It’s been a while since I tried my hand at a visual novel-style game, but here we have one with a unique draw. Needy Streamer Overload is a narrative game with management sim aspects. It’s most comparable to games like Princess Maker, Long Live the Queen, and the Rei Ayanami Raising Project. Though even those games don’t quite match what Needy Streamer Overload is going for.
Its story revolves around a mentally unstable girl called Ame. She is your girlfriend who has a history of mental illness and substance abuse. Ame is also very dependent and in need of constant affirmation. One day she she decides that she wants to get into streaming, so that thousands or even millions of fans may give her the attention she craves. As her boyfriend / manager, it is your task to make that dream a reality.
Each day is cut into three timeslots during which you can undertake activities. This might involve scouting for topics to then later do streams about or simply relaxation. For example, you could play games for an afternoon and now Ame wants to do a Let’s Play stream. Or you take her out shopping and now she’s interested in lolita fashion.
At night you can stream about any topic you have discovered. Here Ame takes on the alter ego of KawaiiAngel; a girl with a bright, assertive personality and boundless energy. A complete reversal of how Ame acts normally, you could say. During these streams KawaiiAngel talks and animates on the webcam screen while you are in charge of moderating her chat. You delete mean messages and pick out superchats for KawaiiAngel to respond to at the end. Simple, right?
Unfortunately no. Besides setting the day’s schedule and moderating the streams, you are also juggling Ame’s mental health. You have meters representing stress, love, and inner darkness. Stress is pretty self-evident, but the others might require explanation. Love represents Ame’s affection for you, which changes depending on what you make her do. Spending time together and having sex increases it, but it can also decrease if you mistreat her. Something that you might have to do because a high level of love causes problems as well. It makes Ame even more clingy to the point of obsession. She starts spamming you with messages and all but loses her mind if you don’t react asap.
Mental darkness represents her overall mental state separate from just the moment-to-moment stress. It rapidly spikes as you make Ame do horrible things, like overdosing on meds to relieve stress or talking conspiracy theories. You might wonder why you’d do choose to do these actions then and the answer is simple: results. Getting high on stream, rambling about conspiracies, acting lewd for the viewers, these bring in the big numbers. And Ame demands numbers. She sets harsh deadlines for the amount of subscribers she expects and you are obliged to make that happen. If you try to do it the hard but proper way, Ame’s stress is liable to break her before you even come close.
This is what makes Needy Streamer Overload so fascinating. It puts you in an unreasonable situation where every choice you make will bite you in some way. Its writing also does a great job of drawing you into this situation. Ame/KawaiiAngel is a fascinating person that I felt a connection with. She is well-written but also very hard to love at times. Her constant need to message you about every little thing, the random mood swings, her unwillingness to accept any kindness on face value. Not to mention the inherent toxicity of a romance in which one party has such all-encompassing power over the other.
Depending on how you approach this challenge, you can unlock well over 20 radically different endings. These include various degrees of success on realizing Ame’s dream of becoming a streamer, but also various other paths you could discover. Including funny options like getting your girl into therapy so she picks her normal life back up. This is framed as a bad ending because now you’re the only NEET left and you needed the superchat money to make rent.
This can get pretty crazy too. If you push Ame too far by letting her condition spike or pushing her drug use too far, the game becomes surreal and creepy. I hate to say that because, for most people, that conjures up images of games like Doki Doki Literature Club and its derivatives. While Needy Streamer Overload can feel similar, these horror scenarios feel much more earned. It’s not a cheap “wow so deconstructive” gimmick tossed into an otherwise normal story. These are the actual consequences of your actions that you could have prevented. It’s genuinely unsettling when Ame flips out and you suddenly lose control over her, having no clue what you’re supposed to do or if this breakdown will be her last.
With that said, I did feel that the gameplay could have used a bit more interactivity. Managing the schedule and Ame’s mental state is great, but during the actual streams you barely do anything. Mean-spirited messages are rare and the reward for catching them minimal. Likewise selecting superchats doesn’t seem to do all that much. You mostly just sit back and watch the animations play out. At least KawaiiAngel’s banter is spot on.
There is also this digital Twitter that the game keeps forcing you to look at, but there’s nothing you can do there. For some reason Twitter is the one aspect of KawaiiAngel’s management that Ame does all on her own. Even if there are mean comments, you can’t engage with them in any way. It feels like there was room to do something more interesting there. Likewise, you got the chat app where Ame constantly messages you. Only rarely do you actually get a dialogue option to reply with while at other times you only have generic stickers. Usually none of these feel like an appropriate response to the message you receive, but not responding at all causes issues too.
Also, while the retro Windows look of the interface and menus was charming to old farts like myself, it is also unwieldy and slow to work with. Even if you skip animations, it often takes well over ten seconds before the game processes the results. It also softlocked a handful of times, with the menus becoming inaccessible and no prompt popping up for me to take action. This only happened twice throughout my 5 hours with the game though and only after I made some weird inputs.
Needy Streamer Overload is part of a rare niche of games and succeeds at drawing out its appeal in a modern coat. The premise of managing a wannabe streamer is fun, but its the writing and depiction of mental health issues that kept me coming back to it. I really wanted to explore alternate paths and see how else Ame’s story could develop. 14 euros sounds steep, but I more than got my money’s worth. I now also want a Windose 20 theme for my laptop.