By Chris Melchin / May 24th, 2016
Every route in The Fruit of Grisaia has a different length and structure and follows a completely different path. Even events that are seemingly independent of any route happen differently, such as the summer festival only happening in Amane and Makina’s routes, and everyone going on their own vacations in Michiru’s story. While the common route leans very heavily on comedy and rarely shifts to a more serious tone, the individual stories shift quickly into the darker tone, although even this varies between the characters. The biggest thing that all of the routes have in common is that they all have at least one flashback, and although the flashbacks are always important, the length and nature of the flashback also varies wildly from one route to the next. Amane’s flashback is the longest by far, making up the majority of her route, while the others’ are mostly there to fill out their backstories, with most of the route then focusing on how Yuuji plans to redeem them. Each route contains a single choice between a good end and a bad end, often close to the end; however, Michiru’s choice happens unusually early in the route, with an early bad end or a much lengthier good ending.
The translation job is outstanding in its own right. Conversations flow smoothly, without any lines coming out as awkward, unnatural or translated too literally from Japanese to English. I noticed a single typo in the entire script, in the form of a single incomplete sentence. There’s also a few small, scattered sections with voices and no text, which is a problem considering the voices are all Japanese. Generally, these are single lines that I can understand with my basic understanding of Japanese, but there’s one particularly nasty sequence near the end of Michiru’s route which has what amounts to entire monologues without text, with only Japanese voices and an empty text box. It seems to me like a somewhat glaring oversight in an otherwise stellar showing.
The sex scenes are some of the better ones I’ve seen. They don’t seem particularly forced, and they are actually somewhat important to the game, primarily for Amane’s route. Even if the dialogue surrounding them is somewhat cheesy (and it is), their presence doesn’t detract from the overall experience. More specifically, Amane’s route would be definitely lacking something important in the all-ages base Steam version, especially in one particular scene which would lose a lot of its impact if the sex was off-screen.
The music is generally good, and the tracks are used to fit the situations well, but none of them particularly stood out to me. The exception is the opening theme, “Shuumatsu no Fractal”, or “The Final Fractal”, by Faylan (also known for singing the openings for the console versions of BlazBlue: Continuum Shift Extend, Chronophantasma and Chronophantasma Extend, as well as the BlazBlue: Alter Memory anime series, among other things). Every character gets their own ending theme, and much like the rest of the soundtrack, while they’re all good, none of them stood out to me in particular. As for the voice acting, it’s the same problem as with other visual novels; since I don’t speak the language, I can’t tell if it’s particularly good or bad.
The visual presentation is unusually good for a visual novel, as well. The sprites freely move around the screen, expressing the action remarkably well for static images. This is used to great comedic effect and is particularly funny to watch while the auto-skip is active. In addition to standard CGs, there are also super-deformed ones (SD, or “chibi”, in case you don’t know the term), also with slight animation, used for humour. Even in regular scenes, when the ocean can be seen in the background, there’s a very slight animation in the light hitting the water – something very easy to miss, but a show of attention to detail that I appreciate.
If you want to read The Fruit of Grisaia, prepare for a major commitment; when I finished, my playtime was just under 70 hours, and that was me reading quickly. If you want to listen to the full voices, or read through the entire common route more than once, your playtime can easily go much higher than that. However, there’s no need to, since the three choices before the routes branch off have no bearing on the story, and the heroines’ route present themselves one at a time; if you refuse the first route, the second choice will branch off into another route, and so on. Since everything is based off of single choices, it makes it very easy to not miss anything once you’ve seen everything in the common route. The text skip is also one of the fastest I’ve ever seen.
The Fruit of Grisaia will run you $39.99 USD for either the 18+ version direct from the Denpasoft website or the all-ages version on Steam. Somewhat on the pricey side (although still less than CLANNAD), the relatively high price is worth it if you have the time to invest. At times the story is lighthearted and funny; other times, it’s sad and depressing; and sometimes, reading it can be downright stressful. This isn’t a visual novel where a walkthrough is needed – be sure to save on every choice, and you’ll be able to see everything the game has to offer no problem. This is a nice change from the overbearing complexity of others like Little Busters and CLANNAD (and don’t even get me started on Fate/Stay Night), though it doesn’t change the fact that it’ll likely run close to 70 hours, if not more, to finish all of the routes. If you don’t like visual novels or romance stories, you can probably figure out that The Fruit of Grisaia isn’t the game for you; as is the norm with visual novels, the format itself, as well as the sheer length, makes it impossible to recommend to everyone. However, if you do like visual novels and romance, I see no reason not to check out The Fruit of Grisaia if you haven’t already.
Review copy provided by publisher; fan-made restoration patch used
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