I'm a librarian who loves anime, manga, and reading a wide variety of genres.
Who is Mike? is a short free mystery/thriller visual novel available for download here and on Steam. Gameplay is “choose your own adventure” style - you occasionally have the option of choosing between one of two responses. The Save slots are helpful, as is the “skip” feature.
You play as Mike. You wake up in your own home with an aching head and missing glasses. You’re confronted by someone who, once you find your glasses, turns out to be you. Or at least someone who looks exactly like you. Which one of you is the imposter and which one of you is the real Mike? What’s going on?
According to Steam I’ve played this for 1.3 hours. There are 9 endings and I’ve come across 7 of them. Even with the help of the official walkthroughs (which are really more advice than actual walkthroughs), I haven’t been able to get endings #7 and #8. I’m okay with that, though, and have decided to consider myself done with this visual novel. I at least managed to make it to the “good” (true?) ending.
Almost all of the endings are bad ones. You die, or Sarah, your girlfriend, kills the person who looks like you and you convince her that she’s done the right thing, or you manage to kill the other person but it’s not entirely clear whether you’ve made the right choice. Which ending you get depends largely on whether you opt to stay at the house or not and how often you tell Sarah the truth or lie to her during her efforts to figure out which of you is the real Mike. There are other things that come into play if you manage to make it to the route that has a chance of getting you to the one “good” ending.
I was able to easily achieve endings 4, 5, 6, and 9. These endings tell you almost nothing about what’s really going on, other than that it’s bad to leave the house. Sometimes you’re the real Mike, and sometimes you’re not. The thing that bugged me was how easily Mike managed to convince Sarah, a police officer, that they’d get past the events of the game and act like none of it ever happened. Even if Sarah was broken up about what she’d had to do and wasn't thinking straight at that particular moment, she’d used her gun, there was a body in the house that needed to be dealt with, and there were no explanations for why there had been two Mikes in the house. None of that stuff was just going to magically go away. Also, assuming that the facts presented in the “true” route applied to some of the other routes as well, even the best of the “you survive” endings would have turned out badly in a week or less.
I had to check the Steam discussions for hints on how to get to the story path that would take me to endings 1, 2, and 3. This was the path with actual info about what was going on. It was interesting, although a bit unsatisfying. Maybe the author was leaving room for a sequel? At any rate, I liked that the path to the “best” ending relied on both Sarah and Mike being observant and remembering details about each other.
The artwork was occasionally a bit sketchier than I prefer, but it worked okay for this. The music was okay and helped add to the mood. The sound effects could have used some work - the same sound was used whether Mike was hemorrhaging or suffering from a broken rib.
All in all, this freebie grabbed my attention enough for me to want to make it to the “best” ending, but the story was so-so overall and character reactions/responses didn’t always make sense. I didn’t have the willpower to try, one more time, to get endings 7 and 8, but I did resort to watching a Youtube playthrough of those endings, just to make sure I hadn’t missed out on any important details. Ending 7 provided a little extra info, while ending 8 was pretty worthless.
I had a tough time rating this. I don't think it's a bad visual novel, and the fact that it's free is definitely a point in its favor. However, the overall package was a bit unsatisfying, and most of the endings didn't really add anything to the story. Although there were technically 9 endings, in terms of what they add to the game I feel like there were only really 4.
(Original review posted on A Library Girl's Familiar Diversions.)