This is a story of disease and suffering; of medication and adverse effects; of thoracotomy scars and cellular poisons; of the living who cannot help but to die and of the dying who cannot help but to live; of a resting place other than "on 7F" or "at home".
User reviews: Very Positive (1,417 reviews)
Release Date: May 15, 2007

Sign in to add this item to your wishlist, follow it, or mark it as not interested

Play Narcissu 1st & 2nd

 

Recommended By Curators

"A short and sweet kinetic novel (no choices) about two young people who are terminally ill and go on an adventure together."

Recent updates View all (5)

April 23

Achievements enabled!

Pushed a new update that enables achievements, let us know if you run across bugs with the unlocks!

36 comments Read more

January 30

Ame no Marginal heading to Steam!

The latest visual novel from Tomo Kataoka, the creator of acclaimed free visual novel Narcissu, will be brought to Steam by Sekai Project!

A serious visual novel telling the story of a man who steps into an elevator, only to find himself transported to a strange and mysterious world.

In this world, there is no time, no aging, no hunger, not even death. There is nothing to be seen but weathered stone, white clouds, and endless rain.

Ame no Marginal now available for pre-order!

14 comments Read more

About This Game

... on that blindingly bright day ...
... on that very day of winter ...

This is a story of disease and suffering; of medication and adverse effects; of thoracotomy scars and cellular poisons; of the living who cannot help but to die and of the dying who cannot help but to live; of a resting place other than "on 7F" or "at home".

This is a story of so many things.

But most of all ...

This is the story
of a girl whose heart was standing still
and a boy whose breath was being stolen away,
both of whom die.

System Requirements

Windows
Mac OS X
SteamOS + Linux
    Minimum:
    • OS: Windows XP
    • Processor: 1.2 GHz Pentium 4
    • Memory: 1 GB RAM
    • Graphics: Integrated Graphics
    • Hard Drive: 300 MB available space
    Minimum:
    • OS: OS X 10.6
    • Processor: Any 64 bit processor
    • Memory: 1 GB RAM
    • Graphics: Integrated Graphics
    • Hard Drive: 300 MB available space
    Minimum:
    • Processor: 1.2 GHz Pentium 4
    • Memory: 1 GB RAM
    • Graphics: Integrated Graphics
    • Hard Drive: 300 MB available space
Helpful customer reviews
31 of 34 people (91%) found this review helpful
11 people found this review funny
3.2 hrs on record
Posted: April 25
This VN is suitable for someone who like to see beautiful story rather than beautiful "plot".
Was this review helpful? Yes No Funny
49 of 83 people (59%) found this review helpful
86 people found this review funny
0.2 hrs on record
Posted: April 26
... on that blindingly bright day ...
... on that very day of winter ...

This is a story of disease and suffering; of medication and adverse effects; of thoracotomy scars and cellular poisons; of the living who cannot help but to die and of the dying who cannot help but to live; of a resting place other than "on 7F" or "at home".

This is a story of so many things.

But most of all ...

this is a story all about how
My life got flipped-turned upside down
And I'd like to take a minute
Just sit right there
I'll tell you how I became the prince of a town called Bel Air

In west Philadelphia born and raised
On the playground was where I spent most of my days
Chillin' out maxin' relaxin' all cool
And all shootin some b-ball outside of the school
When a couple of guys who were up to no good
Started making trouble in my neighborhood
I got in one little fight and my mom got scared
She said 'You're movin' with your auntie and uncle in Bel Air'

I begged and pleaded with her day after day
But she packed my suit case and sent me on my way
She gave me a kiss and then she gave me my ticket.
I put my Walkman on and said, 'I might as well kick it'.

First class, yo this is bad
Drinking orange juice out of a champagne glass.
Is this what the people of Bel-Air living like?
Hmmmmm this might be alright.

