One day, she wakes up and finds herself in front of a weird café. Noir, the waiter, tells her that she has already died, but failed to go to the heaven and as a lost spirit, she ended up at the entrance to Café 0.
He later gives Corliss a chance to return to a week before she died.
★ ☆ ✰ Rating: 9/10
Café 0 ~The Sleeping Beast~ is a sequel to the first Cafe 0 game and follows another deceased person on their journey in order to accept their death – Corliss Green, a maid. The waiter is a different person as well, but Noir seems to hold the familiar acidic but bored personality that Sui used to have in the first game. The first thing a player might notice is that there is a beautiful improvement in terms of art. The characters looks wonderfully done and show off their personalities well because while Noir is expressive in showing his disdain and annoyance, Corliss doesn’t have a lot of expressions though she does shines when she smiles. The GUI is really well done and shows off well the constant theme of chains and things being hidden. The music is also really well done and does a great job in showing of the sadness of some of the scenes, especially towards the end of the true route!
Like the first game, Corliss Green (name is changeable) finds herself wondering into a strange placed called Café 0. There she is greeted by a waiter named Noir with a rather unpleasant attitude that explains to her that she has died, though because she hasn’t accepted it completely she has become a ghost. Noir allows her to live the last week of her life in order to find out exactly what happened to her so that she may move on. Thus, she spends the last 7 days in her new workplace – the Ashford mansion, where she has been helping Barclay, the butler, take care of the two Ashford heirs, Nathan and Ethan. Yet, Corliss through her interactions with these people will come to find out the truth of what happened to her aunt Sophie after she disappeared 15 years ago, though knowing the truth of things never seems to have a good ending within Café 0.
Corliss is a much more straightforward person, but she is a person that is hard to read and connect to, which makes it a bit harder for her to understand the other people that live within the mansion. Due to her childhood, Corliss finds it hard to interact with people, but she finds it rather easy to accept everything that is going on around her, as pointed out by Noir. Yet, it is an important part of the story that Corliss comes to understand the different emotions that she can go through and how she can experience them. She does this with the help of both Nathan and Ethan, but in different ways – while, Nathan is there to help her better understand familial love and with Ethan she begins to learn the potential of romantic love, but through both of them a strong friendship seems to be built through the true route. Being so emotionless in the beginning of the story, it is great to see her become attached to the twins and to just living (and just finally accepting everything that she seemed to be avoiding), even after the fact that she has died.
Nathan and Ethan are similar to Corliss in some ways due to their sheltered lifestyle and dependence on different people when they were growing up. Both of the twins grew alone in the Ashford mansion with Barclay and Corliss’s predecessor, Emma. Nathan is more centered around studying and learning new things. He is a bit bothered by Corliss entering their space, but he eventually accepts her as a family member. On the other hand, Ethan is more outgoing and mischievous than his twin brother and has a tendency of teasing Corliss during his route, but like Nathan, he is very curious about what happened to his parents and the accident 15 years before, as well as how Barclay is connected to all of this. If the characters had been any different, the story wouldn’t be as believable, but because all 3 of them seem to be carving other connections and more exploration of what is being hidden from them, it makes them all bond together quickly, though it is still flawed in some aspects especially during Ethan’s romantic route but through it all – they are all that they have in the end of the game.
However, at the center of the game is two big mysteries: How did Corliss died? What happened to Sophie? Smaller questions connect with the incident from 15 years before and how exactly Barclay is related to it. Each route unveils a bit more of each mystery, but unlike its predecessor the story seems more linear and it seems like the culprit is easier to figure out, though the player isn’t without questioning other characters along the way either. Sophie’s story is more complex and while there are echoes of it in the present, there are things that could have been handled better by the adults, so that the children wouldn’t have to suffer so much in its aftermath. Yet, the story does well in showing that they are complex people with traumas that they try to hide with other things and while someone else might try to remove that band-aid a much larger hemorrhage ends up bleeding throughout the story. However, it would have been nice to see the thought process of some characters to better understand just what exactly they were going through when they made their choices, though that isn’t always possible.
However, even if there is a lot of darkness in the story, love still seems to ring out the strongest in different ways — familial love being the strongest. This is shown in the aftermath of Sophie’s story and during the last part of the true route, though in slightly different ways depending on the choices made. Everything makes it seem like a sad story, but there is sort of “light in the end of tunnel” that gives the player hope. Personally, I really enjoyed both endings of the true route because it shows Corliss’s, Nathan’s, and Ethan’s dedication to each other and that they will always be together! They are each other’s strongest support, especially when all the adults in their lives have left them.
What is also enjoyable of the story is the continuous theme of “hidden/sleeping beasts” throughout the story and through multiple characters. It is first shown in an indirect message with Corliss and unlocking her personal emotions and transforms to show that everyone has a “hidden beast” of darker thoughts and emotions that they choose to ignore until it swallows them up whole, like it does with a certain character at the end of the true route. It is also shown that it just doesn’t affect adults, but children as well as shown with the 3 main characters and the lives that they have lived up to this point and how it could potentially destroy them if kept ignored.
Café 0 ~The Sleeping Beast~ might not exactly follow in its predecessor’s footsteps, but it still has great mysteries to solve and complex characters and the dynamics that they share with one another, even if they might hurt each other in the process of the game — there is a reasoning and background that goes through all of their actions and the story tries its hardest to explain them all. This wasn’t the game I was expecting it to be compared to the first, but it shows so many more sides to humans and their relationships, even if it isn’t romantic love, there is just something in this game for everyone to enjoy!
So, if you enjoy mysteries or just drama, consider checking out Roseverte’s very human game!