Community Visual Novel Book Club - Narcissu

Exzyleph

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Oct 9, 2018
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Visual Novel Book Club - Narcissu


Welcome to the fifth MetaCouncil visual novel book club!

For the fifth MetaCouncil visual novel book club we will be reading Narcissu; participants can either read the original free 1st and 2nd stories or the updated (and non-free) Narcissu 10th Anniversary Anthology Project that adds four additional short stories.

This is an informal book club, so there is no fixed schedule; you simply read the novel at your own pace, and share your thoughts along the way or when you are done reading. Just remember to use spoiler tags liberally. For general information and past and future book clubs, please see the main MetaCouncil Book Club thread.


The Story

"Life is like a waiting room, except people don't leave in the order they enter."
So when it is time to leave, where will it be? And will you be able to smile in the end?

Narcissu is a thought provoking visual novel series about terminal illness, living, dying, and the relationship between those leaving and those left behind. There are no miracles, no heroes, no villains in this story. Just life and the characters finding their own ways of facing death in an indifferent, relentless, ever-impartial reality.

[Descriptions were taken from the Steam page]


The games


The stories and where to find them
  • Narcissu 1st: Free / Anthology
  • Narcissu 2nd: Free / Anthology
  • Himeko's Epilogue: Anthology
  • A Little Iris: Anthology DLC
  • Zero: Anthology DLC
  • Sumire: Anthology DLC
The recommended reading order is 1st > 2nd > Epilogue > Iris > Zero > Sumire. These are all kinetic novels, so no walk-through is needed.


UPDATE: Translations for 1st and 2nd
As noted in my comments below, the quality of the translation of 1st and 2nd on Steam is pretty sub-par. There is, however, an alternative translation for both 1st and 2nd that appears to be superior to the one on Steam, namely the translation made by "Haeleth". From what I could gather, this translation was excluded from the Steam release due Sekai Project being unable to get in touch with the translator. However, this translation can be downloaded from the following website:


Firstly download "[Denpa]Narcissu_2_Eng[win32].exe" and unpack for the Windows version and then download "Narcissu_2_Eng_v1.1_script_[All_platforms].zip" and place the the "0.utf" file from that archive in the game directory, replacing the existing "0.utf" file. This version includes both 1st and 2nd. Make sure to pick the "Haeleth" translation when starting either story. There is also "gp32", which seems very well written, but that translation is only available for 1st.
 
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daxy

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Dec 6, 2018
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Oh nice, I have all of these already. I guess I’ll take a break from the Higurashi series once I’m finished with the chapter I’m on and join in with this then!

Thanks for giving the reading order. Was a bit confused by that.
 
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Exzyleph

Exzyleph

Dark Eroge Lord
Oct 9, 2018
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Oh nice, I have all of these already. I guess I’ll take a break from the Higurashi series once I’m finished with the chapter I’m on and join in with this then!

Thanks for giving the reading order. Was a bit confused by that.
You're welcome. I was also confused by that.

The order I listed is the release order, which is what I found to be the common recommendation, but you could also read them chronologically. The chronological order would be Zero, 2nd (+ epilogue), 1st, and then Sumire. Little Iris has a different setting, so you could read that first or last, I guess.
 
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Ascheroth

Writing in the Megastructure
Nov 12, 2018
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I quite liked Narcissue when I played it. Haven't played the DLC stories yet though, maybe I'll jump in for those.
 
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Kvik

Councillor
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Downunder.
I'll pick these up shortly. :02comfy:

I still need to finish the last two stories of Holiday Star, but I should be able to start this tomorrow.
 
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Exzyleph

Exzyleph

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So I finished up Narcissu 1st and 2nd and here are my thoughts without spoilers:

Both stories were really enjoyable, with 2nd probably being the harder hitting of the two. It not only put a lot of things from 1st into perspective, but also delved into a lot of issues that were only loosely touched upon in 1st, in addition to bringing up additional questions. I can see the argument for reading 1st and then 2nd, but also for the other way around, and I think that whatever story you started with would benefit from a re-read once you've read both. Art is used sparingly, but to good effect, and the soundtrack is perfectly suited for the mood in addition to being enjoyable to listen to on its own, something that I am doing as I write this.

However, while I did enjoy both stories, the novels were also a disappointment from a quality point-of-view. I don't think I've ever read an official release with so many scripting-errors and typos, and the translation used in the Anthology edition is so woodenly literal that it bordered on the incomprehensible at times. Such a translation is simply a disservice to the text, the author, and the reader. I also found the default font to be difficult to read, but that you can change. I ended up using 'Lucida Sans Unicode', which I found to be much more readable.


For anyone not familiar with the story A Dog of Flanders, it is probably worth reading the Wikipedia summary for a little bit of context before starting on 2nd.
 