But wait I hear they're prissy, bourgeois, all that
Is this the type of place that they just send this cool cat?
I don't think so
I'll see when I get there
I hope they're prepared for the prince of Bel-Air

Well, the plane landed and when I came out
There was a dude who looked like a cop standing there with my name out
I ain't trying to get arrested yet
I just got here
I sprang with the quickness like lightning, disappeared

I whistled for a cab and when it came near
The license plate said fresh and it had dice in the mirror
If anything I could say that this cab was rare
But I thought 'Nah, forget it' - 'Yo, holmes to Bel Air'

I pulled up to the house about 7 or 8
And I yelled to the cabbie 'Yo holmes smell ya later'
I looked at my kingdom
I was finally there
To sit on my throne as the Prince of Bel Air ( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°)
Was this review helpful? Yes No Funny
7 of 8 people (88%) found this review helpful
1 person found this review funny
9.0 hrs on record
Posted: April 26
Pre-Release Review
Sadly good in the right way!
Was this review helpful? Yes No Funny
7 of 10 people (70%) found this review helpful
0.5 hrs on record
Posted: April 26
An indeed very emotional and well made novel that I can only recommend. It's free and the English translations are very well written. Even though I prefer books and don't like to read on screens, I still like to "play" this since it has a really beautiful soundtrack. So check it out and have a box of tissues next to you, just in case.
Was this review helpful? Yes No Funny
2 of 4 people (50%) found this review helpful
4.8 hrs on record
Posted: April 26
Pre-Release Review
IT'S AWESOME, must try it...

this VN is free but, it's awesome

VN is Visual Novel, it just like watching Anime but in the protagonist perspective or First-Person
Was this review helpful? Yes No Funny
115 of 126 people (91%) found this review helpful
7 people found this review funny
4.3 hrs on record
Posted: April 25
This is a story of disease and suffering; of medication and adverse effects; of thoracotomy scars and cellular poisons; of the living who cannot help but to die and of the dying who cannot help but to live; of a resting place other than "on 7F" or "at home".

Usually I would start a review with some sort of story hook, an attempt to use my own words to evoke the kind of atmosphere you can expect from the full experience, something to show you at a glance whether it could really speak to you or whether you would not connect with it at all. In the case of Narcissu 1st & 2nd, I feel that no matter how long I try, I will not be able to top the original summary by Insani (quoted above and throughout this review), the fan translation group that first brought Narcissu to English-speaking audiences. Instead I will just quote their writing where appropriate and dive straight into the facts myself.

Narcissu and its sequel Narcissu Side 2nd are rather famous kinetic novels (meaning they have no branching story or player choices) with a strong legacy in the VN community. They are known for their use of minimalist visuals, mostly showing backgrounds with no character sprites or even just a gray void, with only very few character CGs inbetween. The soundtrack relies heavily on piano pieces, but also makes use of other instruments in some places, and features two title tracks with Japanese vocals. The engine shows its age in some aspects and does not have a fullscreen mode for example, but apart from that it has everything you'd expect, including save states and a soundtrack menu. As a reader, you have the choice between two different English translations or the original Japanese script, and you can opt to listen to the Japanese voice acting if you so choose.

Imagine what it would be like to have your entire life -- your friends, your family, your interests, your loves, your hatreds, your future -- all taken away from you in a single instant. Imagine a hard, lumpy bed, a noise-filled ward, the sharp sting of needles entering your flesh at all hours of the day, the indignity of being woken up just as you are about to fall asleep for incessant vital statistics measurements, the doctors whose names you don't know (but that's okay, because they don't remember your name, either; they just remember you as "the non-small cell lung carcinoma in room 6"), and your own name, your very own name, that you have just about forgotten.

Then you might have some clue as to what it is like to be dying in a hospital.

It would be off the mark to describe Narcissu as an "emotional rollercoaster" since the concept would imply lots of ups and downs, but even though Narcissu ends on a bittersweet note of resolution, it is pretty much devoid of "up" moments. VN connoisseurs might note that this places it in the utsuge genre, everyone else seeking more stories like it now has a keyword to search by.

The story is about an unnamed young man who falls terminally ill. After all venues of hope are exhausted, he is moved to the hospice ward of the local hospital, where he meets a girl of about his age who conveys to him the unwritten rules of the inhabitants of the 7th floor, of those who are going to die. The two begin a series of awkward non-interactions that culminate in their decision to reject the dichotomy of dying either in the hospital or at home, which kicks off the main arc of the story.

