49 days, 7 wayward spirits, and one unforgettable summer of partings and new beginnings.
Title: Seven Days
Genre: Supernatural, Horror, Mystery
Developer: Life 0
Length: 15-25 hours
Other Info: VNDB Page
What would you do if your life had to come to an end within a week? How would the time be spent? Who would you spend it with? And ultimately, what would you discover only to lose later on? These are some of the questions high school student Kanzaki Shuuichi is forced to face after a supernatural urban legend puts him into contact with Mikanagi Chiyako, a girl housing 6 spirits in her body – all of them girls that met a similar unspecified end. Unable to leave them be or risk the change to vengeful specters, together with childhood friend Sairenji Murasaki and following Buddhist beliefs, Shuuichi has a total of 49 days to help them pass on – spending 7 days with each. Of course, such a time limit bringing him closer to granting them eternal rest, it also begins unraveling a deeper mystery – a mystery filled with painful memories, shocking revelations, and moments considered irreplaceable.
Having more than my fair share of vile genre cocktails and none to thrilled to sip the swill of the horror genre, Seven Days is a surprising mixture of a few different elements that truly makes the whole greater than the sum of its individual parts. Right from the prologue that starts off like a stereotypical B movie to the individual chapters where Shuuichi begins his work and ends up diving into more than he bargain or ready for, it shifts to an amalgamation of slice-of-life meets drama meets comedy tinged with philosophical musings throughout. With a cast of well-rounded, lively characters and narrative that becomes increasingly intriguing as it does heartbreaking learning about the ill-fated ladies and what is left behind only for them to have to part, Seven Days is nothing short of compelling as it is charming.
After the prologue, unlike many visual novels that gives the reader a choice on which routes undertake, Seven Days takes them down a linear and enforced order. More like individual and concentrated chapters rather than full blown routes, the writing and details are crafted to suit the situation, yet seeing nothing that would be problematic for the reader to proceed at their own whims….I do wish it was more free form in design. However if that sounds like a hard knock against the game for being largely uninteresting in progression or felt feeling flat….there are plenty of surprises that will not go unnoticed for the fully invested – something the overall narrative has no trouble selling. For example: in one of the earlier chapters there is a specific event that can lead to a “bad” ending, but will happen without a drop down choice and merely up to the player acting fast to figure it out. This isn’t a required event and you can end up skipping it completely, but the chapter won’t have much a satisfactory conclusion missing it. The energetic and bubbly Mari, one of the girls Shuuichi is task to assuage is another example of a chapter that has some unconventional and organic moments that I can be sure that most players (if they go through it properly) will simultaneously find touching in content and wanting to pray to whatever random number generator deity that appropriate after reloading a quick save for the 9th time. And no, I’m totally not referencing myself as example of how much saving/reloading I had to do.
In terms of visual presentation, Seven Days does well here as it does in the overall story and narrative. Where most of the environments and backdrops are not all that impressive, they suit the general mood and do tend to give off the aura of a dreamy summer vacation the characters are immersed in. From the humble adobe of the Kanzaki household to idyllic town streets – the set dressing is a near perfect match and one that tends to play well with the character designs. Brought to life by the talented Miko, the character artwork is stunningly beautiful and even more so when it comes to the event scenes. Astonished on how varied and different the girls looks when inhabiting Chiyako’s body alone, Miko also does just as well with the other characters like Murasaki and Shuuichi’s mother, Mitsuki. With most visual novels of the indie variety having partial or no voice acting, this one is fully voiced acted. Thinking this might contain some unheard of talent, the roster does include well-known names such as: Sumire Uesaka and Ai Shimizu to name a few.
Being a debut work for the developer LIFE 0, Seven Days is just another example of a high quality visual novel experience produced by the hands of a creative few rather than monoliths that have been around longer and a little more expense to spare. Granted that isn’t the most perfect or earth-shattering visual novel to rearrange the genre, yet it does more than enough to make it a project that stands out for taking the road less traveled by many and memorable for providing an encompassing read that not only tugs on the heartstrings but also putting the mind on overdrive well after everything is done and dusted. Seeing how the developer has another project awaiting in the wings and finished with it’s crowdfunding in Japan, I can only hope that I will be able to see it and prove to be an exquisite read like this.
Final Verdict: Intriguing, emotionally stirring, and lively, Seven Days is a visual novel that ticks all the boxes of an experience that is a joy to read and worth whittling away the hours with. Never short on genuine laughs or moments of contemplation, it also never fails to stray from the status quo with quick wit and well-written scenario. For newcomers to the genre and seasoned customers alike, Seven Days receives more than a glowing recommendation from me to check out.
Disclaimer: In no way, shape, or form was I compensated for the composition or publication of this review. This is by my own volition. A review copy of the game was kindly provided by Fruitbat Factory.