Imagine yourself transported to a magical world where some of your favorite fairy tale characters have been brought to life. In this world you are a beautiful and young woman who is loved by almost everyone and you get to live a carefree life surrounded by attractive men. Imagine no more because now you can play OZMAFIA!! to fulfill this fantasy. This game is a visual novel that puts you in the role of Fuka, or whatever you decide to name her, who is an amnesiac being chased by a stranger wielding two swords. She ends up being taken in by the Oz famiglia, which is Italian for family, and thus begins her adventures as she tries to discover who she is and make friends. The game mixes fairy tales we’re all familiar with and a visual novel formula, follow along as Fuka gets to know these colorful characters around her.
If the title isn’t a dead giveaway, the central characters in the game are the Oz family who are a part of the Mafia. The whole town is controlled by the mafia who make up the immortal ruling class. There are different mafia families who protect and also tax people for said protection while being the main cause of conflict in the town due to their constant fighting. The premise makes no real sense nor does using this mafia theme help endear me to any of the characters. The mafia is bad, making them into bishounen doesn’t change that. Ignoring the mafia aspect helps a player get to know the characters, they’re all decent people and would probably do very well in a world without the mafia or its rules. A huge part of Fuka’s character is a dislike of all the mafia fighting and an urge for everyone to get along and be friends. The epilogue tries to explain some of this but it’s poorly done and I can’t get into details without spoiling things.
OZMAFIA!! has a lot of things going for it story wise if you look past the mafia part. When the characters interact, which is usually on Sunday the only day there is no fighting allowed, they’re funny and can be relatable. No matter what Route you take, aside from the brothel one, Fuka lives with the Oz family and the first half of any route always has them in it so it’s refreshing when Fuka deals with other characters. Besides the eight characters you pursue in the routes, three extra in the brothel route, the game also has a cast of others. There are five major mafia families currently, each main or supporting character in the game is from a fairy tale.
One issue in the game is NTR which is based on the Japanese slang term Netorare. What this means, to put it politely, is that there are love triangles. This only shows up when you pursue one of the three main Oz men. After you’ve fallen in love with them, at a certain point the story will shift and another one of them will pursue you, this is determined by choices you’ve made earlier. I personally enjoyed the love triangle aspect at first. Beautiful woman among men, of course they’ll become attracted to her. I liked it until sex came up, if Fuka changes her mind and chooses the other man over the one she was with previously they’ll have sex. Like right then and there. Fuka, who by all accounts is a virgin, will sleep with the new guy without first breaking up with her previous lover and this is all considered normal. In a way it makes Fuka seem like this entity that causes chaos in the lives of these three guys who are all friends that are now made to suddenly compete for the attentions of a woman. While it adds something different to the usual mundane life Fuka leads at the Oz mansion it doesn’t paint any of the characters in a very positive light and I was glad that there was no NTR present in the other routes, especially since some had their own host of problems.
- Fuka – Fuka is the beloved main character of the story and while you can name her anything you like since she doesn’t remember her name, the voice acting in the game is made to fit the name Fuka. She has no memories but also no personality or many brains to speak of, Kyrie constantly points out how stupid she is to which she sort of smiles and you’d expect her to go “Ah hyuck” Goofy style. She is a very good example of a blank avatar for players to superimpose themselves on. She’s sweet and caring and I don’t think has a bad bone in her body. Aside from being dumb and too perfect, I did like Fuka. In a world where everyone keeps fighting she served as a bit of a place holder for sanity. However, due to her faults she has no idea how to be in a romantic relationship and has no idea about sex. The later seems to be a huge part of the brothel route where she becomes addicted to causing a whole host of problems.
- Caramia – The Lion from the Wizard of Oz, he seems to be the most level-headed and well-rounded men in the Oz family. He is also the Don of the family meaning he’s in charge of everything. His relationship with Fuka is very pure and usually very big brotherly unless you pursue him romantically. He gets along well with almost everyone else in the game and has a strong sense of honor.
- Kyrie – The Scarecrow from the Wizard of Oz, he is the most complex character in the Oz family and perhaps the whole game. Because of the brain he received, he is probably the smartest character in the game and because of this he gets bored very easily. He remembers everything and can usually predict what others will do which is why he finds Fuka interesting because she’s an anomaly. However, because of his boredom he’s also a bit sadistic and takes pleasure in people’s pain; even Fuka’s.
