Well, I think that the story contents matched its reputation quite well. However at this point I’m beginning to suspect that it’s no longer a matter of development hell and the game being incomplete but more a matter of the writer being incapable of writing a god damned ending to a story. That or it’s intentional to force us into an endless loop of desiring a sequel with every game.
If it’s the former then it’s beyond hope. If it’s the latter then they’re doing a pretty good job.
Let’s start with talking about the common route.
The common route was great, it didn’t feel the slightest bit incomplete and had several arcs that helped expand the world, flesh out the characters and introduce more interesting elements to the story. The protagonist Hidetaka is pretty much a hetare in terms of attitude but as the story progresses you get to see some of his cooler sides. As a protagonist he’s by no means bad but when you inevitably compare it to Kaito he can hardly begin to match him.
This is, at least, for the first half of the common route.
As you enter the last half of the common route and it’s beginning to reach the route splits, the fun suddenly stops. First it begins with Hidetaka getting screwed over by the enemy. Alright, that happens, there’s nothing wrong with this. But wait, what’s important is after he gets screwed over.
Typically, or at least in my case I would expect Hidetaka to rise and get the bastards back for setting him up but remember, we’re near route split.
What does this mean you ask?
Rather than actually dealing with the problems, the story begins to throw together irrelevant parts of the story, mostly in relation to heroine routes, and places the main plot to the background, with an occasional reminder that the main plot still exists.
But perhaps that’s not too bad. I mean, they have to spare some time for the heroines after all. We can treat this as a small breather before returning to the serious story… or so you would think.
In reality it splits right into heroine routes with varying length and ends the story right then and there. The main plot you ask? What is that? Is that something you can eat?
They quite literally pretended that all of the previous problems never existed and move on with the story as if nothing is wrong. Once the heroine issue is solved, they happily roll the credits which, following the trend from AkaGoei, feels half assedly put together at the last minute as all it consists of is credits and a background image slideshow and the obligatory ending song. That’s the sort of ending credits you’d expect from a NORMAL/BAD END in an average story mind you.
But the credits are fine, the real problem is how the story ends. Let’s iterate through the heroines.
First off we have Rin!
Rin’s route roughly consisted of… one hour or so of reading. The promise of Hidetaka helping Rin out in winning a competition gets bought back up, he proceeds to do so and falls in love with Rin in the process, then we rehash Rin’s arc in common route with another persistent stalker that gets shipped off to jail within 10 minutes of showing up.
The only point of amusement that came out of it is that we got to see Kaito interrogating the stalker in the epilogue. How pitiable.
Now we have Nozomi.
As I noted before, interestingly Nozomi already has a fiancee who ever so happens to be Hidetaka’s rival (more or less) and on top of that she has a scary father who Hidetaka angered a while back while doing his job. Double the trouble man.
Thing is, it went surprisingly smoothly. The fiancee already has someone he loves so breaking the two up was surprisingly simple. There’s still the issue of her father but that’s nothing unsolvable.
Much like Rin’s route, that quickly came to an end as well.
As an amusing punchline, the person who the fiancee loves, Ren, was more or less in love with Kaito at that point so of course, he got rejected after losing his fiancee. Pitiable, pitiable indeed. Or rather, why is it always Kaito that takes the most entertaining role despite more or less not showing up at all?
Alright, with the infamous Rin/Nozomi routes over with we enter the real meat of the story. Akusera/Aki/Kizuna routes!
Starting with Akusera.
In Akusera’s route we get to delve into the illegal android plotline which was left unfinished in the common route. In this route we get to see some interesting twists revealing some sub characters to be androids in disguise.
This was fairly informative and satisfying for the most part. However it feels like something that should’ve been resolved in the common route and frankly, it was fairly straight forward considering how open the antagonist was in inviting them to his research facilities.
Next we have Aki’s route.
Aki, arguably, has the best route in Reminiscence. I would actually remove the doubtful part of it if it actually managed to wrap itself up properly. This is why I felt as if the writer has some serious issues in ending the story.
In Aki’s route we finally get the past of Hidetaka and Aki revealed to us. We get to know who Hidetaka’s older sister was, why does Aki hate him so much and why does Hidetaka also “hate” her so much.
