In this second half of our unintentionally lengthy review on Cupid Parasite, we'll take an even deeper dive into the visual novel that I didn't expect I'd still be writing about days later. Previously, we went through the entire "Common Route," where players were introduced to Lynette Mirror a.k.a the goddess Cupid. As Lynette, she was tasked with finding suitors for each of the Parasite 5 in hopes to prove to her father, the God of War Mars, that humans can strive without interference from the gods' meddling. This time, we take a look at one of the Parasites and finish the second half of the story
While the Parasite House sitcom proved to be a success for Cupid Corp, all five Parasites left the company for personal reasons. Of the five members, we take a magnifying glass to Gill Lovecraft and his rather troubling predicament of being deeply in love with Lynette. While his obsession with her is referenced in the common route, here the spotlight is focused on our lovesick writer with the other four Parasites taking a backseat.
The route begins with Gill taking an interest in writing for a popular car magazine full time as opposed to his previous status as a freelance writer. Lynette, who calls to check on him, encourages him to follow his dreams and gives him her unconditional support. Hearing the love of his life give him words of encouragement, Gill enters several trips down memory lane involving Lynette. Here the player sees how Lynette ended up as Gill's roommate, including Gill teaching her all there is to know about being a human.
The scenes are playful, yet some of the scenarios involved require the player to suspend a little bit of disbelief. An example is Lynette not knowing how to use the laundry machine so she overflows the machine with detergent. This ends up with the two of them having a bubble fight, which is par for the course on how Gill sees Lynette as a "baby bird he must nurture and care for." This becomes an obvious problem in the future, but for now, it's just one of the many relics of the past.
Meanwhile, Lynette is all but certain that Gill has had feelings for their roommate Claris, never once thinking that Lynette was capable of feeling loved. Claris, who among everyone else at this point knows the truth, decides to help Lynette see that neither had any romantic feelings for the other.
When talk of a love letter that Gill wrote in college was brought up, Claris realizes that it was accidentally slipped in her bag as the letter was originally slipped in a textbook the three shared. The letter, meant for Lynette, fell out of the book and into the bag which, because it wasn't signed, she never knew who it was from or what it was for.
Funnily enough, while the image below mentions the letter, there is an error with the translation. Obviously, Claris meant to say "Gill likes Lynette" because why would she talk about herself in the third person? With that in mind, it makes this image hilarious without context, but, it's funny to see a human error such as this in a published game. At least patch the mistake out?
Despite the blunders from Gill's refusal to confess to Lynette directly, the two begin to reconnect following the Parasite House taping. At first everything is awkward, but they begin to warm up to each other. This comes with another challenge as while the two are in the process of sorting their emotions out, Gill suddenly loses his apartment due to renovations. Claris gives Lynette the idea to have Gill move in as a temporary resident.
Gill reluctantly agrees and it is then that Lynette finally comes to terms with Gill's feelings towards her. Not only this, but she also begins to accept her own feelings towards Gill that she always felt, but as the goddess of love, never knew what they were. For the longest time, she was the one to make others fall in love. She never knew what love was because she never felt it until she understood Gill's emotions.
Now is a good time to mention how Cupid Parasite's gameplay works because I felt I jumped the gun during my First Look. As teased during the Common Route, certain answers the player gave would boost the affinity of the Parasites. What determined the route the player would fall under was the player with the highest affinity as well as the one chosen for the "mock date." When the player reaches a route, every single choice determines the affinity of the potential suitor, in this case, Gill.
Thankfully, hearts will appear from Lynette and/or Gill if the right decision was made. These hearts are added to a counter which the player must reach 100/100 hearts to get the best possible ending. Early on, there's a "checkpoint" that takes place during Gill's route, around the time he moves in with Lynette and Claris. If the required number of hearts hadn't reached a certain threshold, then the route's first bad ending will play out. While I didn't get this ending during my playthrough, I looked up the ending myself on YouTube.
Basically, this ending takes the worst of Gill's traits and amplifies it to the point where Lynette lets him pamper her day in and day out. Eventually, this causes her to grow lazy, quit her job, and become a sloth as she allows him to serve her. Only, it's not her that's being served, it's the other way around. By allowing herself to get pampered by Gill, he's pulling the strings by having her rely on him for her happiness. Claris, who is at this point annoyed with the both of them, leaves the house as Gill spends the rest of their days treating his "baby bird."
Even the ending's name, "Another Happy Ending?" reflects the underlying dark tones despite Gill's generosity. It's a tragic ending for all involved as I'm certain he genuinely believes he's doing what he feels is best for Lynette. This would all be avoided if Lynette would put her foot down, wouldn't it? Good luck, Lynette!
