It is a good type of sadness, named empathy
This is a review tuned towards those who feel like putting off playing Narcissu 1st & 2nd either because they believe it’s " a boring book", "sounds upsetting", “don’t like manga/anime” or just cheese through in fifteen minutes for the achievements with the hope they might give it a go one nice, quiet afternoon in. Three are misconceptions and the latter… deplorable.
Note: This has been completed as a review with abstract views, especially due to the game's grave theme.
This is worth your time, especially as an F2P game (you're missing out)!
* Semi-spoiler alert.
Does not contain extensive storylines but will hint at certain basic aspects of the plot which could spoil gameplay a smidgen.
– A straightforward and conclusive review can be found at the bottom
Death of the young affects everyone
Be ready as the very private and personal events of death will unfold before you. It will not drag you to hell or kill you from boredom if you take the time to read it properly. It does a superb job of taking out the gut-wrenching and leaving minimal scars. Whenever young people die in a similar context I am reminded of the anime series, Anohana
(あの日見た花の名前を僕達はまだ知らない。) which I strongly recommend whether you like anime or not as it talks about the issue of loss and death for young adults as is done through Narcissu. It's a theme which requires more love from modern literature and media emphasis. Sharing more consistency with Narcissu is John Green's novel, The Fault in Our Stars
(there is also a film) so that may give you an idea of the amount of heartache and satisfaction Narcissu may offer as a sad but worthwhile read.
Reminiscent of the best 90s Japanese romance mangas but thankfully reads minus the drama overdrive
Closer to the likes of previously noted, popular modern young adult novels, Narcissu is oddly empowering as many stories like it are even for mature adults. You are a young girl without much time to live but still plenty of life left in you. It is down-to-earth and focuses on realism despite its medical inconsistencies so no character is perfect and there is no right or wrong on the perception of life, death and suicide
. Even the religious slant in Narcissu 2 refreshingly had no bias or distortion. I recently played The Cat Lady
, which is a beloved game on Steam also deeply based on death and suicide
. But it had several points where equality disintegrated in a beaker full of acid-ridden negativity (you'll see the logic behind this if you play the game). On the other spectrum, Narcissu, like its title, is honed to a emphatically personal experience in a much more positive way without losing force.
The idea of freedom and choice within a world that lacks it
Loss and pain through the death of a loved one is excruciating as well as highly disorientating. Looking back on several personal experiences, it feels distinctly like falling through limbo. It is the most earth shattering and realistic inevitability that could ever happen to any living soul. So it is my belief that many people understandably dislike any variation of such a storyline which hints death and desolation with no escape or way to "win", especially due to the likely sense of powerlessness it makes the player/reader undergo. But this is about your death.
One of the main protagonists, you, are a terminally ill character dealing with the side effects of knowing you are dying and your physical being broken down. For those inclined to avoid dealing with thoughts of death, this is a basic and comfortable visual novel to imagine the decisions you may fall upon in the face of death and urge you to grow up from being afraid of thinking onwards to that deep, impending dark hole you're walking towards.
The absence of interaction in-game, does not detract from the interactivity out of game
Every time I come across a documentary feature or visual novel, I weigh the chances I will find it boring. It's the expected outcome of short films, documentaries, software and visual novels currently available on Steam due only due to the superficially stark contrast they display from the average fully interactive game. Time and time again, I am proved wrong to have ever fretted as sitting in front of a computer screen and clicking through a story is just as culture-driven within its own universe as any game can be and offers the reader a multitude of emotions from which most will benefit from as entertainment. The graphics may be uninspired, the art cute but barely existent, and the translations could have been better (fantastic for F2P) yet you can tell it’s brilliant writing. With any type of reading, nothing beats a smashing story. That very story and the telling of it is what Narcissu excels at. I ended up interacting more deeply with other people who have played this game more than I have through other veritable games. Narcissu is lightly philosophical and a fantastic excuse for a soul-searching expedition.
TL;DR & Basic details TL;DR
- Narcissu 1st & 2nd both bring light to saying goodbye to your life prematurely, on an extremely personal level in the form of a visual novel that lacks visuality/aesthetics and is more towards a breezy but splendid read. Basic details
- Depending on a person's reading proficiency, this will take you approximately 5-6 hours to read through 1, 2 and the epilogue once. There are two versions of translations available for the first instalment but only one for the second. I personally found the first translator smoother (especially as it has both 1 and 2, but I read the second translator's version as well) but try both for a few pages to find your own preference. There are also voiced (Japanese) and unvoiced versions. Narcissu 2 has much more voice acting than 1 which only has the bare minimum. Decide which heightens immersion for you. Just as it is with audio books, some will dislike the voice acting (well done and professional). Having studied Japanese for a while and understanding a portion of what is said made reading much swifter. Narcissu 1 is a favourite for many so if you'd just like to read one, that's what I'd recommend. I can only imagine how wonderful it would be to read the original Japanese text as the descriptive writing is first-rate.
Ultimately, our protagonists are fighting the fight just like the rest of us. Our instincts to live, and the restrictions we are faced with (death, illness, suffering and loss), ends in discovering choices within those boundaries and our insignificant existences with bound limbs, to instead jump towards the metaphysical freedom and something much more dazzling than any other sign of human existence.Edited for typing error.