Monday, 15 September 2014

Review: planetarian ~the reverie of a little planet~ (PC)

As the 10th anniversary of the original Japanese release for planetarian ~the reverie of a little planet~ approached, Sekai Project have brought the VisualArts/Key classic to Steam. Does the Visual Novel still hold up a decade later & hold its own against more modern offerings? Why don't you come to the planetarium and find out...

Its safe to say that a visual novel's story is integral to how well the overall package will turn out, so as always when I review a VN I'll be looking to give a broad overview on the story to avoid spoilers so things are fresh for your playthrough of the title. The story here sees the protagonist stumbling upon what he believes to be a military installation, as he looks for items of value in the ruins of a city. In this future, humanity has destroyed itself and the machines built to wage this war have now turned on their former masters - making cities dangerous, but lucrative for 'Junkers'. Upon searching the building, your startled by the host of what you later find to be a planetarium, Yumemi. She appears to be all that's left of life in the city, as she awakens from her charging station for a week once a year to await customers that will never come. After being promised a special presentation and finding the projector to not be working properly, you decide to spend a few days at the planetarium to put your meagre mechanic skills to work to try and fix the projector. The protagonist has never seen the stars afterall due to the fallout and constant rain caused by the war. During this time Yumemi spends her time at the entrance practising her introductions ("Why don't you come to the planetarium? The beautiful twinkling of eternity that will never fade, no matter what. All the stars in the sky are waiting for you." This will be ingrained into your memory by the end of the story) During this time you become less annoyed by Yumemi as the protagonist gets used to her company, and after a few days the projector is finally at a working state and Yunemi revels in taking up her professional duties for the upcoming projection.
...and that's where I'm going to end the overview as the rest of the story I'll leave for you to sample yourself. The second half of the story from the projection onwards is much more involving, and I wouldn't really want to spoil things for those interested so far. Except I'm going to make mention of the end though, which is an emotional crescendo. You'll have an inkling of whats coming, even with the game instilling hope to the contrary on occasion, but its so superbly executed and it uses the fondness for Yumemi that's been built up over the story to hit hard. I cried. I'm not ashamed to admit it. What helps with the sharp writing is the fact that the game is actually a kinetic novel. This means there is no interactivity from the player to decide the story's path as there's only a singular route the story will take & one ending. This would be an issue usually of course, but thankfully the runtime for the story comes in at just under 3 hours. If completed in a couple of sittings, then the fact there's no interaction doesn't have the time to hamper your enjoyment of the story. These two things do impact the novels replayability, as a singular route means there's nothing else to see and the short runtime means there's no long haul. still, the story is written well enough that a return to sample it again isn't off the cards entirely. Getting to the end of the story rewards you with a CG gallery & the option of listening to the games soundtrack.
Considering the age of the visual novel in question, its presentation has held up surprisingly well. There doesn't seem to be any improvements given that the release coincides with the 10th anniversary of the games launch in Japan though. Still, It doesn't really need any. The CG's are still sharp and well detailed, with some animated to give the title a little extra to keep one entertained, and the colour palette used keeps the atmosphere in check. The moe styling of Yumemi may seem a little at odds with the rest of the presentation at first, but as the story unfolds it becomes perfectly suitable to her character. Yumemi's cheerful naivety at odds with the bleak & decaying renmants of civilisation around her. Thankfully, the quirky expressions that tend to come with moe aren't to be found here as the game keeps its serious hat on. Seen as Yumemi is the focal point of the narrative, its no surprise to see her well animated with quite a few expressions for different situations. There's also full voice acting for the entire story, not just for Yumemi either as the protagonist is also voiced. Those hoping for a full localisation may be a little disappointed though as only Japanese audio is available. The games music keeps up the good work started by the voice acting, offering up an extra layer of atmosphere and carrying the emotion of some scenes. Its a well rounded package here and each aspect of the games presentation compliments the story as it unfolds.
Whilst the fact this title is a kinetic novel meaning replayability isn't at an all time high, like any good movie or book, you'll find yourself returning on occasion to sample the games superbly emotional narrative. The presentation offering animated CG's & full voice acting gives the title a premium feel which belies its age, and Its safe to say that on the visual novel's 10th anniversary, its able to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with the best visual novels of recent years. If your a fan of Visual Novel's and have yet to sample this games story, theres never been a better time to try this classic.


Who Should Buy This?
  • Visual Novel fans
  • Those looking for an emotional journey
  • If you want a story that's worth the asking price
  • A short, tightly woven package is more your thing
Who Should Avoid?
  • You don't like Visual Novels
  • You'd prefer a more light-hearted affair
  • Prefer ,multiple paths & endings to your VN's
  • Emotion!? Bah..Whats that?

Review Copy provided by Sekai Project
Steam Store [LINK]


  1. Thanks for taking the time to review this ^-^

  2. Great review Geoff, personally Im not a fan of kinetic novels as I do like to interact with the charachters and make choices throughout. I may or may not pick this one up, just not sure.

  3. Thats the only issue I had to be honest, but once you've spent a little time with it then it does grow on you. I was skeptical at first, but kinetic novels do have a great chance of providing a brilliant story due to being focused. It would've been nice to have the odd interaction on a New Game+ to offer "What If" endings, but to be honest the narrative is superb the way it is & I'll probably return to sample it again in the near future