Charade Maniacs is a mystery otome game developed by Idea Factory for the Nintendo Switch and published in English by Idea Factory International. Can you trust someone who might be a traitor? A mysterious figure abducts Hiyori Sena, transporting her to a strange world with nine other abductees and welcomes them to a world called Arcadia.
Everyone must act out “dramas” for a chance to escape, all whilst avoiding the trappings of a traitor.
- Genre: Mystery | Romance | Suspense
- Rating: ESRB T
- Developer & Publisher: Idea Factory & Idea Factory International
- Where to Get the Game: Idea Factory Intl | Amazon | Nintendo eShop
- Similar Games: 7’scarlet | Sweet Fuse
In the near future…
Summer break was around the corner.
Hiyori Sena, a sophomore in high school, was living a peaceful life.
One day, as she was walking home with her childhood friend,
a masked figure appeared before them.
The two were abducted and taken to a strange world with two moons.
When they awoke, they met nine others in the same predicament.
In their confusion, the mysterious figure began to speak.
“Welcome to Arcadia!”
“In this world, if you perform for us, your wildest dreams can come true!” In order to find their way home,
the group was forced to work together and act in an assortment of scenes from a drama.
They were also made aware that a traitor walked among them…
What could be the motive of this traitor?
And why are they all being forced to act?
Unable to fully trust anyone, whose hand will she take in the end?
There are nine potential love interests in Charade Maniacs, ranging from ‘age appropriate cuties’ to ‘okay, that’s not too bad of an age gap’ to ‘um… no thank you’. Each of the LIs is divided into three teams: Information Team (Akaze, Chigasaki, and Dazai), Cooking Team (Ebana, Iochi, and Haiji), and Cleaning Team (Futami, Gyobu, and Tomose).
The game is divided into the Prologue, the group common routes, then finally the individual character routes. There are three locked routes, 1 character from each of the above teams. These locked routes lead to an additional Quarantine route before going to the individual routes. It’s more fun not knowing which routes are locked, so I won’t say which here, but, I did indicate that info in the walkthroughs.
Kyoya Akase (VA. Soma Saito)
If you wanted to date a shounen anime protagonist here’s your chance! Strong, charismatic, and honest—Kyoya is a natural born leader. While he isn’t the smartest in the group, he does have a pretty big heart and genuinely wants to save everyone, much like a hero. Despite his age he becomes the voice of reason for the group, Kyoya is a great first route to start with, he’s fairly light on drama and I found his relationship with Hiyori pretty cute. Always upbeat, he doesn’t let much keep him down.
While I like Kyoya as a character, I will admit that this route was kind of bland compared to the others. But, if you’re looking for someone chill to kick off your Charade Maniacs journey with, Kyoya is definitely the perfect boy to start with.
Tomose Banjo (VA. Kenichi Suzumura)
What is it with childhood friends?! When they’re done right, I love ’em to bits, but Tomose was rough. He’s been friends with Hiyori since they were kids and has harbored a not so secret crush on her for years, but much to his frustration she only sees him as a younger brother. Tomose will do anything to protect her, even if that means making enemies of everyone else. Overprotective is an understatement—he is literally one bad day from throwing Hiyori in a cage.
He is a member of the drama club at school, so he’s a natural in the Other World Streams, earning tons of points during every performance. He is especially enthusiastic about the romance dramas with Hiyori, since they allow him to be romantic with her in ways he can’t normally. I’ll be honest, you either love Banjo Kazooie or hate him.
Mamoru Chigasaki (VA. Daisuke Namikawa)
Sad droopy eyes, over-sized sweater, and sweet as pie big bro vibes… baby boy needs a hug. Chigasaki is a literal walking cinnamon roll who must be protected! He seems almost too pure, for the horrific situation they find themselves in. But, no matter what happens, Chigasaki is a peaceful force in the group. He avoids conflict at all costs and tends to hang back during house disputes. He’s gentle and kind to everyone, but he is especially sweet with Hiyori.
He’s a sweet bean that deserves all the good things in life or to be teased relentlessly. I haven’t decided which yet. Though he does give soft bottom vibes., so…
Mei Dazai (VA. Makoto Furukawa)
Dazai is best boy and no one can convince me otherwise! Dazai is always calm and collected, only speaking or acting when necessary. He can seem a bit distant, but he’s super sweet and kind. Usually reserved, Dazai absolutely loses it when he sees cute kitties! He even has a drawer full of cute kitten pictures in his room.