The way that Narcissu hones in on its themes with every fiber of its being is both its strongest asset and biggest liability. Everything about it, from the background visuals to the character interactions, is teeming with the drabness that you would expect from a story about young people in palliative care, which is not at all a melodramatic "woe is me" caricature of exaggerated sadness and self-pity, but a cold collage of loss and hopelessness rooted in questions that no human should have to ask themselves, such as: What does it even mean to be alive if there can be nothing to look forward to? Both main characters' actions and non-actions need to be viewed through this lens to have any hope of being understood.

In that sense, Narcissu as a piece of literature is more demanding of your sense of empathy than many other games and visual novels: It could easily be misunderstood as a story trying to show "normal" people what it is like to be terminally ill by taking their hands and walking them through the experience, but in actuality it's closer to a slice-of-life story about people who are terminally ill, that asks you to make the necessary mental steps towards those people on your own if you wish to understand them. In short: This story isn't written for you, it's written for its main characters.

One example that I can give without veering too far into story spoilers is Setsumi's attitude towards the protagonist. She initially comes across as standoffish and rude, and there's the tacit expectation of a pivotal moment where she finally starts to open up so the "proper" story can start, but that moment never comes. Where a less patient or empathetic reader might leave the story unsatisfied, we can instead take the opportunity to examine Setsumi's behavior with her medical situation in mind, and ponder the way that human relationships develop. Most of us go through life every day making small passing connections to people, but only once in a while do we meet someone we like enough to allow ourselves to be vulnerable around them (which takes courage) in hopes of forging a lasting connection that we can depend on in the future. But what, then, if there quite literally is no future? Suddenly there is no point in opening up to anyone new. Why bother taking the risk of potentially getting hurt if we will not live to see the reward?

The novel doesn't spell these details out to you, it asks you to understand the characters on the basis of their actions. Questions like why having a goal is suddenly such a big deal to the protagonist are left up to interpretation. The combination of strong characterization (which if you've seen my previous VN reviews you already know I am crazy for) and partially unapproachable writing is not for everyone, especially not if you are looking for light entertainment, but there is a lot of substance to it for people willing to make the effort.

In summary, Narcissu is a great visual novel that can be genuinely rewarding to read, but is ill-suited for those of us with short attention spans.

This is a story of so many things.

But most of all ...

This is the story

of a girl whose heart was standing still

and a boy whose breath was being stolen away,

both of whom die.
Was this review helpful? Yes No Funny
109 of 126 people (87%) found this review helpful
8 people found this review funny
0.4 hrs on record
Posted: January 3
Early Access Review
This is a free emotional visual novel. If you never had played a visual novel, this is a good way to start. Sad story, sad soundtrack... The keyboard is full of tears.
Was this review helpful? Yes No Funny
110 of 128 people (86%) found this review helpful
156 people found this review funny
26.6 hrs on record
Posted: February 16
Early Access Review
Just like my Friday nights before bed, I can't play this game without a box of tissue in hand.
Was this review helpful? Yes No Funny
67 of 77 people (87%) found this review helpful
1 person found this review funny
10.8 hrs on record
Posted: November 30, 2014
Early Access Review
Conclusion/tl;dr up top
Narcissu, being a kinetic novel, is not for everyone, but those who don't mind a "game" based primarily on reading or who are already fans of visual novels as a genre will be rewarded with a great story that will make you think and might just make you feel. Plus, hey, it's free, so it's hard not to recommend.

The nitty gritty
Narcissu is a kinetic novel released by the doujin circle Stage-Nana in Japan and published here on Steam by Sekai Project. The story rotates around young people from the 7th Floor (the hospice ward). That is, people whose death has been decided. Without saying much as to the plot, I feel like the novel eloquently covers some heavy subjects: What are the things one has to do before dying? Faced with an unavoidable demise, how might people react to take back independence lost and march vibrantly toward their final act? How does one smile at the end, and how do those left behind smile after?

