If I had made a list of my “most hyped localized yuri visual novels of 2016” then the following one would have been on the top of it. Question now is after having played it, was it worth the hype? Let us take a look at Liar-soft‘s Kindred Spirits on the Roof, published by Mangagamer.
WARNING! This game contains strong language and uncensored love scenes between lesbians. This review will not feature risque images so it is safe for work.
Alternate Title: Okujou no Yurirei-san
Genres: Romance, School Life, Yuri, Visual Novel
Themes: Ghosts, Exploration of Homosexuality
Length: Medium (Between 25-30 hours)
Objectionable Content: High (Contains uncensored love scenes)
Kokonotsuboshi Girls’ Academy of Commerce, a school built on the site of an old castle, known as “Shirojo.” Toomi Yuna spends her time here on her own, until one day her lunch on the roof is suddenly interrupted by a pair of ghosts.
Enoki Sachi, who died in an accident before the war, and Nagatani Megumi, who died of illness thirty years ago. These “kindred spirits” died with unrequited feelings in their hearts, met, and fell in love. They hold an ardent wish to experience their “first time” together before their eternal rest.
…But they don’t know how.
The two haunting spirits enlist Yuna to help them foster more “yuri” couples at the school, to assist girls struggling with their hidden feelings, and with the hope that their successes will help them glean the insight they need.
Before getting to the meat of the review let us go over some nitpicks that do not detract from the overall game but are worth keeping in mind.
- First, the soundtrack, while pretty good, especially the OP and ED, is limited, meaning that some tunes will be repeated several times throughout the game. More tunes are introduced as the game progresses but for a game this big it could have used a few more tunes.
- Second, while the game’s voice cast is excellent (to the point that some of them fooled me into thinking they were A Kiss for the Petals alumni), even the “squeaky” ones, there are many scenes in the game that are not voiced. It is kind of like playing a localized JRPG that contains cutscenes not voiced in English. Something like that. The bright side is that the scenes that are voiced are that much more important, from character development, extra fun moments and…”those scenes”.
- Third, it may be because of my laptop being full but there were a few occasions the speed went down, like a game that runs on 60 FPS dropping to 50 FPS. It did not happen very often so no big deal.
And that pretty much does it for my nitpicks. I will not beat around the bush and say it right away. After finishing the main story I can confidently declare Kindred Spirits on the Roof as being one of the best yuri visual novels I have ever “plread” (play-read since this a visual novel and all), and I have played several. This game is essentially a story about several young adult women being in love with other women and somehow making their wishes come true on their respective journeys to the gates of…”the promised land” and then having gained enough courage, joy with, trust in and love for one another that they would be ready to open the gates and enter “the promised land” known as yuritopia.
The beauty of how each of the stories is presented/played out is that while they are all chock full of cuteness and fluffiness, the relationships can be taken seriously. They are not simple romances that are formed in less than a week or a day. They take time. Even though some of the ladies’ love are somewhat reciprocated quicker than others, that does not automatically mean their quest had ended. Far from it. Both ladies in love and love interests have personal and social challenges to overcome, such as social anxiety, self-esteem the “I am gay…?” and the “being in a lesbian relationship isn’t easy” dilemmas to name a few. To some “plreaders” a couple of these challenges/obstacles may not seem like big deals and can be easily overcome but for others who can empathize with these cute and sexy lasses it is understandable how their personal mountains cannot be easily conquered by any means. The “but we’re both girls” yuri genre trope comes up often in the stories but the way they are tackled each time is commendable. The girls notice their love but do not live in a secluded bubble. Basically the writing is great, creating a well done balance between believable and realism with the drama not going overboard…or at least close enough. Yes, even what happens during the month of October is well handled.
Next up is the gameplay and what better place to start than the Planner. The plot progresses in the following way. The story takes place during different days in a span of seven in-game months. Teddy bear icons indicate main story chapters with Yuna being the central protagonist and the bulk of the story being narrated from her perspective, occasionally switching between Sachi and Megumi. When all the chapters in that month are completed, cherries pop up indicating events centered around the girls the leading ladies met during that month. For example, Yuna and the ghosts meet Seina and Umi in the month of May. That means when the main story chapters are done the cherries pop up focusing on either Seina or Umi during different days of the same month. When all the cherry events had been viewed, the next month begins. There are cherry chapters that take place on the same day as a teddy chapter. This means the “plreader” will see some events happen twice. The bright side is that during the second viewing it will be from another girl’s perspective. For example, Yuna bumps into Kiri in one of the teddy chapters and we see it from her perspective. The second time we view that same event in Kiri’s cherry chapter on the same day it will be from Kiri’s perspective, providing a different experience. Also there are additional scenes before and after the girls bump into Yuna, so basically transitions or segues, whichever the reader prefers. This means that every girl gets a chance to narrate, the ones in love, the love interests and Yuna’s brahs. The headphones on the top right are the sound test and the CGs are unlocked as the story progresses. So yes, thumbs up for chapter selects!
There are vintage visual novel multiple choice moments. Their main purpose are to get the best ending and unlocking extra (apple) chapters after finishing the final chapter in the month of November.The game is linear though there are brief moments of branching paths when the “plreader” gets to pick which girl to check out first during the cherry chapters. The above mentioned game length is an estimate. It all depends on how fast “plreaders” are. A reasonable estimate is that the game is between 25-30 hours long. I personally clocked in at 51 (excluding the extra events) because I wanted to savor every single moment.
Kindred Spirits’ art style can be best described as charming and tranquil. It has a special charm that makes it stand out. It is difficult to describe but seeing the character designs and especially the CGs (even “those”) calms my mind.
There are several pairings in the game, seven in total. Besides the “Ghostly Duo” there are also the “Wild X Order”, the “Veterans” and “Student X Teacher” (which understandably can be a touchy pairing for some) pairings to name some of them. As previously mentioned all of the pairings are well written (even the last one mentioned). There is a favorite for most yuri fans. As long as the “plreader” is not picky then this game is a yuri goldmine. Speaking of…
There has been a long running controversy regarding sex scenes in story driven visual novels. Not counting eroge because they are obviously that kind of game’s main attraction. Anyway I would argue that the ones featured in Kindred Spirits are justified. See, the love scenes are very simple. Apart from the veteran duo everyone else are “beginners” and the love scenes reflect this. This means no rough stuff. It is all simple and clean lovemaking. Surprisingly in spite of the simplicity the love scenes are still well done in exhibiting a sweet blend of pure passion, exhilaration and steamy goodness. Oh and the conversations between lovers when taking a break from pleasuring each other ranges from adorable to hilarious, especially one in particular that made my jaw drop. Simple yet magical.
Overall, Kindred Spirits on the Roof is by no means perfect but in the end “perfection” is a subjective term. Despite the limited soundtrack, some cutscenes not being voiced and very minor frame drops I had an amazing week playing this title and experienced so many different emotions throughout along with some unexpected surprise moments. I firmly stand by my words that this is one of the best yuri visual novels I have ever “plread”. This is a MUST OWN for any yuri fan who is not picky in what kind of couples they want to see. As for everyone else…if you do not like yuri, this game is not for you.
Learn more about the girls by going here.