A Pinch of Magic Review by Amjara


A Pinch of Magic is a free, short yet adorable otome where you help your grandma restore her failing coffee shop while finding love along the way. 

The Story
In the game you play as either Varsha or Varshan and can choose your pronouns. You find yourself heading back to the small town of Lynnsdale to help your grandma with her failing coffee shop, Coffee Curiositeas.
In the game you have two love interests, Mikhail or Kiana. With three possible endings.

The female love interest, Kiana, is soft spoken, gentle and is a huge activist for the environment. You used to be close before moving away and having returned you have a lot to catch up on. It is a route that is a more friends to lovers story. Unlike Mikhail, Kiana is a magical being like your character, so she is aware of your magical abilities.

The male love interest, Mikhail, is arrogant, confident, and aggressive. In a relationship with him, he is constantly bickering and bossy. He comes from money, privilege and high society. Mikhail, unlike you, is not a magical being so you need to keep your magical abilities secret from him. Over time the arrogant Mikhail starts to develop feelings for your character as they get to know one another while trying to save the coffee shop together.

This story is along the PG variety for an otome, and focuses more on a cute, romantic story. So a "pinch" of spice but not spicy. 

Game-play & Features
The game itself is simple to play, you get questions and pick answers that are in-line with the love interest you wish to pursue. The male's story is much lengthier and more in depth than the female route.

Your options are the typical text speed, auto time, audio controls, skip mode and display options. There is a gallery you can browse that houses fanart as opposed to official CG's on the main menu (a really nice touch to involve the community and highlight various artists). And 20 save slots to save your favorite moments. 

The Visuals & Audio
Visually the sprite art reminds me of those doll designer apps you can find online. Or an anime version of a Bratz doll. Unfortunately the character art is static and they don't really change poses but on occasion they do change facial expressions. The backgrounds are gorgeous and I love the color palette which is mostly a mix of soft gradients (purples and pinks). 

There are special moment artworks that accompany each end of the romance routes which was a nice touch. I wish there was much more custom artwork but due to time restraints I am just happy to see a couple. I did not include them in my screencap showcase as I feel they are a reward for completing those routes.
Some background art and sprite art in-game…

The soundtrack is a mix of eighties sounding synth pop with some piano tracks thrown into it in places. I admit I was not overly fond of a lot of the music and kept the volume down low. 

Overall Experience
This game was produced during a game jam called Nanoreno. Basically a challenge to devs to create a visual novel in an allotted time frame. The game is fun and cute but you can certainly tell a lot was cut from the original story, it does not always flow and the character development feels rushed and incomplete. I wish this story was developed under normal time development. The concept is sound and interesting. With more time they could have fleshed out the story, developed the romantic routes and had some custom artwork. Maybe they will revisit this story in the future (hopefully).

It is a fun little story despite its shortcomings. And at the price of free, a nice short otome to fill the space of a couple hours of enjoyment. 💖

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