CLANNAD
Gameplay 10
Graphics 8
Sound 10

At first glance CLANNAD appears to be a typical slice of life visual novel featuring the adventures of high school delinquent Tomoya Okazaki. However, its engrossing storylines and fascinating characters make it a title that is hard to put down. Completing the multiple storyline branches takes a long, long time, but the excellent writing and emotional impact makes it worthwhile. The game is a must have title for fans of the genre, but thanks to its compelling storylines will definitely appeal to other players as well.

Gameplay: CLANNAD features multiple routes that lead to different storylines based on your choices.

Graphics: The art style takes a while to get used to, but the overall quality is very good.

Sound: The game features a stellar selection of tracks and very good Japanese voice acting

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CLANNAD

Developer: VisualArts/Key | Publisher: Sekai Project | Release Date: 2015 | Genre: Adventure / Casual / Visual Novel | Website: Official Website | Purchase: Steam

CLANNAD is the story of high school student Tomoyo Okazaki. Tomoya’s life spirals out of control after the death of his mother and his father’s subsequent alcoholism. When Tomoyo is injured during an altercation with his drunken father it puts an end to his basketball dreams and motivation to attend school. Due to his delinquent behavior Tomoyo has few friends, but one day on the way to school, he runs into a girl named Nagisa Furukawa. Having to repeat her last year due to a chronic illness means all Nagisa’s friends have moved on without her, but Tomoyo takes an uncharacteristic interest in the timid girl. When he finds out that her dream is to revive the defunct school drama club Tomoyo agrees to help her out, setting him on a path that will change his life again.

CLANNAD is perhaps one of most well-known and respected visual novels out there, so to say its arrival on Steam was highly anticipated would be an understatement. After a very successful Kickstarter, Sekai Project completed the mammoth task of translating the game and we could finally find out if all the hype was justified.

The most important element of a good visual novel is the story and simply put CLANNAD hits it out of the ballpark. The only other visual novel we’ve played that comes close to the same level of drama, intrigue and emotion is Steins;Gate. Although the story starts out a little slow CLANNAD is a very, very long game with plenty of choices. Most of these choices are quite meaningful too, and will branch the story off into different routes. Since the story is such a big element, it is hard to mention anything more than what we have already said without spoiling things, but suffice to say you will be shedding a tear or two along the way.

CLANNAD features a large cast of characters and while most of them are female it is not a dating sim. This is not to say that you won’t encounter any romance along the way, but many of the girls are going through personal heartaches or tragedies in which Tomoyo gets caught up. Some of the characters play only minor roles in certain routes, but are fleshed out much more in their own routes. It is definitely not a game for people who are short on time as each one of the major routes can be as long as a typical short visual novel. Considering that there are a bunch of major routes and you have to complete all of them to unlock the “After Story” you had better be prepared to set aside a large chuck of spare time to see everything through to the end. This shouldn’t be a problem though, as once you are sucked in by the story it is virtually impossible to stop until you have seen how it all ends.

Despite being a bit of a tearjerker there are plenty of lighthearted and humorous scenarios in the game too. Some of it is the usual slapstick antics that are common in the genre, but there are a couple of laugh out loud moments too. Depending on the route you take, you’ll also encounter a couple of supernatural elements and mixed in between the chapters there is also a mysterious sub story of a girl and her robot.

Sekai Project did a great job with the translation considering the enormous amount of text in the game. The initial release contained some spelling and grammar issues, but a subsequent patch took care of most of these. Although there is a large amount of text that feels like filler as it is not quite as interesting as the major plot elements the game never left us feeling bored. Sekai Project even added a new featured, called the “Dangopedia”, to explain words or phrases that are related to Japanese tradition or pop culture. This is great for informing players what certain things are without having to go into lengthy descriptions that would only bore those already familiar with the terms. Instead, these words or phrases are highlighted and players can then check them out in the Dangopedia if they want to.

Since CLANNAD was originally released in 2004 the visuals look a little dated compared to modern releases. The aspect ratio is restricted to 4:3, so unfortunately this means big, black borders on widescreen displays when maintaining the original aspect ratio or stretching when fitted to the screen. However, the resolution has been bumped up to 1280×960 for the Steam release, compared to the 640×480 of the original. Apart from the technical aspects the graphics also take a while to get used to due to the style used for the characters. Initially it feels like there is a something just a little off about all the characters, but as we became engrossed in the story we stopped noticing this. The backgrounds are quite detailed and also feature plenty of nice touches like the way the lighting changes to signify different times of the day. Like most older visual novels CLANNAD features very little in the way of animations, but the character sprites are moved around enough to prevent the game from feeling too static.

Unlike the visuals there is absolutely nothing that we can fault about the audio and CLANNAD features a phenomenal soundtrack. There are a ton of tunes to listen to, which is a good thing considering the length of the game. From upbeat tunes like “Like the Wind” and “Her Determination” to more somber tunes like “Existence” the CLANNAD soundtrack is one of the best in the genre. The game even features a few excellent vocal tracks. In addition, all the characters in the game are fully voiced, which is quite impressive considering the large cast.

CLANNAD is a must play title, whether you have watched the anime series based on the visual novel or not. It tells a compelling and engrossing story that is really hard to put down. There are some visual novels that are great for killing a few hours, but CLANNAD is one of the few that features a story that will stay with you for a long time. While it might not be cheap when it comes to its price the amount of content and the emotional impact ensures that it is money well spent.

System Requirements

  • OS: Windows Vista or higher
  • Processor: 1.2Ghz
  • Memory: 1 GB RAM
  • Graphics: 640×480
  • DirectX: Version 9.0c
  • Storage: 5 GB available space
  • Sound Card: DirectSound-compatible sound card
  • OS: Windows 7/8.1/10
  • Processor: 1.2Ghz
  • Memory: 2 GB RAM
  • Graphics: 1280×960
  • DirectX: Version 9.0c
  • Storage: 5 GB available space
  • Sound Card: DirectSound-compatible sound card

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4 Comments

  1. originaleyecorn January 25, 2016
    Reply

    Im just waiting for a price drop then Im going to nab it. Holding thumbs for Steins:Gate to come to Steam too. Would love a profile background for it.

  2. rocheckle January 25, 2016
    Reply

    Not interested in buying censored games on Steam. Will this be on mangagamer too?

    • GAMERamble January 25, 2016
      Reply

      Clannad was originally released with a rating for all ages, so there is nothing to censor in the Steam version.

      • rocheckle January 25, 2016
        Reply

        Sorry I was thinking of Kanon >.<

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