Every wish has its price...
Sabbat of the Witch is one of the first Visual Novels I ever played, and the first one to ever get me this attached to a story. Even today it is, in my opinion, the best YuzuSoft VN that made it to the west yet when it comes to the story, surpassing its successors. Furthermore it has amazing visuals and clearly shows the usage comfort YuzuSoft is loved for.
Graphical & Technical Quality
Sabbat of the Witch undeniably plays in the top ranks when it comes to outer strength. As the content summary on the shop page already states, this VN strikes with a unique, high quality art style with high focus on detail and a good mix between full fledged anime style CG wallpapers and Chibi style SD artwork.
What this VN lacks in terms of sprite animation - there is none, not even blinking eyes like usual - is completely countered with their vivid use of all the artwork they have. The high amount of character sprites and backgrounds is vividly changed even within a single sentence of dialogue, bringing the scene to life an a unique new way.
On top of that, the sound work - soundtrack, background noises and voice acting - is also on the notably top quality side.
And when it comes to features, this is where YuzuSoft titles truly shine.
Using the KiriKiri engine, common features like freely jumping back and forth throughout every story segment you already visited, auto and skip mode and a huge amount of customizable save slots are a given.
But going one step further you can add seemingly unlimited more pages of save slots if needed, you can setup quick access to features via mouse gestures, customize almost everything in detail and save any voicelines for later listening. We also have a nice little progress bar displaying how long the voiceline is, can do indepth performance tuning via a hidden Advanced Settings menu, ... - The list of features and gimmicks in YuzuSoft VNs is huge and only becomes longer with each new title released.
And while there are more textual errors - missing or duplicate words, typos - than necessary, the translation is still as smoothly enjoyable as ever.
Story, Content & Runtime
What can you expect from this game?
A well written romance drama revolving around magic, wishes and the prices you pay for them.
Shuuji Hoshina has a mysterious ability. He can perceive other people's emotions.
Be it sweet happiness, sour sorrow or spicy anger he can taste and feel them directly, even stronger if directed towards him. This inexplicable phenomenon gave him negative attention as a child and with it came a torrent of constant negative emotions to perceive. To escape this insufferable nightmare, Shuuji closed off his heart to the world and became an isolated yes-sayer just so the people would never have those emotions towards him again.
But things are about to change drastically after a fateful encounter with his classmate Nene Ayachi, who keeps a secret even bigger than his which he discovered by accident. Soon he is drawn into something beyond his wildest imagination.
Magic exists. Maybe not like in fiction where wand wielding wizzards chant weirdly named spells, in fact not even perceivable let alone usable to the normal human, but it exists. All around us, born from a human's very emotions - our life essence.
Though there are those called "Alps", ex-animals who developed a strong wish to become human for various reasons, who can use it. And in order to gain more knowledge of humans' emotion to become more human themselfs, they seek out the help of lost souls with a desire as big as their own.
These people become "witches", capable of perceiving and collecting "heart fragments" - magical fragments born from a humans excess emotions which are stored in our very core - the heart. Since the heart is a fragilly balanced system, excess emotions can be dangerous and so these witches not only help their Alp but also the humans they harvest from. And finally themselfs, because after they fulfil their witch contract they get granted a single wish, whatever it may be.
Though of course it's not that simple.
Every wish has it's price and the bigger that wish is, the higher the price to pay for the witch. Also, there is no guarantee that what you wish for is what you truly desire - but you only got one shot.
And finally - just like excess emotions can be dangerous, the lack of them can be too. Shuuji, who closed off his heart, became a puppet living only to please others, feeling nothing but the emotions others have, is in danger. And in a desperate attempt to fix itself, Shuuji's heart absorbs all the heart fragments Nene has been collecting for all those cruel years.
And so it begins - the journey of two people only striving to help others without much care for themselfs, trying to fix what was broken before it is too late. Will they be able to overcome together what neither managed alone? And why does Shuuji - a normal human without a witch contract - have the ability to perceive heart fragments and witches? Is his weird ability that feels an awful lot like the price of a granted wish the key to a past yet to unravel?