BAD ENDING #2 GET
Following the right ending, Gill accepts the job as the popular car writing club while Lynette continues her work as a marriage counselor. While things work out fine initially, both Gill and Lynette begin to feel different emotions towards the other. Taking Gill's affection and love towards Lynette for granted, she begins to feel the nights when he's gone. Likewise, he begins to feel the same by writing pages of love letters in his off time.
Eventually, they end up going out on a date together which ends with Lynette being carried into her room. As she feigns sleep, she hears an "I love you," by Gill, who assumes she's asleep. This confirms, finally, that Gill does indeed have feelings for Lynette, which in turn causes her to confess her feelings for him. The scene that follows is what you'd expect from a visual novel, so let's just say they show their love for each other in descriptive ways.
Considering that Cupid Parasite is a Teen rated game, I'm impressed how close they pushed the envelope in describing said scenes. It takes a lot of creativity, both in original text and during translation, to define the deed being done. At the end of it, it's still tasteful and leaves a lot up to the player's imagination. This makes the game SFW to play for the most part aside from the fanservice, which even then it's few and far in-between.
Unfortunately, not all's well that ends well as before the couple can fully enjoy their "honeymoon phase," disaster strikes. As if right on cue for things to go bad and filled with misunderstanding, a text message pops up on Gill's phone. Long after Gill sleeps, Lynette looks at the message on the phone to see a negative article based on her company and herself, followed by a distinct message related to the article.
From all of this alone, Lynette deduces that Gill must surely have something to do with writing an article to ruin her reputation. One would think after everything that Gill had been through, for years, he would do something as anti-character as this? Quickly I learned that common sense in Cupid Parasite isn't common as she broke away from the bed, upset at the idea, and storms off to the local park.
It is here that a talking rooster finds Lynette and orders her to return to Celestia as Cupid. She reluctantly returns, but not as reluctant as one would think. It was almost as if she wanted to leave due to the spike in her, again, unnecessary anger. There's a visual novel protagonist if I've ever seen one. Dumb, hopeless, and getting herself in situations no sensible person would get themselves in.
It's not like Gill would take notice, drop everything, and do everything he possibly can to make his way to Celestia to convince Cupid to return, right? ...Right?
Are You Compatible With Your Soul Mate?
At this point in the route, simply getting 100/100 hearts isn't enough. Remember earlier in the common route where Lynette was asked to take a personality test? Turns out that the personality test was the second half of Cupid Parasite's gameplay mechanic. It's not just saying the right choices, but also making sure you're compatible with your suitor. That is Lynette's occupation after all.
The personality that players need to match with Gill to ensure players get the best ending is the "Agape" personality. It makes sense, as "Agape" is "Pure, honest love" where one intends to sacrifice themselves to make their partner happy. If that doesn't fit Gill then nothing will. Failing to match personalities will lead to the "normal ending" at best and having a totally opposite personality will leave with the "worst ending" at, well, worst.
While I never got the worst ending, apparently you can only achieve this ending if you attain the Ludus love personality. (Thanks again, Otome Kitten!) This makes sense as Ludus is the polar opposite of Agape, favoring a playful uncommitted love with no strings attached. Obviously, Gill wishes to settle down with Lynette, so the two personalities will clash and thus, the worst bad ending.
In this ending, instead of Cupid being encouraged to return to Celestia, word gets out that she had lost the one thing that made Cupid, Cupid. Her own bow and arrow that she left in a fit of rage following a misunderstanding involving Gill. As punishment, she's forced to remain imprisoned for an indefinite period of time while being forced to see her lover, Gill, spend all of his life looking for her. Realizing that she may never see him again, she painfully cuts the cord between their relationship in order to free him from her.
Bad Ending #2
Watching this ending was pretty depressing, sure, but it's an ending that most players won't get unless they were actively trying to achieve it. Unlike the first bad ending, this one seemed forced out of circumstance. At this point, Cupid and Gill made it this far. Let's achieve further by never giving up on the love of your life!
Here lies the beginning of quite possibly the most absurd scene in a visual novel. I'd much rather those playing this game witness this themselves, but this entire Celestia episode must be said to be believed.
Spoilers Past This Point As It Really Must Be Experienced
The man builds a car not only capable of flight but also capable of transforming into a mecha pig based on his favorite film, Transforcars. He then uses the mecha pig to have a one-on-one duel with the God of War, Cupid's father, to court Cupid herself.
Several things to note that I missed out on. Gill is actually one of the heirs to LCI, or Lovecraft Industries, a successful American automobile manufacturer. This explains his love for cars as well as his experience to, well, create a flying car. That can be attributed to Cupid's bow and arrow, the main source of power for the car that Cupid left on Earth. Oh and Gill also finds out that Lynette is Cupid before all of this.
