Kazuki Fumi and Silky's Plus Wasabi's newest game has arrived. This is the third game in the series that began with Nanairo Reincarnation. I will say this outright from the beginning... this game isn't as good as either Akeiro or Nanairo. It does have its high points, but it needs to be noted that this is not on the same level as the previous two games.
This game uses the Emote system heavily, with the sole heroine (Annelise) being extremely 'animated' (think constantly swaying boobs) to a degree I haven't even seen in other games that utilize this system. Similar to the other games in the series, this game has excellent artwork that differs from most other Japanese VNs.
The music in this game isn't as good as Akeiro's or Nanairo Reincarnation's was. To be blunt, in both the previous games, the music played a strong role in making the game what it was, and the music direction (when to use what BGM) was on the highest levels I've seen in the VN industry. Unfortunately, this game falls far short of either of those two in this area, with a much weaker set of BGMs.
The game focuses around the protagonist's efforts to solve the mystery behind the mass suicide of the denizens of an apartment in the same town Nanairo Reincarnation was based in. Based on what is said in-game, the canon path that reaches to this game is Kotori's path in Nanairo and Youko's path (the Tsukihime-style normal ending) in Akeiro. Also, based on certain 'events', it is apparent that around two decades have passed since the events in Nanairo, for reasons that will become rather obvious early in the game (in other words, play Nanairo and Akeiro first if you don't want to be spoiled).
To be blunt, this game has a much tighter focus on the mystery element than either of the previous games, with less immediate sentimentality and more confrontation with the dead people 'living' in the apartments. In addition, Anne's constant advances help it retain the goofiness that was present in both the previous games.
This game has multiple endings, but I chose to only play the true one, as I figured (and I was right) that it would have the best possible result for everyone involved. Of course, when everyone besides the protagonist is dead or inhuman, that can be somewhat bittersweet.
If you were to ask me whether it was worth crying over what happened in this game, I would say yes... in particular, I cried for Kanon and Akira (two of the victims), as their lives and final deaths were the most tragic and their natures (surprising in the case of Akira) were the least inimical to others.
The true ending is definitely a tear-jerker...though it doesn't pull the tears out of me to the degree that either of the previous games did. Part of this is that both Akeiro and Nanairo are long games with extensive, detailed, and deep character development and superb presentation.
The other part is that, while I predicted the truth behind what happened about two-thirds of the way through, I found that the mystery 'investigation' system crippled the game's ability to draw me in and keep me in. To be blunt, if a game only has a single heroine, I only want minimal choices to be present, and I certainly don't want to have to deal with this kind of gameplay. The gameplay is too perfunctory to be enjoyable, and it is too intrusive and intrinsic to the game as a whole for the reader to be able to stay fully engrossed in the experience.
In conclusion, this is a game where the concept was good and the staff was first class, but where the attempts to be clever (such as with the gameplay system) fell flat. It is still a reasonably high-level game, but, considering what Kazuki Fumi has managed to do in the past with this universe, I can't help but feel it could have been handled better.