This is a review of both the All-Ages and X-Rated version of the game, so this is also an 18+ review. Please do not read or scroll through if under the age of 18.
This review contains some minor spoilers in the story section. Please be advised to skip that section if you have not read the game.
If you are looking for the pre-release interview we did with MangaGamer that answers questions such as “Do I need to play the other DC Games?”, please click HERE.
Genre: Visual Novel
Release Date: January 20th, 2017
Even if a season rotates its time, Spring will certainly arrive.
I stepped into this game expecting it to just be extremely long and not worth reading in its entirety. Da Capo 3 R (DC3R) was not the game I expected it to be. From music to voice acting to storytelling, this game went above and beyond giving me a good story; I was given an experience. Developed by Circus and published for western audiences by MangaGamer, this game was definitely a roller coaster. Emotionally and physically, this game wore down on me greatly, but I feel as if I got $100 worth of content with this game. Mind you, I got the game for free from MangaGamer to do this review, but if I ever got the money, $100 would be sent to MangaGamer for this game since we received an X-Rated key for review and an All-Ages Steam key for streaming. This was not a visual novel that left no impact on me as a person.
Let me start off by saying that the game did have its faults. It was in no way a perfect game. Da Capo 3 R was very frustrating at times. In fact, Charles’ route was so infuriating that it almost made both me and kytten stop wanting to read the novel… until we hit the brick wall known as “feels”. All-in-all, the game did hit me several times where it makes me cry. It made me want to strangle the MC at times; then, sometimes, I was cheering for him. However, this wasn’t meant to be a review of my personal feelings; so, onto the actual review.
From a technical standing, the game has plenty of bells and whistles for the player to enjoy. From moving fog to falling cherry blossom petals and even snow, the programming is extremely solid. Music faded in and out when needed and there weren’t too many unnecessary cuts. When you had to choose a location, sprite animations and changes were very well done. When you hovered over one, the animation changed slightly to represent that you were about to pick the location where that character was located. When the game switched between normal visual novel mode and animations, it was very smooth. There was the occasional hic, but nothing serious.
In addition, the game never crashed on me, even when I skipped text like a madman. However, sometimes the game would skip a bit of text that I hadn’t read yet, even though “Skip Only Read Text” was checked. However, the backlog worked perfectly and I was able to catch up on the three to ten lines I had missed. There were also a plethora of spelling/grammar mistakes, but not enough to deter me from wanting to read it. The menu also had plenty of options for me to choose. From deciding how transparent the text bar was to even muting sound effects or specific characters, the menu was very helpful to have.
When it came to the text, I had very few issues. There were some grammar issues here and there, but it was solid for the most part. However, there was one minor issue that irked me throughout the game: the honorifics. I understand being polite. BUT HOW WERE THE GIRLS STILL ONLY -SAN MATERIAL WHEN THE MAIN CHARACTER HAD HIS HYPER WEAPON HOISTED DEEP INTO THEIR GUN HOLSTERS? And furthermore, sometimes the use was off and on. Some characters would say “Kiyotaka-san” but the text only had “Kiyotaka”. It was slightly off-putting.
Sound-wise, DC3R was an undeniably gorgeous listen for the ears. Upbeat music mixed with deeply-saddening music was an absolutely fun roller coaster for my heart. The sound effects were also great and everything fit perfectly… except for two aspects. The first issue I had was with the menu. While the menu’s technical aspects rocked, the sound effect for hovering over something was absolutely grating. Seriously, I could have probably gone on a two to three-paragraph rant about that one sound effect alone. You also weren’t allowed to turn only that one sound off. If you turned off sound effects, it turned off for the entire game. It was truly annoying.
The second issue I had with sound was the fact that there were no sloppy, wet sex sounds in the background. (This CLEARLY deserved its own paragraph.) When I decided to turn on sound effects after completing one route, I expected to hear meat slapping sounds. I expected to hear the sound of a female getting pistoned at high velocity. I wanted moans and groans and the sounds of climaxing in my background sound; I wasn’t expecting silence or only getting sexy sounds when I clicked a for a voice line. Games such as EROGE ~Sex and Games Make Sexy Games~ and The Fruit of Grisaia UNRATED were examples that came up during my playthrough of DC3R. When going into sex scenes, I wanted to feel the sex in my very soul and DC3R’s scenes just lacked that entirely. Vanilla sex was wonderful, but lack of vanilla sex sound effects in the background was not. However, what made up for the sex scenes lack of stimulating background audio and the menu’s horribly terribad sound effect was definitely the visuals.
The visuals for DC3R were absolutely fantastic. Dynamically stimulating and virtual eye candy, DC3R did not disappoint. The sprites were well-crafted (save for when Eto looked like he was cut-and-pasted on top of Charles or when he was hidden behind the text bar) and felt very animated. When a character was feeling down, you could see it in how they were drawn. Though, the best part of the sprite work wasn’t what you could see; it was how they were placed. Something that I usually would not see in visual novels, a generally 2D artform, was depth-of-field and DC3R certainly had it. You could tell who was closer to the player/main character in each scene. That impressed me the most about the sprites.
