... I'm going to be blunt about this... I can't believe this was written by the same guy who wrote Nekopara, Sakura Bitmap, and Strawberry Nauts. This VN has an overwhelming degree of impact compared to his other works, to the point where I'm even willing to consider it a kamige. Music, music-usage, story, presentation, art, and art usage are all at their highest levels, combining to create a nakige whose impact is far out of proportion to its length (which is only about seven hours, for me).
I honestly wasn't expecting the emotional impact of this VN. In terms of this quality, it approaches Houkago no Futekikakusha, without being an utsuge... I literally cried throughout the entire game, to the point where my sinuses are swollen and my eyes bloodshot. From the very beginning, this game makes no pretense at being anything other than what it is... a cathartic trip full of love, despair, sorrow, and loss with a drop of hope.
I won't spoil you as to the central concept, even though it is tempting. Based on the fact that no details of the setting other than the characters are revealed in any detail on either the official website or the Getchu page, in addition to my own experience, I can say straight out that this is a VN best enjoyed without someone giving you details to the setting or situation. I will say that it is a fantasy setting, based in a world that has early nineteenth-century tech (no guns that I saw though), based on the presence of an ice box and ice sellers in the game. This is also based on the fact that matches exist but electric lights apparently don't, since the characters are using candles and oil lamps.
This game is pretty short, mostly due to its structure, where heroine 'paths' only come into existence after the main story is over, as epilogues for each of the four individual heroines (Haru, Yuki, Kotose, and Ren). There is no 'true' heroine in this game, for those are wondering. All the heroines are quite literally equal, though the protagonist is a bit more intimate with Ren and Haru, which is probably more of a reflection of the writer's preferences than anything else.
This game is 100% 'business', including the slice-of-life scenes. Not one scene in this VN is wasted on something other than portraying the characters' suffering and joy or progressing the story. To be blunt, if this game weren't so perfectly designed, I'd probably be calling it 'bare-bones' in that aspect. That lack of wasted time is actually of immense help, as it prevents the phenomenon of 'contempt due to familiarity' that tends to occur when a VN has an excess of 'meaningless' slice-of-life scenes.
This VN isn't humor-centric, so don't expect a lot of laughs out of it. The heroines have serious issues, and even in everyday life, those issues peek out from beneath the surface on a regular basis. As a result, humorous situations are relatively limited after the setting's central issue gets introduced to you and you come to understand the protagonist's objective.
Unfortunately, there is little more I can say about this VN without ruining it for you. I can say it is a first-class nakige, and I can say it is a cry-fest designed to suck the tears out of you with a virtual vacuum cleaner. However, that is just a repeat of what I said above. I do advise that anyone who goes into this VN should do so without excessive prior knowledge, as it is a VN that is best enjoyed with a 'clean slate' the first time around.
VN of the month November 2016
Karenai Sekai to Owaru Hana