Summing things up, Hidetaka’s older sister married to a man about 10 years older than her while Hidetaka was still young. The man came with a daughter named Aki who is extremely shy of strangers. Also she believes herself to bring misfortune to others because her mother died in an accident because of her selfishness of wanting her mother to attend a parent-teacher conference (was it one? I don’t remember).
Well thanks to the young Hidetaka’s efforts, Aki slowly opens up to him and cue yandere tendencies as she slowly stepped towards the road of becoming a brocon. It was obviously greatly shocking for her when she found out that Hidetaka made a girlfriend during his school days (Madoka).
Up to here the story is still fairly beautiful, though we have a heart broken Aki it’s still fine. But well, as the story progressed, their father… or … well… you know, it was bothering me for a long time but, although standpoint-wise he’d be their father, it sounds like by family tree he would be a brother in law for Hidetaka. That would also make Aki his niece though… well let’s just call him their father and return to the topic for now.
Their father became abusive as his work wasn’t going smoothly and frequently began beating his wife, Hidetaka and even Aki. Hidetaka’s older sister herself also had problems as she grew dependent on him and only stood and watched as a beautiful case of domestic violence unfolded. Frankly I lost all sympathy of Hidetaka’s older sister dying at this point.
Despite all of this happening, Hidetaka didn’t want to make her older sister hate him so he endured all of it. Eventually one day, because of an innocent proposal by Aki to try and make their parents happy…
An accident happened, more accurately an explosion happened. Hidetaka hurried to the scene only to find the unrecognizable corpses of their father and his older sister.
Up to here it was still fine I suppose. Hidetaka didn’t blame Aki, why would he after all? He steeled his mind and decided to focus on taking care of Aki to the point of even quitting school, breaking up with Madoka and stopping his dreams. However the trouble didn’t end there.
When Hidetaka returned to the house with Madoka, they discovered Aki lying in a pool of blood or more comprehensibly: attempted suicide.
That’s when their twisted relationship began. Hidetaka came to the conclusion that because of Aki’s negative personality of blaming herself, Hidetaka’s geniality only serves to make things harsher for Aki. If being gentle does not help Aki, then what will?
The conclusion he arrived to was simple: The reverse.
He steeled his mind and essentially began “blaming” Aki for the death of his older sister. This goes to the point of even physically beating her up. In order to endure what he is doing mentally, he learnt the psychology to brainwash himself which is why at times he acts as if he had no memories of doing such a thing.
Hidetaka on the other hand, deeply cares for Aki and as proof of this, the main reason he picked up his current job despite no longer being fond of it is because he was promised the money to put Aki into cold sleep so that she can wake up again in an age where there is a cure to her sickness.
Or so that was the plan in any case. Thanks to the power of friendship (and curiosity) Aki comes to learn of the truth and needless to say, she’s fairly shocked.
As things get resolved, Aki essentially reverts back to her old personality. Namely being completely yandere and possessive of Hidetaka. This was a fairly amusing 180 degree turn in personality for Aki and it was honestly enjoyable.
Alas it didn’t last long since as a result of stressing her body because of… well, sex, Aki eventually falls into a critical condition and refuses to go into cold sleep because when she wakes up, Hidetaka could be long dead. Despite this, Hidetaka decides to go through with the procedure either way. However in order to achieve some sort of happy ending, with the aid of Kazuha, she puts Hidetaka into cold sleep as well to wake up at the same time as Aki does.
Thus they live happily ever after. 65 years after the story. It’s hard to say it’s a truly happy ending when all of their acquaintances are dead. Also obviously none of the plot points are resolved. Although I guess it can’t really be helped, frankly I think the ending was pretty badly done. At least the backstory was very enjoyable to read.
Finally now we arrive at Kizuna’s route. It goes without saying that she’s likely the most important heroine in the story.
It was pretty funny when it was officially revealed that Kizuna is the daughter of Kaito and that Kazuha is the descendant of Kaito as well but aside from that, nothing of interest. Kizuna was kidnapped by the evil hands of the illegal android manufacturer, then she’s rescued. But then she’s supposedly scheduled to be put under house arrest for the sake of the greater good, because of this Hidetaka goes into action in digging up the secrets of the city.
