So recently a Kickstarter called Narcissu 10th Anthology Project caught my attention and led me to Narcissu 1 and 2 on Steam. The game is a visual novel in the literal sense because it doesn’t actually have any choices or paths. I wouldn’t really categorize it as a game even but I suppose the definition of what makes a game is broad now and days. Personally I think that if they made this into an OVA or something it would be better. Even for a visual novel game it is very minimal, very little voice acting, repeating pictures which rarely actually contain the characters, and most action takes place in only a small part of the screen. Considering all this though this game has one of the most memorable and striking plots I have seen in a long time. As a man I was raised to bury my emotions deep inside and the last time I felt much of anything involved me getting stabbed. This game however touched me because it went over topics I have always had interest in but are generally considered unpleasant to talk about.
While the main topic of death and dying are in both 1 and 2 they both took different routes to get there. Narcissu 1 followed I slightly simpler plot by looking at two terminally ill young people finding a place to die that had some meaning. On the other hand Side 2nd focuses on things from a more religious point of view that has its ups and downs. Both focus on the difficulties of dying from various stand points and they nail it, besides a few things here and there it was all very solid and flowed seamlessly. In my younger days I played a game called A Drug That Makes You Dream which gave me a lot of the same feelings Narcissu did… including other feelings… in my pants. If you look past the sexy parts A Drug That Makes You Dream also has a lot of important themes; not necessarily death but the struggles of growing up. Remove the eroge parts and it would probably be a great game in a more public market; I kind of wish I still had it myself… in my pants.
Besides an amazing plot though there isn’t much else to be very impressed by. I liked the character art but those are extremely sparse, especially in Narcissu 1. The music with vocals is great (I wouldn’t mind getting an OST) but like most of the background that makes up 80% of the game it is simple and tends to repeat many times. Reading some opinions by other people they claimed the game was stunning; I can only assume they were talking about the plot because there really isn’t anything stunning about Narcissu. To be fair though, Narcissu 2nd was far superior in every way to 1. The art was improved with a bit more focus on characters; there was more dialogue and characters with a deeper and richer cast and more music with vocal pieces. It was 5 hours long or something so I lost interest a bit here and there but I suppose I still finished it. Since there is no real choice aspect or anything you can pretty much just put the thing on automatic and watch it like some old school silent movie.
The Kickstarter is a collection on 4 games, two of which correlate with Narcissu 1 and 2 but take place at different times. For an anthology though it seems odd that they would not include the first two which have direct plot connections 3/4s of the anthology. I suppose since the first two are already translated and free on Steam it is kind of a moot point. On the other hand though most of the money seems to be going towards almost completely rebuilding the games the bottom up; why would you not start with the games that are already world famous and could really use a nice polish? I don’t know these other four games so I can’t judge how much work they need but they can’t be as minimal and old as the first two are.
I don’t doubt whether the team doing it can, they have already worked on projects like CLANNAD and Fruit of Grisaia (something I kick myself for missing). The question is the amount; when the important two are already free and for what amounts to a very slow flash movie it is a lot to ask. Again though, I have a thing where I always have to buy the physical version of everything which is a minimum of 100 dollars. Why it needs to go on four separate discs, especially when they admit of the parts is just a short epilogue, is beyond me. It seems they could easily fit it all and the OST onto one or two disc for much less. Their stretch goals are a little overly optimistic as well but I suppose that is the point. If I thought they had actual plans to port this to other systems or at least add something new and original I would feel more inclined. As much as I really want to I just can’t spare that much money for what is basically a really low budget movie. There are quite a few days left but it doesn’t look as though it will be able to make what it wants in that time.