Onsen Master Review thumbnail

Onsen Master Review

Dip into a new co-op game

A.J. Maciejewski

Reviewed by playing an Xbox Series X on ♨️

Onsen Master is also available for Xbox One and Nintendo Switch

Onsen Master is rated Everyone by the ESRB

If you can't get enough couch co-op games then here's an interesting one where you manage hot springs for strange clientele.

│ Like you, Video Chums despises clickbait so you won't find any divisive content or articles that fuel the console wars here. 🧯

Onsen Master screenshot 1
It sounds like it's time to get to work, then!

Welcome to the hot springs

Onsen Master has you play as a little fellow named Mu who's trying to connect the communities of Izajima Island by curing their citizens via baths. You're joined by a yokai named Hitotsume who also acts as player 2 whenever you play cooperatively with a friend. This might sound like an odd premise for a game and it definitely is but it's also fairly enjoyable. For starters, the quirky characters make each area stand out as unique and the soundtrack is impressively well-done with a few memorable and very Japanese tunes throughout. Plus, the frantic gameplay of managing various hot spring locations is a solid fit for couch co-op play so let's dive into that a bit more. v1d30chumz 3-235-173-74

Onsen Master screenshot 2
3 stars with minimal effort; on to the next area!

Co-op tub-scrubbing

So, how exactly do you play Onsen Master? It's actually quite simple as you essentially lead customers by the hand to whichever tub you'd like them to soak in. Meanwhile, each customer has a preference of which kind of tub they'd like so you'll have to grind up a calm root, curashell, merryseed, peacesprout, or wellberry and place it in a tub to flavour it in order to satisfy the customer's needs. Over time, the water in each tub gets dirtier and customers get the floor wet so you'll have to clean the tubs and wipe the floors regularly. Each tub also has a maximum capacity so keeping all of these basic rules in mind is a substantial part of the challenge. 😊

Who let you in here?

The most unique part of Onsen Master is the fact that it features a wide variety of customers who can behave very differently; old men, young women, ninjas, and various location-specific folks such as ruffians who stink something fierce. There are also yokai such as the turtle-like kappa, the gelatinous umibozu, the fox-like kitsune, skeletons, tengu, and kodama from the forest. Learning how to cater to each client type is enjoyable but it can be frustrating because some customers might take a dip without being led and some of the yokai simply take up too much space. Additionally, there are bosses that require very specific steps to satisfy and they can be quite silly even if they are disappointingly easy for the most part. In the end, the customer variety is superb yet the gameplay remains simple. 👺

That water has some stank in it

Even though it has a promising premise and frantic gameplay, Onsen Master could definitely use a lot more work to refine the experience. The most egregious example is the amount of bugs. For example, my co-op partner and I would randomly warp around, customers inexplicably swapped tubs mid-soak, and ingredients abruptly disappeared. Even without these moments, there's no denying just how clunky the gameplay feels when you compare it to a game such as Overcooked. Everything just feels floaty and unresponsive. Finally, there are only 6 areas to work through so you could essentially complete Onsen Master in 1 sitting and getting 3 stars in every level isn't all that difficult of a feat either. It makes me sad to say all of this because this is a unique game that I really wanted to love. 🥺

Onsen Master screenshot 3
How do these stinky people afford such a luxurious resort?

Onsen Master is a frantic co-op multiplayer hot springs management game that can be a lot of fun despite its clunky and bug-ridden gameplay. In other words, just like a public hot tub, it can be enjoyable but it really starts to stink after a while.

  • + Frantic and unique gameplay that's rather enjoyable with a friend
  • + Plenty of quirky customers and bosses
  • + Some of the music is great
  • - Super-buggy with many ridiculous and unexplainable occurrences
  • - Gameplay could use a lot of tightening up
  • - Not many stages to master at all
5.8 out of 10
Gameplay video for Onsen Master thumbnail
Watch A.J. play Onsen Master
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