Bustafellows is an emotional crime drama that knows when it’s time to have some fun.
This review will only talk about what happens in the first chapter of the game, anything beyond that is considered spoilers by the developer and they have expressed that these spoilers not be revealed. Please note that reviews on this site are already written to not spoil the whole game.
Teuta is a journalist looking for a scoop because she’s going to need some money. She can’t get a sit down with a popular lawyer because he doesn’t do personal interviews. She lives in an apartment that she is trying to leave because it seems to be having structural issues. Something is off about the murderer she’s been talking to. Nothing seems to be going right.
But later in the day, she sees the lawyer, Limbo, on the street. She calls to him, reaching out… only for him to fall to the ground in front of her, blood leaking from his mouth and a wound in his chest. He manages to choke out a few words and then… He dies. Limbo Fitzgerald dies on the street, leaving Teuta in shock, blood covering her hands from when she tried to stop the bleeding. So, she does the only thing she knows to do.
She time travels back a few hours earlier into the body of a petty criminal who has been arrested and demands to talk to that person’s “crooked lawyer,” Limbo.
This is not much of a surprise as this is the conversation that opens the game, and you will see again after Limbo shows up. But, time travel? How does it work?! Teuta can only go back in time a few minutes to maybe a few hours prior to where she was, and only into the body of another person. She cannot choose who that person will be. Her two childhood friends, Luka, a police officer, and Adam, an anchorman who also is a bit of an idol, know about her power. The problem is getting Limbo to believe her long enough to save his life.
Not long after meeting Limbo, Teuta meets Shu, a bounty hunter, Helvetica, a plastic surgeon, Mozu, a Coroner whom she actually met earlier in the day, and finally Scarecrow, a self-proclaimed underground boss. Through a series of circumstances, that the game sets up very well, Teuta finds herself living in a huge mansion with the five men, who describe themselves as “Fixers.”
And now, Teuta wants to be a part of their team.
Bustafellows is a crime drama with some comedy that touches on societal issues. The overall story-telling in the game is great. I found myself laughing, glaring, and thinking along with the characters while playing. I enjoy following Teuta around and watching her try, and often fail, to get a scoop. She has a sad past, ambitions, and a desire for something more.
Like most otome games, there is something for everyone when it comes to the guys. Limbo is charming, but also a bit immature and tends to hide his emotions. Shu is the groups’ bad boy, who also comes off cold, which will make more sense when he reveals more about his job. Helvetica is the flirt, who is almost always blunt and a bit dominate. Mozu comes off as emotionless, and doesn’t seem to care really much for the people around him. And Scarecrow is the loveable idiot who is awkward, relatable, and the brains of the operation.
Each guy has a dark past that will come back for them in their routes, and these help you, and Teuta, understand what makes them tick. I found myself liking all the love interests in this game, they grew on me even if they weren’t my type. Each guy has his own route, “side: A” and “side: B,” where you get get to read a little more one-on-one time. The romance is very nice, but not too adult if you are someone who doesn’t enjoy “hot and heavy” romances.
Not only are the guys there, but the cast is full of other characters, including several women. Teuta’s two childhood friends are a source of both comfort and misunderstanding for her. But she talks to other people often and it really makes her feel like a real person.
Outside of the story itself, the artwork and character designs are very nice. Backgrounds are all gorgeous and invoke the feel of a certain big city. Some backgrounds include animated portions, and the occasional animated sequences are a nice added touch. Characters have some dynamic poses, so they aren’t just changing how we look at their faces.
The game has “correct” choice indicators when that is an option. Colors are respectively Grey for Limbo, Green for Scarecrow, Magenta for Helvetica, Yellow for Mozu, and Blue for Shu. There are also times where the POV may switch to one of the guys and you will know who based on the color of the bounding box and the text window.
Sometimes the game feels like it’s in soft-focus and I’m not sure if it’s on purpose, meant to convey the noir esthetic. The copy I have is on a Nintendo Switch, and when I was worried it could be from putting the game on my TV, I would still see some of the same soft-focus on the console in handheld mode. Most of the time though the artwork is crisp.
Since the story takes place in the USA, sometimes the characters will say something and I found myself confused. Certain food and holiday traditions are not quite right among other things. I found myself more than once wondering what exactly they mean about xyz tradition or they may comment about a food that is common, but say one thing that leaves you scratching your head and searching the internet to find out if you have been making a dish wrong your whole life. I learned to laugh it off (after googling to make sure).
Sometimes, the background won’t match what we are told it looks like, i.e. it’s Christmas time and character comment on the decorations on the street, yet the background is the same it’s always been. This missing detail is a little odd after all the things that we have seen the game do.
The game does have some text and grammatical errors here and there. A section where you have to answer yes or no to a test on the screen does not match what Teuta reads in her head. A handful of times the text breaks the bounding box and it’s the same for the backlog, so one can only guess what the end of the sentence was.
Something that may cause frustration is what I have been calling “flavor dialogue.” This dialogue is said, but there is no subtitle shown so you can understand it, if you don’t understand Japanese. This happens mostly when transitioning from scene to scene. Also when the POV character is focused on something intently, and they don’t really hear the dialogue, or characters talking over each other. Most times, if you really want to know what the characters are saying, you only need to check the backlog to see what was said. There are a handful of cases where the dialogue is completely gone, and it’s pretty frustrating when it does happen.
While the errors and sometimes unknown “flavor dialogue” frustrate me, I really enjoyed the game. The story is an interesting look of society’s issues, and it’s fun to wonder how Teuta is going to use her power to save the day. If you are looking for something to add to your collection. I would highly recommend this game.
- Lovely artwork and character design
- Varied cast of characters, people talk to Teuta about things other than the guys
- Storyline with funny moments and shocking twists
- Some text and grammar errors, flavor dialogue will frustrate some, and most when it can’t be understood.
Final Comments: Fun when it needs to be and serious, sometimes dark, when it needs to be, Bustafellows delighted me. I hope the release does well enough to bring over Season Two which was announced along with this game.
Suggested Play Order: While all character routes are contained, there are some that end in a way that I think would be better to play them later in your runs.
Trigger/Content Warnings: This is a crime drama, so there should be some expectation as to plot points that this genre may touch on.
Game page is located here and contains guides for the game.
Disclaimer: A copy of this game was provided by the publisher.
Release Date: July 30th, 2021
Developer: NIPPON CULTURAL BROADCASTING EXTEND INC.
Publisher: PQube Limited
System: PC (Steam), Nintendo Switch
Price: £54.99/$75.43 USD Collector’s Edition, $49.99 Standard Edition
Text Language: English
Official Website: https://pqube.co.uk/bustafellows/
Collector’s Edition: Nintendo Switch, PC Steam
Standard Edition: Steam Page, Nintendo Switch
Standard Edition – Physical: Amazon US, Amazon UK
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