Dazai isn’t the most dynamic member of the group, mostly taking on a background role in most situations. He doesn’t have strong opinions, but when he does speak up, you can be sure he’s being fair to everyone involved.
Keito Ebana (VA. Tomoaki Maeno)
For someone who looks harmless, Captain Sweater Vest has quite the mouth on him! Megane characters are usually pretty cool and level-headed, it’s rare to get one that’s as tsun as Ebana… and I kinda like it. It’s way more than just tough love, Ebana can be downright rude. He is especially cold towards Hiyori, with whom he seems to have a personal vendetta against. Ebana isn’t here to make friends, Ebana is here to survive!
While he’s not the nicest person in the house, he is the best cook, creating culinary masterpieces on the daily. Because of this and his constant nagging, Ebana is labeled the mom of the group. If you’re expecting him to be sweet, you’ll be waiting for a while, but he can be a sweetie…eventually.
Ryoichi Futami (VA. Tomokazu Seki)
This one reeks of fuckboi energy. There’s no arguing that Futami is fine and those eyes, my dude has a way of looking at you that really gets the blood pumping. But surprisingly, Futami is pretty chill, he gives off big bro vibes, he’s mature and kind—a man among boys. Despite being one of the oldest in the group, he’s pretty approachable and easy to get along with. He’s not as charismatic as Akaze, so he mostly takes on a supportive role.
Futami can be a bit of a flirt. He isn’t above teasing the more inexperienced Hiyori, and did I forget to mention he’s good with his hands?!
Souta Gyobu (VA. Yoshitsugu Matsuoka)
Gyobu is an absolute menace, he loves playing games and isn’t above stirring up drama within the group. He never reveals much about himself, but he seems to know an awful lot about everyone else. Whether that’s teasing Ebana or just saying cryptic stuff, Gyobu always makes things interesting. You never know what to expect from him and that’s part of his appeal, he always keeps you guessing.
He can sometimes come off as a playful and aloof, but he’s surprisingly astute. I didn’t know what to think of him at first, but he soon became one of my favorites in the game.
Takumi Haiji (VA. Nobuhiko Okamoto)
The literal baby of the group. Haiji is unnaturally naïve and innocent when compared with the other love interests and he often appears to be caught up in his own little world. He is pretty unconcerned about their situation, in fact the only thing he gets excited about is ice cream. He’s pretty easygoing and cute, referring to everyone as Big Bro or in Hiyori’s case Big Sis.
He is childlike and sweet to the point that it’s kind of hard to view him on the same level as he other love interests. But, to each their own I suppose.
Mizuki Iochi (VA. Megumi Ogata)
Iochi is definitely one of the highlights of Charade Maniacs! They’re drop dead gorgeous, mature, level-headed… there’s a sophistication to Iochi that the other love interests wish they had. I was a bit worried about how Iochi would be portrayed in the story, since you don’t see the best LGBTQIA+ representation in otome games. And I did get a bit frustrated by the other LIs constantly questioning their gender identity. But, for the first enby LI I’ve experienced in an otome, they are awesome.
Iochi gives off this air of maturity and grace, but they can be just as much of a tease as some of the others. They are playful and fun, but when it counts Iochi can be pretty direct. Also, Iochi can mix bomb cocktails. 🍸
Hiyori Sena (Heroine)
I’ll be honest, I don’t like Hiyori as a heroine. She’s a normal high school girl and that’s pretty much all there is to her. Which isn’t an issue in and of itself, but as a leading lady it’s kind of boring to follow someone who is just so…bland. She is kind to everyone and always wants to see the best in others even if that means she gets hurt in the end (much to Tomose’s frustration).
I tried to give her grace, since getting isekai’d and forced to act in weird dramas isn’t something that anyone would be able to take lightly, especially when death is a very real consequence. But come on, sis makes some frustrating choices that had me wanting to pull out my hair! Hiyori is the embodiment of kind to a fault! She works so hard to be fair and trust everyone no matter what, despite the fact that EVERYONE is so damn suspicious. What happened to her survival instinct?! I just wanted to shake her!
