CLANNAD (PC) Review

By Renan Fontes 29.01.2016

Review for CLANNAD on PC

CLANNAD is an incredibly long visual novel and dating sim that follows the last semester of a high school delinquent named Tomoya Okazaki, as he meets different girls and has his dull and rather hollow life changed for the better by them. While it seems like a rather generic addition to the genre at first, it quickly becomes clear that there's more to this game than meets the eye.

While there is an option to rename the protagonist, Tomoya, for a more immersive experience, no time is spent when it comes to developing him fully. This alone makes this title a different beast altogether when compared with other from other games of its kind. This is isn't a story about a young man and his harem, but a story about a young man and his friends.

There's a certain purity at play in CLANNAD, where Tomoya isn't encouraged to go out and date women, but instead genuinely befriend them and get to know them. There is an element of romance here, and it does play a prominent role at the end of just about every route, but it's the platonic nature available early on that makes it stand out so well. Tomoya's action and dialogue choices are predominantly friendly, with romantic choices being reserved for especially intimate moments.

Screenshot for CLANNAD on PC

From a thematic standpoint, Tomoya's development is a big part in making this VN a narrative powerhouse. Every route develops him, but not in a way where his development becomes stale whenever that happens, with each route showing a different side of him while keeping him consistent. Tomoya changes while still being himself, and in an story with more than eight routes, it's nothing short of impressive that he can stand as a fully consistent character each time.

It's not just the protagonist who changes, though everyone is affected by his choices. One minor action can change the whole course of the plot, either by opening up routes or locking them out until a new play-through. Every action leads to a reaction, making seemingly simple choices, such as deciding where to eat lunch, have a great deal of weight to them.

Screenshot for CLANNAD on PC

CLANNAD cherishes its time in making Tomoya's relationship with his harem realistic. It can take hours before Tomoya gets his first girlfriend, and more often than not, the route ends shortly after. This is a visual novel that revels in its build up, although that's not to say that it saves events for climatic moments. There is always something happening for better or worse, but its patience is incredibly admirable. The romantic aspect is not a given, it's instead earned; a gift in a sense, for investing time in someone and getting to know and genuinely care for them, much like in real life.

Writing-wise, this is nothing short of great. Tomoya is a solidly written protagonist with enough snark and depth to keep him funny, but not too unlikable. His narration often ranges from profound, to silly, to downright apathetic, yet it has a genuine flavour and style to it that makes it engaging. The prose, more often than not, reads beautifully, with vivid descriptions and genuinely heart-warming and heart-breaking moments.

Screenshot for CLANNAD on PC

Unfortunately, the biggest problems arise in the way the cast of eligible bachelorettes are presented. For the most part, all girls end up being developed well enough to be likable, but early on they are too often defined by their quirks. "She's strong," "she likes food," "she's weird;" each one has an initial eccentricity that makes them potentially attractive to Tomoya. Whether or not this is an intentional move by the writers, it doesn't matter, because it simply doesn't work and clashes hard with the back halves of each route. CLANNAD takes itself far more seriously than the average dating sim, since the story is clearly not just there for the sake of having a story, and instead tries to pass on a message.

Another big issue is the overuse of filler scenes. Characters will often have conversations that neither moves the plot or their character arcs along. This mostly happens early on, when Tomoya is getting to know each girl, particularly with Nagisa, the "first girl." Tomoya and Nagisa frequently have back-and-forth dialogue sequences, where things are simply repeated over and over again with no new information being given, whatsoever. Along with the filler text not being beneficial, it adds length to an already outstandingly long game. It would take roughly 60 hours to see every single ending available, which is a necessity in understanding all the pieces that make up the story.

Screenshot for CLANNAD on PC

Cubed3 Rating

8/10
Rated 8 out of 10

Great - Silver Award

Rated 8 out of 10

Despite a beginning that focuses a bit too much on archetypes, so that it can deconstruct them later and far too much fluff, CLANNAD pulls its act together rather quickly to present a beautifully written story about family and optimism within change. This visual novel is a big investment, but its status as a potentially life changing one makes it more than a worthwhile read.

Developer

VisualArts/Key

Publisher

Sekai Project

Genre

Adventure

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  8/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   

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