Rating – R18
Developer – Favorite
Translator – Staircase Subs
Length – 30-50 Hours
Hoshizora no Memoria is good; great, even. With no overt faults, some genuinely likeable characters and amazing artwork, I hereby declare it a must-play for fans of the slice of life genre, or of fun in general. If you really want to know more then you can keep reading, but I wouldn’t mind if you stopped right here as long as you were on your way to play this Visual Novel. Sure, there are a few features holding it back from excellence, though they stem from what the game is at its core rather than any actual issues I had with it.
You (that’s a name – don’t get confused) Kogasaka was a child that didn’t make friends, or at least he was until he met the girl that opened his heart to others. The time he spent with her staring at the starry sky of their home town is something he will always treasure and certainly never forget. Though they were only together for a month, You cannot wait to find her once more. Filled with memories of the girl from his past, the promises they made together and the lookout at the top of the hill that had become so special to him, the anticipation of their reunion dominates his every thought.
What awaits him, however, could not have been expected. A young girl, the spitting image of the one he had played with seven years ago, appears before him in the starlight and claims to be a Reaper of nightmares. Without warning, You finds the girl’s glowing scythe piercing his chest, and the name of the one he waits for is lost from his mind. You yearns to recall what he has forgotten, but as he settles into life in Hibarigasaki, making new friends and learning new things, he fears that a memory is all the girl from the lookout will ever be.
It’s really tough to get all of what Hoshizora no Memoria is about into a couple of summary paragraphs. Each of the seven routes of the Visual Novel tells a different story, though practically all of them belong to the slice of life genre. The supernatural aspects exist to facilitate a story focusing on character interactions and relationships, rather than themselves being a main feature. Despite the slice of life label and admittedly low-stakes plotlines, Hoshizora manages to tell an immersive and gripping story. It’s not quite as compelling as a more plot-focused Visual Novel might be but it does the absolute best it can with what it has to work with.
The common route is quite long compared to the individual heroine routes and also involves a lot more comedy than the later story. Though some of the jokes are repeated till near the point of annoyance, I personally don’t think they overstayed their welcome. The routes themselves all have a common theme relating to the insecurities held by the girl they are focused on which is usually the kind of story I don’t enjoy, so the fact that I liked most of the routes so much should say something about the quality of the writing (which is excellent, in case you didn’t catch that – the translation is really well done!). The endings of each route are pretty variable in how much they relate to the rest of the Visual Novel, though I found that I didn’t mind that in the long run because they were usually pretty well done and had satisfactory epilogues, which isn’t a remark I make often. One complaint I have, though, is that the short length of the character routes compared to the common route means that they feel a teensy bit rushed; at least one of the endings caught me by surprise when the credits started rolling instead of another scene like I was expecting.
As mentioned earlier, much of the plot explores the insecurities of each heroine, ranging from some fairly major issues to small ones that are really only problems in the mind of the person that has them. This leads to a lot of the “I’m not good enough for you!” and “If we’re together you’ll only get hurt!” crap that I really hate in a story. It’s really quite cringeworthy at some points, but the compassion, understanding and dedication of the main character tends to make up for it. Speaking of which, Hoshizora is a Visual Novel whose protagonist has a strong personality and is a welcome change from the self-insert shells that often fulfil that role. He’s funny when he needs to be funny, serious when he needs to be serious and everything in between, as well as having his own personal issues to deal with over the course of the story. The heroines themselves, apart from what I mentioned earlier, are also very well done while avoiding most of the stereotypes associated with slice of life stories. Some are certainly more likeable than others, but I miss all of them now that my time with Hoshizora no Memoria is over.
When it comes to the technical aspects, Hoshizora no Memoria reigns supreme. Featuring refreshing, clean art that is an absolute joy to look at, I feel like I would have enjoyed the experience even with a weaker story. A small minority of the CGs have some odd facial expressions, but everything else from the sprites to the backgrounds of Hibarigasaki’s beautiful starry sky are top-notch. The music, while not as great as some other Visual Novels I can think of, is still very enjoyable. It takes some real talent to attach the feelings of a scene to its sound track and Hoshizora accomplishes that easily. The opening and ending songs are also very nice.
Summary – If you like slice of life stories, or even if you feel that you might just barely be able to stomach something that isn’t full of action and excitement, Hoshizora no Memoria is for you. It ticks the vast majority of boxes when it comes to literary and artistic quality, making for an experience that I guarantee you will miss once it’s over. Once again, my biggest complaint is that it could have been longer. I feel like I do that too much.
Plot – 8/10
Characters – 8/10
Audio/Visual – 10/10
OVERALL SCORE: 8.5/10 – Good
Here’s the OP, which I really enjoy: