I recently stayed up two nights in a row (sleeping during the day instead) playing Clannad (which, by some strange power of the universe, is now on Steam). I have only played through one route (and failed another), but I figured I’d jot down a few thoughts. Note: Spoilers, but if you have seen the anime, there is nothing new being spoiled here. That said, it has been many years since I saw the anime, so, my memory of it is hazy.
The VN in general
I have very little to no experience with Visual Novels (having only played a bit of Katawa Shoujo), but I think the Clannad VN English port is done mostly right. It looks pretty good (as in the backgrounds scale well and aren’t blurry). For the most part, it doesn’t have many glitches. I occasionally get minor mouse, slightly off glitches (as in I am trying to click something, but the button’s image doesn’t quite match the hit box), but they honestly aren’t a problem. There are a few minor typos and grammatical errors that could have been caught, but it doesn’t bother me. It is more amusing every time I spot one.
I really like how the creators realized you aren’t going to like a lot of the tedius dialogue, so they gave you the option to ram through it (CTRL key). I also like how since a lot of the dialogue ends up repeated on different routes, you have a “skip repeated dialogue option”! Very nice. The “go back to last choice” option is also really useful for accidental blunders (and of course seeing what the other option would have gotten you).
All that said, the Visual Novel is really long and it is easy to mess up. I first tried my hand at the Tomoyo route, but then somewhere along the way, I messed up and ended up with a bad end (probably because I was trying to avoid Nagisa).
Failed Tomoyo Route
The first route I tried out was Tomoyo’s though to be honest, I hesitated somewhere along the way and almost felt like trying to switch to Kaoru’s route. I like Tomoyo a lot and limiting your interactions to her (as much as possible) is nice because she is awesome and because it leads to Sunohara bullying (lots of it).
Sadly, I messed up somewhere and my Tomoya selfishly decided that it couldn’t work out between them and cruelly rejected her. Jerk. Asshole. Jerk. This is one of my biggest gripes with Clannad at the moment. The story is too Nagisa-centric. I don’t think Tomoya is allowed a happy existence unless Nagisa fixes him up. That is just lame. All of these other girls are way more intelligent and possibly more sympathetic to Tomoya’s problems.
Fuko’s route’s biggest glaring problem is Nagisa…That is to say, she is a really big part of this route, so you basically have to play through most of Nagisa’s route with a few minor modifications to get Fuko’s end. This wouldn’t bother me so much if the majority of Nagisa dialogue wasn’t tedius and hard to get through and if the actual development of their relationships didn’t feel so weird. For most of the route, it feels like Tomoya is falling in love with Nagisa, but then all of a sudden his feelings and priorities change towards Fuko. To be fair, at least the route lets you decide if you want to end up as Fuko’s friend or lover (friend is honestly the better option).
The saddest thing about Nagisa’s route (or what I encountered of it anyway) is that despite the incredible tediousness of it all, there are a few moments that absolutely amazed me. For a lot of the initial route, you sit next to Nagisa at lunch and try to encourage her to build up the courage to wave at someone standing by the window. She is never able to do this. There is a point where Nagisa forces Tomoya into playing basketball and he fails miserably. She is told the truth of why he can no longer people (kinda sad that it had to be spelled out for her when he was implying it the entire time) and is left absolutely devastated at the rift she made in their relationship. Tomoya, too, feels terrible about it. Then the next day, Tomoya is walking by the window and sees Nagisa sitting on the bench. She looks up and she…waves. Oh god, that was so good. It was such an amazing moment.
I do like a few other things of Nagisa’s. I think Nagisa and her ditzy nature is cute (I just don’t think she is the sole person that can cure Tomoya’s problems…)I like the bakery and her parents. I still dream of owning a bakery someday. This dream was started by the Clannad anime. I kid you not.
Anyway, back to Fuko. So yeah, most of Fuko’s route is tiring because of Nagisa, but the Fuko centric stuff isn’t all that bad. I hated on Fuko a lot back when the anime aired, but playing pranks on the goofball is so much fun. And well, the little girl has such a sweet heart. It was so cruel of me to be mean to her. She just wants to wish her sister good luck and oh god, the tears are literally starting again. Fucking Fuko. Oh my god, this route wrecked me. It totally destroyed me. I had forgotten the finer details, but I saw a lot of it coming and yet….AHJLASHDLASJD
That scene where Fuko meets her sister and her sister can’t see her. Oh god. I was crying my eyes out. And then everyone slowly forgetting her. Akio getting mad because he forgot something important…Sanae trying to give Fuko bread when she could no longer see Fuko. Oh god. And then Sunohara. Tomoya convinces himself that Sunohara never really cared, but you, of course know he did and yet, the manifestation of that truth still really hurts. Freaking Sunohara, pulling that line out of devastation hell to devastate me.
Clannad never stops the emotional bombardment, but it gives you a very short break as Tomoya and Fuko hang out together…and then the wedding comes.
I laughed at first. Kyouko’s wedding attire is hilarious and it was all going swimmingly and then Fuko gives Kyuouko that star and AHHHHHHH. No Fuko, you poor thing. You poor, poor thing. Why did I ever make fun of you. You are a good kid. I hope you find happiness. SNIFF … SNIFF.
(Okay, you can argue that the emotions were dragged out and it was just intentional torture, but I don’t care. These tears are real, dammit!)
I don’t know. I just don’t know. If Fuko’s route did this to me, what will After Story do.
All in all, I have enjoyed what I have played of the VN so far. The music is unbelievably good (e.g. roaring tides) and nostalgic! The story itself is honestly not bad if you are willing to muscle through it. The high points have, thus far, made up for the low points. I look forward to playing more when I get the muster to do so.