Narcissu: Zero is the beautiful and highly emotional origin story of how the seventh floor came to be in Stage-Nana’s popular Narcissu visual novel series. Narcissu is a series of short kinetic visual novels that touch on important themes such as life, death, and proof of existence. Similar to the previous entry in the series the Steam version of Zero is a DLC that requires you to have the base game Narcissu 10th Anniversary Anthology Project to play. The Anthology Project has brought us all of the titles in the series which were previously only available in Japan including Narcissu: Zero which was the final game in the original Japanese version of the series. The game was added to Steam early August 2016 as a DLC for the Narcissu Anthology Project. Though it was the final game in the original series there will be one new addition to the Steam version of the series titled Sumire.
Narcissu: Zero takes place in a fictional Japanese setting during the 1970s before the creation of the seventh floor. During this time a young boy skips school to help at his family’s senior citizen home but he ends up be held back a year as a result. He meets a girl named Kusaka who was held back as well due to her poor health and they both decide to encourage each other to attend school more often. As time goes on he and Kusaka grow very close and Kusaka begins helping him out at the senior citizen home. The two of them begin to keep an exchange diary together and they continue to help each other if one of them misses a class. Their days together are carefree and it becomes natural for Kusaka to cook for the people at the senior citizen home but as time goes on they must decide what to do after high school. He decides to become a doctor for Kusaka’s sake and day by day he continues to work hard to achieve his goal. The events in Narcissu: Zero lead up to the creation of the seventh floor hospice where the characters of Narcissu 1st and 2nd spend many of their days. You will never look at the seventh floor the same way again after discovering the beautiful and tragic story behind its origin.
Narcissu: Zero has some of the most beautiful graphics of any of the titles in the series as they are both simple and vibrant. The graphics pull together the simplicity of the very first Narcissu and the vibrant coloring of A Little Iris. The game contains many unique images that show off the characters and their surroundings in beautiful detail and they are not reused too often. The characters proportions and general appearances are more natural than characters in the previous title A Little Iris. The backgrounds depict a quiet and peaceful time in a fictional 1970s Japanese setting that fits the story. All of the graphics together help to further set the tone for this tragic and beautiful story. The graphics are accompanied by a beautiful soundtrack that keeps up with the emotions of the story. The graphics and soundtrack are both as powerful as the amazing and emotional story and add greatly to the quality of the game.
Narcissu: Zero is an impactful and important part of the Narcissu series that clarifies in greater depth how the seventh floor and its rules came to be. Similar to the rest of the games in the series it features a high quality story that ties into the themes of living and dying through the eyes of fictional characters. The graphics and soundtrack are some of the best in the series and contribute greatly to the quality of the game. If you enjoyed Narcissu 1st and 2nd then you might not want to miss out on the tragic and beautiful origin story of the seventh floor hospice. I highly recommend Narcissu: Zero to visual novel fans especially those who enjoyed the original Narcissu.
Second Thoughts: (Solomon Lee)
Narcissu: Zero is a true return to the heartwarming plot and touching characters I’ve come to expect from the Narcissu series. Where A Little Iris took the series in a different direction that felt much more tragic and dark, Zero brings me back to the compelling experiences I first had with the original Narcissu and Narcissu: Side 2nd. It is wonderful to witness the maturity and growth of the characters as they persevere through friendship, struggles, disappointment and sadness and how their story is intertwined with other prominent characters from the Narcissu timeline. The soundtrack brings back memories with the Lamune 79 and the main Narcissus theme that sets the musical tone and atmosphere for not only Zero but the entire Narcissu series. The Afterword by series creator Tomo Kataoka gives fans a brief insight in the thought process and creativity behind Zero as well as a few surprises along the way. Zero is another exceptional Narcissu game with a lot of heart and one that will not disappoint fans as they eagerly await the release of Sumire in the near future.
PROS (+): Beautiful Story, Colorful Art, Emotional Soundtrack
CONS (-): You might cry whenever you think of the game
This review is based on a purchased digital copy of Narcissu: Zero DLC on Steam.