Tomai

A town sits at the edge of the sea, with an integrated population of humans and fish people, co-ruled by a human chief and the Lady. Tomai is the son of the current chief and will take over from him after the upcoming festival in two weeks. As a life of responsibilities looms over him, Tomai plans to spend his last two weeks of complete free time with the people he knows. Will he spend his time with his friends Burdoc and Malik, or will he prepare himself for the future with his dad and the Lady?

Tomai is a visual novel made for the Yaoi Game Jam by DarkChibiShadow and Arcade Party. It follows a basic structure where you choose who to spend time with each day, with the ending being decided by how you spent those days. Each day then ends with a dream sequence or Tomai talking about stuff with his dad, with the latter being tweaked if you choose to go down his route.

The dad and Lady routes have no romance in them – in the case of the former, thank god there isn’t any. Rather, these routes focus on Tomai growing into his upcoming role as well as warming up to authority figures that initially seem distant.

On the dad route, it’s about developing a sense of responsibility – as well as getting Tomai’s dad to respect him as a potential leader. We’re also given more of a glimpse of Tomai’s family life and how it tries to stick together despite both parents being distant in some way. While dad is initially emotionally distant, he’s shown to be fairly sociable on other routes and the end-of-day segments where he talks with his son over dinner.

In contrast, the Lady is distant from everyone because of her role. While dabbling in her route gives you some world details, going all in on her route has Tomai trying to get her to open up and enjoy life outside her job, in an inversion of him taking on more responsibilities.

Both of those routes are pretty okay. But let’s be real – the main focus of Tomai is getting the titular character to date his himbo fish friends, Burdoc and Malik.

Burdoc is a shy artist boy that really loves his fruits while Malik is an outgoing wannabe fashion designer. Personally, I’m more into Malik; I like his design more and I’d love an excitable fish man to lead me by the hand. Spending at least a few days with both of them ensures their friendship, but spending more time with them turns the relationship romantic. And also leads to sex, if you set the rating to R18 at the start of a playthrough.

If Tomai spends an equal amount of time with Burdoc and Malik while ignoring the others, you unlock the polyamorous ending. If the extra stories are anything to go by, this is the golden, canon ending. Now, I have mixed thoughts on this.

So, I’m in a polyamorous relationship. My girlfriend has a girlfriend and I’m on good terms with her, I’m pretty sure; we play each other’s Mario Maker levels, dangit. I’m open myself and my girlfriend supports that. So it was very nice to get into a polyamorous relationship in a game. But what if you, a separate player, are uncomfortable with polyamory and just want to pursue one of the boys?

The problem is that the game pretty much discourages you from pursuing a monogamous relationship. If you choose to spend all your time with one of the guys, the other gets upset, which upsets the guy you’re currently with and you’ll end up with neither if you fail to make amends. So I’d understand it if the game treated the situation like Tomai being a bad friend to the other, but given how hard the triad relationship is pushed and that you aren’t shamed for being a bad friend if you ditch both for his dad and the Lady, it feels more like the game’s shaming you for not pursuing polyamory.

I bought the ending guide for the game to see if it was possible to just get in a solo relationship, but you can’t. You either stay as friends with both Burdoc and Malik, enter a relationship with both of them or alienate both of them. I’m super into their mutual relationship, but I won’t begrudge people that aren’t comfortable projecting themselves into it, so I think it’s kinda lousy that you can’t pursue a strictly monogamous relationship.

As for those extra stories I mentioned, they can be played in the main menu, though their events act under the assumption that you already played through the main game. These range from slice-of-life vignettes to stuff that fleshes out things mentioned in the main game; my favorite of these is the one where Tomai’s mom comes home, showing off a character that doesn’t properly appear in the main story and giving a closer look at Tomai’s family life. The extra stories are nice additions for the story and a welcome read after playing through the rest of the game.

So how about that art? I really love the art of the game. The characters and backgrounds are very vibrant with the colors. The backgrounds do a good job at establishing the setting of this nice fishing village, with well-decorated homes and the humble town hall that gives more of a community center vibe.

Character designs are nice and distinct, with the young guys dancing on the fine line of cutesy and horny. And as somebody that played the R18 version of the game, it can and will go all in on horny. I gotta say though, character design wise, the dad and the Lady have my favorite designs because of how detailed they are. Yeah, I love the twinks, but look at this scarred yet youthful fisherman chief, appreciate the majestic design of the Lady.

Tomai is a good time that’ll last a few hours if you want to see all the content. I still have an issue with how the golden ending is held up as an absolute, but I otherwise found it an enjoyable gay time.

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