*deep breath* Alright, finally finished all the paths. Just have some scene hunting to do for that last 5% but that won't be too hard to do. Rather than trying to review this game or anything (aside from saying this is easily one of the most well written stories I've had the pleasure of reading) I think I'll just share a few thoughts.
First of all, the composition is to die for. I went through the track list one by one after finally getting everything and it puts a lot of things to shame. Movies, concerts, games, very few of them can hold a candle to the pure quality of the soundtrack. Not even getting into how well the music fits the scenes and adds in just the right atmosphere.
The other thing I want to mention is just my brief, spoilerish, feelings on the paths.
I'll just get this out now: Great execution, lousy ending. Making it the worst of the five hands down.
My main problem is the 4th act seems to have any focus or conclusion on the Shizune/Hisao relationship. Instead
it focuses completely on mending the rift between Misha and Shizune. While not really a bad thing given the context
of the story; it seems the writer forgot this is a freaking [b]romance[/b] story at this point. Because in addition
to this sudden shift in focus the ending lacks any sort of finality or reassurance. It's literally just 'We're going our
separate ways; 'maybe' we'll meet again someday.'
No! Bad writer! Take the Lily path for instance. Their relationship is strong enough that after all the events come to a
head they actually take the time to at least put a very solid effort into joining the same university post Yamaku
and the context implies that all will go here. By comparison that means the relationship with Shizune
means jack and squat to Hisao since he doesn't even try such a thing in the Shizune arc.
Very disappointing since I actually grew rather fond of Shizune over arcs 2 and 3.
This wound up being the first story I pursued, surprising myself as originally I was going to save Emi for about 3rd or 4th.
But she grew on me rather quickly and I found myself taking that path. I really liked the start of the relationship with the whole
running partners thing and the end with her finally opening up enough to allow someone to help her in her moments of weakness.
But the middle really didn't do a whole lot for me. The big reveal about what Emi's hiding is really obvious even as early as Arc 2.
Not the strongest story of the 5 but not the weakest by a long shot.
What I thought was going to be my favorite character of the bunch only ended up right in the mid range for me.
Hanako's story is fairly well crafted and you do come to appreciate it's subtle nuances in the later acts. Since it's told from
a limited perspective even as the reader I found myself genuinely shocked by Hanako turning out to be more bothered
by others fussing over her than anything in her past. The relationship felt more 'real' than any of the previous two
and over all had better pacing. Where it falls flat on its face is never really explaining 'what' happened in Hanako's past.
Yes, I know there was a fire and her family died in it. But considering how big a deal the story makes about her feeling
guilty over it I would like to know exactly what caused it. Was Hanako playing with matches? Did she leave her scarf over
the heater? Did someone burn the house down and her parents would've lived had she not been trapped inside?
It just really feels like the writer forgot exactly how much they were building up that element of the character
only to forget to elaborate upon it when the time came.
One of the most complicated paths in the game (look at the flow chart sometime) by far. I'm actually going
to have to give it a second playthrough simply because you can hit the best ending while still taking completely opposite
routes. This one scores high for having major replay value alone. Rin's an interesting nut to crack and her story is quite
compelling. She wasn't my favorite character at all starting the game but her arc did an excellent job making me care about
her by the time it was all said and done. However where this arc really fails is that it never addresses how Rin got her injury.
Yes, I know, 'technically' it might not be all that important to the plot but I argue otherwise; especially looking at some of
Rin's artwork. It seems to be her way of working through what lead up to that moment in her life and I really would've
loved to have learned more about her past and just a little bit less over the whole art exhibit drama ordeal.
But still it comes off as one of the strongest stories in the entirety of KS; topped by only one other.
Wow; this one really took me by storm. To be honest when first playing this game I had already written of Lily as the
'boring' character. Too straight laced with not enough surface tension to really give anything to feel curious about. Exposure to
her in the other arcs changed this though and by the time I got into her story I found myself quite surprised as how well done it
was; becoming my favorite of the five despite Lily still not being my favorite. The acts were perfectly paced out too, especially
the 4th act. I really wish I hadn't stumbled across the spoiler for it while digging out the flow charts to help me with my Act 1
missing piece because that would've been tear jerking if it had caught me unaware.
I think ultimately why Lily's arc is the best of all the five is the writer gave them the strongest relationship. Unlike
the others there is virtually no 'theoretical' doubt about this couple's ability to stay together in the future.
Complaint about the 'heart condition'
With the exception of Lily's arc and Emi's arc I found myself greatly disappointed in how the other three neatly
side-stepped Hisao's heart condition. Emi's arc gets a free pass because in hers Hisao is working non-stop in order to
give himself a normal lifestylfe where in the other ones that sort of thing goes to the wayside. When you factor in how
all the arcs have a certain continuity to them (Iwakano's letter, festivals, other events like Hanako's birthday reaction playing
out regardless of the arc, ect.) then it makes absolutely no sense that in Shizune's, Rin's, and Hanako's arc that Hisao
get's little more that "Oh, I just had a heart flutter to remind the audience that I have a heart condition."
It doesn't need to be the dramatic crash he had at the end of Lily Arc 4 but at least something similar to the attack
he had during the Lily Arc's visit to the summer house should have happened. That's the only disbelief I really cannot
suspend and find it saddening that they wasted such a major part of the character's natural antagonist in such a way;
simply rinsing and repeating the tactics used in Act 1 to bring it to our attention.