’m serious… You learn to get hands-on experience into a field that you never thought could be possible for you and learn how to handle situations with grace rather than become emotionally charged. I was deeply impressed with choosing to get closer with him and eventually falling in love with the man, and you don’t just ‘BOOM BAM’ fall in love, you gradually fall for him.
While he also falls for you too, he sees you grow into your career and he offers advice but nothing that forces Sian to make hasty decisions and do something ridiculous. But, oh man, when he falls in love the whole thing is a sexy and very adult romance, so if you’re looking for that kind of heat with a British man, look no further than John Brandon.
If you love childhood friend romances, then you’re in for a treat if you choose to get closer to Adam for your school year. You already work with him as his makeup artist for his shows, and he has a budding career as a singer, but he’s still on the rise. During the school year, you both can get closer, if you choose to, and you help him out with classwork and also just being his friend.
Being a pop star is already a tough time for Adam and he can’t go out like a normal person can do to his image, and also John being nitpicky about what he does LMAO. However, Adam is passionate about what he does but he has his moments of doubt and loss, you both get closer to one another during these times of hardship and also struggle.
Their relationship is beautifully written and the transition to going from friends to lovers is well done and heartfelt. So if you’re looking for the childhood friend to lovers trope, look no further than Adam’s route!
Matthew is a model and you come to be his makeup artist by a strange turn of events, however, it’s not a bad turn of events since it can help you grow as a character should you choose to pursue a makeup artist career. Matthew seems like he has everything together and can put on airs that he’s very dignified and cool, but that’s not the case.
Looks can be deceiving, and his character personifies it to the max when you get closer to him, he confides in you about his life, career, and his worries. He’s a cinnamon roll, but he comes with some baggage in the beginning LMAO. When I say baggage it’s more like trouble with other people, as you’ll see what is character is actually like and how he’s pretty bad at handling situations with confrontations and such.
He’s an endearing character and he shouldn’t be overlooked, I recommend his route if you’re looking for a different type of ‘double’ personality character.
[Secret Romance] Alvin is your tutor that you can meet up with to help with your studies, I’ll be honest with you all, I had no idea he had a route until after I thought I finished the game. It spun me for a loop, he’s pretty into his studies and albeit he is kind but very closed off at times.
When you get closer to him you find he’s a nerd for Knight Errant, which is fine by me, because NERDS UNITE. When you get closer to Alvin, you get to see his kindness and calm heart a little more clearly than you do from your studies. I recommend him just because his route is unique and well rounded, and full of cosplay surprises.
[Secret Romance] Lastly, I also didn’t find out about this route until later and I’m all for GxG routes because we need more of them. When you first meet Nicole it’s actually through Matthew’s route and it was a bit of a … not so great meeting…? However, she’s a carefree spirit and when you get close to her she lets go of her entanglements for Matthew and gradually grows closer to you.
She can be impulsive and she is spoiled at times, so she can be hard to swallow for some people who don’t like this type but please consider getting close to her. As she has a good heart regardless if she has her moments of being a brat, hahaha, she reminds me of the tsunderes that are typically seen in bishojos. So if you’re looking to romance a tsundere, look no further than Nicole.
While the game is similar to that of a normal visual novel where you click and choose answers, there’s more to it than that. You help influence Sian’s life, from her studies to her health, and to get what you want out of life, you gotta put in the work!
You’ve gotta monitor Sian’s habits and help her improve in certain areas depending on what you want for her in the end. I was impressed with this system as it brought about a realistic feel of what happens in our own reality, we get drawn to people from the things we do and the habits we implement. So if you choose to have Sian become a blogging fashionista or a makeup artist, you’ve gotta be willing to put in the work and balance your life.
And let’s face it, balancing your work and private affairs can be tough, but you may draw someone in with that personality of yours to never give up. Keep in mind that this can be tedious for some players, as with usual VNs we are just pointing and clicking, so keeping an eye on your stats can get challenging at times. But that’s the fun of this game, and it’ll definitely keep you on your toes.
There are a total of 16 endings to this game, so that should keep you going for a long while. I didn’t add Lloyd to the romanceable list but you can definitely team up with the guy for a pretty incredible route all on its own. However, what makes this same unique is the fact that there are three ‘independent’ routes that you can undertake, where you don’t end up with anyone but you can go in the direction of pursuing your career and goals.
This is what makes this game extremely awesome and different from a couple of otome games I’ve played, just as an FYI you can probably spend more than 40+hrs of gameplay in this game to get all the endings.
While I could do a more in-depth version of this game, I am choosing not to spoil everything for people who want to play this game. There are plenty more CGs, endings, and details I’ve not included in this review of the game as I sincerely want other gamers to know just how awesome this game is. We play games that have avatars we have to dress up, and we have to raise stats to romance a guy.
But with this game, it’s more about raising the stats for yourself and seeing what you as the gamer is capable of doing and becoming, whether you choose to get closer with someone or not. I’m truly in love with the artwork, the VA’s that were chosen, but most of all the characters that leave a great impression on my heart and memories. This is why this game is one of my all-time indie otome game favorites, and I highly recommend you check it out.
Backstage Pass is available on Steam and SakeVisual.com
LIMITED CG GALLERY
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