VN Game Den received a review copy of MAMIYA.
Tokyo, during the world in which the world was prophesied to end. This is the setting given to MAMIYA, a visual novel I’m still not sure how to properly describe despite being fascinated by it. At the core of the story is Mamiya, a mysterious figure known to several different characters the visual novel follows. Mamiya is someone different to each of them, and the true nature of Mamiya is one of the biggest mysteries at the heart of the story.
MAMIYA is split into two sections: FallDown and DownFall. I believe you can choose either to play at the start, although I’d strongly recommend starting with FallDown due to the way the story is constructed. I covered FallDown extensively in my preview of MAMIYA, since the free demo contains that scenario in its entirely, so I won’t go into quite as much detail here. FallDown begins with the funeral for a boy named Natsume. Four young men are among the mourners, and your choices during the funeral scene determine whose story you’ll see.
Each of the stories is haunting and tragic, and each presents a new angle of Mamiya, the mysterious figure who draws them deeper into their own darkness as they deal with their own inner struggles. However, there is an overarching narrative that ties these stories together, and that really comes into play in the DownFall scenario. DownFall is essentially an attempt to save the characters from their fates, while also delving more deeply into the mystery of exactly who Mamiya is and why different people have different perceptions of Mamiya. The story deals with some pretty serious and heavy themes, with some parts being disturbing enough that I’d say it has elements of horror.
At a few key points, you’ll have choices to make that will determine which character’s story you’ll focus on. However, you’ll want to replay to see each scenario in order to get the full story and continue on to the true ending. Aside from these important moments, there are largely no choices to be made. Instead, you’ll be observing this strange story as it unfolds. MAMIYA comes across as a mystery story at times due to the questions surrounding Mamiya, and it has those elements of horror that I mentioned earlier. It also has undeniable elements of fantasy, particularly in the DownFall side and how that aspect of the story is set up, even though much of the story deals with more grounded struggles and interpersonal drama. Magical realism might be the best way to describe this visual novel, especially with the strange, surreal atmosphere present through the whole thing.
The world itself is fascinating, and it sets up some intriguing questions and mysteries to be slowly answered as the story’s pieces come together. All of the main characters are likeable, but special mention goes to the protagonist of DownFall (whom I won’t say too much about since that particular revelation is one of the most intriguing parts of the story). He is a great character, with his dedication to changing the other characters’ fates leading to some pretty dramatic scenes while also providing some of the funniest scenes in the story due to his personality. Yes, there are happy and upbeat moments in MAMIYA alongside all the darkness, which in some ways makes the emotional moments hit that much harder. The music is excellent and sets up the atmosphere perfectly for both the happy scenes and the dark ones, and the artwork is also beautiful, especially for the many CGs.
MAMIYA is a lengthy story that should take you a fair amount of time to complete, with DownFall being significantly longer than FallDown. There are also some bonus scenes unlocked afterwards, although they are handled in one of the visual novel’s most puzzling inclusions: the “what-if scenario gacha” system, in which you get five chances a day to randomly unlock one of the short extra scenes. Reading additional slice-of-life moments that didn’t fit into the main story is fun, but unlocking them through a time-limited luck-based mechanic is an unusual choice, to say the least.
I had many questions throughout this visual novel, and most of them were answered in a satisfactory way. Some of the revelations were especially thought-provoking and drove me to rethink previous events to see the hints I’d missed before. However, not everything is answered. In fact, it ends on a cliffhanger exciting enough that I spent some time searching for a way to unlock one final story route before realizing it wasn’t there. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, however; it just means I’ll be anxiously awaiting the sequel to see what is next in this strange, haunting story.