By Chris Melchin / May 24th, 2016
Author’s Note: The version of The Fruit of Grisaia referenced in the following review contains numerous hardcore sex scenes. An all-ages version of the game is available as well.
|Title||The Fruit of Grisaia|
|Release Date||May 29, 2015 (Steam), August 28, 2015 (Unrated)|
|Genre||Visual Novel, Eroge, Romance, Comedy, Nakige|
|Age Rating||All-ages (Steam), 18+ (Unrated)|
I love The Fruit of Grisaia.
Ordinarily I’d start off a review with some background information, maybe establish context, and slowly ease myself into it and take my time to explain how I feel about the game in question. But this is an exception. There’s a lot for me to say here, but at the same time my opinion is very simple. Therefore, I will keep this review concise so that my core point gets across as clearly as possible. There ultimately isn’t much to be said.
The Fruit of Grisaia was originally released by Frontwing in Japan in 2011 as the first part of a trilogy of visual novels, followed by The Labyrinth of Grisaia in 2012 and The Eden of Grisaia in 2013. The English localization was released on Steam in its all-ages form by Sekai Project in May 2015, followed by an eroge version by Denpasoft in August. A free fan-made restoration patch to add the 18+ elements to the Steam version was released by Imouto Works in February 2016. I played the Steam version with the restoration patch. The English version comes by way of a Kickstarter project by Sekai Project to release official translations of the entire trilogy. Only the first game has been released so far, with the others following at some undetermined points in the future.
I knew very little about The Fruit of Grisaia going into it. I was utterly unfamiliar with the Grisaia series, and any descriptions I’d seen online did little to show what the game was actually about. Any official plot descriptions rely heavily on metaphors, making the actual plot quite unclear. Keeping that in mind, I’ll describe the plot in no uncertain terms.
The story follows protagonist Yuuji Kazami (a very mysterious character in his own right, but I’ll get to that) as he enrolls in Mihama Academy, an unusual, isolated private school on the outskirts of a small Oceanside town outside Tokyo. Upon his enrollment, he discovers that entire student body consists of himself and five eccentric girls: the nurturing, motherly Amane Suou; the childish yet oddly foul-mouthed Makina Irisu; the obedient, obliging maid Sachi Komine; the airheaded pseudo-tsundere Michiru Matsushima; and the aloof, hostile Yumiko Sakaki. As you go from the lengthy initial common route into their individual stories, you learn that each of them has a very troubled past, and their own reason for being in Mihama Academy, a school that seems to double as a mental hospital.
The game’s structure is fairly standard, if simple; it starts out with a common route, and the individual routes break off one by one at the end of the common story. There are relatively few choices, with three choices throughout the common route where their only effect is to provide additional scenes for the player to watch. The choices that actually matter come later, with the branching to each route dependent only on a single choice, with another towards the end to determine if you see the good end or the bad end. The structure is decidedly simpler than other games like CLANNAD, with many choices and a lot of smaller branches and variations on each scene. It’s comparatively easy to see everything The Fruit of Grisaia has to offer. There are no hidden routes, no unlockable endings, and no “true” ending. The heroines’ routes are completely separate, with no bearing on each other whatsoever.
The Fruit of Grisaia takes an interesting approach to the presentation of Yuuji, keeping him somewhat mysterious and never outright explaining his backstory despite being the perspective character. Everything we learn about him is told bit-by-bit in some of the routes, and is never completely exhaustive – in the end, we know a lot more about each of the girls than we do about Yuuji. There are large gaps in our knowledge about Yuuji’s past, and even in our knowledge about his “part-time job”. Makina’s route tells us the most about Yuuji, mostly concerning his professional life, but there’s still a lot of details that we don’t know.
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