Norn9: Last Era


Review by · August 31, 2023

The reset concept is vital in otome visual novel Norn9: Var Commons, where an elite few must decide the entire world’s fate. In a way, its fandisk—entitled Norn9: Last Era—explores that concept further by attempting to reset your viewpoints on the base game itself in numerous ways. It is a more substantial gaming experience due to how it presents much of its content, though, as in the first title, some gratuitous filler keeps it from greatness all the same.

An otome fandisk usually comprises additional content, such as alternate storylines, epilogues, or even new routes to peruse, just a few steps shy of being a full-blown sequel to its predecessor. We at RPGFan have covered several localized fandisks for games like Code: Realize and Collar X Malice. What sets Norn9: Last Era apart from other fandisks is the sheer amount of content. Not only are the epilogue stories fully fleshed out, but the setup for Last Era even makes it a perfect launch title for the series despite its fandisk status, which is something you can’t often say about this particular facet of otome VNs.

Starting up Last Era for the first time will launch you into a surprisingly detailed Prelude to the original Norn9 story: exploring how the main characters all become connected through the mysterious aircraft Norn. There are nine chapters to this portion of the game, each told from the perspective of one of the potential bachelors. This intro helps establish early character stories and motivations quite nicely. However, the fact that you must play through the entire Prelude to unlock other content afterward will undoubtedly grate if you already have a more established sense of the characters beforehand and want to see what the rest of the fandisk is about. I found it interesting, especially since my exposure to the first game was minimal. Still, it also felt like it dragged on unnecessarily at points, especially since this storytelling section goes with a kinetic visual novel approach.

A screenshot detailing character route selections in Norn9: Last Era.
There’s quite a lot of content to peruse with each segment.

Once you get through the Prelude in its entirety, then you dive into the other sections of the game. My first stop was the Fugue portion, which contains story route retellings from Norn9: Var Commons from the perspective of the bachelors instead of the three main characters. This section of Last Era benefits newcomers by giving you the original game’s story before the epilogue content. Still, it also welcomes returning players, as you see the original story play out from a different perspective. I love how all the routes play out here. However, Natsuhiko’s, in particular, stood out to me for fleshing out his blunt character and eventual romance with the barrier-creating, determined Mikoto. There is enough new content in the forms of scenes and artwork illustrations that even returning players should enjoy these retellings on their own.

Following a trip through Fugue, you can dive into the main segment of Last Era: rather detailed and fleshed-out epilogues to the original game. This section is called Concerto, where the lion’s share of the gameplay for the fandisk resides. You pick a character route you’d like to see, choose the name for the main character, and then play through the various sections just as you would a traditional VN. Each Concerto route comprises a prologue, a more dramatic and emotion-laden section called Moonlight, a heartwarming section called Sunburst, and an epilogue you unlock by meeting requirements via decision-making throughout Moonlight and Sunburst. Concerto routes are surprisingly lengthy and feel like fully-fledged miniature VN tales in their own right. They also tend to refine character dynamics and the story more than the original game, making them a welcome diversion.

Fantasia is the last gameplay section of Norn9: Last Era, and it is cute, but that’s really about it. You go on chibi adventures with the cast—a fluffy, extra addition to the game that you could take or leave depending on your preferences. I admittedly didn’t spend much time with it, but it shows how much content there is to explore in this fandisk when all is said and done.

Those working with Aksys Games on the much-improved Switch localization of Var Commons compared to the PlayStation Vita port also worked on the localization for Norn9: Last Era. As such, the script is more robust at conveying emotion and telling its tale. However, given the sheer number of sections throughout the fandisk, I still had to auto-correct some grammatical and spelling errors in my head. The Japanese voice acting is dynamic, and the soundtrack is particularly fitting and emotive. Though the apparent appeal of the game is in how visually enticing it is; the character models and CG artwork are gorgeous and highly detailed, the UI serves its purpose well and is relatively straightforward and colorful, and even the eye-catch for letting you know you answered a decision “correctly” for the prerequisite to the epilogues in Concerto are nicely visible and easy to spot.

Natsuhiko and Mikoto share a moment in Norn9: Last Era.
Natsuhiko and Mikoto have one of the more developed romances.

Sadly, while Norn9: Last Era is a significant improvement at times over its predecessor simply in depth of content and detail, it isn’t without flaws. The sci-fi story gets fleshed out more here, but only certain parts (such as any routes involving Natsuhiko). Otherwise, it still feels like something is lacking in its presentation. I appreciate that you can explore even some minor character motivations and backstories depending on your chosen route. Still, it depends on a given route rather than something consistent (poor child character Sorata often doesn’t have much prominence in any route you choose).

Because there are nine character routes, you will find that you like certain characters more than others (fatalistic-minded Ron grew on me as a side-character in some routes, but I am still scratching my head at his being a romance), and particular routes are going to be more agreeable to you than others. I greatly appreciate mature Toya and blunt Natsuhiko’s routes, but an unfortunate “drag queen” joke in Akito’s soured my liking of his Concerto tale despite some of the exciting gender role commentary it was trying to make. The game has three distinct main characters: determined-yet-sheltered Mikoto, introverted-and-direct Nanami, and cheerful-yet-secretive Koharu, and I felt their personalities are some of the most firmly established and consistent I have seen for otome heroines.

Overall, I think Norn9: Last Era is a surprising improvement in some respects to its predecessor: offering new perspectives on the original’s storylines and showing detailed consequences for its many routes. It doesn’t necessarily fix problems Norn9: Var Commons has, but it elaborates on the inherent potential sometimes lost in the original game. Last Era is easily one of the best otome fandisks I’ve played, and I can recommend it to either returning Norn9 fans or newcomers curious about this particular visual novel series. Just go into this with tempered expectations, and you’ll find this attempt at a reset is more than decent.


Three distinct and well-defined protagonists, wealth of content to peruse, gorgeous artwork, fitting soundscape.


Required Prelude can drag on, not all character routes are created equal, sci-fi trappings still seem superfluous depending on route, some routes have more typos than others.

Bottom Line

Norn9: Last Era is a surprisingly strong otome fandisk outing despite its flaws.

Overall Score 79
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Audra Bowling

Audra Bowling

Audra Bowling is a reviewer for RPGFan. She is a lover of RPGs, Visual Novels, and Fighting Games. Once she gets onto a subject she truly feels strongly about, like her favorite games, she can ramble on and on endlessly. Coffee helps keep her world going round.