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Video Game / Cafe Rouge

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Isis Black: lovable anemic, teacher's pet, and cannoli consultant.

"Isis, your average American teenager, happens upon a part time job opening at Café Rouge. During the day, it is a normal, quaint café and bakery. But when night takes over, it is transformed into a five star restaurant-theater-café, with live stage performances and first class customers arriving in the middle of the night. As Isis delves deeper into this strange café, she becomes entangled in the mystery of its’ haunted world. Will she find friends, or enemies? Will she follow fate or make her own destiny? Will she find love?"
blurb from the game menu

Cafe Rouge is a 2012 Flash game by the creators of Joilly (formerly known as Farway Studio): an otome visual novel also marketed as a cooking game for reasons that cannot be explained.

You play the aspiring young student Isis Black, who has recently applied for her very first job at a quaint nearby joint called Cafe Rouge. Despite her limp resume and want for any actual skills, she's hired immediately and put to work. Soon, however, Isis finds that the nightlife of the vibrant restaurant may not be what she bargained for.

The game was released over the summer of 2012 with seven episodes spanning every few weeks or so, from June 14th to September 30th. Like most works of the genre, the player can choose from a handful of handsome potential mates, namely the ambitious but childish best friend, Valentino Michaels, the empathetic and attractive new teacher, Ron Davidson, or the illustrious cafe owner with a Dark and Troubled Past, Antoine Le Rouge.

You can play all seven installments online for free:

A remake was successfully Kickstarted and is currently in production.

Okay, another day of work.