Sabbat of the Witch's story is a gorgeous masterpiece. It manages to tell a deeply captivating plot spanning across its four individual yet also connected routes that doesn't dial down even when the romance part or the H-scenes start. Not to mention its rather wholesome story buildup despite the most adult core setup ever. It managed to keep me on my toes for the entire playtime constantly surprising me with unexpected turns of events over and over again - though maybe that's just my precious memory of a time where I had no expectations to boot.
The game features a distinct cast of characters. Except for that one obligatory over-the-top (half of the time atleast) character, everyone is a normal, relatable human being. The male sidekick is enjoyable and the protagonist far, far more than your average dense harem king - well developed background story and all.
The five heroines each have a great route, one of them being a shorter bonus route, one being a much longer main (or, for me atleast, true) route. With the obligatory "no route bad ending" we get a total of 7 different endings to achieve.
The Steam shop page also promises content worth 40-50 hours of gametime, which is around the time it takes (not rush-skipping through) - for the main route alone, that is.
The game can be seperated roughly into 3 parts - the completely linear prologue (up to the opening movie as usual), the common route or "main part" of the game where you make your decisions, which at that point only slightly change the dialogue not the still linear story, and the character route. The main part takes around 15h of time, the routes themself around the same each - plus minus depending on which route.
Even considering you most like won't play the common route seriously more than once, you can still guess just how much time consuming content this VN has to offer. I also highly recommend playing in the original character order.
Also, even though this is an Adult Visual Novel, showing off ecchi humor and fanservice often enough, the warning of it having a "suprisingly dramatic" story is to be taken serious. We reach Undertale levels of plottwisting here and I honestly can't blame you if you shed a tear or two. I sure did.
After clearing your first route you unlock the gallery as usual, where you can enjoy (as long as you saw them once before) the 92 CG wallpapers and 30 SD artworks, each coming in a wide variety of versions, 48 OSTs (some of those are alternate versions of the same track) and rewatch every opening and ending "movie".
Once you cleared every route, not including the "After Stories" - another little scene unlocked for each character after you cleared her route - you also unlock the Sprite Viewer in the gallery where you can enjoy all the character sprites and common backgrounds to your liking. There also is the option to load a custom background image, so for all the people who always wanted an opportunity to photoshop their 2D girlfriend onto their photo - this is your chance!
The R18 Content
In memory of table-kun.
Considering the DLC is for free on Steam - which is extremely rare, you can still expect an experience worthy of any regular full price R18 DLC. Each character route comes with 3+1 H-scenes, plus one somewhat H-scene at the beginning of the story which is missing in the bonus route.
The voice acting is better than what I'm used to and the entire lack of acompanying sound effects for the action (you know, those funny "break bones" and "mix cement" sounds) actually make it a better experience - but that's for everyone to decide on their own.
On top of that, when it comes to the depiction of bodily fluids, the stamina of the actors or the overall intensity of the action, we're actually on the rather mild/"believable" side here.
There are no weird fetishes included, just your regular pair of totally-over-18 characters doing their thing, with one or another suprisingly serious dive into the topic of protection.
There is your best friend, the panic button, this time - funnily enough - customizable (it can minimize the game, display one of two very funny placeholder images, or a custom image you setup beforehand) and most of the H-scenes give you the choice of either coming inside or out.
As usual (sadly) mosaic cencorship on the 'good' bits is in place.
Is this game worth it?
Well, if I'd go and rate it on a simplistic, common scale from 1 to 10, this here gets a straight out 12. It's absolutely stunning no matter if you rate it standalone or compare it to the other high quality VNs I have seen so far.
Especially considering the R18 DLC, which is something most players are after anyway when going into this genre of VNs and which is a key part of this VN in and of itself, is a free addition - directly on Steam - to a story that can stand on its own just fine, the price tag is well set. And if you still hesitate - there will always be a next sale, saving you around 30% more on this masterpiece.