Dear Mariko is a short, simple game by Soyasushi Productions about a girl who comes home to find a goodbye letter from the one she loves.
Mariko and Darien are a happy couple who are unfortunately dealing with a sinister stalker, Shinku. The stalker has strained their relationship, and one day Darien decides he cannot take it any more. One day, Mariko decides to come home to find Darien. You are able to control the protagonist around the house and have her examine the items filled with memories of her beloved one. Upon going into the bedroom, she will find the letter that Darien left before disappearing from the house. That's when a scary girl shows up at the door- the stalker has infiltrated the house and is out to kill Mariko.
There are 3 different endings for you to explore: the Normal Ending, Bad Ending and True Ending. Different requirements have to be met and actions taken to achieve all of the endings. It is difficult to mention tropes without spoiling the twist in the True Ending, so be warned before reading beyond this point.
In addition, there is now an expansion, Dear Mariko: Crimson, that contains an epilogue with 4 additional endings.
The game can be downloaded here.
This game provides examples of:
- Abhorrent Admirer: Shinku is this to Darien. So much so he broke up with Mariko and went into hiding, out of fear Shinku would hurt Mariko out of jealousy if he stayed with her.
- Adult Fear: The idea that your significant other is being stalked by an insane person is disturbing on its own.
- Big Bad:
- But Thou Must!: In Crimson, one of Liddy's letters asks Shinku if she is ready to meet Darien. The choices are "I can't wait to meet him" and "This is wrong, Liddy"- but Liddy will not take the latter for an answer.
- Color-Coded for Your Convenience: You have green eyes, and the intruder has red. Shinku is a Green-Eyed Monster, and Mariko is incredibly pissed.
- The Ending Changes Everything: The truth about Mariko is revealed by the ending; namely the fact that the protagonist is not Mariko, but Shinku. Therefore a woman worried about her boyfriend's disappearance and looking through the house for him is actually a stalker seeking her victim.
- Foreshadowing: Some of the things that the protagonist says should clue the player in that she's not Mariko:
- She comments in distaste several things around the house, claiming that Darien also dislikes them, which strongly hints that the only one who likes them is Mariko- otherwise, there would be no reason for those things to be there if both members of the couple did not want them. She also complained about Mariko's bed smelling strange, because of her hatred for her.
- Upon reading Darien's letter, she says 'So that's what you really feel'. While it appears at first that it is 'Mariko' being touched by Darien's love, it is actually Shinku realizing that Darien thinks of her as a stalker.
- It seems rather odd that the protagonist doesn't have the key to the bedroom and has to look for the spare key, but that is because that's not "her" bedroom.
- One seemingly-innocuous detail is that the protagonist has green eyes.
- The Ghost: Darien never appears in the game. Probably on purpose, since he's actively trying to hide from Shinku and left Mariko to keep her safe.
- Golden Ending:
- The original game has the Normal Ending, where the protagonist (Shinku) leaves the house and accepts that she can never have Darien. Considering the True End, where she kills Mariko, this the best ending of the game.
- Crimson has Bad Ending I, wherin Shinku blocks out Liddy and turns herself in to the police before she kills anyone.
- Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane: In Crimson, it's not clear if "Liddy" is just a hallucination of Shinku or an actual spirit communicating with her.
- Meet Cute: Mariko fondly remembers meeting Darien on a Chirstmas day when she accidentally bumped into him, but he was kind to her nonetheless. Becomes a lot more tragic after The Reveal that Darien ran away from her to protect her from Shinku.
- Mood Whiplash: What seems like a sad love story turns into horror when the scary girl appears.
- Multiple Endings: You have the Bad Ending, the Normal Ending and the True Ending.
- Bad Ending: The protagonist stays after reading Damien's letter and walks forlornly around the house. Suddenly someone tries to open the front door. The protagonist hides in the bathroom either without taking anything with her or taking something that can't reliably be used as a weapon. The intruder enters, reads the letter and breaks down into tears. She notices someone is hiding in the bathroom, enters, finds the protagonist and kills her.
- Normal Ending: After reading Darien's letter, Shinku leaves the house and sadly admits to herself that her and Darien's love was never meant to be.
- True Ending: The protagonist stays after reading Darien's letter, quietly walking around the house and going over his left behind belongings. After a while, someone attempts to enter the house. The protagonist grabs a pair of kitchen knives and hides in the cupboard. The intruder enters the house, looking for Darien. When she finds the letter she breaks into tears and swears to kill the woman who made Darien run away. She eventually opens the cupboard and is stabbed by the protagonist. It's revealed that the "intruder" is actually Mariko, while the protagonist is Shinku, the stalker that drove Darien away. Shinku then kills Mariko with a Slasher Smile on her face.
- Protagonist Title: Subverting this trope is the whole point of the game- Mariko is the antagonist, Shinku is the Player Character.
- Red Eyes, Take Warning: The intruder has red eyes and will kill the protagonist if she catches her. Subverted. The ending reveals that she is Mariko and she has every right to be pissed at Shinku for stalking her boyfriend and being the reason he disappeared.
- The Reveal: You've actually been playing as Shinku, not Mariko.
- Rose-Haired Sweetie: The protagonist has dark-pink hair and is cute as a button. Later on subverted. The protagonist is a delusional stalker named Shinku and there is nothing cute about her.
- Tomato Surprise: The protagonist, who the player likely assumed was Mariko, is actually Shinku, the Big Bad stalker.
- Wham Line: The protagonist says, to the antagonist, "Goodnight, Mariko. And welcome home.", revealing that Mariko was actually the antagonist all along, while the Player Character is the stalker Shinku.