"Mystery, romance, intrigue and death: All the things that fascinate and terrify."
Sound of Drop ~ Fall into Poison
This is not the usual type of game for me. I am not an enthusiastic visual novel fan, though I own several. I also generally avoid any game dealing with horror or psychological trauma. This game is all those things. So for me to actually, first, even play this game, and secondarily, recommend this game "says" more then I could possibly ever express in this review.
Storyline: 3rd year junior high student, Himeno Tamagawa, convinces her best friend, Mayumi Nakanobe, who Himeno calls Mayu, to go the Manten Aquarium to see if the urban legends about human-faced fish, blood red water in the fish tanks, an unknown room only accessible on a full moon night, and mysterious disappearances are true. Mayu is reluctant, for very good reason, but goes anyway. (To say any more would be getting into spoiler territory.)
The storyline is an enigma wrapped in a supernatural horror mystery. Possibly even a horror survival game with adventure elements. Mostly it is a mystery though; many different mysteries, in fact, involving an entire cast of characters each with their own back story, motives, intentions and mystery to solve. (All these mysteries are solved if one completes all 4 storylines.) The character storylines intertwine and often overlap giving the entire story at times a confusing feeling much in vein of Wuthering Heights (Bronte). Yet if the gamer continues on everything is explained eventually. In fact the story mechanics remind me of Wuthering Heights (Emily Bronte), Jane Eyre (Charlotte Bronte), and Rebecca (Daphne du Maurier). Even love is portrayed in a chilling way.
The main character is Mayu who is age 14. She is a rather shy person with an introverted personality who has become friends with the active, self-assured, exuberant Himeno. Of course there is drama between them which plays a brief yet rather significant counter point to main storyline. (What 14 year old girls do not have drama among their friends? Or have those types of anxieties and doubts about their friends and themselves? Every 14 year old girl I have ever meet acts like the girls in this story.) I only point this out because for me this is the believability factor and this believability factor is the main reason I can accept the story being told. Given the situations Mayu finds herself in I can believe she would react the way she does, think those thoughts and say the things she does. So basically the Mayu character does not seem contrived or out of character for the person she is portrayed as. The same can be said for all the other characters as well. They are who they are portrayed as and act and speak accordingly.
This game is a remake or an upgraded version of the 2014 original. For the Steam release version, a new game plus replay version was added. This replay plus version can only be accessed once the gamer goes through the entire story once, and starts with a side story about another girl named Sayo (tying in many elements and back story from the first play through). The game plus also adds 2 new storylines (giving the game 2 more True Endings) and 7 more Bad Endings. Bad Endings are death, by the way, 27 in total. I have not died this much since I played Long Live the Queen or Team Fortress 2. The storyline is linear (with side ventures into death) with what I am given to understand are the typical safe choices (blue) and the (red) possible death (no, most likely death does wait) choices.
After 8 hours of playing this game (which is mostly reading) just to finish the entire story (and most side ventures) I can easily say and without fabrication this is definitely not a boring story line. The story line keeps one intrigued and wanting to know what will happen next. Horror, suspense, mystery, adventure (?), supernatural and many character deaths, some of which I even chose on purpose. It was like reading a book I simply could not put down until the end (which I did not.)
I am not an expert on visual novels, but the few I own and actually like, are well written stories that have believable characters that stay in character, in relatively realistic situations and few to none glaring plot holes. I recommend this game at any price. It is well worth the read.
Community review by joan4003 (January 09, 2016)
Joan would much rather give up her day to write but that requires a substantial income and in-coming paychecks for said writing ability.
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