This free to play romance visual novel by Seventh Heart Studios and Sekai Project features a two-part storyline in Strings of Fate and The Lost Date. In Strings of Fate, it features a female protagonist, Rin Fujimoto, who recently moved back to the small Japanese town of Tokya. Her main purpose in returning is to take care of her nephew, Yasu Fujimoto, after Rin's brother and sister-in-law passed away in a car accident.
While at the orphanage to pick up Yasu, Rin is introduced to the chief volunteer at the orphanage, Megumi Shimizu. When Megumi comes to Rin's house to check on Yasu's progress, Megumi suggests going out together with Rin to shop for a cell phone and get to know each other better.
In The Lost Date, Yasu Fujimoto has grown up to become a teenager while living with his aunt Rin Fujimoto. His friends and classmates, Katashi and Tamiko, invite him to go to a cave by Kurokku Lake to partake in some alcohol illegally with Naoko and Daisuke, who are also both Climbers Club members.
Each short story will take approximately 30-60 minutes. I decided to give the game a score of 8/10 based on the following factors:
Plot and character backgrounds: The plot is written as a romance visual novel where depending on the responses Rin and Yasu give to Megumi and Naoko respectively, it can lead to the best ending with yuri and straight fan service. Alternatively, it may lead to a less desirable plot development and outcome where the relationship between the main characters doesn't evoke stronger feelings of love and passion for each other. The choices to reach the best endings are obvious and can easily be deduced. Some parts are censored in the Steam version, however a free uncensored patch is available at the developer's Google Drive through the Kickstarter page of its upcoming game Eternal Hour as well as at Sekai Project's Denpasoft website.
This is a short free to play game intended as a prequel to the longer game, Eternal Hour, which is currently still in development. The short length and simplistic character backgrounds, game play and story line, together with one plot hook on the supernatural sightings and occurrences inside the cave make this visual novel good for those looking for a short experience to spend a couple of hours on. From that point, one can decide whether the story line and plot is interesting enough to commit to the longer visual novel Eternal Hour when it is released in future.
Artwork: The artwork is colourful and attractive with an interactive menu interface where the featured characters will be enlarged when a short story is chosen. There are also animated CGs in the form of blinking eyes, waving hair, floating cherry blossom petals, passing fireflies and dust particles. I would have preferred to see more animated CGs for this game especially since the game description on Steam store page claims to feature animated CGs. There are actually 3 animated CGs, 2 animated H-CGs(not shown without uncensored patch) and 2 CGs with no animation. Hope to see more attractive animated CGs in Eternal Hour.
Relevant sections in accompanying video
Menu interface: 4:21 and 53:26
Animated CG 1: 5:00
Animated CG 2: 37:07
Animated CG 3: 1:32:11
Non-animated CG 1: 1:27:43
Non-animated CG 2: 1:35:12
Voice acting and background music: The voice acting in English may seem out of place considering the game is featuring Japanese characters in a modern Japanese setting. Yet, for those who don't mind this, the voice acting is generally conveyed well with appropriate tones to match the different emotional moments in the game. Background music is also pleasant and appropriate to match the different moments in the game. My favourite BGM are Hearts Uniting at the title screen, Rin and Megumi getting intimate with each other (not shown without uncensored patch) and Yasu and Naoko being alone together in Yasu's room. Sakura Petals when Rin and Megumi start to have feelings for each other to indicate the beginning of their new relationship and Timeless when Rin wakes up to find herself elsewhere after passing out and Yasu and Naoko are alone together in the cave are also highlight tracks for me.
Relevant sections in accompanying video
Hearts Uniting Piano version: 0:12 and 53:16
Hearts Uniting: 52:00 and 1:43:06
Sakura Petals: 36:53 and 45:12
Timeless: 39:46 and 1:25:19
Overall, the game is recommended as a free-to-play visual novel for those who like a short romance tale with fan service and supernatural elements or for those who like a short game to finish and get all achievements in a few hours.
Full video by Mio 紅い蝶 at YouTube.
Denpasoft product page (contain NSFW content)