Hoshizora no Memoria Review – Slice of Life
Platforms: PC (reviewed)
Publisher: Sekai Project
Release: 19th December 2017
Price: 19.99 (All-Ages)
My process to find interesting visual novels couldn´t be easier if I like the art or the story synopsis to a slight degree, I´m interested. That´s exactly what happened with Hoshizora no Memoria, that looked like a bright, unique little romance story mixed with mystery elements. So with Sekai Project´s release on Steam, I took the opportunity to check it out … and regretted it.
After the death of their mother Kogasaka You and his younger sister Chinami return once again to their childhood hometown. Especially You sees it as the ideal opportunity to reunite with a girl he spent most of his childhood but once he sees how their meeting spot is abandoned, only inhabited by a mysterious girl claiming to be a Grim Reaper, he realizes the complexity of his plan.
An interesting set-up indeed to evolve into a romance/mystery novel. The beginning, in particular, does a wonderful job at gripping the player by offering everything from love to foreshadowing while delivering a great entry into the story. Followed up by a mix of the typical “protagonist reunites with his childhood friend” events like the moment he finds out how much everyone changed, infused with interesting encounters like the Grim Reaper girl.
During the first few hours Hoshizora no Memoria does a great job at presenting how an overused plot might turn into something novel again simply through the addition of one new element. Later on astrology will become a huge focus in certain character routes, like in Asuho Minahoshi´s, the vice president of the Astronomy Club, where developer Favorite packed some pretty neat knowledge into the dialogues, only adding up the general mysterious tone of the game and blue-ish colour palette.
Sadly after this initial rather positive impression and ideas, the game starts to go downhill so fast I didn´t see in a long time. Instead of focusing on its unique aspects, Hoshizora no Memoria does everything to avoid them, namely becoming one of the most typical, shallow Slice-of-Life experiences there is. Abandoning every core theme during the course of its still acceptable main route, in order to present 6 character arcs lacking any kind of depth. Watching the evolution from promising into cliché without any theme except “cute girls do cute things” is far more intriguing than following the hundred and first little sister incident.
Given, in certain moments conversations about astronomy can be quite entertaining and certainly interesting but even they´re used to underline either the cuteness of the corresponding partner or underlining how much potential is wasted every minute. Honestly, most of the actions are so cliché-y and foreseeable that I was able to predict them almost perfectly. For Slice-of-Life fans Hoshizora no Memoria might offer some value as it can be funny and entertaining at times but people like me, hating this genre for its repetition of the ever-same motives and lack of depth will be utterly disappointed.
The before mentioned Grim Reaper girl, the very symbol of the mystery plot, is almost abused from a story perspective due to the focus on cute girls. Where she seemed like the core of pretty much the whole events, she quickly became only a story device to resolve pretty much any conflict. As in other visual novels, every character route focuses on the problems and developments of a certain girl. Even though Hoshizora no Memoria doesn´t do a great job at portraying those, to begin with, it also doesn´t know how to resolve them, simply summoning the Grim Reaper to “steal” those problems from them. At the end there may be an explanation hidden beneath all the nonsense but who knows.
Unfortunately, there isn´t much to tell otherwise about Hoshizora no Memoria´s plot, it´s just so cliché-y and unsurprising. Yet, another big part of my good first impression, the art, can still hold its ground. Naturally, it´s not one of the highest definition ones but the colours can add enough unique flavour to the mix. In combination with the cute, very decent artstyle, the focus on overly bright or blue-ish accents lets the game “pop”. Personally, I really dig the visual style and would have loved if it would be used for a better cause.
Sekai Project´s translation though is sometimes quite a bit lacking, suffering from many typos, some clumsy sentences and an overall mediocre feel. The fact I had to reinstall it 5 times because the fullscreen mode kept minimizing itself after 5-10 minutes everytime, made it a hassle to even read.
I wanted to like Hoshizora no Memoria, there was just so much potential here, set-up, art, story they all seemed so great. Sadly, it became a prime example how a promising beginning can derail into an unfocused mess, lacking any kind of unique features. Maybe Slice-of-Life fans will take some entertainment out of it, otherwise, why bother?
[A Review Code was provided by Sekai Project]