By Leah McDonald / October 20th, 2022
|Title||Amnesia: Later x Crowd|
|Developer||Idea Factory, Design Factory|
|Publisher||Idea Factory International|
|Release Date||Sep 20, 2022|
|Genre||Romance, Visual Novel, Otome|
Welcome back, Madams and Masters, to part two of my Amnesia review series! Last time I covered Amnesia: Memories, but today we’re going to dive deep into the fandisk sequels, Later and Crowd, released for the first time outside Japan in the Later x Crowd compilation for the Nintendo Switch. How do these two games stack up to the original, and are they worth your time? Let’s find out!
The first of the fandisk games, Later, begins with a firefly outing set in a parallel New World from Memories. Everyone from Meido no Hitsuji, as well as Rika and Ukyo, want to take the heroine firefly hunting. While on this outing, you’ll have the chance to select which character you’d like to spend time with, opening up three possible routes to explore: After Story, which continues each love interest’s story from Memories; Waka’s World, a series of vignettes exploring the various personalities of the cafe’s manager; and Girls Party, where the heroine and her friends chat about the boys. There’s also an unlockable fifth route if you complete all of the above, but it’s worth it to discover what that route is on your own. Know only that it is my favorite route across all three games, and I encourage you to try it out for yourselves!
As this is a sequel, there will be spoilers for Amnesia: Memories going forward.
After Story is exactly what it says on the tin: Explore your relationship with the chosen love interest following the events of that fateful August. Does Shin learn to be nicer to you? How does living together with Ikki turn out? Does Kent ever manage to make it to London? Exactly how does Toma recover from his actions? And how does Ukyo reconcile the multiple lives he’s lived with the one he’s got now? Unlike in Memories, there are no Bad Endings here and your choices don’t matter, as each route is basically glorified wish fulfillment with the lover of your choice. For the most part, I found them a bit underwhelming, except for Ikki and Kent. Shin’s route felt like a character reset, while Toma’s didn’t address the whole cage thing nearly enough and fell sort of flat for me. I loved Ikki and Kent’s routes, though I feel like the Teen rating held Ikki’s back a bit. This is one of those instances where a bit more spice would have made a lot of sense, though that’s a minor quibble. Ukyo’s route fell somewhere in between for me and ended up being a bit disappointing, seeing as his route in Memories was honestly one of the best. Like with Shin, it felt almost like Ukyo underwent a character reset, tossing out any growth from the previous game to give what seemed like a forced conflict. None of the routes were outright bad, but when looking at what they were supposed to follow up on, most of them didn’t leave much of an impact.
Waka’s World is made up of four short, but cute, stories starring our favorite manager’s various personalities from Memories: the okama, the general, the silent type, and the assassin. Each vignette takes about 20 minutes or so, and I honestly wish they’d been a little longer, but they were sweet. I did have a few issues with the way the localization handled the okama storyline, since it would often refer to Waka acting “that way.” It wasn’t necessarily wrong, but it also didn’t really capture the difference between being an okama and being gay, which it felt like the translation was leaning more into. It didn’t change the overall meaning of any scene, but if you’re familiar with the concept, it does feel like there’s missing context.
Girls Party is an elaborate excuse to get the boys’ basic stats, but it was fun, and I am always happy when games give girls alone time, even if it’s just to prattle on about the boys in their lives. Sawa, Mine, and Rika each get to espouse their knowledge regarding two of the love interests, divulging their birthdays, height, hobbies, favorite and least favorite foods, and favorite animal. It’s hard to call these routes in any real sense, and they’re shorter than Waka’s World. Still, I appreciate the acknowledgement that the heroine has friends outside her chosen love interest, so I’ll take it.
In terms of story, Later is very underwhelming compared to Memories. I love wish fulfillment, and the voice actors all give great performances across the board, but the complete lack of any real choice removes all replay value, and felt like a missed opportunity to have some variation in how each happy ending plays out. Shin and Ukyo specifically felt like their character growth was reset, with Ukyo’s second personality getting frustratingly undermined. Toma was an interesting character in Memories because of the wildly aberrant way in which he expressed his emotions, but those rough edges are basically polished off here, and the story pays lip service to his actions but doesn’t really explore them in a satisfactory way. Ikki and Kent are the shining stars here, with routes that felt like natural extensions of their Memories stories that came to satisfying conclusions.
What Later gets very correct is the art and music. As much as I love the fashion in Memories, seeing everyone in the same outfit gets boring, and Later changes things up frequently. Not only do we get the whole cast in adorable yukata, but we also get casual wear for each love interest, and some snazzy suits for the wish fulfillment endings. The art is just impeccable once again. The game also provides a BGM player to listen to the soundtrack whenever you want, and I will always award points for a game that lets me freely listen to the music.
Unfortunately, Later has some pretty glaring issues that compound the lackluster routes. The biggest one is the plethora of typos. During my multiple playthroughs of Memories, I only recall one or two typos, but I was running into grammatical errors left and right during Later. There were at least two occasions where I couldn’t quite figure out what was being said due to the mangled wording. I can forgive a typo here and there, but when your entire game revolves around reading, this many errors is egregious. The game also suffered from some poor lip syncing, where characters wouldn’t even be talking but the speaking animation would continue, as well as audio peaking, especially during Ukyo’s route. It got to the point where I wondered if they simply didn’t have another take to use (and it wasn’t anything on the actor’s part, either, the line delivery was fine.) Between the poor proofreading and audio issues, Later‘s presentation was, honestly, really sloppy. Had this been a single release, it would have been absolutely unacceptable.
Overall, I found Later underwhelming and lackluster. Only three routes were outright fulfilling, and the lack of replay value, plus the typos and audio issues, dragged this down considerably. Even considering this game has my favorite route of all the Amnesia titles, were it a standalone game, I would suggest giving it a pass. However, we still have Crowd to consider, so let’s see what that game has to offer first.
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