Checkpoint’s Queer Game of the Month: May 2024 – Omurice Next Time

Posted on May 30, 2024

As queer people, we rarely get media depicting us that is all roses, no explorations of life in the day of a queer person. Episode four of the television adaptation of The Last of Us, titled ‘Long, Long Time,’ gives us some moments at least. The episode shows us something we don’t see often: living and aging gracefully as a queer person. Of course, this franchise, particularly the game’s sequel, is also not free from the same stereotype trappings that come with depicting queer people—notably, a love story surrounded by tragedy. Where’s the media where I get to see two people living their life full of unabashed queer love? Better yet, where are the MLM (men-loving-men) relationships in games? Enter Omurice Next Time, Checkpoint’s Queer Game of the Month for May 2024.

Developed by Griffin Cyan, Omurice Next Time is an interactive story containing a series of vignettes of a loving, long-term relationship between two men by the name of Finn and Gray. While not perfect, it is a short and sweet game, depicting the little things in relationships: the rituals, the gestures and affirmations of love, all the sweet things that go a long way.

Spanning fifteen chapters and a year in the life of the couple, the game covers the pair’s day-to-day life rather than any specific milestone events. We learn of their relationship dynamic, their shared love of food, Gray’s job as a truck driver juxtaposed with Finn’s of running a Dorayaki shop, their nightly ritual of smooches before bed… I digress. I truly believe you can learn a lot about someone not just from how they behave, but how they love. Omurice Next Time explores that idea incredibly well and says a lot with just a little.

The game’s interactivity can be likened to similar small titles like Florence (I promise its similarities are only in interactivity, not storytelling melancholy – It’s only love here). It tells a story in panels of art, broken up by micro activities such as swiping the mouse cursor to resemble an activity. Maybe you’re exploring Finn’s love of Gray’s body hair, rubbing their chest and loving them for them. Perhaps you’re cracking open and preparing crab legs, cooked by Finn for their visiting friends and gay couple Wilbur and Akashi. Often, you’ll be swiping to get to the next story page or progress through dialogue. It’s simple gameplay, but it works.

Love languages is another thing that Omurice Next Time revels in. They share inside jokes. We get to see the couple regularly reminding them how much they love each other. There’s the little touches that feel magnetic, like sparks. This is explored in an adorable late chapter where we learn of Gray’s tendency to generate a lot of static electricity due to his body hair, with the chapter resolving in the adorable footnote of sparks occurring whenever he and Finn kiss. We learn about Finn’s struggle to grow facial hair. Eventually, he manages to sprout a small caterpillar above his upper lip that he’s proud of before he tragically accidentally shaves half of it. As a gesture, Gray shaves half of his long-established thick stache in solidarity. Adorable.

Omurice Next Time feels quintessential because of how microscopic it explores queer love. So often stories are told with broad strokes, the love story never being the focus and, if it is, it’s surrounded by tragedy. Here, the game does a very good job of reminding the player that queer life is worth living. It’s not something that needs to be hidden. You can live your life out loud and proud. You can make a small, but happy home with the one you love. That’s enough. You’re enough. It’s a reminder I wish more media would have; so often the focus is on doom and gloom and you’d be hard-pressed to find a queer person that hasn’t been told, forced or encouraged to live in shame. Omurice Next Time triumphantly goes against that.

MLM relationships are also incredibly rare in games. As a lesbian I feel pretty spoilt with titles like Life is StrangeGone Home, Signalis, We Are OFK, and almost any Fire Emblem game. The list goes on. Short of player-sexual characters in BioWare titles, there are not a lot of choices for male queer relationships. Omurice Next Time telling this underrepresented story from a largely underrepresented demographic’s perspective is refreshing and needed.

Omurice Next Time ends with the pair celebrating New Year’s Eve together. They reflect on their year and joyously exclaim how they did nothing that year. It’s an incredibly fitting and perfect end when you think about it. In life we often don’t need the whole world, we don’t need a fancy car or lucrative life, we just need the one we love. It’s a sweet statement and exactly the heart of why these stories are worth celebrating.

Omurice Next Time is available now on PC. While you’re here, why not check out one of our previous Queer games of the month?