Touhou Mystia’s Izakaya – Review
Follow Genre: Restaurant simulator
Developer: Re零同人社, Two Color Purple Butterfly
Publisher: Re零同人社, Two Color Purple Butterfly
Platforms: PC, Switch
Tested on: Switch

Touhou Mystia’s Izakaya – Review

Site Score
8.5
Good: Accessible and relaxed restaurant gameplay
Bad: Voice acting would have been a welcome addition
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0
(0 votes)
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For better or worse, Touhou Project wasn’t even remotely on this reviewer’s radar before taking a look at Touhou Mystia’s Izakaya. From what we gather, the game is actually a fan-made affair, and fortunately for us, no prior knowledge of the Touhou iceberg is necessary to enjoy the cozy simulator. Although Touhou Mystia’s Izakaya debuted on Steam back in 2021, the game only recently arrived on the Switch, which gave us an opportunity to get our first taste of what the world of Touhou is all about. Granted, this spin-off is something completely different from the fast-paced side-scrolling action that the “mainline” Touhou games seem to offer, but we have to start somewhere, right? Join us as we find out what Touhou Mystia’s Izakaya is all about.

Story

Given that ‘izakaya’ isn’t necessarily going to be in everyone’s vocabulary, we should probably start by quickly explaining the term: it’s the Japanese equivalent to a pub or tapas bar, e.g. a bar that also serves food, without being a full-fledged restaurant. Our protagonist, Mystia Lorelei, happens to run one of these, alongside her friend Kyouko. Said izakaya is located in Gensokyo, a place inhabited by youkai. As it so happens, Mystia and Kyouko are youkai themselves, and so are their customers. It’s one of those customers that kicks off the game’s story early on: her insatiable hunger causes her to ransack the izakaya completely. Not wanting to give up, Mystia is approached by yet another youkai who sends our heroine back in time. This gives Mystia and Kyouko another chance at building a successful izakaya from scratch, although it does mean they’ll have to pay off a rather big debt too. Can the two friends recreate their success?

Graphics

Arguably the main draw of Touhou Project are the various character designs that have appeared across all the different games. In Touhou Mystia’s Izakaya, the cast is lovingly rendered as pixel art sprites. It’s an aesthetic that works well for the cast, not in the least thanks to the appealing colour palette and gorgeous lighting effects. That said, things sometimes look a bit oversimplified in the overworld, but the more detailed sprites seen in story scenes and conversations more than make up for this. Performance isn’t an issue here either, as the game isn’t too taxing on the Switch, while still looking beautiful.

Sound

Music plays a huge part in setting the right atmosphere for Touhou Mystia’s Izakaya, and the game boasts a fantastic little soundtrack. We don’t know whether these are original tracks or if the music is returning from other Touhou games but given how well the tunes fit, we wouldn’t be surprised if they were composed, or at least arranged, specifically for the game. Sound effects are excellent too, although the game’s lack of voice acting was a bit jarring at times. Touhou Mystia’s Izakaya’s story is delivered through lengthy dialogue scenes and these can drag on. Voice work would have helped here.

Gameplay

There are two distinct halves to Touhou Mystia’s Izakaya’s restaurant simulator gameplay, split over the course of an in-game day. The nighttime section is arguably the main draw here, as you’ll be managing the izakaya here. In practice, this boils down to preparing meals based on customer preferences, not entirely unlike in Overcooked!, although here the pace is much more relaxed and slower. You only start out with a handful of different kinds of food on your menu, but as you start to expand your izakaya with additional staff and cooking stations, your catalog of food starts to grow as well. To break up the monotony, some customers don’t outright tell you which dish they want but instead give you a hint about their preferred palette. You can then either make a menu item or even cook up a custom dish to please them, though if you make a mistake, like serving a meat dish to a vegetarian customer, you’ll get punished for it. Pleasing a special customer awards a positive spell card, but angering them will “reward” you with a negative spell instead. You could, for example, earn more money or find that parts of your kitchen become inaccessible for a while. Special customers can revisit the izakaya later on in the game too, so it’s worth remembering their preferences. Touhou Mystia’s Izakaya’s restaurant gameplay does nothing new or mind-blowing, but is handled very well, and provides a welcome cozy alternative to the typical fast-paced nature of restaurant sims.

During the day, you get to go explore Gensokyo while preparing for the night shift, although you are limited in time here. When the clock inevitably strikes 6 pm, you’ll need to open the izakaya. Your main task during the day is to gather ingredients and recipes, although there are also interactions with NPCs. If you’re a Touhou fan, this section is probably filled with tons of familiar faces, although to us, the characters we ran into were strangers. Still, it’s worth it going out of your way to try and befriend these characters, as some of them can be recruited to work for you, while others give you hints about their meal and drink preferences, making them easier to serve. Gathering ingredients is easy enough, but it does require some strategic planning. This does take time, however, and you’ll want to balance your inventory rather than overstock on a single ingredient but run out of others while cooking. As you progress through Touhou Mystia’s Izakaya, the world gradually opens up, allowing you to discover more recipes, different food, and new friends.

It’s worth mentioning that the Switch port of Touhou Mystia’s Izakaya includes all 5 previously released DLC packs for the game. Don’t expect these DLCs to expand on the core gameplay, though, as these simply add additional content in the same vein as the base game. It’s a welcome addition nonetheless, as the DLC helps to justify the €25.99/$26.99 price tag. The game also plays like a breeze on the Switch. Our initial fears that it would be noticeable that the game was designed for mouse and keyboard were quickly proven wrong, as the controls felt like a natural fit on our trusty Pro Controller. Our only real qualm with the game is that the restaurant gameplay can become repetitive over longer periods of time when you’re dealing with just regular customers, although that’s something that is inherent to the genre. If you want to break things up, there’s also a rhythm-based minigame incorporated, though this is more of an optional extra instead of a full-fledged part of the game.

Conclusion

We were more than pleasantly surprised by Touhou Mystia’s Izakaya. The game’s carefree and cozy atmosphere, lovely character designs, and polished gameplay make for a great way to wind down after a stressful day. Sure, the game doesn’t do anything new, and it probably isn’t a good representation of what mainline Touhou games are like, but we can see ourselves returning to our virtual izakaya over the coming months, as we tend to the needs of our special customers. This is an easy recommendation, whether you’re a diehard fan of Project Touhou or if you’re completely unfamiliar with these characters.

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