TL;DR: planetarian: the reverie of a little planet is an exceptionally well written kinectic novel. It's story, underlying themes, atmosphere and sound design create what is very close to a masterpiece, one that is likely to bring you to tears. It can be finished within a day as it only takes up to 5 hours to complete, which is the perfect lenght for it's story. If you have any interest in playing visual/kinectic novels or have played them before I highly recommend you try planetarian: the reverie of a little planet. Game Review:
Planetarian: The Reverie of a Little Plantet is a kinectic novel made back in 2004 by a developer named Key and has recentenly been brought to steam for everybody to enjoy. Key is known for it's exceptional emotional storywriting as seen in previous works like Clannad, Little Busters and Angel Beats, most of which have gotten various adaptions into anime or manga. Planetarian is a kinectic novel, thus its gameplay offers no choices or alternate endings. That doesn't mean it takes away from the experience, as Planetarian offers some of the best writing you'll ever see in a visual novel.
Set in a post-apocalyptic world, eradicated by biological and nuclear warfare, the story revolves around a middle-aged man that is trying to survive by looting what very little things are left in the world. One day the man enters a planetarium. where he meets a friendly robot.
It is the start of an amazing journey. A story that's not affraid to make its readers ask themselves ethical questions about what is truly right and wrong. A story that evokes melancholy, yet simaltaniousy manages to spark with optimistic views. A story whose themes, even though it was made back in 2004, feel more and more relevant as time moves on. A story that doesn't just reflect it's themes upon it's own fictional world, but also perfectly reflects them upon the world we live in today - the optimistic notion of our future and the human corruption and degradation that comes with it.
Planetarian does an excellent job at is world building. The eerie, nearly haunting atmosphere of a post-apocalyptic world that is almost extinct of all life is captured beautifully and even though the overall story is rather short, it will never fail to keep you immersed.
It's characters are few, and it's because of this that see some real progression between them. The challenge of creating a story with only so very few characters often lies in the reader becoming bored or annoyed by them. Luckily that is not the case with planetarian, the characters are beautifully written and won't fail to keep your attention. The brosque middle-aged man and the enthusiastic robot will quickly start to grow on you, and in no time you'll be happy watching the two interact.
It's artwork is good, but nothing out of the ordinary. You'll see that visuals are often repeated, but they manage to portray the story well enough. Just don't put your expectations too high and you'll be fine.
Planetarian's music and sound design are some of the best I've ever seen. Its soothing and beautifully composed music isn't just great in and of itself, it's also able to convey a lot of meaning. The compositions and sound design act directly on the symbolism and themes used in planetarian, making the music, sound design and story come together as a whole. For those interested, an excellent analysis about planetarian music and sound design was done by therationalpi on reddit, I'll link it in the comments below.
In the end I wouldn't call planetarian a masterpiece. It isn't the holy grail of visual novels, but it is definitly one of the best ones out there, and by far the best one avaliable on Steam. If you want to experience a short but rich, exceptionally well constructed story that is very likely to bring you to tears planetarian is perfect for you.