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Review: Kansei for Windows, Mac, Linux

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Kansei

Title: Kansei
Price: $15
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.

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

Kansei

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

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!

Site [Kansei]

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  • Barry

    I approached this game expecting some improvements over the original, but I was quite disappointed.
    To me it felt like the creator took the criticism regarding the difficulty of the first game and decided to make it harder and instead of making it more challenging they made it more "punishing". It's actually still pretty easy to figure out who did it, maybe even more so than in the first installment of this series, but to reach the true ending it's necessary to do some things that are necessarily logical, they seem just a cheap way to get more minutes (this is still not an incredibly long game) out of the player – I can't go into more detail without spoiling.
    The true ending is also fairly disappointing… the first chapter felt like a pilot for a series, something made to make people want to see how it goes on… this second part isn't any different. The idea I get (I could be cynical) is that the creator doesn't have that many ideas and needs to only give out so much so that they can encourage the customers to buy yet another chapter of it.
    The way the story is told isn't anything special nor terrible, the characters aren't particularly memorable – aside from the incredibly irritating ones like Aki (maybe her problem is partly her voice actress, someone with a rather nasal voice and not a great range of emotions). On the same subject: most other voices are decent, but Li Mei sounds like she's half asleep all the time, and Sophia sounds like a robot at all times, even when the text describes her as being shocked.
    On the visuals: the characters seem to have a less cutesy style than in the first one, but there's still room for improvement. The backgrounds are rather uninspired and sometimes look just bad (the garden seen from the dining room and the house seen from the outside in particular stood out for me). The interface could do with being tested a bit more – I had a few instances of the navigation arrows being stubborn and I had to click them twice to make them work.

    I dunno – if I saw this had been done by someone in their spare time for fun I would probably commend them for the effort (although the story and atmosphere really don't strike me as something I'll remember), but considering this has a person working on each aspect of the game and it's a game you have to pay for…
    I'm pretty sure that the people of the EVN community will adore this, but as someone who does read mystery novels and whose only "food" isn't derivative anime-inspired stuff I can't say I'd recommend it to anyone else other than the hardcore OELVN fans.

    Long story short: if you're really curious about this game wait until the series is finished and see if you can get a bulk discount for the whole thing.

  • Melissa

    I had high hopes for Kansei… but it’s really… not live up to my expectation :(
    It’s too short. It makes me think that they pay the their attention more to the less necessary aspect on a VN game, which is voice acting. of course it’s nice and it certainly gives a clear sign of “professionalism” on it. But if the game is short and only have three endings in total, it became less important.

    I think they should have work more on the plot, and try to be more creative. The ingame clock must be lasts only a few hours max, so it’s expected to be short. But we didn’t know that we purchase something that we can play for just 2 hours.

    I expected a journey in a visual novel. Of course, detective play is okay, and it’s uncommon, so if they want to play in that field I guess it can be a fresh air for the visual novel fan community. However, if you’re a hardcore VN fans and wanted a long ride and a dozen endings, probably Kansei is not for you. But overall I give this 3 stars out of 5. It should be 4 stars if not for the short gameplay.