Hey bud, welcome to your new job! Ah, don’t be shy, we’re all family here, just uh, make sure you fit in, alright? Here’s a handy PDA so that we can easily keep you informed on tasks – aren’t we kind? Hm? That dead body in the hallway? Bah, don’t mind that, the janitor will deal with it later. You should just ignore it, you wouldn’t want to be rocking the boat, don’t ya? Haha, anyway, again, happy to have you aboard!
Mouth Sweet is a game by L.O.V.E. Games made in RPG Maker 2003 (pretty sure). You are the latest hire at Chalfont, Chalfont & Chalfont, a completely normal company that doesn’t have killer7 monsters.
From the very beginning, working at Chalfont, Chalfont & Chalfont is a nightmare. You’re given the ability to choose a colorful avatar and name them however you want. However, an unseen hiring manager tsk tsks, insisting on changing your avatar’s color to the Gameboy palette to fit the work culture and insists on using your legal name (either Haas or Alice). In the case of the latter, the manager claims it’s for legal reasons, but everyone higher up than your character insists on deadnaming your character, anyway.
The actual job part is hardly any better. Besides your higher ups not really respecting you, the work they assign you is a mix of demeaning busy work and bizarre, seemingly impossible tasks. For the most part, there’s no solidarity in the workplace, with the only band of cooperating co-workers finding themselves “terminated.”
Oh yeah, and there’s a whole bunch of invisible, Heaven Smile-esque monsters roaming the hallways. There’s probably no hazard pay either, especially since your employers just hand you a revolver and tell you to do your best.
These monsters, nicknamed “Bugs,” roam the halls as you go from one task to the next. You hear their footsteps marching around, and there’s a set amount of time until they strike, with a brief warning right before it’s too late. You can immediately deal with the threat, which gives you more time in the combat section to shoot one down, but a new Bug will eventually take its place, so dealing with threats too early will leave you with less resources for the next fight. Alternatively, you can choose not to fight at all; the Bug spawn timer resets when you enter a room, so if you’re quick enough, you can outpace those footsteps to safety.
But eventually, you will need to use that gun. Mouth Sweet’s combat is unique and simple, with you panning left and right in an FPS like screen, listening where the Bug is. You only have six shots and refills are few and far between, and besides wasting ammo, wasted shots also wastes time. I highly recommend that you play this game with headphones/earphones, because searching for the Bug requires listening to its footsteps to figure out what direction it’s in.
When it comes to horror games made in RPG Maker, Mouth Sweet may be one of the best, with the creator likening it to a Gameboy killer7. There’s pursuing monsters, but instead of a straightforward chase it’s just tense noise. Unlike a lot of those games, you can fight back and choose when to initiate combat, giving a sense of agency that those games typically lack.
A large part of what makes Mouth Sweet work is its sound design. As previously stated, sound is an integral part of the game’s combat, and listening for those approaching footsteps makes for a rigid atmosphere – and honestly, considering the engine, it’s a technological marvel. The game’s music is also really good and feels in the vein of those early Silent Hill soundtracks. Honestly, my favorite song has to be the one where you’re talking to the CEO (above). Those horrified wails in the song are amazing and more game music needs that stuff.
Really, at the end of the day, the real nightmare is the workplace, of which the Bugs feel like a manifestation of. They’re the workplace anxiety of feeling that you’re being watched incessantly, the looming fear of being terminated (in a sense), the frustrations of doing extra duties that you didn’t apply for and having to work in dangerous environments with no hazard pay. What exactly is your character’s job? I don’t know, but dealing with invisible monsters probably wasn’t in the job description.
If you’re into some pay-what-you-want horror games or into the RPG Maker horror game scene, I heartily recommend checking Mouth Sweet out. It’s uncomfortable, it’s tense, but it does have a fantasy of leaving your job, and sometimes it’s nice to imagine you can do that.