Narcissu: Sumire is the latest and final chapter of the Narcissu Anthology Project that was released March 17th on Steam. Following the success of Narcissu 1 and Narcissu 2, Himeko’s Epilogue, A Little Iris and Zero as part of the Narcissu 10th Anniversary Anthology Project, visual novel fans have reason to celebrate with the release of Sumire completing the Narcissu 10th Anniversary Anthology Project. To play Sumire on Steam, fans must have previously purchased the base Anniversary Anthology Project or the Anniversary Anthology Project – Season Pass.
The events of Sumire occur four to five years after Narcissu 2 and take place one to two years before Narcissu on the timeline. A girl named Sumire, a shut-in since middle school and a gamer, falls ill and is sent to the 7th floor hospice. Coming to grips with her terminal illness, she is filled with regret as she realizes that she never truly lived her life to the fullest and will leave the world with no significant mark or memories. In her loneliness and despair, Sumire wonders where she went wrong as she struggles with her past of being reclusive to her family members and peers. It is on the 7th floor that she meets Akari, a young woman who has spent much of her life in the hospital due to tragic events, decisions and bad circumstances. Akari only wishes to live “in the world of closed eyes” where she is safe, alone and isolated from the cruel world around her. It is through Akari that Sumire recognizes a chance to learn and live like she has never been able to before. The two heroines, who once crossed paths, will embark on a deep and spiritual journey of self-discovery, faith, life and hope as characters from previous Narcissu instalments appear throughout the story.
Much like A Little Iris, Akari’s story in Sumire initially feels out of place at first glance for a Narcissu instalment. A foreword was given in the game’s preface by the author, Tomo Kataoka, that a part of Akari’s backstory, a heroine from Nekoneko Software’s Sumire, was inserted into the story. He goes further to mention that Akari may seem odd as she was shoehorned into the game’s programming but politely informs the audience to keep that in mind. Playing further into Akari’s story, she gradually grew on me as I came to learn about her history and why she behaves with a certain demeanor in her interaction with other characters. Delving straight into the themes of life and death, players may initially be confused and surprised by the first few chapters of Akari’s as it falls outside of the realm of what you may expect. It is highly recommended that you play Narcissu 2 and Himeko’s Epilogue prior to playing Sumire to gain a better understanding and appreciation of the Narcissu characters and timeline.
The Narcissu series is known for its intricate stories that are touching, heartfelt, engaging and sad and Sumire is no exception. The recurring themes of life and death are woven perfectly into the story with the two heroines, Sumire and Akari, setting the tone for a tragic and beautiful story. Although the visuals are not as captivating or colorful as its predecessors, the characters are detailed and very natural in their body gestures and emotional expressions. Character art is top notch and reflective of the special care that went into producing a high quality visual novel. The game is accompanied by gentle piano music and other melodic themes that fans are sure to recognize from the earlier Narcissu titles.
Sumire is a meaningful chapter of the Narcissu series that has blessed the PC gaming community with Narcissu 1 and Narcissu 2, Zero, Himeko’s Epilogue and A Little Iris. Continuing the themes of life and death, hope, friendship and the strong bonds between the living and the departed, Sumire offers an intricate plot, memorable characters and a beautiful soundtrack for dedicated fans that have supported the Narcissu 10th Anniversary Anthology Project since its original release on Steam. Kudos to Tomo Kataoka, Stage-Nana and Sekai Project for the phenomenal Narcissu series that is an exceptional and emotionally compelling visual novel experience.
PROS (+): Beautiful Soundtrack, Memorable Characters, Intricate Plot
CONS (-): Some May Not Like Akari’s Story
SCORE – 8.5/10
This review is based on a digital copy of Narcissu: Sumire on Steam provided by Sekai Project.