Maria Scissorland has worked tirelessly to save up for the wedding of her dreams. The only problem? Her fiancé steals the money to get hitched to her best friend. He leaves the heartbroken Maria with some ‘friendly advice’ – since she’s so good at making money she should just buy herself a new man! Maria resolves to accept the challenge and begins using her apothecary skills to make bank, hoping to find the man of her dreams. Thankfully, a handful of ‘down on their luck’ hotties could just be the fateful encounter our entrepreneur is looking for. ‘The Bell Chimes for Gold’ is an otome game by OTUSUN Club. The game was released in English in 2018 under Sekai Project’s Maiden Voyage line (unfortunately the line seems to have disappeared). Now, let’s see if this game sings with romance!
Note: This review is for the R18 version of the game. The Steam version is the all ages version and the R18 version can only be purchased through Denpasoft. There is no ‘R18 patch’ for the all the ages version and they can be essentially thought of as two different games.
Cost: I bought the R18 version on Denpasoft for $15 USD, the ‘all ages’ version (remember no patch!) is available on Steam for $10 USD
Number of Romance Options: 5 guys
My play through order: William —> Ben —> Brian —> Samuel —> Walter (order doesn’t matter)
First play-through time: ~2.5 hours
Total Play Time: ~8 hours
Guide: I’ve done one over here!
Content Warning: In Ben’s ‘scene 3’ (after paying the $10,000 debt), there’s a scene where some men attempt to sexually assault Maria, but Ben saves her. There’s a similar attempted assault scene in Walter’s ‘scene 5’ (after paying $70,000 debt), but once again she is saved by the LI. There’s quite a bit of dubious consent overall in Walter and Brian scenes between Maria and LI. Ben and Samuel routes talk a bit about addiction (gambling and alcohol respectively).
The Bell Chimes for Gold Review – Money For My Honey
I purchased The Bell Chimes for Gold when it was first released and played three of the five routes before putting it down. It was only recently, when I was transferring files to my new computer I found it again and restarted the game from the beginning. And I gotta say, I’m glad I picked it back up as I found it overall to be a gem of a game, notwithstanding some faults.
Let’s get the basics out of the way, the game is a mix between visual novel and RPG. To progress through the story you have to pay off your LI’s debt, after paying the debt you unlock a short chapter / scene. In each route there are about six scenes and one ending.
To earn money to get through the debt you select one LI to accompany you to go dungeon crawling to collect resources for potions (which you can later sell) or earn money killing monsters. To ‘progress’ through the dungeon, you’re kinda constantly clicking ‘forward’, occasionally moving your mouse around to hover over items to pick up. At the end of a dungeon you can ‘tip’ your body guard which will then increase his level, some special dungeon drops can also be traded increase skills.
I’ve had a look at other reviews and noticed that many did find the RPG function of the game quite tedious. To be honest, the first time I played this game one of the reasons I put it down was because I didn’t want to ‘grind’ to finish the other routes. But I saw someone on Reddit mentioned that they did the grinding while listening to a podcast and that just made the whole thing a lot more enjoyable. So I’d just set one up and start clicking through dungeons! I ended up progressing quite quickly this way, and made quite a lot of money – especially once I had unlocked the Outland special dungeon. However, I do still believe the game could benefit from some kind of ‘auto advance’ option that automatically picked up items/ kills monsters for those who want to focus on the story aspect of the game.
Mechanics-wise, this game was missing a few things that I’ve grown used to in visual novels. For example there was no text log, so if I was clicking too fast, I couldn’t go back to see missed text and there wasn’t a CG gallery. Instead you could ‘replay’ the scene you had unlocked under the ‘memories’ section. I love looking back at CGs so I was a bit disappointed that I had to re-play the whole scene to see a picture. The game is also set up in a vertical format, almost like it was made to be played on a mobile screen (you can see a screenshot of ‘full screen’ above). This didn’t bother me too much, but I would have loved to be able to play the game on my tablet.