The CG art and backgrounds also did not deter me from lapping up this game with my eyes. The backgrounds were unquestionably stunning to view. If you’ve ever watched me on stream when I find a character that I liked a lot, you would know that I make very lewd comments about said character. From licking their bellybutton to smelling their armpits and even sucking on their eyeballs, I would make it known to all who I liked. That was me with almost every single background and CG. DC3R’s art was just that good. There were some pictures that were good, but had a flatly-drawn Kiyotaka. (But I would enjoy a flat Sara any day. Hehe.) Seriously, if the artists could go this far for beautiful artwork, do it for every character in the CG.
There was only one main issue that I had with the artwork, other than flat Kiyotakas, and that was repetition. Yes, the game was longer than anything I’ve personally read to this date. Yes, I understood they were in the same places over days, weeks, and months of in-game time. On the other hand, when the text said that the place was covered in posters and there wasn’t a single poster in the artwork, or when the ground was supposed to be covered in snow and there isn’t snow anywhere to be seen, I had an issue with it. I also had a personal issue with sprites not touching the bottom of the screen and looking cut off. For a game that goes so far with its story, it also cut some corners here and there.
(Also, from here until the next long, bolded line of italicized text, you get the story segment, so if you want to skip to the end to avoid any spoilers, this is a good spot.)
Speaking of story, the story in DC3R was indisputably lengthy, but it was very good. Admittedly, it started out feeling like a typical Rom-Com. As time went on and more story was read into the game, that feeling grew. It was not until it was revealed that the dreams we were being shown were had by all the main characters that I felt there was more to it than simple rom-com. Then the bombshell was dropped: This was ONLY a prologue. The bulk of the game was in the ‘first chapter’ that leads up to each of the girls’ routes.
Furthermore, most of what I learned about the characters’ lives was rendered null due to the completely new setting we were placed in. The only real issue I had with the common route was after I finished the game. You didn’t really learn of a majority of the characters until chapter one. What happened to Mary and Charles? Suginami was there, but he wasn’t part of the [Redacted], so what about the others. His competition with the official Newspaper Club isn’t really completed either. Does he get Kiyotaka or not? AND WHY IS MIKOTO NOT IN ANY OTHER PLACE BUT THE COMMON ROUTE? She was my third favorite. -_- *sigh*
Regardless of the lack of Mikoto, in this new place, we learned of a magic fog permeating the city of London. We learned of a Magic Academy and an entire city under the ground of London. We learned of Shiki. MY GOD DID WE LEARN OF SHIKI REALLY QUICK. SHIKI, PLEASE NEVER CHANGE! … *cough* Anyway… Overall, the story was lengthy, interconnected between routes, and ve-… Yes. Interconnected between routes. To explain, when I started playing the game, I played in this order: Sara, Himeno, Charles, Ricca, Aoi.
I wanted so badly to do Aoi’s first, because she was my favorite in the common route, but I speedily learned that Aoi’s route was LOCKED BEHIND COMPLETING THE OTHER FOUR ROUTES. There was a very huge spoiler reason for why, so I wouldn’t say that it wasn’t necessary, but I had a special finger for the devs for making Aoi so loveable in the common route and not being able to have your story for her until completing routes for four other girls that I had no interest whatsoever besides how flat-chested they were or weren’t, at the time. So, I decided to go with the flattest choice first.
After entering Sara’s route, I read the game for mere pleasure. Seeing the little loli-type girl squirm with the need to pee in the common route was one of my favorite moments of common route, and it isn’t until her actual route that we get rewarded with her actually peeing herself (in a sex scene, at that). However, the game quickly reminded me why it deserved to be read. I quickly became invested with the story, especially near the end of the route. While the sex scenes left me hungering for more, the story left me with the need for reading. So, I picked the next flattest chest.
Throughout chapter one and certainly through this route, Himeno’s family ‘curse’ was the big reason for Kiyotaka becoming involved in the student council. While playing Sara’s route, the question of whether Kiyotaka would abandon his quest for ‘saving Himeno’ became prominent in my mind; so, other than her being flatter than the other choices, I also wanted to know her story. Boy, did I learn her story. For reasons I wouldn’t go into here because of SOMETHING SOMETHING STORY, SOMETHING SOMETHING SPOILERS, Himeno’s route left me wanting to know more about that fog covering London and if we would learn anything more in any of the routes containing student council members. However, the dilemma here is that if I go with flattest next, then I’d be left with a big-boobed character that I had no desire whatsoever to view her nude, drawn body.
Therefore, I entered Charles’ route. This was both the best and worst choice I could’ve ever made. Getting through Charles’ route in DC3R took nothing short of a miracle. Not because I didn’t like her body, but because the storytelling in that route sucked major balls. Like, Charles’ route story was very good. In fact, it was one of two stories that actually made me shed tears. SADLY, getting to the good part of Charles’ route meant suffering through the worst writing of a visual novel main character EVER (so far). Seriously, I would rather stare at horse shit than go into Charles’ route ever again.
