It isn’t just the peanuts that are making me thirsty…
In Pub Encounter you play as an extremely stressed young woman whose job has just taken a turn for the worse. Set in present-day Japan, the story sees the woman looking for comfort in alcohol and finding herself in the Audire bar. There she meets five dashing middle-aged men who she is immediately drawn to. Which, of course, leads her down the road of love.
What you just watched was the prologue; the rest of the game is sectioned into chapters that are dedicated to romancing a particular man. This was pretty fascinating to me, as most otome visual novels I’ve encountered usually made me sit through a ton of other stories just to get time with the person I wanted to romance. With Pub Encounter it’s just straight into the action.
Now, if someone had told me that I’d be enjoying Pub Encounter, a raunchy, visual novel video game specifically catering to heterosexual women, I’d have laughed so hard that I’d turn purple. But that is indeed what happened. I found myself feeling rather charmed by these middle-aged men, despite me having no sexual attraction to them whatsoever. Some had surprisingly real problems that I could relate to, such as issues with siblings and not feeling good enough in the role they lived in.
But what really stands out to me is that Pub Encounter has a variety that doesn’t just fall into ridiculous stereotypes. Sure, you have a ‘bad guy’, ‘the jokester’ and the ‘workaholic’, but there’s a lot more to the characters than that, which makes them likeable. Too many times I’ve disliked male characters that are just caricatures, their masculinity so prominent that they just end up being off-putting. Pub Encounter does have a few characters like this, but most are written well enough to ignore these bad eggs.
However, there are some instances that will definitely have players rolling their eyes. The lack of choice can be suffocating at times, especially as you end up feeling as though you don’t get much say in what’s going on, leading you to feel as though you’re just watching a film with little to no interaction. There are moments where you can pick different options to affect your likeability meter with the guys, but they are few and far between.
Originally being a Japanese mobile game named Dandy Shot, Pub Encounter has a few translation issues but they aren’t significant enough to cause you to see the game in a bad light. In fact, in spite of these issues, Pub Encounter on the Nintendo Switch is a significant improvement from the game on mobile and PC. Not only will you not have to buy the chapters separately here, but you’ll have a much more accessible screen to play on.
While the concept of ‘falling in love with older dudes that hang around in a pub’ may seem odd on paper, Pub Encounter goes to show how an unattractive idea has the potential to have such a huge impact. If you like your otome games, then don’t hesitate in picking this up as it has a lot of content to keep you busy.
Just don’t play with family in the room. Please.