In terms of story and romance I really found the characters to be quite hit or miss. Perhaps it was my fault starting out with William but I LOVED William’s story so much. I found him to be such an endearing ‘must protect at all costs’ character, I didn’t want to let go of him! Samuel and Ben’s stories were really quite riveting as they both had themes of addiction and loss. I found seeing these two characters develop and heal from their pasts really quite compelling, and wish it had been explored a bit more. Perhaps in the non-R18 game there’s a bit more character content, if anyone has played it, please let me know!
I found Walter and Brian’s routes to be the weakest of the games. In terms of sex scenes there were a few kinks in both of them that were not my cup of tea but may appeal to others. But at the core of the story, I just did not find them as compelling characters. Walter’s character seemed very one note – this half dead guy who yearns for human warmth. I wasn’t very interested in his and Maria’s relationship development, what I was interested in was the necromancy and magic aspect but that really just fell to the sidelines.
But on the flip side, I really disliked Brian’s route. I can’t quite put my finger on why Brian’s route ticked me off and Walter’s left me feeling ‘meh’ but I absolutely could not stand Brian. To give some brief context – Brian is a young master of a ruined noble family. In his route, Maria helps him reclaim him family heirlooms and status. But in return, Brian pretty much treats her like trash.
He tells her he loves her, but he could never marry her because she does not have noble blood. But oh, don’t worry! She can still be his mistress! The whole route I was begging Maria to leave his stupid butt, and at the route’s end Brian does turn around for the better and it’s a ‘happily ever after’. But the bad taste in mouth never really left. While Maria could forgive him, as a player I couldn’t, and I didn’t find his route romantic at all.
After you complete a route you also unlock a special after story. Funnily enough, one of the main driving forces for me to finish this game was because I really wanted to see all these after stories. Some of them were really quite wholesome while others were bittersweet, but nevertheless I enjoyed them all. My only complaint was with Samuel’s after story. Some spoilers ahead but I’ll only talk about the weird bit. Essentially the after story is super sweet, I’m loving it, and then it skips to decades into the future with some random guy hovering over your daughter’s grave (she died of old age) breaking her tombstone and saying he’ll take over the world. I wasn’t sure if this was meant to be a reference or easter egg to some other OTUSUN Club game but it gave me severe whiplash!
Finally, in terms of the art, I really liked the\ art style! I found Maria’s design in particular very cute, reminding me of a 90s Shoujo heroine. During the sexy time scenes, some of the guys got the raw end of the deal and looked a bit creepy rather than ‘hot’. But generally, I found the art to really suit the game, and uh, just between you and me – I loved how beefy some fo the guys were.
The game’s music was quite relaxing, but as I was mostly listening to podcasts during the RPG elements of the game, so I didn’t hear too much of it. But you can bet that I stopped my podcasts to listen to the visual novel moments! I gotta say the voice acting was really great, and I’m sure half the reason I loved Samuel’s route was because I just wanted him to keep talking. I don’t know if they use the same voice actors but OTUSUN Club also has an R18 audio series called Ojisama Cube, and I’m seriously considering picking one or two up. Although having a quick look at VNDB and the listings for these CDs, it looks like the voice actors are different, but nevertheless, I’m sure I can expect some sexy voices!
Final Thoughts on The Bell Chimes for Gold
Overall, I had a lot of fun with The Bell Chimes for Gold. Back in 2018 before even finishing the game I actually backed the spinoff Day in the Life of Maria so I’m hoping to play that soon. Currently I’m also eagerly awaiting the release of the second spinoff MariAlbum. But despite my enjoyment, I can recognise that at times the game felt like a mixed bag. Some routes certainly stood out more than others to me, and I think a lot of the enjoyment of the game comes down to personal taste. It’s not a game I would recommend for everyone, especially those who are looking for some ‘soft and sweet’ romance – William is really the only soft boy. But for those who are looking for sexy times with older guys (and a few kinks thrown in), you’ll certainly find this game to be your cup of tea. Just prepare to grind to get your smutty rewards…