I’ve noticed a significant portion of the review’s material has been already covered in my previous impressions, so I’m going to borrow some of that here and integrate it with the rest of the review specific material. I’ll try to keep the spoiler to a minimal level, though that’ll be a challenge in coming up with stuff to write about.
There’s a legend about an angel’s robe in the scenic town of Minakami-mura, in the middle of which there is a large shrine. An university student, Kousuke, visits his mother’s hometown during the summer break to do some part-time and reacquaints with some old friends while also meeting some new ones. However, their normal lives are altered by the presence of a mythic drug that can cause living beings to become abnormal. This is the local story of the monster named Yamawaro.
[Shamelessly taken from Micchi's blog]
Kousuke returns home, meets old friends, and starts doing some part time work at the local shrine. Everything is going fine until Kousuke start smelling putrid odor around the shrine at first, then the smell started to spread and people starts to notice as well. Then a dog disappears leaving behind a pool of blood, which prompted Kousuke to search for the culprit. Whatever he met landed him in the hospital for several days. Although the official culprit is a wild bear, but Kousuke knows its something much more sinister. Here the game splits into two main branches depending on whether Kousuke seeks Ginko’s help.
Each of the main routes addresses a different aspect of the anomaly that is happening in town. The sub routes have no relations to the main story, but they provide a lighter romantic atmosphere free of supernatural influence.
Sakuya, always level-headed and logical, gets everything done nicely. But at the same time, she gets jealous when her oniichan gets too close to other woman. She has an unusually close relationship with her oniichan, trading H jokes back and forth which makes other people a bit uncomfortable with their distance. However, the siblings themselves are not aware that they interact more like couples than siblings; they have always been that way since childhood and has no intention of changing that. She also has a tendency to take words literally with hilariously embarrassing results, and she says all of that seriously with a perfectly straight face. Her character looks gorgeous.
The only gripe I have with this route is that the supernatural monster theme seems to fade away as the route goes on and is taken over by the stereotypical incest theme. Then the suspense resumes into full throttle mode again in the true ending route. Since the main story is about the strange happenings around the town, I would prefer if those elements are incorporated into the original route so the route won’t feel like yet another imouto route. The true ending route does a well enough job at wrapping everything up, albeit the more I think about it the more cliche the story feels.
Shouko is the resident loli heroine. Not only that, she is also the cousin acting as another imouto who calls Kousuke onii-chan. There is no way this girl is over 18, both in appearance and behavior. Is the school she attending an elementary school? Other than she being a jailbait, she feels more like the typical imouto than Sakuya. An amaenbo who looks up to her oniichan, she follows him everywhere and says some wagamama things sometimes. She grows a bit later on though, but still remain a loli. I like the other side of Shouko better, that is a kind of character you don’t see often in an otherwise innocent loli.
Her story centers around her confusion to what is happening in town and also the changes within herself. I like the character development in this route; we can clearly see Shouko growing up and eventually overcoming the obstacles in her way. What I don’t understand is, how did the genki Shouko become the quiet Shouko? I’m not sure if that was ever explained or did I missed the explanation. All I will say regarding the plot is – Kids, don’t put weird stuff in your mouth please. Or bad things will happen, very bad things indeed.
Ginko is the mysterious self-proclaimed oneechan of the protagonist. She lives like a hobo on the mountains, but is known to appear anywhere, at anytime without warning. No one, most likely including herself, knows how old she is. Likes to make ecchi jokes directed towards Kousuke, but strangely enough, has no idea how babies are made. Her motto is – I do things because they’re fun. But she has a business-like side when it comes to the anomaly happening around the town.
Her route contributed the most to the main story, a bit too extreme perhaps. When it comes down to it, this route provides all the main story relevant information so that you don’t really need to read any other route besides the true ending. I feel they dragged on the uncertain romance part for too long, please get on with it and get together already. Other than that, her route gradually revealed the pieces of the puzzle one by one at a decent pace. Seems like if I say anything more it’s going to end up being a spoiler, so I’ll stop here.
