A few of you have heard me rant and rave about Saya no Uta before, and few of you really listened to me, but I’m going to do it all again here and actually try to be coherent instead of just going “HOLY SHIT THIS GAME IS FUCKED UP.” Which, I am quite sure, most of you will appreciate.
Saya no Uta is a visual novel which is a novel presented in a visual format, with sound effects and music and at a few points you are given the option of making a choice, which sends the story branching off into other possible endings. Think of it as a mix between a novel, choose your own adventure, and picture book. This isn’t to say that this format is childish, far from it (in fact the format most of you may be familiar with are ‘eroge’ visual novels, which are highly sexual in nature), but instead that you can achieve an incredible story telling experience with very limited resources on your hands. Everyone got that? Good.
WARNING: Massive spoilers to follow, and a lot of NSFW content as well.
The story of Saya no Uta (which means song of Saya by the way) follows a Japanese college student named Fuminori, who recently lost his family in a car accident and himself had to endure a long recovery in the hospital. The accident left him temporarily blind, and when he recovers his sight he discovers something odd: everything in the world looks like it came right out of a Lovecraftian nightmare. The walls are made of flesh and guts and ooze blood, the humans look like horrible demons, and the only thing that saves Fuminori from descending into insanity is the appearance of a beautiful young girl named Saya; the lonely girl who is looking for her lost father.
If Fuminori sees everything ‘normal’ in the world as horrible and terrifying, what does it say about Saya for her to appear ‘normal’?
One of the brilliant things about Saya no Uta is how they actually deal with the horror in the game. The most common way of doing horror, at least in Hollywood, is to show the action of the horror in gruesome detail ala Saw and Hostel, or to actually show the monsters coming after people ala the Ring. In Saya no Uta they largely avoid actually showing any of the ‘horror’ itself, instead giving you pictures of human reactions, or sounds, or sometimes nothing at all. It works really well because it creates this tension that you keep expecting to see Saya’s true form, or some flesh beast eating someone, or a gruesome murder, but it never happens. Which makes it all the more disturbing, you make it up in your head which makes it a lot worse than anything the creators could have possibly imagined.
Yes, before anyone asks, there are sex scenes in the game. No, I won’t say they are tasteful, in fact once you learn more about Saya and Fuminori they are down right creepy. In fact, this is the first time I will have ever said this, but I think the sex scenes in this game actually help move the plot along and actually establish the horror of the situation which you find yourself in. Seriously, it’s downright fucked up.
The horror in the game is obviously taking a page right out of Lovecraft’s book, but is done so convincingly well that you shouldn’t care that it feels like you’re reading a Lovecraft tale set in Japan.
If you have the time and inclination, get it. It’s on the PC by the by.