Amaterasu Blog

11Nov/095

Saya no Uta Review

Saya is an interesting mix of horror and romance, perhaps best described as a Lovecraftian fairy tale in visual novel form.

The premise is great, and the early scenes introducing it are simply wonderful. The production values persist throughout the entire story, in the form of a great soundtrack, far more cgs and backgrounds than I'd expect in something this short, and skilled use of immersive sound effects. The characters are consistently believable and in the endings are very capable of touching you in some way.

Unfortunately, everything between the beginning and ending is rather predictable. Though well-told, the story makes use of so many horror cliches you almost want to start keeping track of how long it's been since the last plot twist you didn't see coming. The fact that all of the characters are pretty much ordinary does little to alleviate this (arguably Saya and Ryouko are at least unusual, but their personalities are nonetheless unoriginal). Still, since the plot does move at a decent pace, never stretches suspension of disbelief, and in no way fails to set up the great endings, a lot of it's forgivable.

Score: 8/10

Polarization: Mild (+1/-2)

As with most games that have distinctly different qualities at different parts, some people will find the best parts or the worst parts redeem/condemn the entirety of the work. Also, being a short game means less opportunity for polarization to occur. Those two forces more or less balance out in this case.

Routes/Endings Played: All

Comments (5) Trackbacks (0)
  1. Maybe I haven’t played enough horror game to find Saya to be predictable. At least on terms of “who is the next victim”, I’m satisfied that most horror games can surprise me one way or another in this sense, lol.

    I still remember the two long endings where either can be the “true” ending depends on personal taste/allegiance. Saya is an enjoyable game to me, and its mix of romance and horror feels like a recipe, or formula, something that later games should look upon.

  2. I personally thought that the predictability of Saya enhanced it, reinforcing the inevitability of bad shit happening in authenticly lovecraftian works and making the inevitable bad end more tragic. One of my favorite parts of saya is that it doesn’t change the nature of H.P.’s universe to faciltate the romance as I was expecting. The main character is put into an asylum. Humanity is destroyed by aliens. The lone survivor is haunted by memories of his friends and comrades, taken from him by a creature beyond his comprehension.

    At the same time, it doesn’t heavily rely on demystified mythos creatures or blatant references, instead making an alien that fits in but isn’t predictable, and a single reference to the silver key. It’s a nice refresher that works on both levels.

  3. Now I’m annoyed I still haven’t gotten around to reading any Lovecraft myself.

  4. http://www.hplovecraft.com/writings/favorites.asp

    Everything is public domain, although his writing is quite “unique”, especially nowadays. Most of his of signature words had fallen out of common use before he started writing.

  5. Thanks. Maybe I’ll read some of this on the plane trip home.


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