"Shan Gui is a short, linear, kinetic visual-novel set in Nanjing's gorgeous Purple Mountain."
This is the admirably honest description on the Store page, a kind of honesty not easily found on the official description.
First things first: a kinetic visual-novel is one in which the player can't interact with the (linear) story, so don't expect this to be a VN proper; in other words, this is not a game - rather, it's a non-interactive mixed-media experience, and a rather good one at that.
It takes about an hour to complete, more if going through the Wiki links (more on this later), and even more if you'll take your time to sit (sometimes quite literally) and enjoy some of the little... "atemporalities" (pardon me) it offers. The replay value is absent - because this is not a game, bear with my redundancy - but this doesn't mean you won't find yourself drawn to re-experience some of the aforementioned time bubbles.
The story may appear a little plain/slow to the Westerner's eye, especially in the very beginning, but it catches up quickly; on the other hand, those acquainted with the East Asian cultural sphere and its peculiar mindset will take great pleasure on the many references - some rather obvious, others less so. This is why I strongly suggest to break the immersion and check out the Wikipedia links provided in-game (and perhaps follow up on those when the story is over).
The translation is decent both in English and German, there are some grammar errors and there's a certain ingenuity in the choice of words, with some nuances irremediably lost in translation. Both characters display some degree of naïveté, however, which makes that ingenuousness somehow fitting. The voice acting is fine as far as I'm concerned; 'tis certainly not the best I've ever heard, but it serves its purpose well enough. Another reviewer said that "the protagonist is consistently lacking any sort of enthusiasm", which can hardly be denied - but, given the plot, I think it may have been intended.
As to the "art" department, I found the soundtrack remarkable, the sound effects rather good and their timing effective. The backgrounds are gorgeus, and most of them can be "visited" using Google Earth's street view; the artwork is solid, although some scenes have the protagonists overly-sexualised, and while I realise that some if not most will welcome such a thing, I found it rather out-of-place. An utter buzzkill, actually, although that's pretty much the only real downside I stumbled upon during the whole experience, and it is an understandable marketing (and cultural) choice. Thankfully such buzzkills are not that common, and they ultimately had little impact on my enjoyment.
What else can be said? The controls are smooth and so are the transitions; the game can be run in fullscreen up to 1920x1080; 16:10 isn't supported, resulting in movie-like black bands on the top and bottom - not an issue due to the nature of the product (as in, a kinetic VN as opposed to a game). I suggest using headphones for a better experience, if only for the cicadas and thunderstorm.
Did I enjoy it? Far more than I would've expected
Will I go back to it again? Yep.
Would I recommend it? Absolutely, and quite frankly I felt it was a steal at a 1,69€ sale, given that even with its shortcomings I'd still buy it at its full pricetag (4,99€), retrospectively.
But do keep in mind that this game is not for everyone, although I think I made that rather clear in this review.