Gameplay
For people who have experience with visual/kinetic novels, this section is probably unnecessary, but for the unintiated:
A visual novel generally works like a 'Choose Your Own Adventure' book with graphics, music, and sometimes voices. The "player", usually in the guise of the protagonist, makes choices throughout the story that affect the plot. However, Narcissu 1st & 2nd are Kinetic Novels, so they have no choices and very little player interaction aside from a click or press of the enter key to advance the text (though autoplay is actually the default setting for Narcissu Side 2nd, and the author mentions in the notes that he himself sees it more like a movie). Personally, I'd describe it as a long minimalist cutscene with save, load, and backlog options. The game itself is much closer to a novel or a reading experience than a game, and this, no doubt will be what turns a lot of people off from Narcissu, if not the genre as a whole.

Answering common questions
Length?
Narcissu was about a 3 to 4 hour read for me. Narcissu Side 2nd (the included prequel) was 5 to 6 hours. Understandably, it might be a lot of reading for some, but both games are neatly divided into chapters, and the save feature works like a bookmark that you can use at any time.

Order?
Narcissu was released in 2005, and Narcissu Side 2nd was released in 2007, both are included in this release, and I read them in the release order. However, Narcissu Side 2nd is actually a prequel to the events of the original Narcissu, and in the notes for Narcissu Side 2nd, the author suggests reading them in chronological order.

Replay Value?
That probably depends on the player. The original Narcissu was kind of an experiment in minimalist storytelling for Stage-Nana, so it was released in both voiced and unvoiced versions, as the author wanted to see how the voices changed people's impression of the work, and subsequently Narcissu Side 2nd is presented similarly. An interesting mirror of that for this release is that two different translations are included: one made with the intent to localize the novel smoothly into English, and one made with the intent to replicate the phrasing of the original as faithfully as possible and paint a mental picture close to what the original author intended. Though I'm writing this review after just one reading, I can see how this approach would add replay value, and I intend to revisit Narcissu after it stews on me a bit.

Why is this free?
Narcissu is a doujin (or fanmade/amatuer) work and was released for free in Japan. When Sekai-Project announced this Steam release, they said that in the spirit of the original release, Narcissu on Steam would be "As free as Steam would let it be," so here we are. With that said, don't take the lack of a price as a reflection of quality, because, quite frankly, there's no rule stating that professionals can't do doujin works. The music and voices are especially standout in this release, and a few of the voice actresses have both anime and game roles to their credit.

Conclusion
(finally)
Well, I put it at the top for a reason...

This is an excellent release that feels like a labor of love on the part of the author. To me, it stands as a great experiment in minimalist storytelling (especially in the original Narcissu, where I found myself endeared to the characters even with next to no background given about them). Though the novel (and the genre) may not be for everyone, if this feels like your kind of thing, and you have the time to give to reading a great story, I can't not recommend it.
Was this review helpful? Yes No Funny
104 of 134 people (78%) found this review helpful
32 people found this review funny
10.0 hrs on record
Posted: April 24
Early Access Review
The best things in life really are free. And send you into a depressed spiral for days. 10/10 would depression again. I really hope this gets popular enough for the 3rd game to be localized.
Was this review helpful? Yes No Funny
52 of 61 people (85%) found this review helpful
35 people found this review funny
10.3 hrs on record
Posted: April 25
I'm glad this game has a button to make the story go quickly
because I am absolutely didn't want to dry my eyes again just for the achievements
Was this review helpful? Yes No Funny
54 of 69 people (78%) found this review helpful
4 people found this review funny
0.8 hrs on record
Posted: January 15
Early Access Review
Lovely, albeit sad, visual novel with a good plot,and wonderful sound track.

This is a story about a girl whose life ended long before her last breath...
Was this review helpful? Yes No Funny
46 of 60 people (77%) found this review helpful
17 people found this review funny
6.2 hrs on record
Posted: January 9
Early Access Review
Are those tears in my keyboard?
Was this review helpful? Yes No Funny
28 of 32 people (88%) found this review helpful
1 person found this review funny
86.2 hrs on record
Posted: December 10, 2014
Early Access Review
This is not a game in the traditional sense. You don't have to navigate, survive, move, do anything at all. Consider it a Visual Novel with no decisions points at all. Think of it as listening to a story.

