By Chris Melchin / July 27th, 2017
Author’s note: Links lead to 18+ websites and content. All review images and content are potentially NSFW. An all-ages version of the game is also available.
|Title||D.S. -Dal Segno-|
|Release Date||June 30, 2017|
|Genre||Visual Novel, Eroge, Romance|
|Age Rating||18+, All-ages (Steam)|
Over the last year or so, I’ve been playing and reviewing the three games in the Da Capo series. D.S. -Dal Segno- is not a true fourth game in the series, but rather a spiritual sequel set within the same universe. Dal Segno was originally released in Japanese on April 28, 2016 by developer Circus, and was brought to the west by MangaGamer on June 30, 2017. The English version was released with the adult version on MangaGamer’s website, with an all-ages Steam version also available. There is a free 18+ restoration patch for the all-ages version available officially from MangaGamer as well.
Dal Segno is set on Kazana Island, a paradise locked in an unending, climate-controlled summer, with the intent of nobody there ever being unhappy. It follows protagonist Atsuya Takamura (by default, although the player can rename him), who moves to the island to begin school at Kazana Academy. After arriving, he meets Student Council President and school idol Hazuki Murasaki, his younger cousin Noeri Fujishiro, the distant beauty Himari Asamiya, the self-proclaimed “Daughter of Darkness” Io Kozuki, and the Caretaker of Paradise and avatar of the island’s overseeing Paradise System computer Ame. In addition to the main girls he also meets Yamato Tsujitani, the mischievous member of the underground newspaper club at the school, and occasionally gets called by his younger sister Mei checking up on him.
The story is somewhat more straightforward than Da Capo II or III, with a relatively linear common route that only has a few choices. At first, only Noeri, Io, Hazuki and Himari’s routes are available, with Ame’s route unlocking once you finish the other four. There are only five choices in the common route: four chances to choose one of two characters to spend time with and then choosing a route. Map navigation from the Da Capo games is gone, and there are no choices at all in the individual routes. Since you need to choose a character’s scene both times it’s available to be able to choose their route, the only way to get a bad ending is by only spending time with each character once in the common route. This can happen the first time if you expect there to be more choices, but there are plenty of scenes with each character even if you don’t specifically spend time with them. The lack of a map screen and general increase in linearity was jarring and disappointing initially, but the simplified structure grew on me, especially with how it expedites later playthroughs. The removal of the map screen ultimately doesn’t change a whole lot, with the game showing more of each character instead of allowing the player to limit their interactions to push for a certain route.
It also certainly helps that all of the characters are entertaining and endearing. At first, they come across as fairly standard, but they grow more interesting as the story develops and through their interactions with Atsuya. The one that stood out the most to me was Himari, partly because she was completely different from how I expected her to be, and she has some of the best back-and-forths with Atsuya. Noeri also has several entertaining moments as she tries to be the dependable younger sister to Atsuya, but she can’t because he has his act together too much for her to be able to.
The general story starts with Atsuya being recruited to find an entrant for the Kazana Academy Christmas beauty pageant, which is really a proxy for choosing which route you want to play. Each route reveals some of how the Paradise System functions, serving a similar purpose to the wish-granting cherry blossoms in the Da Capo series. The story generally explores the question of what real happiness is, especially in Ame’s route. The theme is well-executed, with each character’s route having its own approach to the idea. The routes’ structures are very similar to each other, with it falling to Atsuya to fix the issues that arise with the Paradise System’s attempt to make each girl happy. Each girl’s backstory comes through with their routes, and they’re all well-written and give the characters more depth than they initially seem to have. Ame’s route at the end provides some insight into the functioning of the Paradise System, as she struggles to understand the difference between superficial happiness and true, lasting happiness. It shows that sometimes it’s impossible to know what we need in order to be happy, and sometimes the things we think we want can be a burden on ourselves or those around us.
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