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daxy

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Started playing this today!
Is there a way to make the window any bigger? Not loving the full screen mode here. If they only use that little sliver for art, it would've been nice if it was scaled to fit 16:9 screens better :/
 
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Exzyleph

Exzyleph

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Oct 9, 2018
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Finished reading Himeko's Epilogue and it was a really nice book-end to her story. It's a shame that this epilogue isn't part of the free version of Narcissu, since it ties up a lot of loose ends in Narcissu 2nd. The episode also contained the short story "1980", which was a nice read in itself. The epilogue also offers an alternative presentation style with much larger CGs, and while I don't think that the thin CGs used in 1st/2nd is a bad choice I did end up preferring this more traditional style.

The quality of this episode also seems noticeably higher than the 1st/2nd. I didn't spot a single typo or scripting error while reading it and the translation felt a lot more natural, though still clumsy feeling at times.


Started playing this today!
Is there a way to make the window any bigger? Not loving the full screen mode here. If they only use that little sliver for art, it would've been nice if it was scaled to fit 16:9 screens better :/
I assume that you are playing the Anthology edition?
The free version can be resized simply by dragging the corner, but that is not possible for the Anthology edition.

For the Anthology edition, you can can try using Lossless Scaling (non-free) or IntegerScaler (free) to up-scale the game. I've used Lossless Scaling on a number of VNs and it works pretty well.
 

daxy

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Dec 6, 2018
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I assume that you are playing the Anthology edition?
The free version can be resized simply by dragging the corner, but that is not possible for the Anthology edition.

For the Anthology edition, you can can try using Lossless Scaling (non-free) or IntegerScaler (free) to up-scale the game. I've used Lossless Scaling on a number of VNs and it works pretty well.
Yeah, you guessed it. I'll give IntegerScaler a try. Thanks!

Edit: Didn't quite work the way I wanted to, but I'll just play it fullscreen. Thanks anyway.

Also, I totally get what you meant in your earlier post by the translation feeling wooden. It's hard to describe, but I think wooden or stiff is indeed a good way to put it. The way sentences are structured also feels off. It all doesn't quite flow the way you'd want it to. Reminds me a bit of Breath of Fire 2. So far, it hasn't made a great first impression, but I'll push through to the end of the first part/game to at least give it a fair shake.
 
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Exzyleph

Exzyleph

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Oct 9, 2018
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Please see the update in the first post if you haven't finished reading Narcissu 1st and 2nd!


Yeah, you guessed it. I'll give IntegerScaler a try. Thanks!

Edit: Didn't quite work the way I wanted to, but I'll just play it fullscreen. Thanks anyway.

Also, I totally get what you meant in your earlier post by the translation feeling wooden. It's hard to describe, but I think wooden or stiff is indeed a good way to put it. The way sentences are structured also feels off. It all doesn't quite flow the way you'd want it to. Reminds me a bit of Breath of Fire 2. So far, it hasn't made a great first impression, but I'll push through to the end of the first part/game to at least give it a fair shake.
I spent some time looking into the translation quality and it turns out that there is an alternative and seemingly much better translation available for 1st and 2nd (judging from my reading bits of it), so I would recommend that you give it a try instead. I've put instructions in the first post. After those two stories the Steam version gets much better, though still not as fluent as I'd have liked.

I'll have to find some time to re-read both 1st and 2nd, cause it was definitely a sub-optimal experience reading the Steam version.
 
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Exzyleph

Exzyleph

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Oct 9, 2018
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I didn't get around to post about it, but I finished reading A Little Iris a few days ago. Much like Himeko's epilogue, this story consists of a longer and a shorter story. But this time the story is set in a completely different time and place, and approaches some of the questions of the earlier stories from a very different direction. One one hand the story was quite enjoyable, but on the other hand it frequently got a bit ridiculous and felt much less grounded than any of the previous stories. The shorter story was a continuation of the short story in Himeko's epilogue and I found this to be much more in the spirit of the previous stories; an outsider's somber look at what those heading to the 7th floor goes through.

The quality of the translation was similar to Himeko's epilogue; not perfect, but quite readable and I only noticed a single typo.


And today I finished reading the next story, Zero. This story returns to the same setting as first 3 episodes, and tells the story of how the hospice on the 7th floor came to be in the first place, told from the perspective of the person who ultimately becomes its director. I found this story's much more grounded setting to be a big step up after Iris, and enjoyed the time the story spent developing its characters and their relationship. Like 2nd and Himeko's Epilogue this episode also provided multiple different perspectives, which further elevated the story. Zero also provided a short epilogue to Narcissus 1st that I really appreciated, since that story ended with a few obvious loose ends, and that managed to be surprisingly impactful despite its rather short length.

There are two versions of the story and I personally really liked the "fully voiced" version, which features a voiced protagonist and larger CGs. The translation was readable and only had a couple of typos, but towards the end there was a very noticeable increase in scripting errors, with many superfluous control characters being left in (main back-slashes).