Iroha is the osananajimi of the protagonist. Born in the family tending the shrine, she is the main miko there and is also the dancer for the Kagura for the festival. Takes her job very seriously and barely has any free time between practicing for the Kagura, cleaning up around the shrine, and setting up the festival. Don’t have anything beyond that; sorry but her character doesn’t seem too interesting to me.
Her route is all about the creatures lurking around in the mountain and her parents’ mysterious disappearance which may be related to them. I thought it was bizarre that we don’t get to see her dance in her own route. Maybe she is secretly shy? The route is fairly predictable pass a certain point so you can probably get a good grasp of how her story will end not far into her route. Nonetheless, I was touched by the last scenes.
Perhaps because of its short length as a sub-route, I felt nothing significant happened in Misato’s route regarding Misato herself. The events that did happen are more related to Shouko than Misato which made me wonder whose route am I on at times. I was also disappointed by the fact that her job as a teacher did not come into play at all in the route, instead, she is treated as merely a osananajimi. Even though he is not a student himself, I would love to see his interactions with her students. Sadly, that did not happen anywhere in the route. Her character is nothing special either.
No eroge is complete without lolis and tsunderes, and Sachiko fills both of those quotas. Sachiko felt out-of-place as the product of the game designer’s need to stick a tsundere into every eroge at first, but turned out to be a much more enjoyable than what I expect from a sub route. Much is learned about Kousuke’s mother, and it was heartwarming to see Kosuke finally forgiving himself for what his mother had done for him. Despite being a sub-route, I like this route as it gives insight to the character of Kousuke’s mother and the character development is tolerable given such a short length.
Akane’s route feels the most normal out of all the routes. It follows the standard formula of boy meets girl, they fall in love, and live happily ever after. Not that I consider that to be negative. It is refreshing to play a route with simple, sweet romance without having to worry about what is going to happen next.
My route rankings:
Sakuya, Shouko, Ginko, Iroha, Sachiko, Akane, Misato
Graphics in this game are nothing spectacular, but they aren’t something to complain about either, unless you’re picky about the details. The background looks blend, not much detail on the clothes, and there are some discrepancies in quality among the CG’s drawn by different artists. There are very few SDCG’s which adds little to the game. The CG’s also exhibit an unfortunate trend I’ve been seeing in eroge lately; CG’s are shown for insignificant events lasting a mere few seconds and the significant events tend to either show a CG for only a few lines or none at all.
As you can see above, the game has an elaborate flowchart system where you can jump to any scene you have previously played. It also has short summaries and pictures of what happens at each scene. The chart branches off any time you make a choice, some of the choices don’t matter and lead to the same scene, but most of the choices do matter. The scenes that aren’t connected are scenes told from another person/thing’s perspective, and there are plenty of them which allows a more complete view of the story.
The good endings are colored yellow, bad endings green, and endings where nothing happens light blue. The red scenes denote the H scenes as one might expect. I love this system since it practically eliminates the need to save at any point of the game when all I need to do is jump to that scene directly from the flowchart. A bonus is that you can change the text and the color of the rectangles and even add notes to them.
The music in this game is awesome. It has that epic traditional Japanese feeling to it that I’ve heard in Kitto sumiwataru asairo yori mo. The OP is one of the better ones I’ve heard, not often do you get a non J-Pop sounding song for an OP. The BGM tracks are all generally high quality conveying the suspenseful atmosphere throughout the course of the game, with the exception of a few that sound like standard eroge fare. The ED and the insert songs are both very nice and fitting as well.
Tasogare no Sinsemilla, with a satisfying suspenseful story, is one of the better games I’ve played recently. It is not without its faults, such as questionable CG usage, characters who don’t stand out much, and the inconsistency in writing quality among the routes. But the emotional story, the ambient music, and the user friendly flowchart system more than makes up for the game’s shortcomings. Plus, it has 2 lolis and 2 imoutos.
Overall: 85/100 (not a total)
Next up is SuGirly Wish by Hooksoft. I won’t go in expecting any story whatsoever, so I should have a good time reading fluffy romance and recovering from my wounds from reading Tasogare no Sinsemilla.