…It’s not every day a Visual Novel is released on a console, let alone a Nintendo console. As the game’s lead male protagonist says, Reality is Merciless.
When I played the demo early last month–the first Episode–I knew I wanted the full game. The problem was I was broke and my last paycheck was 6 months earlier. As luck would have it, a random deposit into my checking account gave me the means to buy the full game from the eShop. I pulled an all-nighter last night so I could finish the Final Episode. After watching the final scene and sleeping for 6 hours, I immediately set to work on some Fan Fiction based on Harvest December. LOL.
Let me back up a bit and explain the flow of the game. The story spans 13 Episodes, each with their own chapters. Each episode tells a story but they are all connected and part of a larger story. Harvest December, the title Episode sets the stage for the 12 Episodes that follow: High School student Masaki Konno, who recently moved to the remote town of Tagami finds himself the love interest of Yuki Towada–heiress of the powerful Towada Family–and Shiro–The God of Tagami–but the problem is he doesn’t love either of them back. Masaki’s indecisiveness puts him at odds with not only them but many others as well.
Here is an overview of each Episode. There are minor spoilers:
- Harvest December: Told from Masaki Konno’s point of view. Most of the cast is introduced. Those who download the Demo can enjoy the full Episode from start to finish.
- Boundaries January: Told from Mizuho Touyama’s point of view. Mizuho meets Madoi, the God of Sakashima and decides to help him regain his lost powers.
- Gifting February: Told from Sanae Morino and Masaki’s points of view. Sanae comes to terms with her feelings toward Kouhei Touyama and decides to confess her feelings to him.
- Lovely March: Told from Masaki’s point of view. Yuki’s mother Mashiro sets up Masaki and Yuki to babysit a baby for a week. The two come to terms with the shortcomings they feel for both themselves and each other along the way.
- Typhoon in April: Shiro’s daughter Ao Tagami returns to town to reclaim his heart. Ao and Masaki, who met before Masaki moved broke up in the past. Masaki’s cousin Nuki is also introduced.
- Combat in May: Madoi’s older sister Mayoi returns after being away for 100 years. An eccentric but brilliant woman, Mayoi challenges Shiro in a fight but things don’t exactly go as planned.
- Bridal June: Told from Kouhei Touyama and Masaki’s point of view. Kouhei confesses to having been aware of Sanae’s feelings for him for some time now. The problem is he is not ready to make up his mind yet. To further complicate things, two other girls are vying for Kouhei’s heart as well. Shiro’s foretelling of what may lie in store for them points to the coming Winter season.
- Theological July: Told from Masaki’s point of view. Even though it’s summer, the weather has suddenly become winter. The reason: Shiro has lost her powers as a God and is little more than an ordinary human. Masaki’s father Takaki Konno, who has come to town to research Shiro proposes a plan that may work.
- Festive August: Told from multiple points of view. Masaki, Yuki, Shiro and their friends and family travel to Rokushiki Island. There they hope to help Shiro regain her lost powers. They meet new friends and things take an unexpected turn during the anual festival they arrives to take part in. Things are complicated further when Shino and Yuki make a shocking revelation after they return home.
- Maternal September: Told from Masaki’s point of view. Something strange is going on in Tagami. Yet another girl named Yukari makes her feelings for Masaki known. Much to his surprise, both Shiro and Yuki give their permission for him to date her for a month.
- Disunion in October: Told from multiple points of view. It’s School Festival time at Tagami High! The time for both Masaki and Kouhei to choose which of girl they will give their heart to is fast approaching. The inescapable truth they both accept is no matter what they decide, someone’s heart will be broken.
- Parting November: Winter has come a few weeks early in Tagami. Both Masaki and Kouhei learn there is a heavy price to pay for their indecision. Someone his brutally injured, Shiro and Yuki both leave Masaki and suddenly the promise made a year ago feels distant.
- Perfect December: The time has come for Masaki and Kouhei to choose who they will give their hearts to. The happiness they felt so close not too long ago feels so distant. As the year comes to a close, Masaki must decide what price he is willing to pay to show the one he loves how much he loves her.
…I was tempted to go into more detail than that. Out of respect for the story I held back enough to not give too much away.
August takes place outside Tagami for the reaons given and several new characters exclusive to that Episode are introduced. Masaki is clearly his father’s son. That becomes clear when he’s introduced in July. The shocking revelation in August plays out for the rest of the series.
If I had to compare it to another VN, it’s similar to Clannad in terms of flow minus choice points. August and Perfect December are the longest chapters for separate reasons. The other Episodes separately take several hours to complete regardless and yes, there is an auto-scroll feature that you can toggle off and on.
Overall, I give Harvest December a 9/10. An in-game Glossary and Sound Library would have been nice additions. I would have paid an extra $5 to get both. It is worth noting this game was previously released in Japan a few years ago. It was released in the West on Android, iOS and the Nintendo 3DS. The 3DS port is the visual novel’s first release in the U.S. and you get all of the episodes at once. Those who play the demo get a look at how things looked when each Episode was released on a monthly basis.
It was originally released over a period of time but in the 3DS version you get all of the Episodes together in one package. I checked the game’s Mii Verse portal and apparently, there are alternate endings planned for Ao (Japanese for Blue) and Shiro as well as Kouhei & Sanae together. What I’m hoping for is a sequel given the game’s ending sets the stage for a whole new story. Reality is merciless!