The Uso series is the original series of kinetic novels made by Campus based in a school campus where magic and mundane exist in parallel. The protagonist of the Uso series, Sakurai Souichirou, is the head of the Cat's Hand Club, which is a jack-of-all-trades club that will take on just about any request, as long as the individual is willing to pay the price. However, that is merely the open face of the club, which has the purpose of gathering magical energy from the emotions of those whose requests he fulfills in order to power the magical artifact implanted in his body. This magical artifact is the Redline, a powerful tool that lets the person who is melded with it see the lies of others (portrayed as red text in the game's text boxes). Despite this ability, Souichi isn't cynical and is generally a good and straightforward person, though, in his own words, that is only because he met the right people. The main Uso series is made up of four kinetic novels, each following the path of an individual heroine (a similar setup to Tiny Dungeon, though the details differ). It begins in 'Spring', continues with 'Summer' and 'Fall', and concludes with 'Winter'.
The spring-themed game of the Uso series follows the serial liar and school idol Himeno Satsuki as she essentially pushes Souichi into forming a relationship with her. This game is a bit heavier on the H content than the three games that come after, though some of that is because Satsuki has a pretty forceful personality under her pleasant atmosphere. The conflict in this story begins when Satsuki confesses her love for Souichirou (in the first scene) and moves on from there. The formation of their romantic relationship is sweet and frequently amusing, though it is mostly ecchi because of how it begins. While I normally don't like the trope used here, it is used in the least awkward fashion I've ever encountered in an SOL VN, so I was willing to overlook it.
There is some serious drama, but this is immediately after Souichi starts to realize his feelings for Satsuki are real... and the drama will definitely come as a surprise if you haven't been paying close attention with an eye for mild mindfucks. It all comes to a happy end in the end, but it can be a bit wrenching emotionally at a few points if you've gotten to like the couple in question along the way (which I did).
After Story 1
After Story 1 was present with the original game and is pretty extensive for an after story, mostly focusing on a much milder set of trials and tribulations that you'd see in any charage. That said, since you already saw the more dramatic scenes immediately before, it comes off as cute rather than boring, since it is impossible to shake the feeling that 'they'll be all right no matter what' after the ending of the main path.
After Story 2
Drawn from Full Uso, this is based a few months after the end of the story, when the two have begun to live together and have settled in. Satsuki is starting to come into her own and has grown as a person, and Souichirou is feeling his way out of some of his more extreme donkan habits (yes, he is donkan). As in the previous after story, this one comes across as cute in comparison to the main story, and it mostly leaves you smiling at the lovers as they survive the trials any established couple is prone to.
Natsu Uso focuses on Izumi Aoi, a member of the student council who, even in Haru Uso, is rather obviously a deredere heroine hiding under a tsundere mask. That said, as is indicated from certain scenes in the previous game, the past between her and Souichirou is complicated and painful for them both, and it becomes central to the background conflict of her story. Aoi is pretty much the perfect tsundere heroine, but this is not because of her personality alone. More, this is because of how Souichirou's Redline underlines precisely when she's telling the truth and when she's lying. It's an experience worth having even if you aren't particularly into tsunderes, lol.
Anyway, due to a certain event, Souichirou and Aoi end up forced together by circumstance and Souichi's inability to be dishonest. While both of them have serious hangups about the past, the fact is that Aoi is rather blatantly in love with him from the start, so don't expect this to be so much about relationship development as untangling the complex emotions the two hold for another and growing beyond them. The ending is pretty touching, and worth a smile or two.
After story 1
Natsu Uso's After Story 1 is a lot more focused on ichaicha than Haru Uso's in the first half... not to mention having some really heavy h-scenes. Basically, for those accustomed to the tangled emotions that made up the atmosphere between the two in the path itself, this is a time when they are more open with each other. Aoi adorable-ness is more extreme here (which looks impossible until you've actually experienced it), and she gets really clingy (which is part of the adorable-ness).
However, if you've come to know Souichirou by this point, you know he always puts what is best for others first. This is what causes the minor tribulations that make up the second half, though these aren't relationship troubles but rather troubles relating to Aoi growing as a person.
After Story 2
Similar to Haru Uso's second after story, this one occurs in the school year after the original game. Aoi has taken up a place of responsibility, with Souichirou by her side. Settling in to their new rhythm, one of the issues that has plagued Aoi since before she met Souicirou rears its head once again. The resolution is pretty quick and not dramatic, but it is nice to see Aoi still following her chosen path.
