YU-NO: A Girl Who Chants Love at the Bound of this World Review
Developed by Mages Inc. Published by Spike Chunsoft Reviewed on PlayStation 4 (also available on PC and Switch)
It is no mystery that the west has missed out on a lot of amazing visual novels and adventure games throughout the past console generations. It is only now that we are seeing these types of games coming to the west thanks to many developers either remastering or simply re-releasing these titles. One such title that has been a classic and genre-defining game that was never released in the US was YU-NO: A Girl Who Chants Love at the Bound of this World. YU-NO is a visual novel adventure game that was originally released on the PC in 1996. It was then ported to Sega Saturn a year later. YU-NO helped evolve the visual novel genre with its use of branching paths and timelines through the A.D.M.S system. Many other visual novel creators have cited it as an influence in their work. Thanks to Mages and Spike Chunsoft, the west has finally received an official release with the launch of the YU-NO remake on the PlayStation 4, Switch and PC!
YU-NO is such a unique experience that when playing through the game you’ll notice how it influenced visual novels after it. I won’t go too deep into the plot as I don’t want to spoil anything for people who are interested. In YU-NO you take control of Takuya Arima, the smart-mouth protagonist whose father was recently killed in a cave-in accident. In the prologue, you receive a letter from your late father with the A.D.M.S system in it and a letter stating that he’s not dead…he’s just not in the same space as Takuya. So Takuya must travel through parallel worlds in search of clues that will lead him to his father.
YU-NO is a point-and-click adventure game with choices that the player can make located directly on the screen. At any point you are able to view and alter which story branch Takuya is instead of relying on a simple two or three choice text box like in most visual novels. This is enforced through the jewel save systems provided by A.D.M.S. You’ll need to truly learn the proper management of the jewel saves in order to truly enjoy YU-NO. All together you can get nearly 50 hours out of YU-NO with all the paths and endings included in this game.
Like most visual novels you’ll be skipping a lot of dialogue to get to new dialogue if you’re hoping to see every route. Though due to the giant scope of YU-NO I found myself getting lost on how to proceed in the game. This caused me to get a little frustrated because often once I found what I needed to do I was accidentally put on the wrong route or got the same ending. Once you clear one or two routes this goes away. While YU-NO is a very enjoyable experience when it was originally released on PC in 1996 it was an eroge. Since its original release, while some sexual content still remain, the explicit sex scenes have been removed. While I completely understand why this aspect was removed from the home console versions it does feel like the game is missing a vital piece for some of the routes.
One of the strongest parts of this game is the seiyuu cast which includes Maaya Uchida, Rie Kugimiya, and Yū Kobayashi to name a few. The cast is really strong for this remake and everyone performs wonderfully in their new roles. The art has received an overhaul compared to the original style that it had on the PC and Sega Saturn. It falls in line more with the anime based on it. The redesigns were handled by Ar Tonelico’s character designer Ryo Nagi and some people say that his new designs take away from the original charm of the game, but I don’t believe that it does in any way. The original soundtrack has been remastered and rearranged but still retains the feel of the original but brought into modern times. It really gave me the feeling that I was playing a retro game.
With the remake of YU-NO: A Girl Who Chants Love at the Bound of this World Mages and Spike Chunsoft have finally brought this classic visual novel to the west. We’re finally able to officially experience a title that has truly impacted many visual novels after it. While it is easy to get frustrated with its non-liner story progression, the player is treated to wonderful music and very crisp visuals. Even though YU-NO is missing some content that has been cut out since the original PC release, it doesn’t take away from the amazing story that the game has to offer. Mages has proven once again why it’s a powerhouse developer for visual novels.