Think Undertale, but make it a whodunit. Melon Journey: Bittersweet Memories sets up an intriguing mystery that quickly expands past a snatched suitcase and into Hog Town’s issue with outlawed melons and corruption.
It isn’t like Undertale because of the story or even the gameplay. But if you’re a fan of the indie classic’s humor and aesthetic — the pixelated, retro vibe and jazzy tunes — you’ll probably find a lot to like here. It also happens to star anthropomorphic animals instead of humans. That said, Melon Journey: Bittersweet Memories — which is actually a sequel to a 2012 game — manages to stay very much its own thing.
Developer Froach Club originally branded Melon Journey: Bittersweet Memories as Melon Journey 2 before teaming with publisher Xseed Games. This green-tinted, monochrome tale stars our heroine Honeydew, who heads to Hog Town to find her friend Cantaloupe and bring them their suitcase. After a thief snatches the suitcase right out of the train station, Honeydew inadvertently finds out that it’s full of melon seeds.
Then, a mysterious note with the initials “R.H.” falls out of the case. That’s about the point when Honeydew discovers that finding Cantaloupe won’t be so easy.
Hog Town has it all — a missing friend, melon seeds, delinquents, and political history. Skateboarding kids disrespect you. A self-absorbed DJ complains about their lack of spotlight. An old man rambles on about the mayoral history. It really proves that you can land a joke with only stubby pixel people and text to inform the tone. Some characters — like Kitten Princess and Strong Dog — have unique interactions that make them stand out from the other NPCs, too.
Of course, Hog Town’s main quirk is that melon seeds are illegal. Froach Club grounds players in its eccentricities as early as possible. When Honeydew brings up the contents of Cantaloupe’s suitcase with her two friends, Kitten Princess and Strong Dog, they tell her to keep her voice low. You’ll observe townspeople protesting against the anti-melon law, and tune into a journalist running down various mayoral candidates’ stances on the issue, too.
Melon Journey: Bittersweet Memories makes sense as a title. After all, it's an adventure story starring two characters named after melons, and melon seeds play a vital role in the plot. However, “Bittersweet Memories” implies more drama along the way. Who’s R.H.? Why were the melon seeds in Cantaloupe’s suitcase? Why are melon seeds so bad in the first place? These questions will likely be answered over the course brief five to eight-hour adventure.
That said, it’s possible the game would actually take much longer if you like reading item descriptions and talking to every character imaginable. The brief time I spent with Melon Journey: Bittersweet Memories was enough to hook me into the mystery behind Cantaloupe’s disappearance and Hog Town’s melon ban. I wish I had more time to read all the funny text from the items and NPCs, too.
Melon Journey: Bittersweet Memories is coming to PC in 2022. You can wishlist it on Steam now.