Last month, I was alerted to the existence of a new mobile game. It offers a concept that is so widespread yet not often seen as a game. So, I decided to give it a try.
CUE! can be described as a voice actor (声優, seiyuu) raising simulation game. While, I know a bit about idol raising simulations (hello, Idolmaster), a voice actor raising simulation is as interesting as it gets. Watching the game trailer, there are the usual features of a 2019-era mobile game. But, what got me interested was when I first heard that I can watch anime shorts and change the voice actors of each character. I saw it as a novelty, and made me try the game itself.
I preregistered for CUE!, but did not expect that the game will release in October (faster than what I expected). When I opened the game, the splash screen was a pleasure to see. After that, the title screen appears. The title screen itself isn’t animated, but it has a nice music to it.
The tutorial gave me the first glimpse of the story, and what I usually call the communication screen. It is Live2D animated, like some other recent mobile games I played. In this game, you are a manager for a seiyuu group.
In this game, the gacha tutorial part is a bit early, right after the first story. After gacha, you will learn about the core gameplay, which will be covered later in this review.
After completing the tutorial, you will choose a manager name, and then you’re brought to the home screen. The home screen is typical, showing the voice actors, and the menu to access every feature of the game.
One of the core mechanics in CUE! is Lesson. This is where you train your voice actors, increasing their level and obtaining power-up materials. Each lesson chapter has a specific partner, and you can play a lesson multiple times, so that you can progress towards completion. Chapter completion is important, as it will unlock access to the other core mechanic in CUE!, Recording.
Casting for Lessons are still a black box to me, but I guess partners and team mates get bonuses or something.
Lessons costs LP, which is a stamina system, and one LP regenerates every 3 minutes.
Lesson gameplay itself is pretty much automated. You simply sit down and watch your voice actors in training. This automation means that you can play this while on the go, such as while commuting. However, this does make Lesson a bit boring, and you can feel yourself grinding to progress.
The other core mechanic is Recording, Here, your characters’ statuses matter. Each chapter has 3 cuts, and each cut has a preferred attribute. For Beginner levels, usually all 3 cuts have the same attribute. However, in Expert levels, usually the second cut is different from the others. Each chapter has a recommended parameter score, so be sure to train your voice actors!
Recording uses another stamina system, RP. Recordings costs RPs and they also regenerate (I forgot the exact rate unfortunately)
The gameplay of Recording is basically scoring, and you can even skip all cuts. The final score determines your grade, and also your rewards. Getting a S grade on Expert levels will give you Casting Sheets, which will be important later.
After you completed all three chapters on a recording, you can watch the anime short. Here, you can actually change the casting of each character from the original voice actor, using Casting Sheets. For example, I changed the casting of two characters with that of my two favorites.
The Cast menu allows you to improve your voice actors and revise your casting team. I will be primarily discussing 2 menus here, the training and the “heroine room”.
You can train your voice actors through self-training here, which is usually faster than the Lesson mechanic on later levels. There are four tiers of training items: Bronze, Silver, Gold, and Rainbow. Training this way costs coins.
An interesting mechanic is the step-up system. The last time I encountered a similiar system is in Revue Starlight Re LIVE. The materials you obtained during lesson will be mainly spent here.
If you obtained any card duplicates, it can be used here. This allows you to increase the character’s level cap, and unlock new skills.
You can also use items to level up your character’s skills. Those are leveled up separately, but each skill only has 3 levels, sou it’s not much of a burden really.
The Heroine System is where you basically increase your bond levels with the voice actors. Leveling up bonds gives you points that you can invest to increase the character’s stats.
Leveling up the bond here uses items, again pretty similar to what I saw in Revue Starlight Re LIVE. Each character has their favorite items, that give more boost to the level.
The gacha mechanic in CUE! is called Scouting, and uses Blue Jewels as a currency. One x1 roll costs 30 blue jewels, while one x10 roll costs 300. The rate to get a *4 character is 5%, which is pretty generous.
Office functions similarly to other games, where you can collect things like coins, LPs and RPs.
So usual, yet so alluring
The gameplay bears similarity to early 2010 Japanese web games, but more animated. It also has features common to other games of the genre, aside from the ability to watch anime shorts with different casts. The amount of effort is also a bit on the higher side for me, and I felt it kind of grindy.
However, I also get attached to the characters themselves somehow. The automated lessons become more fun when you just simply watched those cute little characters interact and train. The ability to change casts on the anime short allows you to hear your favorite voice actor in every character. Yes, I found someone doing that exactly on Twitter. It also gives you a sense of control, that you’re in charge. Getting to decide who voices whom, that feels like a privilege already.
Despite the similarities and the amount of grinding, CUE! manages to stand out for me. I recommend to try it sometimes, and get to the point where you can change casts in the anime. You will appreciate it.
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