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Saturday, May 14, 2016

Narcissu 3: Sad Swording Forever


So I mentioned recently that I've come in as an editor on the latter half of the Narcissu series, from the creator of Ame no Marginal, as part of the 10th anniversary release. Now, I know Narcissu has a heck of a fan base, but I was not terribly versed in what exactly it was. So we had a sit-down in Sekai Project chat where it was explained to the newbies on the team what exactly this series is about.

Wow, what a doozy of a back story.

If you're not familiar with what Narcissu is, you can hop over to Steam and grab the first two games to get yourself caught up. In short, it's about people who die, and how they live. There are definitely recurring characters and settings, but... the thing is...? I'm here to talk about the third game, and short of the epilogue (which is practically a separate game in itself), none of those characters shows up in the third game.

I wandered into Narcissu 3rd (now titled A Little Iris) feeling extremely confused. I'd been told stories of a hospital and a cast of characters and a seventh floor and terminal illnesses, but I was met instead with a fairy-tale quasi-medieval setting and a little girl named Iris (a name that loves to follow me across my various writing projects) who goes from being a sheltered princess to a sheltered prisoner. Before she begins learning to fight for her life because people want this little girl dead.

In retrospect, there are plenty of Narcissu themes present in this third installment: impending death (albeit from assassination rather than illness), the effect that impending death has on one's personality and choices, and the juxtaposition of those different effects. I won't say too much about the second half of the game, save that Iris teams up with another person and their philosophies on what's left of life are similar in some ways but strikingly different in others.

As dark as it was, and as often as that would hang over me while I worked on it, I do enjoy this. I mean, for one thing, I like swords and medieval stuff, and I got to actually use some swordfighting terminology during the editing process. (To be fair, I'd just picked up fencing at the time.) It's also a surprisingly vast story. Iris may be the central character, but we spend some time with another in the second half. That's all I'll say.

If you're a Narcissu fan, you're probably going to be a bit bewildered at first because on the surface it has nothing to do with anything. But as you push forward, you'll notice recurring themes. Make sure you're already in a good mood when you're playing any Narcissu game, though. Kinda like if you choose to watch Fire Walk with Me or something. They're good, but they'll walk you through the downer places, so probably don't be down when you start. Let Iris bear the brunt of that.

Narcissu ~ A Little Iris is now available on Steam.