MAMIYA Review – Life and Death in a Bleak World
Developer: Kenkou Land
Release Date: April 30, 2021
Reviewed On: PC
Publisher: Fruitbat Factory
Genre: Visual Novel
Developed by Kenkou Land (Lemures Blue’s 2 A.M.), MAMIYA is a visual novel with a somber, melancholic ambiance. Covering hard subjects such as bullying, parental abuse, suicide, and rape, it portrays a bleak world that feels nauseating, cruel, and real.
Everything begins at Natsume’s funeral. The boy was a little eccentric and didn’t have many friends. However, four young men he cherished show up to mourn his passing. The player has the chance to see their daily lives following that event. In this year, the world has been prophesied to end, but a strange thing happens to all of them: they meet a mysterious person called Mamiya.
Each of their stories is filled with dread and melancholy for diverse reasons. Getting to know their lives, outlooks, motivations, and the troublesome situations they face is a big part of the game. It’s also interesting how each route has them interacting differently.
By the end of the first section of the game titled, FallDown, I felt like I was a part of the group, wishing to see them find happiness. Their struggles with daily life were relatable, and even the one character that felt a little off was an endearing part of the cast.
The second part, DownFall, includes alternate stories that explain what is going on. I won’t go into detail about this part, but suffice it to say that there are multiple layers to their backstories, with strange connections that may even be a little too subtle sometimes.
Even the true ending out of the six possibilities in the second arc leads to many questions. Things aren’t solved neatly, but that’s part of the intended experience. For instance, I found myself replaying the first part to piece together any information I’d missed the first time around.
MAMIYA is the kind of story that doesn’t quite end in itself. I’m going to keep thinking about everything presented, what this presence called Mamiya was, and lots of specific plot points I can’t disclose in a review.
After clearing DownFall, the player has an extra section to explore. It offers a listing of endings obtained and a “what if scenario” gacha. While the first one is straightforward, the second is a weird way to add extra stories to the game, most of which are brief daily life events.
Like a mobile game, you draw from an RNG-based system trying to grab new pages. You don’t have to pay for the pulls or anything like that, but you’re limited to five tries a day. There are 16 alternate stories, which means even if you’re lucky not to get them repeated, you’d need 4 days to get the complete set.
I don’t see the point to this system and the limitation, to be honest. This just makes it harder for players to get them. Though it’s easy to just change the PC date and get them quickly as well, so it’s just a meaningless bother.
Another needless feature is if the player finishes DownFall first and decides to play FallDown later, the game’s main menu changes its state. This means that until the player finishes DownFall again, they’ll lose access to the extras.
This order isn’t recommended, as FallDown is the moment that presents the characters and their dilemmas. However, it’s the natural option for anyone coming from the demo, and the game allows the player to jump straight to it.
However, those are small things compared to the overall quality of writing and atmosphere. As I write this review, I’m constantly reminded of its noise-filled and dark backgrounds and its vocal music tracks that make some moments extra touching.
There are even a lot of CGs for important scenes. Though the CG List only shows 78 of them, a few others are available in the gacha scenarios, bringing the total to 83. They’re all impressive pieces in their usage of lighting and color, perfectly aligned to the overall atmosphere.
MAMIYA is a game I’ll have a hard time forgetting. Going through it all again may produce additional layers of interpretation and knowledge that didn’t click the first time around. It’s a dive into a depressive, sorrowful and mad world that breaks people, one that I can even see myself coming back to from time to time.
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