One playtime of N1 is about 3-4 hours, and N2 approximately double of that. (Notwithstanding the time spent crying) Although the game allows you to save, I suggest taking a Saturday afternoon to finish your first playthrough in one sitting. I wouldn't finish N1 and N2 in a single day though, as both are very emotionally draining.

The music is powerful. It complements the game really well, and is a good setting for the mood. The theme musical piece of N2 is just beautiful, although very painful if you understand the meaning of the lyrics. This is especially more so when you consider Himiko's background. There are only about 10+ song tracks per game though, and each song track is not perticularly long, so you may observe that the music gets repetative after a few hours. The VN offers a choice of voiced and unvoiced version, in Japanese. I love the voice acting. The tone was well done, and you can feel the personality and emotions of the characters through their voices. It was actually painful for me to listen to it, as though someone who was really hurting was there, right in front of me.

The graphics isn't bad, but neither is it great. There's no animation throughout the entire game, it is just a series of largely nondescript scenery artwork. It probably would have been rather weird without the art, though.

There's nothing much I can say of the story without being too spoilerish, so really, just try it out for yourself. Narcissu is a very though provoking piece centering on the topic of death, mainly on the process of dying. I'll not touch on the points raised, leaving the story open to your own interpretation. The writing transported me into their world, made me internalized their emotions as though I was the one actually going through everything. This is a real tear-jerker, although I'm glad its not because it wants to be a tear-jerker. That is to say, the storyline is not written such that it becomes a sad story, rather, the message behind the story generally evokes sad feelings in people.

I've came across people who complained that the story behind N1 was too linear. (I must admit, I was an idiot for missing the blatently smoking Chekov's gun at the beginning) This is not a detective mystery novel, and to put an unexpected twist ending would go against the point of the game. N2 is significantly longer than N1, but touches on more topics as well. It is the prologue of N1, giving more details of unexaplined things which happened in N1, and giving more depth to Setsumi. Even so, it is a distinctly seperate story from N1.

After finishing N2, don't close the game just yet. Go back to the main page, as you've unlocked a short Epilogue/Acknowledgements. It is concluding section from the author, giving us what the ending after N1 would turn out to be.

It would be good to read the game notes too, especially the part about translator's disambiguation of the two translation versions and the choice of voiced or unvoiced versions on which to choose for your first time. For my first playthrough I used a voiced version of Agilis' translation and did it in the order N1 followed by N2. Although the author suggested playing it in the chronological order (N2 before N1), I recommend going through N1 first. There were limited information about the main character Setsumi, and her backgrounds in N1; I felt this actually helped to focus the story onto the important points. For those who don't like the slight confusion of not knowing the main character's background, go with the author's suggestion.
Was this review helpful? Yes No Funny
36 of 47 people (77%) found this review helpful
1 person found this review funny
2.5 hrs on record
Posted: January 7
Early Access Review
Can't believe that this VN is free.
The writing is gorgeously crafted.
Was this review helpful? Yes No Funny
30 of 37 people (81%) found this review helpful
5 people found this review funny
1.0 hrs on record
Posted: March 5
Early Access Review
i can feel the feelings that you feel when you play theis game full of feels


feels

9.5/10
Was this review helpful? Yes No Funny
27 of 32 people (84%) found this review helpful
1 person found this review funny
6.2 hrs on record
Posted: February 7
Early Access Review
If you were sick.
If you were all alone.
If you just accepted it.
If you got to know someone.

This is the story of a little girl with no parents, of a woman who pushed away her friends, of a girl that accepted her fate, and a boy who stood behind, waiting. All of them residents of the 7th floor, the floor for one to await for their turn... to die.

First, its probably better to explain what is Narcissu 2nd, while it's the second game, in reality it functions as a prequel to the first story. While both stories have different points of views, the person connceting them, and the main pillar, is Setsumi, a 22 year old girl (15 on the prequel).

