Visual Novels

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Summer: Message on the Paper Plane is the very first chapter in the new four-part visual novel series titled Season of 12 Colors. As many might have guessed each of the four chapters of the series will be named with a season. Season of 12 Colors: Summer is both heartwarming and tragic in similar ways to other great visual novels such as Ame no Marginal and Narcissu. The base game which only includes Summer was published to Steam by NVLMaker on March 2016. The other 3 chapters will be released at a later date as DLC for those who purchased the base game. The base game Summer takes about an hour to complete but includes Steam cards and Steam Achievements one of which is for the true ending.

Season of 12 Colors: Summer begins when a young man returns to a place from his early childhood. It had been years since he last stayed with his relatives during summer and he has forgotten many things including the tragedies that happened there. Many of the memories that remain are vague but the one thing he greatly remembers is a young girl named Jasmine. He and Jasmine once spent much of their time playing together but he has vague memories that he also spent time with someone else. Soon Jasmine appears but she is not the way that he remembers and she appears to be hiding something. Jasmine is also easily bullied by much younger children and even appears less mature than he remembers. One day Jasmine decides to show him a clearing in the forest where they used to play. In the center of a beautiful field of flowers is a large shed filled with nothing but books. In the pages of one these books are secrets to a forgotten past. To pass the time Jasmine begins to fold paper planes as they used to do but the paper planes hold many secrets. After continuing to visit the secret place in the forest he is told to stay away from there and the secrets of the past begin to unfold hidden inside of a paper plane he holds. The message hidden in the paper plane are unclear but he remembers the tragedy that took place years ago and who the other person was. He must discover the truth from Jasmine but time is running out for her and she can longer stay there. Season of 12 Colors: Summer is not a death filled tragedy but rather an emotional tragedy that focuses on themes similar to those present in the visual novel Ame no Marginal.

Season of 12 Colors: Summer features simple gameplay mechanics just as any other visual novel but the game itself is anything but typical. Unlike most other visual novels which simply list the chapters in a linear fashion this one displays the chapters on paper planes. The paper planes fly around in a circle for the main chapters then once you get to the decoded part of the story they fly around messily. In the decoded section it focuses back and forth between the three characters who are each very important to the plot. As you continue through the decoded story you will be led back to old chapters on occasion but it will be told from another character’s perspective. Season of 12 Colors: Summer does have more than one possible ending and also includes an extra piece to the story after achieving an ending. As you complete the game you will also be able to access the background music and art from the main menu. Unfortunately to get back to the main menu during gameplay you must start a chapter and go to the menu which is displayed on a paper plane on the corner of the dialogue box. You must also go into the same menu to change the resolution or make other changes. A simple menu such as the one from Narcissu would have been great but the menu for this game shows more creativity.

The game does include very high quality voice acting but it is Chinese only without an option to change it to English or Japanese. The game also includes an English translation of the subtitles which are pretty well done through much of the game with a few exceptions on the spelling. While some of the spelling errors were noticeable it didn’t take away from the overall quality of the game or even ruin the emotional tone of the effected conversations. The combination of great voice acting and well done translations does in fact match up with the character animation as it should. Where applicable the animation was smooth and matched both the character moods and the tone of the background music. Both the animation and the art itself were gentle and easily followed the many different emotions present in the game. All of the artistic elements of the game come together very well to create an emotional and thought provoking visual novel.

I particularly recommend Season of 12 Colors to fans of emotional visual novels with extensive and meaningful storylines. The base game only includes Summer but the game is good enough to make you want the other three chapters when they arrive to Steam later as DLC. The game has great art and an interesting story that is a bit difficult to unravel at first but becomes clearer as you play the decoded story. Every element of the game comes together as it should to create a great visual novel that is worth investing time in. If you are unsure about the game it is worth trying since it is both affordable and high quality.

Pros: Interesting Story, Great Soundtrack, Beautiful Art

Cons: Occasional Spelling/Grammatical Errors

SCORE – 9.5/10

This review is based on a purchased digital copy of Season of 12 Colors on Steam.

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