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Game Info:

Narcissu
Developed by: stage-nana
Published by: Sekai Project
Release date: January 27, 2016
Available on: Windows
Genre: Visual Novel
Number of players: Single-player
ESRB Rating: Not rated
Price: $2.99 (includes the free stories and an epilogue) each additional story is $9.99 or you can get the season pass for $29.99

Thank you Sekai Project for sending us a review code for the series!

Narcissu 10th Anniversary Anthology Project was successfully Kickstarted by Sekai Project in November of 2015.  The $75,000 goal was exceeded and went towards licensing, artwork, voice work, and programming.  Before the crowdfunding campaign, Sekai Project had already invested localizing this popular Japanese series.  The voice work in this collection is still in Japanese, but it is well done and filled with emotion.  Despite a couple of typos, the English translation is pretty good as well.

For twenty dollars, backers were able to get the digital version of the game and an extra $10 included the music soundtrack which is also pleasant to listen to.  Currently, the first couple of chapters are free and the remainder of the stories are purchasable via a season pass for $29.99 or individually for $9.99 each.  If you’re new to kinetic visual novels, this is a good series to look into trying for free!

Kinetic visual novels don’t have you interact with the story whatsoever; you just get the pleasure of experiencing it.  Since there are no choices to mess up the game’s ending, I was surprised to see the generous number of save slots provided.  I typically saved at the beginning of each new chapter within each of the stories.  I should have saved more often as I lost progress from my system running out of battery power and by pressing the F12 key in an attempt to taking a screenshot and having it exit out of the game instead.  The first couple of stories support Steam’s F12 screenshot taking ability, but the later DLC stories use a different game engine that does not.

Narcissu
Highlights:

Strong Points: Interesting and thought provoking stories about characters with terminal illness and their quest to be remembered, and to live life to the fullest before leaving this world
Weak Points: The stories sometimes switch narrators and it’s hard to keep track of who's talking at times
Moral Warnings: Suicide is heavily pondered and prevalent in this series; there are violent and bloody deaths in the A Little Iris story; stealing; drinking; smoking; gambling; mild language (d*mn, hell, *sshole); various religious beliefs, and some of the characters are practicing or inactive Catholics; spiritual possession  

Most of these stories revolve around terminally ill patients residing on the 7th  (hospice) floor of the hospital. There’s a set of rules/advice verbally passed down to each new patient as a form of initiation so to speak.  The rules describe the best way to escape from the hospital in case you don’t want to die there, or burden your family with it.  The incoming patients are also warned that they will get up to three temporary leaves, but never a fourth. If a patient wants to end their life sooner, the fastest route there is to stop eating since the roof is fenced in and the windows don’t open past 15cm.  

Suicide is explored in depth in this series and some of the patients want to end their life on their terms and stop being a burden on their families.  These patients also want to live life to its fullest before checking out of this world.  Many of the stories have fun car rides with stops at the ocean, Mt. Fuji, and at various restaurants or convenience stores along the way.   One of the road trips takes place in a stolen car and when money runs tight the patient goes to a Pachinko parlor to steal some winnings from unsuspecting gamblers.  On this trip they also stop at a laundromat to steal some clothes and run off with prescriptions from the pharmacy without paying for them.  Given their dire circumstances, I empathized with them, but stealing is still wrong regardless of how much time you have left on Earth.

One of the characters has a bucket list that they want completed before they die.  An item on the list is having a drink, and their underage friend accompanying them partakes in this event as well.   In a different story, a couple of the characters smoke and the hospice patient tries it for the first time and coughs from doing it wrong.  While sex doesn't make it on any bucket lists, some of the artwork shows the characters in revealing clothing. 

Narcissu
Score Breakdown:
Higher is better
(10/10 is perfect)

Game Score - 74%
Gameplay - 17/20
Graphics - 7/10
Sound - 7/10
Stability - 5/5
Controls - 4/5

Morality Score - 60%
Violence - 4.5/10
Language - 7/10
Sexual Content - 8/10
Occult/Supernatural - 5/10
Cultural/Moral/Ethical - 5.5/10

Most of the stories are non-violent with the exception of A Little Iris.  This story takes place in Medieval Europe and tells the tale of a young princess who was locked away in her room for safe keeping.  The only time she left her room was when she was traveling to the neighboring country to get married to a man she did not know.  When that marriage didn’t happen, her usefulness vanished and she had to learn to kill or be killed in order to survive.  In her years in prison, she befriends a mercenary and they travel in search of safety and a new life.  Can a girl who only knows how to kill be redeemed and start a new life?

The last moral issue worth noting takes place in the most recent installment, Sumire.   In this story, the characters can possess people as a form of immortality.  When their host is no longer of use, they can kill them off and take over another unsuspecting human.    Immortality has its drawbacks and there are some severe limitations to this ability.

Until the possessions came into play, this series was pretty tame with the exception of some mild language and violence.  I still recommend checking out the first couple of chapters on Steam since they are free to enjoy.  Narcissu provides you with an interesting perspective on coming to grips with your morality and making sure you leave behind a legacy that you’re proud of.

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Christ Centered Gamer looks at video games from two view points. We analyze games on a secular level which will break down a game based on its graphics, sound, stability and overall gaming experience. If you’re concerned about the family friendliness of a game, we have a separate moral score which looks at violence, language, sexual content, occult references and other ethical issues.

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