To be frank, the heroine of this story, Eris R Renford, has a wildly different story from the other heroines. As such, the path's drama is a bit more serious than in the first two games and her issues are mostly on her side, rather than involving her personal relationship with Souichirou exclusively (though that does come into play). Since it is treated as a spoiler and not stated in the previous two games, I won't reveal the core reasons for the conflict in this story.
Eris is a heavy gamer, a wannabe NEET, and a generally lazy person on all levels. If Sou didn't kick her out of bed she would sleep all day; if Sou didn't feed her real food, she'd probably eat nothing but ramen and takeout; and if Sou didn't teach her, she probably would have dropped out of school long ago. In other words, she is completely dependent on Souichirou, which makes her the butt of numerous jokes both in her own path and in the other games.
Her path/game is worth going through twice, if only to use a certain function that pops up on the second playthrough to lead you through the mindfuck hidden inside the dialogue.
After Story 1
The first after story covers the growth of Eris after the turning point of the main game, along with a number of humorous and H scenes. Since there is pretty much nothing I can say about this without spoiling the main game, I'll just say that it was this after story that made me want a second after story for Eris, lol.
After Story 2
For anyone who was expecting this after story to be full of drama based on the ending of the previous one, I have to inform you that, unfortunately, the events that followed the end of the after story 1 were spoken about in a short summary at the beginning (from the sound of it, they could have made a whole new VN out of them), and instead this is just another bit of SOL, which I found somewhat disappointing... though the Uso series characters are generally fun to read about. Still, it does close out Eris's story, even if it didn't fulfill my desires, lol.
Fuyu Uso follows Teidou Setsuka, the daughter of a powerful (not just wealthy) family and the Student Council President of the mammoth school they are attending. She is beautiful, brilliant, and incisive. From the very beginning (Haru Uso) she has been openly pursuing Souichirou, though Souichirou is perpetually suspicious of her reasons and wary of her in general.
This is, by far, the darkest of the four paths. Teidou Setsuka's personality is the hardest to read from surface cues of all the heroines (even Satsuki, who is a mistress of lies), and she is so capable she doesn't even really provide an opening to read her. I'm going to say that, like Aki Uso and Haru Uso, there is a mindfuck built into this story, though it is one (just like those) that you can figure out if you pay close attention to what is going on and the various cues you should have learned to pick up in the previous games.
However, this story is, as I said, much darker than the others, which were essentially straight-out romances involving simple deredere heroines with various issues. Setsuka is... scary. I say this from the point of view of a guy who likes his VN heroines scary. I'd say that she is on my list of top 5 scariest heroines that aren't yangire (yangire heroines being scary because they are unpredictably homicidal).
Damn, it is hard not to spoil this one, lol. Thankfully, this isn't the main company (Light) so this isn't a bad end path, hahaha.
After Story 1
I'm going to start this by saying that, of the after-stories so far, this one shows the heroine's personal growth the most. For better or worse, Setsuka is pretty twisted up inside, and this covers her growth after the dramatic end of the main path (along with a number of really hot h-scenes). In a way, Setsuka's growth in this after story is as dramatic as the other heroines' growth in their own paths, and in a crappy charage, this would probably have been enough for a path on its own, hahaha.
After Story 2
This is the shortest of the second after stories by far, probably because Setsuka's issues were resolved so completely in the original path and the first after story. It follows Setsuka and Souichirou after she has graduated, and it lightly touches on the aftermath of the original path (considering what happened, that isn't surprising). There really isn't much to it, but it was nice to see a less yandere-ish Setsuka, lol.
For those who are curious. Setsuka has three stages of development as I see it. The first is the cold-blooded schemer who hates the world but thinks Souichirou is the best person in existence. The second one is a yandere who lives to be with Souichirou and is ridiculously jealous, possessive, and clingy. The third and last is the mature woman, at ease with herself and the world around her, secure in Souichirou's love and trusting in those few she has found worthy.
Hare Uso is the harem story added for those who bought each of the original four games separately before this month. Essentially, all the events (including the sex) happened in each of the games, but Souichirou never chose any of them as his lover. Just to be clear, given that Souichirou ends up forced into the sexual situations in all four games (through different means), this is not as unrealistic as it might sound. Moreover, I was laughing throughout much of its hour long length. Harem paths with serious protagonists are always hilarious...
Overall, playing the Uso series altogether is like playing the best of the best of plotge/charage hybrids. It is amusing at times, heart-warming at others, and it brings tears out at the right times. The heroines are interesting and unique, presented in a first-class fashion, and generally given a depth of character development that has been lacking in recent years. By handling each path as a separate game with an intensive focus, Campus made the heroines feel like real people, rather than props or sex dolls (which is what most charage heroines end up being). While the series has its flaws, it is definitely worth playing as a whole.