White Album: Memories like Falling Snow Review – Drifting Apart

    Title: White Album: Memories like Falling Snow
    Developer: Aquaplus, Sting
    Release Date: August 3, 2023
    Reviewed On: PC
    Publisher: Shiravune
    Genre: Visual Novel, Dating Simulator

White Album: Memories like Falling Snow is an HD remake of one of Leaf’s seminal titles from 1998. The player assumes the role of a young man whose girlfriend has become a popular idol. However, this success creates a big rift between them that’s slowly but surely expanding, and it’s up to the player to either try to keep them together or get closer to someone else instead.

White Album tells the story of Touya Fujii, a young man who started dating Yuki Morikawa during high school. Our protagonist is a college student who does many odd jobs to pay his bills but doesn’t have a clear vision of the future. Meanwhile, his girlfriend is a brilliant new idol with a promising career ahead of her.

Instead of being happy for Yuki, Touya ends up in an awful mindset because of the discrepancies between his life and hers. Yuki’s success means less time for them as a couple, but it’s also easy to see how he’s not handling his depressing thoughts and unfair expectations about growing up.

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This feeling that they are part of different worlds and the few opportunities of meeting each other mean the couple has many obstacles to face if they want to stay together. Accordingly, reaching Yuki’s good ending is the hardest option, asking for the most points.

Instead of being a visual novel with the narrative proceeding automatically and the player only picking choices occasionally, White Album is closer to the dating simulator format. Each day, it’s up to the player where to go, picking one of the girls (or his guy friend) to meet.

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Most of the time, the player will get a topic choice to talk about, such as “romance,” “entertainment,” or “small talk.” By picking the same option with multiple characters, players will level up that talking topic, unlocking more conversations. There are also special events now and then to develop the girls and their relationships with the protagonist.

Besides the protagonist’s current girlfriend, Yuki, he can get closer to many cute girls. This list includes the airhead Haruka, the bookworm Misaki, Yuki’s senpai Rina, Yuki’s manager Yayoi, a student Touya tutors called Mana, and another idol called Sayoko (unlockable after a full playthrough).

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By dedicating your time to one of them, activating their events, and answering their questions appropriately, you get closer to them and their specific ending. This structure is closer to the dating simulator format, like Dōkyūsei, though it’s simplified here to the point the player doesn’t need to pay attention to specific attributes.

When it comes to the story, White Album has a cozy daily life angle to it. You get to see the characters handling life situations, and it’s easy to put yourself in their shoes. It’s especially endearing how the game deals with long-time friendships, showing a chemistry that’s so common when you know people for so long.

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However, the story has some inconsistencies, acting as if the player had picked a specific choice even when they didn’t. For instance, Touya may act surprised at something he should have known, or a girl may joke about an action she never saw. These details may seem small, but they’re significant blunders that may deject immersed players, especially as the story is also relatively short to develop characters thoroughly.

What the game does very well, however, is the graphic aspect, with the characters feeling life-like in their animations. They have small breathing animations, lip movement to accompany the voices, and smooth transitions between different poses. Accompanied by the voice actresses’ performances, it makes the characters extra endearing.

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White Album: Memories like Falling Snow is a curious title that focuses on a unique relationship dilemma and how a depressed young man struggles with it. It feels a little underdeveloped for what it could have done, but fans of Japanese adventure games will likely find it an endearing title. Here’s hoping the sequel also comes so we can see how Aquaplus further developed the concept into another drama.

A review copy of the title was provided by the publisher for review purposes

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Ivanir Ignacchitti

Random Japanese games are my jam. Handhelds, RPGs, VNs and PC banzai.