Charade Maniacs Review
If there is one thing Charade Maniacs has going for it, it has to be it’s off the walls premise. Totally normal, high school sophomore Hiyori Sena and a group of nine strangers get isekai’d to another world where they are force to perform in weird dramas. If they refuse or fail to earn points from viewers, they’ll get eliminated. As if that wasn’t enough, one of them is secretly in leagues with their captors. So Hiyori and the others must sniff out the traitor before it’s too late.
So, yeah… it’s Among Us the otome game.
Writer Uta Amamiya proved in Psychedelica of the Black Butterfly that they could tell a compelling and emotional mystery story and their signature charm is all over Charade Maniacs. But, I’d be lying if I said everything was executed perfectly. When it works the story really pulls you in, but with so many open plot threads and characters to juggle, some stuff ends up being sacrificed in favor of the planned finale.
There are little hints and clues scattered within each route. Things that seem inconsequential at the start become super important later on or in another route. While there isn’t a lot of overlap in the routes, the individual routes do reveal information about other LIs. Each route reveals just a small piece of the puzzle that is Charade Maniacs. Throw in nine love interests and an immersive futuristic sci-fi setting and this game packs in a lot.
As messy as Charade Maniacs can be, I was definitely invested. I love a good mystery, Zero Escape and Buried Stars are my jam, so you can bet I was eating up all the twists and turns. This is a game that is just as much about the journey as it is the destination, with each route bringing you ever closer to the truth behind Hiyori and the other’s unusual circumstances. Much like Hiyori, the story constantly keeps you wondering “who is the traitor?” No one is above suspicion and I found myself along for the ride! I must have accused everyone at least twice over and I can honestly say I did not see the reveal coming (for better or worse). Trust me, you’ll want to know who it is!
Even knowing that one of the nine love interests is a traitor didn’t stop me from getting attached to these characters. Sure, everyone in Charade Maniacs is hiding something, but they’re all so gosh dang likeable you can’t help but want to put your trust them—in spite of the consequences.
Nine love interests is a lot and I’ve said in the past that otome games with larger casts can struggle to balance their narratives. Charade Maniacs is no different, some of the routes feels a bit incomplete as stand alone experiences (most only have one outcome), while others are fairly satisfying on their own.
But, despite that imbalance, I did enjoy each route because of how dynamic the love interests are. Each LI has their own distinct personality and motivations, and regardless of how I felt about them I genuinely wanted to know more about them. Especially Iochi. I had heard that Charade Maniacs had a non binary love interests, and I’ll be honest I was curious to see how they would be portrayed in the game.
Compared to indie visual novels, otome games have a long way to go when it comes to LGBTQIA+ rep. And after playing their route, I can say that while the execution at times leaves a bit to be desired—Otomate’s writers might wanna take a look into some indie otome games and amare titles for a guide on how these characters should be treated in-universe. But, it’s a step, so I’ll give Charade Maniacs some grace here.
Given the higher stakes and the potential danger of falling for the villain, romance isn’t always the focus. Some routes do okay in the romance department, but given the T (Teen) rating don’t really expect things to get steamy. Most of the kiss CGs are those weird ones where Hiyori and the LIs breathe into each others mouths (no lip locking to be seen). It’s cute, but some of the relationships felt a bit too platonic for an otome game. IDK, I just kind of felt like they all were just really good friends and not so much lovers by the end of the story. But, if you wants something on the lighter side, you’ll like the softer romantic moments.
The localization made some interesting choices. Awkward is probably the best way to describe it. Casual dialogue that should have a more natural cadence comes off stilted and awkward, which makes it hard to get into the story early on. You eventually got used to it, but it’s really jarring in some places. Some other minor issues are UI related, like the font for the text being too thin and the fact that the text boxes are still a bit transparent even on the highest opacity setting. But, overall Charade Maniacs wasn’t a bad read.
Is Charade Maniacs Worth Playing?
Charade Maniacs is a ride! The biggest draw of the game is the overarching “who’s the traitor” mystery, so this is a game that you want to go into blind, because knowing too much will spoil the set up. Is this game perfect? Absolutely not! But, is it one hell of a journey? YES! There are a lot of twists and turns and secrets to uncovered in Charade Maniacs.
Despite it’s flaws, I honestly had a lot of fun playing this game! This is a story where you WANT to know how everything ends! So, yes, I recommend giving Charade Maniacs a try (especially on sale).
Thanks to Idea Factory International for providing a copy of Charade Maniacs for this review!