The storytelling was arduously long-winded and was a downhill roller-coaster for my experience in the game. The resolution at the end made up partially for it, but I wouldn’t ever want to touch Charles’ route ever again, not even if I was paid. It was SO bad that I didn’t even want to try to gloss over how bad it was by talking about the good parts of her route first. In fact, I can’t even remember the good parts at the moment, but there ARE good points. Just… *sigh* After a Category 5-level rant, I finished Charles’ route and continued onto Ricca’s.
Ricca’s route was, though, a great joy. Throughout the other routes, Ricca was a mystery woman… a 150-year-old mystery woman. By this point in the game, I was floored to find a game where I could fuck a loli, my little sister, Santa Claus, and a 150+-year-old would-be grandma… and a Sith Lord (more on that later). Ricca’s route was certainly a ride and a joy to read, as I said earlier. By the end of her route, I was convinced that if I had done Ricca’s route first, every other route would’ve bored me. The storytelling and overall feel of her route was a fast-paced and wild ride where I could definitely feel the wind through my hair. However, that’s when the route of the one I desperately wanted to be with opened up.
Aoi. My dear, sweet, mysterious, seemingly-evil Aoi. Throughout the other routes, both kytten and I thought she was comparable to Jar Jar Binks from Star Wars lore. There is no definite proof that Jar Jar is a Sith Lord, but there are so many theories that are extremely plausible that, well… some folks think he is a Sith Lord. This was Aoi. She came up in other stories in the most random, why-would-you-be-there situations that made both kytten and I believe that she was evil (therefore, we called her Jar Jar Binks/Sith Lord quite a bit). It is during her route that you find out that SHE WAS THE FREAKING [Redacted] OF [Redacted] FROM THE [Redacted] OF [Redacted] TO THE [Redacted] OF [Redacted] AND [Redacted]. SERIOUSLY. SHE WAS EVEN THE REASON WHY THE [Redacted] HAS TO FREAKING [Redacted] THE [Redacted] SO MANY TIMES TO UN-[Redacted] THE FREAKING [Redacted]! Yet, I still loved her. She was precious.
And speaking of preciousness, here was the good part of Charles’ route that I just remembered:
(And here’s where the slight story spoilers end for the review. Please continue reading from below here if you skipped over the previous text.)
Overall, the story was impressive. There were some parts of the story that seemed unnecessary to have, but for the most part, the story of DC3R was good. Fulfilling and chock full of feels, the story leaves an impact on you. From finding out the Katsuragi family secret to the reason behind the mysterious fog, the setting and story take you for a ride. Unfortunately, there was one grievous error that I could not overlook in every route except Aoi’s and the True Route: the sex scenes.
To further elaborate, I didn’t dislike the sex scenes. However, the placement was crucial when it came to storytelling that tugged on your emotions. Putting them in the center of the route was an amazing thing. However, every time they were at the end of the route, it soured the emotions. To equate, the sex scenes at the end corrupted the sentiments of the route. They did to us what the fog did to [Redacted] in a sense, albeit to a much lesser degree and no mysterious fog was actually involved.
With that said, sex scenes shouldn’t make the reader dislike them. They should come at a time where it doesn’t feel like you need to skip them. (Looking at you, Cho Dengeki Stryker.) Also, where the hell was the semen sometimes? I can understand not showing the penis. Not everyone wanted penis in their H-scenes, I get that. However, when the text said “There’s cum dripping out of her” and the art didn’t show it, there’s a bit of a disconnect in the immersion.
All-in-all, would I buy Da Capo 3 R for a friend? Yes. Absolutely. This was a visual novel that has tons of replayability combined with great art, story, and (for the most part) storytelling. Wanting more and more out of the story was the mark of greatness for me. For the price of $39.99 USD on Steam for the All-Ages version and $44.95 USD for the X-Rated version on the MangaGamer storefront, this game was definitely one that I was happy to have read and would greatly recommend.
– No sex sounds
– No Shiki route
– Aoi locked behind four routes
– No sprite for Lucy, THE MOST PRECIOUS CHARACTER NEXT TO SAKURA
– Movie Extras are locked behind completing True Route. T_T
– And sometimes the storytelling was long-winded and sucked balls. (Charles’ route.)
Lolinia gives Da Capo 3 R a Drastik Measure 8.5 out of 10.0 (85).
PS. Gnilruc game localization WHEN, MangaGamer?
Yes, yes. I know Aoi has a huge story spoiler in her route. Give us a second route then that’s near the beginning of when “The Thing That Was Done That Shall Not Be Named”. That’s what I’m getting at.
It has come to my attention that the Aoi side story is essentially the Aoi route I wanted, but because of the fact that I started that side story midway through main game and then didn’t return to finish it til after true route, that kind of didn’t register with me. With everything that’s in this game, I honestly feel a text file should’ve came with it explaining some things. Like a FAQ. lulz. Game is that long, yo.