Ayakashi Gohan (あやかしごはん) is a 2014 supernatural fantasy otome game from Honeybee, with an updated Vita port of the game, Ayakashi Gohan ~Oomori~ being released a year later. While the game doesn’t have an official English language release, fan translation team Hanataba Translations released an English patch for the PC version of the game back in 2017.
Ayakashi Gohan follows a young girl, Rin Akane, as she adjusts to life in Momoji Village, a place where ayakashi and humans live peacefully with one another. Over the course of the game, Rin interacts with the various human and ayakashi residents of the town helping to bridge the gap between both races. It’s a lighthearted game about eating good food and romancing hot ayakashi… or so I thought…
Rin’s mother is a “lady with a questionable profession”, so she neglects Rin, leaving her to pretty much fend for herself. Because of this, Rin grows up pretty distant and unaccustomed to the rituals of a normal healthy home life, that is until her grandmother invites her to spend the summer with her and her kitsune companion Gin in Momoji Village. There she learns the importance of eating good food (the food porn in this game!!) and fostering healthy relationships with other people.
I should mention that Ayakashi Gohan utilizes a rather unique gameplay style from some of the other games I’ve reviewed in the past. The game starts off with a general common route that takes place during Rin’s childhood, the choices you make in the common route directly effect Rin’s personality in the rest of the game and which love interests you can pursue. There are two distinct routes: the Human Route (Uta, Haginosuke, Suou) and the Ayakashi Route (Yomi, Manatsu, Asagi). If you chose to be more withdrawn and distant in the common route you’ll end up in the Human Route, while choosing more positive options in the common route will land you the Ayakashi Route. Rin is a completely different character in each route, in the Human Route she is more withdrawn and introverted, while in the Ayakashi route, she is more upbeat and optimistic. I preferred Human Route Rin over Ayakashi Route Rin, since her taciturn demeanor seemed better suited to her upbringing at the start of the story when compared to her overly happy-go-lucky counterpart. And, I’ll also admit that I enjoyed the love interests in the Human Route much more than the love interests in the Ayakashi Routes because their stories seemed more centered around Rin growing as a character as opposed to Rin “saving/fixing” her love interest.
There is some overlap between the routes, with each one revealing more about the characters and the story. Each route reveals something new about the characters that you wouldn’t otherwise get to see in their own routes. For example, in the Human Routes, Rin, Uta, Yomi, Haginosuke, and Suou form a friend group at school so you get to spend a lot of time with them in that respect; eating lunch together, walking to and from school together, as well as other typical teenage activities that you don’t get in the Ayakashi Routes. While the Ayakashi Routes focus more on Rin’s interactions with the ayakashi that live in Momoji Village, and less on the day to day activities of a teenager. I guess what I’m getting at is that the Human Routes make for more well rounded stories in terms of character development for Rin as well as her respective love interests.
The love interests pretty much ran the gambit, some where better than other, but they all fell into the usual otome archetypes. Uta is the brash hero type, his brother Yomi is the cool aloof type, Haginosuke is the friendly outgoing type, Manatsu is the big bro/mature love interest, and Suou is a tsundere with some latent yandere tendencies, and anything I say about Asagi is a huge effing spoiler so lets just say he’s “mysterious”. Out of the available love interests, Suou was my absolute favorite, since you really had to work for his affection and his “conflict” was pretty well executed from start to finish…and I am a sucker for tsun buns… On the flipside, I absolutely hated Manatsu’s route, the whole thing just seemed to draaaaaaag and honestly, Manatsu is just a dull character all around. Big Bro types just don’t do it for me at all. Another letdown is that Gin isn’t a potential love interest, but when you get into the backstory about his dead wife it makes sense that he’s not chomping at the bit to get into another relationship… but, at least he’s pretty to look at.
Most of the love interests and characters are based on ayakashi from Japanese folklore. Uta and Yomi are based on Komainu, which are guardian dogs of the village. While Gin and Suou are a Kitsune (fox yokai) and a Nekomata (cat yokai) respectively. There are plenty of other ayakashi mentioned, some I’ve heard of before and others not so much, but, the game does give a bit of background on each one when they appear in the story. I also really liked that the character designs matched the ayakashi they were supposed to represent, even if most stuck to their humanoid forms.
As far as extra features, Ayakashi Gohan has quite a few savory extras for you to enjoy long after you finish the game. After you finish the game, you can unlock the omake mode for extra scenarios with each of the love interests as well as some cool concept art. Though, I should also mention that the game is fully voiced with some pretty big name VAs to boot. Even Rin was voiced, which is something otome games tend to shy away from since otome heroines are typically seen as little more than insert characters. Rin is by far one of the better otome heroines out there and more than carries the game all on her own, so it only makes sense that she also be just as dynamic of a character as the love interests.
This was my third Honeybee game, so I had a pretty fair idea of what to expect with Ayakashi Gohan. Starry Sky in Spring, was a pretty by the book high school romance, with a predictable plot and characters, and Re:BIRTHDAY SONG ~Koi o Utau Shinigami~ was just an emotional gut punch from start to finish, so I kind of expected Ayakashi Gohan to fall somewhere in the middle and that’s more or less what you get. This isn’t a mature otome game, so much of the romance is pretty light, but for what it lacks in spice it more than makes up for in the drama department. There is a twist in this one that I did not see coming at all. And, once you figure it out, it’s kind of hard to go back and play the game again, because it really changes the way you see EVERYTHING.
There are times when Ayakashi Gohan can get a bit preachy, especially when the characters are singing the praises of family meal times. While romance does play a big role in the overall gameplay, Ayakashi Gohan puts more of an emphasis on the more wholesome platonic relationships between Rin and the other characters in the game, particularly the love interests. In each route we see the natural progression of Rin’s relationships with each of the characters she encounters, some of which aren’t romantic in nature. It’s much more of a slow build than I’m used to in otome games, but, something that sets Ayakashi Gohan apart from the rest.