Okay, this might be the last thing I churn out before I die of exhaustion for the year, so read it, and read it well (by now I have completely given up on using the holidays to catch up on anime and manga, I’m sorry, Kazehaya and Lind and Kimihiro and Hayate and Nagi and Sasha and Hei and Rakka and Senjougahara and Chizuru-sama).
How do you define insanity? What does it take to be forgiven for your sins? Is it still right for there to be love in this world? Sekien no Inganock won’t give you the answer to any of there question, but it will give them, and many more. It is a tale of love and loss, of betrayal and sins that cannot be forgiven. I welcome you to the fantastic city of Inganock, where the endless mist always blocks the sun…
Gii is a cracking doctor, walking around and healing the ill in a fantastic city. Ten years ago, during an event named “The Revival”, the self sustaining city of Inganock was surrounded by an impenetrable mist, 41 monsters appeared in the city, and everything began to morph into something strange. People were changing into animals, plants were changing into things indescribably, there were people with 2 hearts, 4 arms, insanity, illness, and every one had scarred hearts. One day, Gii sees a young girl named Kia. For some reason, she seems to be free of all mutations. As he spends time with her, he slowly begins to realize what is really going on within the strange city.
Gii is a traveling doctor who walks around the slums of the city, healing the sick. Because of “the revival”, his brain gained mutations which gave him skills in curing the most stubborn of human diseases, through mutated diseases are a whole other matter. His mutations has also forced him to lose his physical senses and much of his emotions. He also believes that it has robbed him of his sanity, as he keeps seeing a dancing clown at the edge of his vision. However, his life is (once again) changed forever, when he meets the girl named Kia.
Kia is a mysterious little girl. Despite the efforts of the city’s best information brokers, no one seems to know about who she is and where she comes from, and she herself is very adept at dodging question. She is very mature for her seemingly young age, and can easily do housework and tell when people are lying. Just what exactly is she is one of the biggest and most interesting mysteries of the game.
Ati is one of Gii’s few friends, and as you can see, “the revival” has caused her to mutate into something resembling a half cat. She is usually very energetic, and is very attached to Gii. Also, she is my favorite character, because she is absolutely adorable and her story’s just tear jerking.
Well, there isn’t much of a point in putting in more characters. Most of the story is of almost standalone tales, with Gii observing and intervening in various situations of various characters in the city. Because of that, most characters simply fade away after their part.
Sekien no Ingaok is a story that was written for its atmosphere. It somehow combines the strange and the mundane, wrapping them up in an intriguing package. The game has the unique function of letting you see the inner thoughts of other characters, adding to the depth of the story (not to mention giving a great chance to get factual information that would have been painful to write into the plot). The mystery behind the city is unlayered slowly but surely, behind stories of the city’s citizens that are bittersweet, no, more often simply bitter.
There are a multitude of themes present in the story, and savoring them is one of the best parts of reading. The society presented in SNI is racist, sexist, and prejudiced against the poor, and it also touches on social problems like prostitution and drug use. But what really makes the story interesting is its moral dilemmas. Is a promise really good enough to justify taking a certain action? Is it right to oppress others? To what extent should society be punished for things that they can’t fix? Can one life be more important than another? The story is very open ended, so you’ll have to figure that out for yourself.
When you play this game, you really have to take out your sense of disbelief, and don’t look for close-ended answers. SnI is about the atmosphere and the emotions of the characters, not about why exactly things happened the way they did.This might be a bad thing for some, and I usually hate open ended endings, but this one was just nice somehow, and it really BEGS for a second reading so that you can really absorb what happened.
Of course, there are a few annoying flaws within the game, the biggest of which being the writer’s habit of repeating things, over and over and OVER AND OVER AGAIN. I don’t need to be told 11 times that the guy with the watch was standing there, and I didn’t appreciate reading basically the same battle over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over again.
Oh, I almost forgot, don’t be surprised if you cry during the game. While certain scenes are disturbing, others can be very heartwarming and sad. And don’t expect anything from the h-scenes either. They’re drier than a turkey that’s been left in the middle of the Sahara for the summer.
I love it. I love the lines, the colors, the textures, the expressions, the shadowy backgrounds. I love how characters’ emotions are expressed, I love how Ati is the most adorable thing ever, I love the artist’s amazing sense of fashion, and most importantly, I love how hot Gii looks with glasses.
Being in a fantastic environment, the game has some really fantastic music (bad joke, I know, but hey, it’s Christmas eve). The pieces are quite unique and interesting, with tracks of piano, violin, flute, guitar, and more. By favorite track is “Battle/Endless dance” because of how it simple emanates power and provides such a perfect backdrop to the action. However, some of the songs really get tiring after a while.
The opening and ending songs, sang by Rita (you may know her as the singer of Little Busters), are the best part of the music. Really, I can listen to the opening song 50 times and still not get tired of it.
However, BGM is still BGM. What really makes this game shine it the voices. Oh, I can’t praise the voice acting enough. Everyone’s voice has that tinge of tired nervousness to it, which just suits the story so well (did the manager make them stay up for 2 days on coffee before recording or something?) I can’t go in to specifics about how good they are without giving out spoilers, so I’ll stop here. Of course, I can go on about how smexy Gii sounds without spoilers, but I’m sure most of you aren’t here to read that.
Alas, despite the acting being so good there is one major problem: THERE AREN’T ENOUGH VOICES. I just don’t mean that some characters aren’t voiced (because they aren’t), but also that for over 1/3 of the game, the main characters aren’t voiced either. It feels so…awkward listening to the luxurious voices one minute and then going without any voices for the next half an hour. Also, do you remember how the game keeps repeating itself? Well, sometimes a character repeats the same line, but it’s voiced the first time then unvoiced the second and third. Please, Liarsoft, if you’re going to release a game, don’t release it like it’s half finished, I’m begging you here. Im my dreams the entirety of SNI is voiced.
Pretty basic, you can see for yourself. What I found odd is that the recollections are of the oddest things. Sure, the h-scenes are in there, but there are other scenes (like Kia and Ati talking to each other) makes me confused at the programmer’s objective at putting it here.
Unlike most VNs, Sekien no Inganok has another system on top of the choice selections. During the course of the game, you have many chances at listening to the inner thoughts of the characters within the game. However, you have to select the right character in the right order, otherwise you can’t unlock all the inner thoughts and will land automatically in a bad end.
Total: 90/100 A
If you’re tired of fluff, and want to read something with great music, great art, and that gives you thing to think about, I would happily recommend Sekien no Inganok (as long as you have an open mind and is fine with open endings).