Did you enjoy it overall?
I've got plenty of things to say and ask that I'd rather do personally or in a chat with the game creator but oh, well. Guess the comment section will suffice. Yes, I highly enjoyed the game and it's one of the few visual novels where I wished to go through all of the endings, not just the good ones! I'd even go as far as add it to my top 5 completely free PC otome games or at least number 6 or 7.
What was your favorite part?
I can really go on and on about what I loved about Hearbaked but like it says I can only list my favorite parts.
- What surprised me the most was that despite being made in one month neither the endings nor the game as a whole felt rushed. Just like the characters I also doubted two people can fall in love with each other in just 10 days but damn, Heartbaked made it seem plausible! We had enough time to get to know the characters, get attached to them, get heartbroken [sometimes twice in a route] and later on feel relief. I think the pacing couldn't get any more perfect than it already is!
- What I'm always extremely strict about is the main character in VNs since they're often eyeless, faceless, their bangs covering everything besides their mouth, never facing the camera or having the most stereotypical haircut ever - medium-length straight dark brown hair while wearing the most plain clothing known to man. Protagonists are even more important than the romancable characters yet they're always treated more like background ones. Ginger on the other hand [I always keep the original name in order to experience a VN like a movie or book. Having my name would just be distracting] has a simple yet unique, most importantly memorable design. The same goes for all the characters with actual designs. The game's theme is pastries so naturally they'd be just as sweet-looking! :)
- Speaking of the game's theme, besides the one that got an anime adaptation BONJOUR♪Sweet Love Patisserie, I haven't seen any other otome game tackle on the pastry topic in such detail. I also found refreshing how you combined it with Hansel and Gretel's house of sweets but instead build an entire town around the idea. I'm desperate for VNs that don't take place in a mundane high school setting... T-T
- I immensly appreicate the amount of effort that went into details when it comes to backgrounds, menu designs, the diary having notes and scribbles like a real diary and certainly the dialogue. I was prepared to go all Cinema sins on tiny plot holes but there were surprisingly very few of them.
- One cannot discuss this game without adressing the humor in it which had me giggling and even laughing so much more than a couple of times. Everyone had their own comedic charm which didn't get old even by the end. I've never laughed just by hearing a song before but now I do each time Carver's theme starts. xD
- Let's get back to the character topic. What would a main character be without a personality? [Unfortunately, we see that frequently, especially in mobile otome games] I honestly did not notice each dialogue/action choice always had a volatile, a gentle and a sassy option since in the end they all seemed like traits of the same person. That just means Ginger is as complex as a real human. Even if I didn't constantly choose the same kind of answers it would seem like something Ginger would do. Usually I find "pick your personality along the way" kind of games very risky to be made because eventually you're forced to stick with one type of behavior otherwise the protagonist's actions would look inconsistent. Here the balance was flawless.
- The love interests were just as colorful and fun as the protag while still being able to show their life has their fair amount of drama. It's difficult, especially in a short amount of time to make the player seriously care about what a character is going through but here I ended up caring for everyone by the end of a single route. Now that's what I call well-written characters!
What parts could be improved upon?
I don't have many problems with the game so I'll just go all out.
- The few grammer mistakes don't bother me as much as the overuse of CAPITAL LETTERS in Benjamin's route. Was his route created first and then the writer realised they should cut down on the Caps lock?
- I find it a tad jarring how people supposedly changed clothes yet they didn't in the sprite. It just heavily breaks the immersion.
- The lack of special cutscene images is probably due to the deadline so I understand. However, I'd love to see someday an updated version with more CGs but with the same style as the sprites. That's one of the reasons I'm looking forward to the artbook! ;)
- This is just a nitpick and I fully well know only a handful of VNs actually do it but if there truly is a Heartbaked 3.0 or whatever I would be so happy if even not that important characters like the grandma and child obtain their own sprites! It just ties everything together so much better. Plus, at first I mixed up the kind-hearted grandma and the mean one because both were invisible and had the same nickname. xD
- Another nitpick is that I never understood if the buildings, trees, fountains etc. were actually edible or they just looked that way. It may seem trivial but to me it's pretty darn important if one is gonna go the "we love sweets so much we live inside them" road. If everything is indeed made out of candy countless problems with realism will arise. Then again, I am playing a dating sim about a cake needing love in order to be completed.
- Pretty much all side-stories in Heartbaked are explored as much as they need to be but I'd really would have liked to see more of the relantionship between Ginger, Radley and Carver. It was said that they all used to train under the girl's Grandma so that means they most likely all got along at one point yet they ended up as enemies. Was it just because Carver sometimes acts arrogant that the three kids grew apart? I imagine both boys stayed by Ginger's side when her grandma died and put aside their difference for a while. I'm just saying it would have been nice to see such a subplot in order to further shape the characters.
Who was your favorite character?
By far it's Carver because in a genius way he slowly and smoothly yet in a short span of time metamorphosed from a funny scumbag into a lovable goof. One can see his route is about changing for the better but if we look at it reasonably a person cannot change completely in those 10 days. If that were to happen the story would suffer and even more in Carver's case since his main trait is acting snarky. The writer knew that and instead just showed new sides to him which would appear more and more often with time. The only thing that changed was our opinion of the character since we would eventually accept him for who he is.
Would you like to see more games from Gourmet Visual?
Yes with both hands raised! For sure whatever content comes from GourmetVisual it would be top quality! I'd even love to see a sequel to Heartbaked which can end with the couple finally being able to make that damn love cake!
Any other random comments!
[how do I turn the Bold effect off again...] My dream for a few years was to make otome games like Heartbaked - fun, charming, emotional and unforgetable but I can't draw or program so I gave up on that. Make sure in my place to keep on creating such tiny miracles. T-T *sniff*