The glory of the Slice of Life genre for games, sitcoms, and TV is the exclusion of a plot to allow more time for the characters, their relationships, and their emotions. It’s a testament to the writer’s credentials when you can keep an audience motivated to watch without a constant rise in tension and the proverbial exhale when the set conclusion sets in. Sometimes a week can be eventful in more ways than one, but that’s all you’re getting here.
I’m Oh, So Busy touches down on the life of Yoshimi Hertz, a young woman moving from the comfort of her hometown in Iowa to the bustling future of her new career in Boston. After a rather turbulent flight, a tired but excited Yoshimi gathers her belongings and heads to her new apartment. With a nice high-rise apartment to settle into, Yoshimi and her pet ferret Cinnamon Bun tackle a week of starting a new job, figuring out new social norms, and generally just trying to make it in a new chapter of her hectic life.
Yoshimi fills her time getting acclimated to the new area: signing up (and dealing with the below-average male interaction) to social apps that may or may not rhyme with “Hinder”, trying out the new gym, making cupcakes for a needed sugar rush. She’ll take time to hang out with Cinnamon Bun, supply you with multiple quotes from multiple authors, and reminiscence about past times that pull double duty to humanize Yoshimi and beef up the word count. IOSB‘s intended dark humor seeps through during her off-time, where it feels like Yoshimi garners an almost cursed amount of bad luck. This can lead to some overused self-depreciation and bickering which can linger for a bit longer than you’ll enjoy it.
What’s most interesting is the profession that Yoshimi spends on her day-to-day: a telecommunicator for troubled individuals struggling with mental issues stemming from financial ruin, past trauma, and others. It’s a topic not seen many times, if at all, in visual novels where the protagonist is the common hope for troubled strangers in a non-dating fashion, especially so in the office environment format.
These conversations span over multiple days, getting calls from people in need and seeing how Yoshimi’s words help their current situation. Each caller is fully voiced to help follow along with the emotions tethered to each person, and while some conversations do carry that dark humor detailed throughout the game, some are just uncomfortable to run through. But that’s the harsh reality of some folks: that some people have it much worse than others and need a helping hand at times of need, regardless who it’s from. It’s a bold step to even tackle mental stigmas this way, and Berry Guild does well to carefully mix humor and seriousness together so Yoshimi doesn’t come off as unintentionally cumbrous.
IOSB accompanies Yoshimi’s daily life with a hodge-podge of lo-fi instrumentals that carry a nice tune throughout the story. I definitely enjoy the lo-fi genre so I have no complaints with a nice soundtrack to guide me through a VN, but the upbeat and bass-thumping tracks felt a little done-teaf with some of the later calls at Yoshimi’s office and some other serious scenes, and could’ve used a softer touch to mesh in with those moments.
Yoshimi is characterized to be clumsy and ill-fated and IOSB reluctantly follows in stride. While Yoshimi’s callers are fully voiced, she herself will chime in with little phrases or noises to accentuate her dialogue. These range from mild-mannered and humorous to downright obnoxious at times, with the former outweighing the latter. The menu tabs, which can be bright to the point of not being able to see text, have certain places where they can break the game when interacted with in a specific manner. For example, when accessing the options, the New Game button is still usable and will start a fresh game while your current game’s screen is still up. The ending is a tinge confusing with new things being shown that were never alluded to right at the end, and makes me wonder if I missed a path or flag that would’ve explained things further, but seeing as this is seemingly set up as a single path Visual Novel with no choice screens throughout the title I don’t think I did.
But do I feel like I wasted my 3 hours? Not really. I’m Oh, So Busy‘s execution is sloppy and some choices made may not have panned out in The Berry Guild’s favor, but it’s a lot like Yoshimi’s journey to Boston and to her new independent future: rough around the edges, obnoxious to a fault, but ultimately worth the effort to see what the future has to offer.
Reviewed on Steam.