When Sekai Project announced this a few months back I wasn’t exactly sure what to think. The concept seemed interesting but there was just something about it that looked weird to me (not the girl with only one eye) that I’m still not exactly sure what it was. Fast forward to now and we have a relatively quiet launch (I didn’t even know this was about to release until I got the review code) that almost seems like it’s been sent to die releasing just under 2 weeks before The Fruit of Grisaia. Is it something that can hold you over until Grisaia releases or should you just wait? Let’s find out.
The story follows Mamoru Fukunaga, a second year high school student who transferred in a couple months ago with 2 friends named Akemi and Tomoyori. Akemi is your typical loud-mouth girl that seems to be friends with everyone and Tomoyori is a more quiet and reserved character that seems to have some attachment to her. One day as Mamoru is on the third floor of the school doing an errand for Akemi when he hears crying. He checks it out and finds a girl with one eye. Not that she lost it in some accident but she just has a giant eye in the middle of her face. This is our main heroine Sachi Usui. We find out through-out the story that Sachi has an uneasy family situation and is being bullied by a girl in her class, Rui. I know I normally go quite a bit into the story but I completed this VN in just over 2 hours so I feel giving anymore than that basic summary would be ruining the experience.
Something I found really cool was once you complete the game you actually unlock a bunch of extra stuff including bonus scenes that take place after the story, a message from the author (mainly addressing why it seemed so rushed and thanking us for buying his game), summaries of the characters including all their sprites and a bunch of beta/concept scenes including both stuff that made it into the final game and other stuff that was cut. While this was cool the character summaries and beta stuff (save for a couple lines at the end giving a very brief description) were left in Japanese. I can understand the concept scenes were pictures not script but it would have been nice to add a text box on top or something giving the translation.
One other minor nitpick I have is the game had a very basic writing style. I’m not sure if it was like that in Japanese or if it was due to the translation but it felt like something a high school English student who was naturally good at writing but didn’t have any training to help them hone their skills would write. I know the author was stressed with a very tight deadline but I’m not sure if that would affect the writing in this way. What I do feel was affected was the story. While I did find it enjoyable, it never really went anywhere. A lot of problems were solved almost as soon as they were introduced and the main problem with Rui’s bullying seemed more to be able to add some sort of climax (that ended up falling flat) as aside from the scars she gave Sachi I felt she was pretty pointless until the climax. I also felt Sachi’s family situation was a little weird and seemed unnecessary as well. Both could have gone somewhere but I feel they both fell flat.
I’ve played 2 visual novels in a row now that at first glance have a weird art style. This time I find everything fits perfectly. At first I really didn’t like it but it grew on me super quickly. Everything almost looks like it was hand painted and scanned in. There are tons of sprites and CG. I am actually impressed just how many CG there are. There are a couple times when Sachi is supposed to be wearing a hood and isn’t and a few other things that don’t fit but for the most part it’s great. For each “Act” we also get one of the previous CG animated and it looks really nice and fluid.
Something I don’t comment on very often is the UI. This game runs on ren’py which is a pretty common engine for OELVNs but I have played a couple Japanese ones that run it (fault is the main one I believe) and a lot of the time the UI is just the default with maybe a couple minor tweeks (look at my reviews of “The Reject Demon: Toko” and “The Way We ALL GO” for examples) but here it’s really customized. You have the band-aid as the name plate and you have cloth bandages making the text box. It looks really impressive.
This is something I find hard to judge. While I didn’t dislike any of the songs I can’t say I was particularly fond of any of them either. I almost feel there was too much for the length of the game but they’re also used fairly frequently so taking any out might make them feel a bit repetitive. There is no voice acting but I didn’t really see that as a problem. I actually think it helped the game to a certain extent as the voice I ended up using for Sachi in my head is probably no where near what an actor would give. I also pictured Mamoru sounding like Kyon from The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya but I’m really getting off topic.