- Axel – The Tin Man from the Wizard of Oz and one of my personal favorite characters. He’s quiet and a bit shy, he follows orders strictly and he isn’t very good with his emotions. Despite receiving the heart on their journey, it would seem Axel isn’t very good at processing all the new feelings he was opened up to and as a result seems to shut down. His relationship with Fuka is usually one of confusion even if they’re lovers or friends because he has no idea how to really act around her.
- Everyone Else – While it might seem rude to bunch all of the other characters in one portion, it would also take too long to talk about them all. In my humble opinion, the game would have been fine with just the three Oz men as romantic options. While not all of the routes were bad, I felt there were too many and weren’t as fleshed out as the main three, for example Scarlet’s. And other routes add absolutely nothing like the brothel route and Robin Hood’s to a point, which at least adds backstory and some character motivation.
Aside from the Oz men you have a few other routes. Scarlet is from the Grimm family, his route is sweet and seems more friendship then love but what romance does develop there is very innocent. Pashet is from the Boots family, while she is the only female route it’s pure friendship. It’s very fun and a breath of fresh air from everyone falling in love with Fuka. Robin Hood is the town doctor, his route with Fuka is weird and talking about it would be a bit spoiler-ish. I did not like his route at all and felt it painted him and Fuka in a negative light. Caesar is the man trying to kill Fuka for reasons never explained, like she never even asks the man, and yet his route was one of my favorites. He’s part of the Wolf Gang, people who don’t want to deal with the mafia system along with Soh. Soh’s route is ok but again, it’s full of spoilers. I disliked his route and Soh in general for many reasons. Hamelin’s route you get if you reject any one of the Oz men, it’s another spoiler route but also rather sad. Hamelin is treated like the big bad throughout the entire game but he’s really a very tragic character. The brothel route which follows Fuka’s descent into decadence getting to know Manboy, Dorian Grey and Alfani, as she finally finds out what the Oscar Wilde mansion is since no one will tell her in any other route be cause it’s a brothel.
As mentioned before, this title is a visual novel as well as a dating sim. You’ll be doing a lot, and I mean a lot of reading. Everything is mouse-controlled, you can either click to progress the text or put it on auto. There is also a skip option to get past text you’ve already seen. This game has all the right controls a visual novel needs, you can hide the text to see pictures better, you can save and load with ease and there is also a backlog so you can reread text you may have missed. The game is choice driven, the choices Fuka make matter though sometimes it’s hard to tell which is the choice you need to make. Sometimes it can be the difference between saying “thank you” or “you really shouldn’t have.” Another gripe I have about the game is, unless you use a guide, it’s very easy to make the wrong choice a good percent of the time. While there are really no bad endings, each character has two endings, except the Oz men who have four. If you want to experience each and every ending you have to make the right series of choices.
Everything else aside, I imagine the first thing about OZMAFIA!! to grab your attention is the artwork. It’s beautiful. The entire game was lovely to look at, everything being soft pastels and almost looking like a watercolor painting. As if to match her innocent personality, Fuka herself reminds me of a rabbit with her pale skin and bright red eyes. Every artistic choice in the game is done with a reason and purpose. Likewise, the game has amazing music though it can get a bit repetitive. The game is also almost fully voice-acted. I’m not quite sure why it doesn’t have one hundred percent voice but this didn’t bother too much. Fuka even gets a voice when you play the epilogue.
My final thoughts on OZMAFIA!! are conflicted. Is it a bad game? No, not at all. Is a great game? Not so much. It’s a good game with many things that I felt were flaws but those were mainly story related. I do feel the game would have been more cohesive if it only focused on the Oz men though I did enjoy some of the other routes. The game is beautiful I enjoyed playing it despite being frustrated at some points, I do wish the epilogue left me more satisfied though. If you enjoy romancing attractive men you’ll enjoy this title for the most part, maybe even more than I did. It’s available on Steam but it has no trading cards or achievements. You can also get it directly from Mangagamer.
Game provided to VNVX by MangaGamer for review purposes.