System(s): Windows, Mac, Linux
Release Date: July 14, 2011
Publisher (Developer): Sakevisual (Sakevisual)
ESRB Rating: N/A. I’d say 12+, since it is a murder mystery.
Pros: Full voice acting, interesting musical score, gallery option, great character art/design, picks up right where Jisei left off, plenty of save slots, can build trust levels with each character, important information is automatically added to notes, can check notes at any time, well written script, can explore rooms by clicking and can skip seen text. You have to play it multiple times if you want to learn everything about everyone. Walkthroughs are available at the official site.
Cons: Relatively short, compared to other commercial visual novels. The best ending ends on quite a cliffhanger (which could be considered good or bad, depends on the person playing’s perspective).
Overall Score: Two thumbs up, 93/100, A-, * * * * out of 5
A year ago, Sakevisual introduced us to a mysterious young man with the ability to experience the final moments of someone who’s recently died in Jisei. The story ended on a cliffhanger, with the police still wanting to investigate this young man, even though he had proven himself innocent with his ability and subtle assistance from some other young people with similar abilities. Finally, a year later, this mysterious young man’s adventures continue in Kansei.
Solving murders by experiencing the last moments of the dead
Kansei refers to the special abilities that our hero, now dubbed Kangei by Aki, and Aki, Naoki and Li Mei, the group of three other young people he’s met, possess. Each one’s abilities are unique, with Aki being able to speak into peoples’ minds, Naoki possessing exceptional memory and Li Mei possessing empathic abilities. The three perform investigative work, dealing with espionage, murder investigations and sometimes something as simple as uncovering cheating. Kangei’s stuck with them because the police still have questions with him and won’t let him leave Edgewater. So it was stay with Aki, Naoki and Li Mei or be stuck in police custody.
When Kansei begins, the group has been called to the home of William Auten, CEO of Auten Engineering. That’s the group that hired the Aki, Naoki and Li Mei in Jisei to investigate Sara Blackmoore and her leaking documents to Ms. Bergstrom and another party. He wanted a full report in person, which means the group and Detective Mikolaj Gurski, who was at the scene in Jisei, have to drive out to his super secure home in the country. Once there, he throws a fit after seeing Kangei and refuses to see the group. Everyone steps away from his locked office to give him a moment, when suddenly Kangei and Li Mei’s Kanseis kick in. Something isn’t right and Mr. Auten is dead.
From there, players have to find out what’s going on. Do you find the murderer? Or do you try to learn more about Mr. Auten’s mysterious vault? There were four suspicious individuals
Interesting and well made, but also extraordinarily short
The first thing you notice about Kansei is that it doesn’t look, feel or play like an independent game. You would never think, going in, that this is only Sakevisual’s second commercial game. The voice acting is very well done, the character art is incredible, the script is perfectly written and players are given plenty of opportunities to interact with the different suspects and investigate each area. Everything flows wonderfully and the pacing is perfect.
The interactions are especially important. You have plenty of options to choose from when talking to possible suspects and, this time around, the people you’re talking to may start to trust or distrust you. Depending on what you say (or don’t say), you’ll be able to find yourself closer to finding a murderer or searching for a vault. Actually clicking around the various scenes to find items is only needed in a few areas, but for the most part your investigation hinges on the conversations you have throughout the game. Thankfully, you have plenty of save slots, so you can make plenty of saves to go back to in case you slip up.
Kansei‘s one failing was also found in the first game in the series, Jisei. It’s quite a short adventure. I finished two playthroughs in a single sitting, spending only a little over an hour to complete them. Granted, Sakevisual did improve on Jisei by having multiple endings, leading to an adventure that isn’t quite as linear and requires multiple playthroughs to obtain answers about certain characters’ pasts and motivations. Compared to other commercial visual novels, even indie ones, it’s a very brief adventure. This could possibly be considered a blessing though, as the true ending requires you to first view the other endings first.
Kansei is incredibly professional and leaves you wanting more
Length aside, Kansei is a a really beautiful game. It is a much improvement over Jisei in terms of interactivity and plot, with a story that is more intriguing and has additional twists to discover. Not only that, but it looks and sounds beautiful. It’s a wonderful visual novel and quite involving. In fact, the thing that bothered me most wasn’t that I was able to complete two playthroughs in around two hours, but that I will probably have to wait another year to find out what happens next!