  • A Friend in Need: "Repeat after me, 'I'm awesome.'"
  • Afraid of Blood: Isis faints after seeing the smallest drop.
    • Justified, as she's supposedly anemic.
  • Almost Kiss: A few with Valen, lovingly interrupted by moms, cell phones, vampires, take your pick.
  • Alternate Universe: Could be; the Isis in each path has a nuanced personality, along with starkly different morals, destiny, and, of course, love interest.
    • To the extent that the Valen Isis could be seen as a villain to the other two.
    • The mysterious assailant in Episode 5 may only be Antoine on the Antoine path.
  • Anti-Frustration Feature: Just cheat with the passwords, seriously.
  • Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: Four years younger? Fine. Doesn't speak English? Also fine. But a girl!? Hold it, pal, I don't think so.
  • Art Shift: Between the CGs, the mugshots, and the animations, the characters hardly look like the same people.
  • Bonne Belle: Izzy.
  • Book Ends: "Everything's changed." "So who am I?... IDK, I'm not really good at introductions. Sixteen years old in highschool, I'm pretty much your average American teen... with a few exceptions."
  • Cast Full of Pretty Boys: Hello.
  • The Chessmaster: Mrs. Michaels seems to have been planning her scheme since your character's birth.
  • Childhood Friend Romance: Isis and Valen, in the Valen path.
    • Antoine and Izzy.
  • The Clan
  • Cliffhanger: The story is cut into episodes. It's rather fond of these.
  • Contrived Coincidence: The random spot in Virginia selected as locale for the junior field trip happens to be the Blanche Mansion — the former residence of Izzy, now owned by Antoine.
    • What's more is he's there while you're having the field trip.
    • And you fall on him from a window.
  • Cry into Chest: Might break a world record for the most instances of this.
  • Dark and Troubled Past: Antoine.
  • Daywalking Vampire
  • Defrosting Ice Queen: Candice.
  • Dialogue Tree
  • Died in Your Arms Tonight: Ron in the bad ending.
  • Do Not Call Me Tino: Somewhat justified, seeing as only his mother calls him by his full name, and he wants to disassociate himself from that.
  • Dumb Blonde: "You know, I really didn't think it was true, but maybe ALL blondes are dumb blondes after all—"
  • Earn Your Happy Ending
  • Easily Forgiven: Ron's pretty chill about the whole Aunt Candy slaughtering his family dilemma.
  • Emergency Transformation: Isis turns Ron into a vampire to save him from bleeding to death on the streets.
  • Evil Redhead: It was Chris all along!
  • Face–Heel Turn: For a friend since childhood, Valen takes being Just Friends pretty badly.
  • Fair-Play Whodunnit
  • Fauxshadowing: "You're my favorite flavor?" Sounds awfully like something a VAMPIRE MIGHT SAY!!
  • Flat Character: Errol, Adeline, and Diane to some extent.
    • Depending on the story you choose, love interests from the other plots tend to not factor into the equation at all. e.g. Ron, in any path that isn't, well, Ron's.
  • Foreshadowing: The harp-shaped pendant from Valen bears the same symbol as the emblem in the Cafe lobby.
    • Arguably there's no real reason for Chris to have a thing for you. The only conversations you've shared were about work and vampire logistics.
      • Notice how he drops it so easily when you confess you like someone else?
    • Who gave Valen the pills?
    • The passwords.
  • Friendly Neighborhood Vampire: Diane and Aldo, namely.
  • Funetik Aksent: Aldo'z dialogue is often typed like theez.
  • Game-Breaking Bug: Use of the skip function at certain times (such as those when Isis has to question multiple characters before going on) will make the game impassable.
  • Golden Ending: Antoine's path ties up the most loose knots — including how Chris murdered Errol and Adeline, the origin of the harp pendant, and who the hell that green-haired chick is at the end of the intro.
  • Gory Discretion Shot: A few of the CGs.
  • Guide Dang It!: Good luck navigating those identical streets for the first time! And the next... and the next...
    • The puppet870 episode increases the fun with a chase scene from the offset. Isis dies if you turn down the wrong street. Many players had trouble with this to the point of assuming this path was a dead end. (Hint: the route is right, down, right, down, left, down.)
    • There are a lot of complaints about the cooking games, to the point where the cake minigame was dumbed down in difficulty.
  • Held Gaze
  • Heroic Sacrifice: In the Valen end, Isis's general gameplan is for Valen to hide safely while she attempts to stave off Chris. Twice.
    • If you choose to beg for your life before that, Valen doesn't bat an eyelash before throwing himself in front of the gun.
      • Too bad you both die anyway.
  • Hidden Depths: Candice, of all people.
    Isis: (holding Candice while she sobs uncontrollably) It was hard to imagine her as the blonde bitch I used to think she was.
  • Horror Hunger: Blood is likened to food and water as one of the basic necessities.
    • "I'm thirsty."
  • Hot Teacher: Most of Ron's classes consist of the students attempting to ask him out.
  • I Hate You, Vampire Dad: We can only hope all goes well with Ronnie.
  • Identical Stranger: Isis and Izzy. Justified by the glossed-over fact that the protagonist is Izzy, brought back from the dead by the Michaels.
  • Impaled with Extreme Prejudice: When Chris gets pushed out the window... onto the knife.
  • In-Series Nickname: Blond bitch.
  • Internalized Categorism: Once Candice confirms you're in love with Ron, she's content to commit suicide on the spot.
  • In the Back: trick13 ending.
  • I Want My Beloved to Be Happy: Totally subverted in the Ron path. After rejecting Valen's advances and achieving the bad ending, there's no indication of remorse for his family's direct involvement in killing the heroine's boyfriend and enslaving her forever. Because, yknow, they're childhood friends. That's what you do to your friends.
    • Demian happily ditches the arranged marriage to let Anthony get the girl.
  • Left Hanging: There's a whole conga line of loose ends, especially if you don't play all three paths. See Fridge Horror in YMMV.
  • Literally Falling in Love: Isis falls on Antoine from a high window.
  • Living Forever Is Awesome: Candice is at points pretty content to look after the offspring of her human relatives for the rest of her days.
  • Long-Haired Pretty Boy: Antoine, of course.
  • Long-Lived: Vampires live roughly ten times as long as humans.
  • Master Race: Antoine's notoriously racist father believed the hierarchy was "vampires > whites > white trash > slaves."
    • Bluebloods exempt, of course.
  • Mood Whiplash: Usually accompanied with abrupt starts and stops of the usual cheerful music.
    • The casual rom-com air of the dialogue makes Adeline, Errol, and Chris's deaths seem very out of place.
  • Muggle Foster Parents: Though they really suck at it.
  • Multiple Endings
  • Murder by Mistake: Adeline unwittingly walked into the death trap in the kitchen in lieu of Isis. And Errol's death was just an accident, ain't Chris a stinker.
  • Never Hurt an Innocent: Stated as vampire law.
    • Not followed very well.
  • Our Vampires Are Different
  • The Power of Love: Many of the endings invoke this as a means to power through impending hardship.
  • Puni Plush: Isis. D'awww.
  • Roaring Rampage of Revenge: Antoine slaughters his father and unnamed others after they do Izzy in.
  • Record Needle Scratch: WHY AM I DOING THE DISHES.
    • When Izzy speaks English.
  • Red Herring: Demain.
    • When Aldo tries to hide his teacup pig.
  • Relationship Upgrade
  • Shoot the Shaggy Dog: trick13
  • Sliding Scale of Vampire Friendliness
  • Spit Take: Demian after Isis comments on racism in the South.
  • Suspiciously Apropos Music: Cafe Rouge hires a jazz band that plays a very apt number called "Confess Swing," while Chris is asking Isis out.
  • Teacher/Student Romance // May–December Romance: Ron is only in grad school, but still — Isis isn't even legal!
  • Token Human: Isis, working at the cafe.
    • Or is she?
  • Tragic Keepsake: The harp necklace.
    • The harp on the stage as well.
  • Trial-and-Error Gameplay: The cooking mini-games. Dear god.
    • If you don't know what you're doing, more likely than not you'll end up on the Valen path. A lot of the seemingly meaningless choices have random and contrived consequences while others have no effect at all.
      • Fortunately there are a number of walkthroughs and video playthroughs to help you get the ending you want.
  • Trademark Favorite Food: Ron's mint and chocolate ice cream.
  • Unexplained Accent: The chef Aldo cherry-picks verbal tics from a variety of European accents. What nationality is he? ... We'll never know.
  • Vampire Bites Suck: On occasion.
  • Vampires Are Sex Gods // Kiss of the Vampire: Most vampires secrete venom that induces sexual pleasure in the victim when they bite.
  • Vampires Own Night Clubs: Par for the course!
  • Yank the Dog's Chain: Candice has one of the worst histories.
    • Especially after her nephew's girlfriend turns out to be a vampire, turning him into one as well.

Well, time to go home...