Once upon a time in 2004, Key released Clannad, a visual novel and successor to Kanon and Air, the studio’s first two projects. These three games, and their censored “all ages” rereleases (for Kanon and Air, Clannad never had an eroge equivalent), topped national sales charts, helped cement Key’s reputation as one of the foremost visual novel developers in Japan, and established scenarist Jun Maeda as a pioneer of the visual novel genre.
What’s more: Kanon, Air, and Clannad were later adapted into wildly popular anime series by Kyoto Animation, helping turn the studio into one of the most beloved animation studios in the modern anime industry.
Related reading: Matt's review of Eiyuu Senki, perhaps the last PS3 visual novel that you must play.
Thanks to a successful Kickstarter campaign by the American video game publisher Sekai Project in November of last year, one of the most influential visual novels ever produced is finally made available in the West (on PC via Steam), completely translated of course.
This Western release will feature Japanese voice acting, and include a few upgrades and additions such as 1280x960 visuals, Steam achievements, and Dangopedia (a term encyclopedia elaborating on Japanese traditions and pop culture).
“Clannad follows the story of Hikarizaka Private High School student Tomoya Okazaki, an emotionally-distant delinquent student. After losing his mother in an accident and subsequently falling victim to an abusive, alcoholic father, Okazaki meets a strange young girl, Nagisa Furukawa, who is repeating the year due to a severe illness. Furukawa enlists Okazaki to help revive their school’s drama club. With nothing much else going on in his life, Okazaki agrees to help, making friends with many of the school’s other students along the way, and learning about all of the different problems and challenges that they face...”
I should probably have mentioned that Jun Maeda isn’t just considered a pioneer of the visual novel genre, but more specifically of its “nakige” aka “crying game” subgenre. As you have probably noticed from the plot description, his games tend to tear your soul to shreds, so you might want to stock up on tissues.
It goes without saying that this game is a big recommendation to everyone who likes visual games and/or tearjerker stories.
- Eduardo R.
A @DigitallyDownld poll: Are visual novels more "game" or more "book"?— Lindsay M. (@itslindsay613) November 24, 2015