Review: Serre

When an alien invades Arlette’s greenhouse, she does the only thing she can think of—invite the unexpected visitor in for tea!

Serre is a short visual novel originally written for Yuri Game Jam 2017. It is about a girl named Arlette whose greenhouse is abruptly invaded by an alien. Despite her fear, the only thing Arlette can think of to do is to invite the alien to have tea, which sparks a friendly conversation as the two get to know each other.

The art is done in a hand-drawn style that takes a little getting used to at first, but fits quite well with the visual novel’s tone. Instead of going with a threatening premise for an alien invasion, Serre is cute and comedic as Arlette struggles with both her natural social awkwardness and the unexpected situation she finds herself in. Her narration style changes to reflect her thoughts, such as one-word lines to convey the shock or confusion she’s feeling. Together with the friendly and fairly innocent personality of the alien, Oaxa, it gives the story an informal tone that suits its style.

Oaxa is entirely unsuited to being an alien invader, and in fact assumes Arlette’s greenhouse to be the entire planet. She’s more than happy to “conquer” it while becoming friends with Arlette. Their easy acceptance of the situation might feel a bit odd at times, but that’s part of the reason the informal tone helps. It’s a lighthearted romance that isn’t trying to take itself too seriously, more focused on the dynamic between the two characters than anything else. The story progresses across a number of short chapters, and there are a handful of choices. However, the choices only change the dialogue that immediately follows them. There are no story branches or multiple endings here.

The story is cute, and there are some fairly amusing moments. It does a good job of using Arlette’s internal thoughts and reactions to give a hint of her past experiences without going into detail. However, the pacing struggles at times because of just how short Serre is. You should easily be able to finish reading it in under 30 minutes. There’s nothing inherently wrong with such a short visual novel, but there were several points where I found my suspension of disbelief being stretched due to how quickly things were progressing.

It goes through two characters meeting, getting to know each other, falling in love, encountering conflict, and resolving the situation in such a short period of time that it almost feels rushed. Slowing things down a bit to give us a little more time to get to know these characters and watch their relationship develop would have made the experience even better. With that said, it accomplishes a lot in the short time it lasts. Its main goal is to be a cute, feel-good romance, and it succeeds at that, especially through the awkward misunderstandings and conversations the two characters end up having.

If you’re looking for a sci-fi epic or a fully developed romance story, you probably won’t find it in Serre. However, if you’re interested in a shorter story that’s cute and sweet, it might be exactly what you need.

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Samantha Lienhard