Here a great reveal happens, that in the city there is actually a path up above ground. However if people leave the city, the governor feels like he’d lose power for whatever the reason, thus he desperately kept this matter a secret to the public. Classifying various portions of the world above ground so that no one seeks it and no one finds out about it.
However Hidetaka does, and they are eventually bought to the door leading to above ground. For one reason or another Kizuna gets an irrepressible urge to go outside. And for some reason it’s a rule that once they step out, the door will close and they aren’t permitted back in.
The story ends after Hidetaka restrains Kizuna from running out and they both watch the real blue skies from inside.
To be honest, Kizuna’s story doesn’t come with a click. I’m not quite sure how to describe it but it felt like the story climaxed somewhere which didn’t matter at all. Then again when asked what would be something that does matter it’s hard to provide a concrete answer as well.
On an incredibly brighter… or maybe not so bright note, after finishing all 5 routes you unlock a story that shows how things progress from Kaito’s PoV all the way up to the end of Kizuna’s route. It was pretty damn fun alright but I was surprised that they decided not to put in a hscene for Ren. That’s probably the biggest reason for why there is likely going to be a sequel I suppose.
That said regarding the contents itself, Kaito apparently suffered from a disease (notably Kizuna suffered from the same one as it’s inherited from parents) which is incurable. As a result he’s put into cold sleep and discovered 150 years later, marking the start of the story.
Unlike Kizuna whose memories will likely gradually return, Kaito’s brain is damaged and doctors, even Kazuha concluded that there’s nothing they can do to help him and the chances for him to recover his memory is nil. Because of this he periodically suffers from intense headaches when trying to recall the past.
However, something contrary to the declaration happened to Kaito: he recalled a single image of the past when looking at Ren.
Thanks for ruining the good end in AkaGoei, assholes. With that said, the story appears to somewhat branch off Tae’s route as shown with Yuuki’s situation (memory in usb) and Tae’s descendant Kazuha being blood related to Kaito. I suspect this doesn’t directly follow off from her route when looking at how Kaito is not in the family tree despite how welcoming Tae’s mother was to Kaito and that Yuuki’s memory loss would be inevitable no matter how things fall if you consider the context.
What is important however is that it’s shown that Kazuha, and likely her ascendants as well, refused to repair Yuuki’s memory stick and restore his memory because it contains some memories which he would likely not want to recall. Combining it with that brief image Kaito recalled… Yeah, thanks a lot. I’m never going to look at the AkaGoei series in the same way ever again.
Sigh, how depressing. The only thing you can do is hope that things weren’t actually that bad and perhaps Reika is even sleeping somewhere we don’t know but for time being just about everything points towards a BAD END after following the events of AkaGoei.
Overall the story had a very enjoyable start, subpar ending for the common route and even worse endings. The overall structure of the story seems to be that each route would solve some of the unanswered questions from the common route but never all of them. Meaning it feels like there’s still some true end which solves all problems missing as going through one ending means that all of the other problems will simply be ignored and treated as if it never existed.
That’s some pretty awkward writing if you ask me, most other stories at least make an effort in tying things together even if it’s a bad job but Reminiscence didn’t even try.
Still, despite the terrible endings I feel that the story was still enjoyable to read. As long as you ignore the endings. Frankly it feels the same as AkaGoei in that sense. Enjoyable story contents but the endings are terribly done. That said, in comparison to AkaGoei Reminiscence does actually feel more complete still. AkaGoei strongly felt like a patchwork at some points while Reminiscence doesn’t outside of ignoring the problems bought up in common route. As a conclusion, just like AkaGoei it’s worth reading for the contents and not as much for the endings.
Judging from what we’ve seen, especially from Kaito’s PoV, a sequel/FD will likely happen unless something goes wrong in the company. There was a pretty blatant hooker for a new story following Kaito unless they intend to take a double protagonist approach.
Next up I’m going to play まじかる ちゃ～みんぐ！ I’m not sure what to expect from this but I hope it continues the long chain of good protagonists this month. From Grisaia to Naname to Reminiscence, let’s hope it doesn’t combo break anytime soon.