So it’s been over a month since I did an official review. I figured I better do another one so this blog can still be called a review blog. As a warning, I’m going to spoil the prologue since not much else is going to make sense without spoiling it. Sorry for the slight spoiler in the title image below, this is what it looks like after you complete the game. Forgot to take a screenshot of the title screen at the very beginning, but in case you’re interested, it shows the empty club room with chairs and musical instruments with the blackboard at the back minus the extra button on the menu.
The third installment in ALcot Honey Comb’s mid-priced novel series. Even since his parents disappeared a year ago, Kanata did part-time jobs every day in order to take care of himself and his imouto Ai. He skipped classes and didn’t join any clubs even though he had entered the music academy with a scholarship, believing that music doesn’t help bring food to the table. However, it was natural that because of this, his scholarship was threatened to be revoked. The granddaughter of the principal, Mana, gave him a second chance at his scholarship if he revives the legendary piano quartet. So, he picked up his cello for the first time in a year and was joined by bracon imouto Ai, my-pace and self-centered Sakura, and super cool beauty Natsumi. Will he be able to regain his scholarship, and more importantly, his love for music and lost friendships?
I like this OP Aliare by Hazuki. It captures the feel of the game well and is a nice song to listen to on its own as well. Why isn’t the full version out somewhere!
Kanata’s life hasn’t been the same ever since his best friend Haruka passed away a year ago. He lost his will to play cello, became a workaholic doing part-time jobs at the restaurant, and hasn’t been doing so well in school. It is during this time another disaster struck, the school threatened to revoke his scholarship if he doesn’t play music again. Knowing he can’t afford continuing to enroll without the scholarship, he very reluctantly picked up his cello again just to play at graduation to get his scholarship back with no intention of playing ever again.
The common route is fairly entertaining and does a nice job at setting up all the characters’ stories and the setting of the grand story as you would expect. There is a nice balance of drama and comedy that the atmosphere switches back and forth between; the drama isn’t too heavy to block out the comedy which in turn is entertaining yet doesn’t undermine the gravity of the drama.
Natsumi’s route is presumably the true route since you unlock it after completing both Ai’s and Sakura’s routes. In short, Natsumi’s route is the best route, Ai’s route has nothing to do with music, and Sakura’s route is excessively emo. There is one thing that is shared among all the routes – the H scenes are entirely out of place like it happened in a parallel universe. No apparent change in behavior or relationship status and it isn’t mentioned at all outside of the H scenes themselves which are pretty dull. Not that anyone reads them?
Ai is Kanata’s non-blood-related imouto who came into his household when Kanata’s father remarried Ai’s mother. Besides that, she is also the super bracon genius viola player who says some of the most darnedest phrases ever uttered by an imouto. She shows no shame being a bracon, and proudly declares Kanata to be a siscon despite his protests. Underneath that, she is also deeply caring for Kanata and will do anything to help her onii-chan since they are each other’s only family. Her loli form is extra moe!
Like I stated before, Ai’s route is the only route that has absolutely nothing to do with music, and whether that is good or bad depends on you. But since this game has such a prominent musical theme, I’m leaning towards the latter. Instead of music, the route is centered around a mysterious character who only appears in this route and cannot be found in any other route. I find this to be puzzling; this character should be an important part of the overall story given the relationship to Kanata. Unfortunately, the character is used merely as a plot device in this particular route. I would also like the route to be more about Ai herself as well. Her character barely developed in the duration from the beginning to the end of the route except during a certain phase in it. But Ai is so bracon I’ll forgive her; it’s the scenario writers fault not her’s anyway. However, I have to give them credit for trying something new with an imouto route which has been done to death.
Sakura is the my-pace genius violin player who is also an osananajimi of Kanata. She delivers some pretty amusing, and sometimes ecchi, lines, due to the fact that her brain is probably the sort that operates at a different wavelength than the others. She also have the ability to eat huge amounts of food without ever gaining weight – a trait much envied among the quartet members. Maybe it’s just me but, her face doesn’t look right on her tachi-e or in any of her CG’s. Despite that, she also has an adorable loli form.
Her route is so emo later on I only managed to not pull my hair out in an emo outburst by skimming quickly through the later parts of her route. Yes, it’s true that I don’t understand her pain as I have never lost a dear friend myself, but maybe they overdid it a bit when blood starts appearing. It doesn’t help that there is practically zero ichaicha and the whole relationship is so messed up and out of order that it didn’t officially start until the epilogue.
Natsumi is the twin sister of the deceased Haruka and the other osananajimi of Kanata. She is the tsundere piano player of the quartet, who is never honest with her feelings towards Kanata as expected of a tsundere. I have not seen a tsundere this cute in her deredere mode, demonstrated when she ran out of the room then does the happy dance and laughed like a maniac for quite a while when all Kanata did was calling her cute. But, sadly, she is also the only heroine without a loli form.
Her route is almost without a doubt the true route. Her route has the couple dealing with the death of Haruka and moving on with their lives, in each of their own ways. I felt this route is the best out of the 3 for a number of reasons. First of all, the couple started off their relationship in a realistic and believable way, and is clearly recognized by others as a couple unlike the nebulous relationships of the other 2 heroines. The drama makes the most sense and the easiest to resonate with since it is the closest to something that could have happened in real life compared to the other 2 routes. The character development is also the strongest, we can definitely see each step they take in coping with the death of Haruka and discovering themselves in the process. The ending was satisfying as well with them finally saying farewell to Haruka.
My route rankings:
Natsumi, Ai, Sakura
I’m not really that big of a critic on the graphics or the art style, so see for yourself with the screenshots I have provided. One thing of note is that all of Sakura’s CG’s seem have a distinct discrepancy in quality compared to the others. There are 10 SDCG’s total, with an example provided below. Nothing extraordinary, but they get the job done well enough.
Besides the usual assortment of save and load slots, CG viewer, music player, and scene recollection mode, there is the tachi-e mode shown in the screenshot above. You can customize the pose, clothe, size, and the facial emotion of the character. But you can’t do anything with the background, which is a shame. The skip function could be a bit faster too, but not much else to complain about.
Surprisingly enough for a musically themed game, you don’t actually get to hear the quartet perform often. If I remember correctly, the track of the piece they’re performing, Haruka Kanata, was played maybe 3 to 4 times maximum during the entire course of the game. You would think you would get to hear it more often, since this track is what essentially the whole game is about. The track itself is pretty good, but then I’m not fit to judge classical music when I know so little about them. Other than this and the excellent OP that I still need to get the full version of, the rest of the tracks are standard fare.
Playing this game has been a mostly enjoyable experience, apart from some of Sakura’s route which dragged the story score down significantly when this game only has 3 routes. Do consider picking this game up if you’re looking for a musically themed game, or an imouto with his bracon level that is over 9000, or would like a shorter/cheaper game since this has only 3 routes and it doesn’t take that long to go through them all.
Overall: 80/100 (not a total)
Since I don’t have a cello case, carry my backpack for me Ai-chan!
For some reason, I suddenly felt the urge to play some old school dating sims, so I’ll be playing LovelyxCation by Akatsuki Works Hibiki next for a compromise between the authenticity of the classic dating sims and the amount of effort necessary to do them. I hope it’ll be worth the effort to do all the stat raising and stuff like that, but I’ll be following a walkthough anyway so that doesn’t really matter. And also, I need to get the full version of that OP song by Sakakibara Yui too, they’re always escaping my grasp.