But come on! If you would have told me that this goofy kid would eventually spar with the God of War while Cupid herself is bewildered by all of this, I would not have believed you. This is the beauty of Cupid Parasite in that no matter how cliche the general plot can get, the game throws sidewinders from out of nowhere like these. It's amazing, it's fantastic, and it's over as soon as it begins.
What makes this scene even better is the meta outside of Cupid Parasite, specifically Gill's voice actor. In this game, he calls the car "Bumblepig," obviously a callback to "Bumblebee" and the Transformers franchise. The reasoning for Gill's passionate responses during his fight with Mars is more than coincidence. Gill's voice actor, Ryohei Kimura, voices the actual Bumblebee in the Japanese Transformers dub, which is a neat little Easter Egg.
After several exchanges of dialogue, Cupid's dad Mars finally relents and Cupid returns to Earth with Gill, knowing that doing so would eliminate her godhood and turn her into a full-fledged human. Finally, the final arc begins.
The Legacy Inhereited
As Gill and Lynette (going to use her human name from now on) reconcile and focus on building their future together, there's one last elephant that remains in the room. Gill originally moved to Los York to get away from his father who, for the longest time, had only considered what was best for business and not his sons. It was also for this reason that Gill's brother was adamant about leaving the family business due to his lack of interest in cars. This comes at an impasse when his father invites Gill and Lynette to a business meeting, revealing his plans to move Lovecraft Industries to Los York.
This also doubles as a chance for Gill to finally make amends with his parents, but he still has cold feet. Wanna know who has an interest in cars? Gill. Do you also wanna know who needs to talk to his parents in order to mend years of misunderstanding and unattended trauma? Gill. Guess who ultimately encourages how this pans out? Lynette? Nope! You!
If your love type matches Gill's, then we reach the best ending for his route. Lynette will speak up on Gill's behalf, mentioning his love for cars. This sets the chain of events for Gill to reach a common ground with his dad, clearing up misunderstandings, and ultimately setting Gill up as the successor to the car manufacturer.
Soon thereafter, wedding bells are ringing, Lynette and Gill are married, and all of the Parasites show up (with the exception of Allan). While it's not revealed what happens to Lynette, it's assumed she finally gets her promotion. You know, the one goal that was in her sights from the beginning of the game?
The Legacy Left Behind
Alternatively, what happens if Lynette doesn't speak up? If Gill drops the argument altogether and decides not to make amends with his father? The following scenes take a different turn but it's not necessarily a bad ending. Lynette and Gill decided to take things one day at a time, instead of focusing on his writing career with the car magazine. While marriage is an eventual goal, for now, the couple enjoys their time with each other.
I felt this is the most realistic ending despite not being the "best" ending as it's more grounded to reality. At least, as grounded as a man who went to the Heavens to fight a god can get. Sometimes, marriage is not the immediate goal, instead of having a rock that supports you no matter what. The "true ending" felt like a fairy tale ending in comparison, but, it's still not the ending that will grant you the credits screen.
Closing Thoughts: The Lovesick's Love Is Requited
Regardless, Lynette and Gill are assumed to live "happily ever after" with all loose ends tied. For my final thoughts, I felt the route was straightforward and pure, at least within the confines of Cupid Parasite. While I missed the craziness of the Parasite House featured in the Common Route, Gill's route felt more sincere. It was a constant clash of "She loves me, she loves me not?" and it was cute seeing the romance unfold. The climax involving Bumblepig was clearly the one crowning moment of the route, however.
It reminded players that Cupid Parasite is not a run-of-the-mill romance novel. Its protagonist is the goddess of love, which means no matter which route the player ends up in, it's always going to return to the mythology aspect. It's not as deep as other titles such as Immortals: Fenyx Rising, but it was a fun route with a prolonged conclusion. However, this is just one route out of five.
There are many unanswered questions that aren't related to individual routes. For starters, Cupid's roommate Claris is more than meets the eye. During Gill's route, she plays a critical role alongside Allan in getting Gill to reunite with Cupid. She knows more about Cupid's true identity as well as the situation than Cupid herself. The icing on the cake is her conversation with Minerva, Cupid's aunt. The same one who introduces Cupid to the human world.
Cupid deduces that Claris was someone who originated from Celestia, but that's all we as the player know. At this point, I've invested hours of gameplay into Cupid Parasite, and with four routes left, there are many more hours left to explore. Players who are fans of visual novels will get their money's worth.
At times I saw a lot of myself in Gill and the relationship between Gill and Lynette brought up memories of past relationships. While they were exaggerated, they brought a sense of familiarity despite how "off-the-walls" the plot can become. In the end, I expect each of the routes to bring something unique to the table and I can't wait to explore the rest of the game in due time. One Case complete, four more Cases to go!
Cupid Parasite is now available on the Nintendo Switch