by Quinn Levandoski
reviewed on PC
Novel or More of the Same?
Visual Novels really get a bad rep in the gaming community. Largely niche and often tossed aside from consideration by virtue of association with the ďseedierĒ games that flood the Steam ďNew Releases,Ē itís a shame that such an interesting concept hasnít really had a chance for mainstream blossom. Please donít mistake my tone, though; Iím certainly not trying to preach from a horse of any height. With an odd exception here or there, even a bibliophile like me finds it difficult to wade through the dating sims in pursuit of something more engaging. That being said, I also believe that, much like with any other artistic medium, itís important to expand our horizons and avoid being trapped in a constricting bubble of what we think weíll like.
Enter Seven Days With You: The Most Precious Memory in Our Lives (letís just go with Seven Days from here on out). The buxom artwork that adorns the gameís Steam store page had me questioning what I was about to get into, but the gameís description, lacking any lewd adjectives and promising meaningful story and characters, had me optimistic that I might be in for something that I could play without having to worry about who was walking by. So, is Seven Days able to escape the cliches and negative stereotypes of its genre to provide an engaging, compelling narrative experience? As the meme goes, ďWell yes, but actually no.Ē
A Familiar Premise
If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, Seven Days is surely making The Ring blush. The setups arenít just similar, theyíre almost identical. The story, which starts in a Japanese high school, finds our protagonist Suuichi talking with some friends that have recently become entangled in a series of spooky events. It seems theyíve come across a haunted movie possessing an evil spirit that, after the video is watched, kills the viewer in seven days. After being offered the video, Suuichi, a skeptic, takes it home and watches it on his game console. Sure enough, a spooky ghost girl comes out of the screen, hitches a ride inside the protagonist's body, and starts making him work his way through embodying each of the seven deadly sins.
From there, the story exits the beaten path and becomes more of its own thing. It turns out that the creepy ghost inside the video is actually a pretty mellow young lady who actually has the spirit of six more girls living inside of her. Each one wants peace, and itís up to Suuichi and his spiritually-gifted neighbor to help them all move on. In doing this, the story succeeds in being engaging, well written, and fairly emotional. As is par for the course, each chapter has its share of choices in dialogue, and there are a number of different chapter endings that you can earn depending on what you do.
Am I the Prude?
So the story is tight. Itís emotional. Itís lengthy, and it actually has direction. Those are great things! Weíve got to talk about the elephant in the room, though. The sexualization makes absolutely no sense and doesnít fit with the rest of the game in the least bit. Look, if you want to make something sexy designed to get people all hot and bothered Iíll be the last guy to tell you itís wrong. Go for it. Make the characters as lewd as you like and drop in as many groan-inducing innuendos as you can come up with. When I have a problem with it is when thereís palpable dissonance between a story/experience that very much stands on its own and cartoonishly lewd female characters. Why are the momís boobs completely outlined inside her shirt? Why does the haunted disk have to be disguised as a porno about ďexplosive boobs?Ē Again, Iím not saying that those things have no place in games any more than Iíd say nudity has no place in any medium, but this feels a lot like Tyler Durden splicing frames of porn into random movies in Fight Club. The sweet story is made completely juvenile and impossible to take seriously by completely over-the-top sexualization in almost every frame.
To get back to the positives, though, the game really does have a lot of polish and the production values seem high. The game is Japanese, and at this point, Iíve become accustomed to a number of grammar, spelling, or usage errors in any non-AAA game being translated to English. Thatís not the case here- all of the dialogue is perfectly smooth, and I never experienced a single glitch, crash, or noticeable bug except for the fact that the game consistently launched zoomed-in (hit ďCĒ to bring up the settings menu and change the resolution if this happens to you). The user interface is nice, and itís easy to jump between scenes, go back to a previous decision, or re-read dialogue you may have forgotten or skipped past too quickly. Iíd comment on the voice acting, but there is no English dub. I certainly donít speak Japanese, but the voices were varied and got the job done.
Seven Days is an enjoyable visual novel with the polish, writing, and emotional appeal to satisfy those who enjoy the genre. Despite the unnecessary sexualization that stands at odds with the actual content of the game, there are enough positives to make this title worthy of your time. Dim the lights, put on your reading glasses, and get ready to cry over some animated ghosts.
Engaging story, high level of polish, lovely artwork and presentation.
Some dialogue and character art are sexualized in a way that seems out of place in the story.