Song of Saya ~ Saya no Uta (PC) Review
What do you get when you mix Silent Hill, Shallow Hal, and Species with a little dab of Hannibal or the Japanese movie the Last Supper? You get something pretty close to Nitroplus' horror visual novel Song of Saya ~ Saya no Uta, written by Gen Urobochi, the author of Puella Magi Madoka Magica and Fate/Zero, and published by JAST USA.
Let's begin with a bit of backstory. You play as Sakisaka Fuminori, whom after a car accident loses his family and wakes up seeing the world in a whole different way. However, not in the typical "cherish every day and be thankful" way. He wakes up in a hospital and actually sees the world as a decaying, gut-infested nightmare where he sees all humans as mutant creatures and anything remotely pleasant looks like it crawled out of a H.P. Lovecraft novel. Even his best friends Tsukuba Yoh (who has a crush on Fuminori), Tonoh Koji (his male friend), and Takahata Omi (Koji's girlfriend) look and sound like mutant creatures to him. Fuminori tries to act normal and doesn't let anyone know about his condition, especially Tanba Ryoko (his chief physician) as he fears of likely being locked up in an insane asylum. The only person who he sees as a normal human being, is a mysterious girl named Saya whom he grows to depend on.
Fuminori is living in a world similar to what you would see in Silent Hill mixed with Hell. His only solace is Saya, who is a seemingly cute and innocent girl that Fuminori gets to know since she is the only human being he sees that doesn't look like a star-spawn of Cthulhu. He befriends her and soon he asks her to move in with him since he's been living in isolation. He begins to discover that she is hiding something, but at the same time he starts to fall deeply in love with her. He finds out that she has been looking for her lost father and decides to help her. However, the deeper he searches, the more questions he uncovers. Plus his friends are worried about him and begin to pry into his private life. He just wants to be left alone with Saya and become disassociated with society as the world he knew has become an alien-infested world. The more he lives with Saya, the more he discovers that she is not what she appears to be and that she is not human. Nonetheless, he loves her and she loves him, and Saya would do anything for Fuminori.
One particular moment in the game for me that solidified Saya's love for Fuminori as genuine was when she went out of her way to perfect her skills to give Fuminori the ability to see the world as he did before his accident. She was only thinking about making him happy and never stopped to think about her own happiness. This was a true self-sacrifice in the name of love. Even if you (the player) sees Saya as a monster, this will make you stop and say that is real love. She goes to the point of putting herself in danger to save Fuminori on multiple occasions as any real person truly in love would do for their partner.
This game is not your typical eroge game as the only phrase that I can use to describe the story is "beauty is in the eye of the beholder." While it is a gory-horror game, it isn't just the images that make you uneasy. The soundtrack plays a very important role as well. The sounds that made the biggest impact on me were when you are talking to your friends at school and you are seeing them as mutant monsters. Their voices become nothing more than distorted gurgles and screeches, akin to white noise that you would hear from an old television set. So if Paranormal Activity freaked you out, you might want to wear an extra set of underwear while playing this game. The soundtrack which uses mainly distorted riffs and motifs along with the images to create the ideal ambiance that really pushes you to the edge of your seat. It left me freaked out while wanting more. The images themselves are not really revealing, as you never get to see Saya's real form, but the game makes your imagination fill in the blanks; which in some cases can be more terrifying than any image in the game. Since the game is rather graphic, there is an option to censor the game's CGs.
The story changes point-of-views quite frequently, as it begins with you playing as Fuminori and then switches to other characters after the first of the game's rather limited choices. There are some scenes that you can replay so you can see how others see the world versus Fuminori's view. This gives the player an idea of how the perception varies from each of the characters. There is a total of three endings, but they are not your typical happy fairy-tale storybook endings. In all of them, I was left feeling cold at the end due to the events on-screen, as I just wanted to see Saya and Fuminori happy. This game is not for everyone, but it does make one think about how we see things and what we perceive as love.
This type of story was new to me as I'll admit that I'm used to "touchy-feeling" endings in games. However, as I continued to play the game I began to see and even side with the villainous decisions that Fuminori and Saya made. I felt that the love between Fuminori and Saya was sincere since he actually didn't know her true form, but still felt as though he wanted to be with her. Which was the same way Saya felt about him. Just like a love movie, I was cheering for them at more than one point. Even though this game was short at relatively, five to six hours, it still made me think after I completed it. This game combines image, story, and sound in a certain way that makes it nearly the perfect storm.
What I Loved:
- The game was short
- The voices from the creatures (Fuminori's friends as he sees them)
- The soundtrack made the game ambient feel real
- The option to censor out the gory images
- Showed multiple POV
What I Hated:
- limited paths and decision points
- The option to change the censoring can't be changed after it's installed
Disclosure: A review copy was provided by the publisher.
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