Written by Squimmy

Indie Tsushin 2023 April issueThis article was featured in our 2023 April issue. Check out more articles and interviews in the full issue.

Title screen for ファミレスを享受せよ (Famiresu wo Kyojuseyo)

For those not familiar with the Japanese famiresu (short for “family restaurant”), the closest American analogue is probably the diner; in Japan, Denny’s markets themselves as a famiresu. Few operate 24-hours a day any more, but many people still remember them—from the days they were too old to play at home, but not yet old enough to go to bars—as a place to hang out late into the night…

Desk with window over it showing a full moon. Player says, 'On a night like this with a beautiful moon, I should go to a famiresu.'

"On a night like this with a beautiful moon, I should go to a famiresu."

In ファミレスを享受せよ (Famiresu wo Kyojuseyo, Enjoy the Famiresu), the latest game from 月刊湿地帯 (Wetlands Monthly), you, the protagonist, are studying late one night when, struck by the beauty of the full moon, you decide to head out to a famiresu and study there instead. You find the Moon Palace. You’ve never seen it before but it’s open late so you head inside and suddenly realize things are amiss. Looking out the window, you find the Moon Palace is now floating in a near-featureless void, punctuated only by the full moon. The door leading outside has vanished. There are other patrons here, and they all confirm there’s no way out—they’ve tried everything. They’ve been stuck here hundreds—some of them thousands—of years.

The gameplay of Famiresu wo Kyojuseyo is essentially a point-and-click adventure with a focus on dialog. Unlike most staples of the genre, you don’t have an inventory. Instead, the main resource you accumulate is topics of conversation. The residents of the Moon Palace, for their part, have long since exhausted all conversation with each other and retreated to their own tables, so you’ll be talking to them purely on a one-on-one basis. But you’ll need to find things to talk about. Obvious questions like “Who are you?” or “Where are we?” are available from the start, but beyond that you’ll have to scrounge up topics by exploring your surroundings or following-up on things the other patrons mention.

Player asking Glasspan, 'Where are we?' and getting the response, 'You and I are will be here forever. That's not so bad, right?'

"You and I are will be here forever. That's not so bad, right?"

The characters are all well-written, with their own personalities, their own backstories, and their own strategies for dealing with the situation they’ve found themselves in, so often a conversation provides new perspectives, new secrets, and, crucially, new topics to talk about. Often a character will mention an idea that has you immediately scurrying off to someone else to see what they have to say on the subject. Like most point-and-click adventure games, at some point you’ll likely hit a dead end and start trying every possible combination of actions available. But it never feels tedious. The writing is compelling, the characters are intriguing, and every conversation is its own reward.

Seronika telling the player, 'Oh, are you new here, too? If you'd like, please have a seat.'

"Oh, are you new here, too? If you'd like, please have a seat."

The developer, oississui, has put some thought into the concept of the infinite and the practicalities of being stuck in one place forever, and each of the characters provides a different lens through which to examine the situation. There’s an agoraphobe who opts for self-imposed solitary confinement rather than confronting the infinite void outside. There’s the missing-presumed-dead king of a nation conquered hundreds of years ago. One patron seems focused on identifying and analyzing the rules that govern the Moon Palace… Everyone is dealing with this quandary in their own way. The game uses its setting to explore a surprising number of concepts, and while it never truly veers into horror, there are a handful of chilling ideas that are hinted at just enough that they’ll get their hooks into you if you let them.

The drink bar with drink machines and condiments lined up.

What is a famiresu without a drink bar?

The game’s visuals are simple but effective. The artwork has strong, stark lines and uses a restricted color palette with cool blue shadows set against striking yellow highlights. Careful, detailed linework draws your eye to the focus of a scene, standing out against the scratchy, impressionistic style used for the background and scenery. The music is equally evocative and works wonders to build the right atmosphere for the story, ranging from laid-back, lo-fi tunes to haunting, melancholy melodies depending on the scene.

There are two endings to the story: a standard ending, which has a couple of minor variations depending on actions you take during the game, and a “good ending” that recontextualizes some things and ties the various narrative threads together in a more satisfying way. There’s a simple save/load system, and the game will warn you when you’re about to do something that will significantly affect the plot, so you can change your mind, or back-out and save first before making any big decisions.

Looking out the front window of the Moon Palace and seeing nothing but a black void and a full moon. Player says, 'Even if I could open the door, there's nothing out there but the moon. Where am I...'

"Even if I could open the door, there's nothing out there but the moon. Where am I..."

The game is free to play on itch.io and though the description says it takes about half an hour to beat, you can expect to spend at least a couple of hours completing it, even if you’re a fast reader. Sadly, Famiresu wo Kyojuseyo is only available in Japanese and currently there’s nothing to suggest a translated version will be provided, so as a text-heavy game, its audience will be tragically small among the anglosphere. In the event an English version does get released, my English-speaking friends should be forewarned that I will pester them relentlessly until they play it.

You can play Famiresu wo Kyojuseyo in your browser on itch. Follow oississui on Twitter @oississui and visit their homepage for more art and games. And you can watch us play it on stream!

This article was written by Squimmy. Find more of their work on their homepage.