Suisei Ginka is the latest VN made by Akatsuki Works, the makers of such classic VNs as Ruitomo, Comyu, and Devils Devel Concept. This was written by Morisaki Ryoto, the writer of multiple kamige including Hapymaher, Komorebi no Nostalgica (as an assistant writer), and Re:Birth Colony. He is one of the most flexible and skilled writers out there, and I've yet to fail to enjoy a VN he's had a hand in.
This VN is based in a port city half-owned by a company that caused a disastrous chemical spill there ten years ago. It begins with the reunion of Izana, a young woman with a rather unusual attitude toward life, and Tetsuo, a straightforward young man with an utter disregard for his own safety and survival. Naturally, this being an Akatsuki Works game, this is the beginning of numerous troubles and tribulations.
Structurally, this VN is pretty 'to the point', in that the story uses the bare minimum of slice-of-life to give life to the characters and setting, while constantly keeping a laser focus on what is moving in the shadows... and the disastrous potential it holds.
Looking at it in retrospect, I probably should have done this path second or third. However, I followed my instincts on the game's first major story choice, and as a result I got into this path. Maria's path is focused on the company that caused everything to go so horribly wrong, so it reveals details of some factors that spoil the other paths a little bit.
Maria herself is a classic 'expressionless loli' of the type that is common to a lot of chuunige that have loli heroines. Normally expressionless and nearly emotionless, she is very much like a cat, acting sweet to those few people she cares about and disregarding just about everyone else based on their use or lack of to her. Edit: That isn't to say she's completely devoid of emotion... but with the guy who acts as her guardian being the kind of guy he is... she's naturally a little warped.
This path has a lot of violence to it, primarily because of what the characters face in it. It is a solid path though... it is just one that I really should have waited on.
Seika is Izana's best female friend and more than a little bit prickly toward anyone who approaches her with ulterior motives (and because of Izana's easy manner and physical beauty, that is pretty common). She was raised by a strict asshole father who sees her only as a convenient object to augment his own ambitions for the family line, which is a lot of the reason why she is so prickly in general. Her sole point of softness is Izana, whom she would probably do anything for.
Seika's path is wrapped up in dealing with the plot element that drives most of the protagonist-side characters, in a very intimate manner. It's a fairly standard path for a game like this, serving as a fitting intro to the ins and outs of the story while setting the stage for elaborations in future paths. I liked how it turned out, though a lot of people might find it an odd ending. It is more solid than say... Benio's path in Comyu, which was fundamentally unsatisfying (for some reason, Hino Wataru sometimes chooses to drop a single weak heroine path in some of his games).
Momo is Tetsuo's guardian/oneesan/coworker. She is a heavy-drinker and a heavy-smoker and she is actually thirty, though she looks twenty. She is also a brilliant (genius-level) individual as well as being highly perceptive when it comes to people in general. She and Tetsuo have lived most of the last ten years around one another, and they know each other about as well as it is possible to know another person without being them.
After playing this path, I definitely realized there was a play order... Seika>Momo>Maria>Izana. The reason is fairly simple... Maria's path reveals too much about the 'causes' of all this, removing a great deal of the mystery about what the protagonist is trying to do at the end of Momo's path and the 'why' of certain elements of Seika's path. Seika's path, on the other hand, paves the way for things that are elaborated on in Momo's path. Izana's path is, of course, the true one.
Momo's path focuses on one of the more obvious, if mid-boss type antagonists. This antagonist is a 'rationally insane' type who has no morals whatsoever outside of their personal ruleset. In addition, this path has more death than the other two paths combined, lol. I will say I liked the ending of this one, as well.
Izana is the true heroine of this VN. She is also one of those 'always involved with the protagonist's life' heroines in the style of Kagome from Comyu or Suzu from Ayakashibito (meaning that even if they aren't lovers, they never really separate). Izana is a very odd young girl... she seems at first to be something of a tomboy, but when you get to know her, she also shows a kind of quiet wisdom that the average tomboy heroine just doesn't possess. Rather than being intelligent, she really is just 'wise'.
Her relationship with Tetsuo is so strong that it is unchanged by the ten years of parting between them. They both care deeply about one another and trust each other absolutely, without reservations.
Her path, true to the form of true paths in chuunige, is the most exciting of the paths, bringing together all the elements of the other paths with a focus on the central conflict that isn't resolved in the others. Tetsuo shows off his manliness quite nicely in this path, as well as his own bit of wisdom (If he was a D&D character, he'd be a true neutral barbarian with an intelligence stat of 9 and a wisdom stat of 16), though it is born of him having such a solid sense of who he is, where he stands, and how he intends to live and die.
Neither Tetsuo nor Izana is the type to hesitate or stand around worrying about consequences, as they both have very distinct senses of priorities.
I honestly wept at the climax of this VN. I couldn't help but cry for a certain character who got the sharp end of the stick from beginning to end throughout this story (even mentioning her name is a spoiler). A toast to those who suffer so that others can be saved! *Clephas smiles sadly and clings his glass of rum against an empty one*
A few extra comments
One thing you should keep in mind when reading this VN is that neither this writer nor Hino Wataru produces 'standard' romances. Their romantic elements are generally good, but they are almost universally 'romance born out of a stressful situation', so don't expect a charage-style romantic element in here. What romance is in there is good, at least from my point of view, and Tetsuo is straight-out one of the manliest protagonists I've seen in a chuunige (since most chuunige protagonists tend to have issues that make them fall a bit short of that standard).
I'm glad that this VN kept up the four year tradition of good VNs coming out on or near my birthday, hahaha...