On Narcissu 1st, the story is about a boy (Yuu Atou, although his name is never revealed on both games) who meets Setsumi, a girl who doesn't wants to die neither at home or on the 7th floor.
Narcissu 2nd is about the encounter between Setsumi and Himeko, a woman on her twenties, cheerful and full of energy, who is currently residing on the 7th floor.

While the autor says that in his opinion the playing order should start with the 2nd, I started with the 1st (hadn't noticed that before completing the first game), and with that, I can say that playing the 1st first, and then the 2nd, gives the feeling of "so that's how it happened", and it helps to see better some connections between both games. If one decides to start with the 2nd, in my opinion I think it will give a better connection with Setsumi and probably more emotional impact (although it still gives you one whatever game you decide to start first).

It's surprising that a free visual novel is so well built, the first game isn't fully voiced (and on an important note, both games HAVE NO CHOICE, which isn't very frequent in visual novels), the second one is fully (or 99%) voiced, and has better art. As for the OST, i liked it, most of it had a sad tone and managed to help deliver the emotions needed. All of this in about 12 hours of content.

As for the story itself and the characters, it gave me the feels...
The importance of ones death, and life, and how it affects the other.
Of those who have been left behind, and kept going.
Was this review helpful? Yes No Funny
28 of 35 people (80%) found this review helpful
2 people found this review funny
38.7 hrs on record
Posted: December 8, 2014
Early Access Review
A short but touching story, was an emotional ride. The soundtracks amazing and just adds to the whole aura. It's free so you can't really go wrong. Better than some VNs I've paid for in fact. Give it a try!

Take note it's not a game but a Visual Novel and unlike many other VNs there's no decision making. It's just reading and clicking through the story.

Story: 9/10
Music: 10/10
Was this review helpful? Yes No Funny
38 of 56 people (68%) found this review helpful
3 people found this review funny
14.2 hrs on record
Posted: January 10
Early Access Review
素晴らしい話 !!

悲しい話 !
Was this review helpful? Yes No Funny
22 of 28 people (79%) found this review helpful
1 person found this review funny
4.8 hrs on record
Posted: March 10
Early Access Review
A story of those who have been denied a future, and what they do with the little time they have left.

First things first: Narcissu is very minimal, even by visual novel standards. There are no carefully detailed character portraits or meticulously crafted scenes. There are no branching paths or any choosing of one's waifus. The minimal-ness is even outright stated by the creator (in the Notes) to be intentional, so as to encourage the reader to visualize for themselves the scenes as they play out. Don't go in expecting this to be something it isn't.

The presentation seeks to evoke the atmosphere of a movie and does so effectively with its use of its (somewhat small) soundtrack, transitions, and screen layout. I recommend just turning on auto-play and watch (or, more accurately, read) the events of the story unfold, just as you would a movie.

It shouldn't need to be said that the main characters of these stories, Setsumi and Himeko for Narcissu 1st and 2nd respectfully, will die. There are no miracles or magic cures, no cheap ways out of their respective predicaments. It is with this in mind that the story really is at its most impactful; two people whose lives have been cut short, due to no fault of their own, and what they do with the precious few moments they have left. There is no angst here, no tantrums or curses or moping or complaining, as the two have long since come to terms with their soon-coming deaths. Instead the focus is on their actions and passing on what little they can to those they will soon be leaving behind. Narcissu 1st focuses more on the person who is dying, their experiences and choices as their death slowly approaches, while Narcissu 2nd focuses on the people around that person, those who will be invariably left behind. The two stories never felt like they were meant to be tear-jerky and never made any cheap stabs at my 'feels'-glands, all tears shed were well-earned by the writer (and translators!).

From a technical standpoint the game itself works fine, if at times a bit wonky. I had a problem where holding down 'ctrl' caused the game to skip forward to the end of a chapter and leave me stuck at the chapter select. Also, I remember seeing a couple of typos here and there.

If you made it this far and like what you've read I cannot recommend this game any more highly, I liked it enough to the point of writing this long-♥♥♥ review as soon as I completed it. Also it's free, so you really have no excuse.
Was this review helpful? Yes No Funny