In Try/Buy/Wait, Checkpoint writers review a game and give you a recommendation on whether to Try the game via demos/buy-and-refund, Buy the masterpiece of a game immediately, or Wait until the game is on sale – letting you know if a game is ultimately worth your money and time.
Your Writer: Daxter
Top 3 Favorite Games: Zero Escape Virtues: Last Reward, Dead Space, Fall Out New Vegas
Favorite Genre: RPG
Recently Finished: Saya no Uta, Pony Island, Shadow Complex, Enter the Gungeon: Ultimate
Currently Playing: Metal Wolf Chaos XD, Space Hulk: Deathwing, Corpse Party, Destiny 2, Hollow Knight, Monster Hunter: World
Bio: My favorite anime is Clannad. Nice to meet you!
Saya no Uta – The Song of Saya
Growing up, I always wondered how other people saw the world, and how they interpreted it. Like in an art class, one person can paint a normal bird with normal colors. The next person uses soft colors, making the feathers fluffier to make the bird look soft to the touch. The last one makes a feathered creature with jagged edges, popping out from the background, starkly different from the others. Each bird looks different for each person, and all are correct answers, yet how we each saw the bird makes you question what is in that person’s mind. We could ask why they drew what they draw, but “words aren’t meant for understanding each other. They exist for the sake of talking to each other.” We will never truly understand their love, or their pain.
Saya no Uta/The Song of Saya is a demented song, summoning forth grotesque images of horrendous nightmares. These nightmares spill forth from the romance between Fuminori Sakisaka, the main character, and Saya, the romantic driver, as well as from Fuminori’s daily life. The world is not what we expected, and the once-mundane becomes filled with horrors only the mind of H.P. Lovecraft could have conceived. Horrors emerge from passion, a past life fades into echoes, and Saya’s lustful influence and Fuminori’s own wrath merge to carve out a new path.
This is a visual novel, so there is no gameplay–only reading, voices, well-designed characters, backgrounds, and choices. There are not too many choices, but each ending is worth seeing, to revel in the fate of Fuminori and those he cares for, and those he cared about once before.
The game starts off with Fuminori showing us his “new lease on life” after he returns from an accident. As a side effect of the experimental procedure to save his life, his perception of the world has warped into a gory, visceral mess, and he can only see people as demented horrors that happen to speak his language. His friends worry about their former friend being lost to them, due to his mental deterioration, and also over his previous love interest, who feels left out and lonely. But Fuminori is not alone. He has Saya, a girl who looks human to him, one that he understands and has come to love and embrace. She is searching for a man named Dr. Ogai, so Fuminori sets off to find him, and maybe some answers about Saya.
The story is great, taking you on a wild ride throughout Fuminori’s life, and makes you hope for a happy ending…but not necessarily a good one. This is definitely worth experiencing, but if you buy the game on Steam, you will miss parts that help build Saya and Fuminori’s relationship.
The game is censored on Steam to create a less unsettling adventure to those who want to experience the game. If the gore is fine with you, and you are okay with more illicit content, then buy the patch from JAST and add it onto the file of Saya no Uta, or skip the middleman and just buy the game straight from JAST. It will add on some brutality in the form of some sexual violence, as well as some other plot-related evil. If you are uncomfortable with that type of content, then nothing to worry about, just get the base game from Steam.
The music is spectacular, with disturbing, harsh noises when Fuminori is with the monsters, soothing yet perturbed sounds in Saya’s presence, and relaxing music in the “Human world.” I would love to own the game’s OST, as every track is carefully designed with each feeling in mind. They would fit well when telling horror stories late at night.
And horror you shall find as Koji, Fuminori’s friend, takes up his own investigation to why his old pal has changed so drastically. Within moments outside of Fuminori and Saya’s perspectives, the world they once knew becomes filled with despair. In this time, as you fear for what is to come, all you can do is read on, and play with the lights off.
I really enjoyed Saya and Fuminori’s relationship. It genuinely feels like they can no longer live without one another. Saya, lost for the longest time, finally found someone she could truly give her all to. Fuminori, desolate in his new world, was able to keep living on with Saya by his side. From what Fuminori’s friends had said, he never gave much thought towards romance, but Saya was able to find herself in Fuminori’s heart.
For me, I can’t help but wonder how Fuminori feels being alive. He is smart enough to understand what has happened to him due to his background as a medical student, and is able to rationalize his situation. But what about living through it, day by day, through the disgusting food, the pungent smells, the monstrous friends? I couldn’t help but think of a manga called Qualia the Purple.
In Qualia the Purple, a girl named Yukari is able to see people as Robots. She can determine their talents through their parts, such as radar on a girl robot that helps pinpoint the weather. In the whole manga, you never see Yukari’s perspective, never see people looking like Robots. But in Saya no Uta, we can see the monstrous beings that plague this world through Fuminori’s eyes, and I find myself pondering if this is how someone actually perceives the world. Nobody knows something is different or wrong until someone points it out to them. Fuminori knew his world was different because he knew what it looked like before. But what if someone actually saw the world like this? What lengths would they go to have a peaceful life? What if only one person looked human to them? How much would they give up for that? Or would they think the person who looks human to actually be their own monster? Fuminori is lost and isolated in a dark world, with only one person accepting him. But if everyone looks like a monster, all but Saya… then who, no, what is she?
I really, really, REALLY do not want to spoil this game. Visual Novels are meant to bring emotions to life, and this one is jam-packed with them. If you love Lovecraftian themes, this is the VN for you. If you like dark drama, this is for you. If you like weird romances, this is for you. If you like sci-fi, this is for you! Please play this game.
The verdict is a Buy, as long as you know what you are getting yourself into. This game has gore that can be disturbing, but with the censors it should be fine to read for newcomers to the visual novel scene. I would actually say this is a great entry point to VNs if you have never tried them before, as it is not too long to be overbearing, nor too short to leave wanting. With only a few endings to grab, you should slip in and prepare yourself. A song so sweet may be a lie, but isn’t that fine?
Saya no Uta/The Song of Saya is developed and published by Nitroplus (@nitroplus_staff) and was released in Japan on December 26, 2003, with plot written by Gen Urobuchi (@Butch_Gen). The game was later localized and published in the US by JAST USA (@jastusa) and has been available since May 6, 2013 for the Android and PC via Steam platforms. A feature-length film based off the game is currently in development by Sav! The World Productions/Savin Yeatman-Eiffel (@EiffelSavin).