CLANNAD is about a high school student named Tomoya Okazaki. He attends Hikarizaka Private High School where he is branded as a delinquent student. After losing his mother in an accident and subsequently falling victim to an abusive, alcoholic father, he becomes emotionally distant. Okazaki then meets a strange young girl, Nagisa Furukawa, who is repeating the year due to a severe illness. Furukawa enlists Okazaki to help revive their school’s drama club. Very reluctant to help but with nothing else going on in his life, Okazaki agrees to help, making friends with many of the school’s other students along the way, and learning about all of the different problems and challenges that they face.
This is the first time that fans of CLANNAD in the U.S. will be able to play the visual novel. It was released to the U.S. November 23, 2015. U.S. fans do get a few upgrades with this release such as an HD upgrade, Dangopedia, and Steam achievements. The Dangopedia is an English version exclusive. The Dangopedia is basically an encyclopedia of Japanese pop culture and tradition terms. The visual novel is 1 player only. It is a pretty straightforward visual novel. It isn’t exactly a game. There isn’t any real challenge or level of difficulty to it. The plus side is that if you are a fan of the anime you make all of Okazaki’s choices. Well, you make most of them.
The controls are simple. You just use your mouse to click-through the dialogue and make choices for Okazaki. There aren’t multiple game modes or anything like that. If you played visual novels before and are a fan of CLANNAD this shouldn’t be a real issue. The main focus here is the story. We first get acquainted with Tomoya’s only friend Youhei Sunohara. He is his only friend up until he meets Furukawa. He gets himself into trouble most of the time and brings the comedic element to the story. Sunohara was one of my favorite characters because the situations he got himself into were quite funny in my opinion.
Choices are everything in the game because they dictate what route you will take. In other words, your choices dictate who Tomoya ends up with and what characters pop up. I liked that I could take a different route than what the CLANNAD anime took. Half the time when I watch an anime I am often disappointed by who the main character ends up with. Playing the visual novel version really gives anime fans a chance to see how their favorite pairings end up. In CLANNAD, there are tons and tons of characters. This is a plus and a minus. On the one hand having this many characters is a minus because that means selecting the right choices to get onto a certain characters route is a challenge. The game has tons of slots to save your game in. You can start multiple games and pick multiple routes. If you have the time you can pick just about every route there is.
Beware not all character routes are great. I know as an anime fan when you have a favorite pairing you automatically assume that it will be great. The visual novel gives you a chance to see how they turn out, but some do not turn out the way you hope. I loved that you get a mixture of great character routes, ones that are okay and others that are just flat-out bad. Obviously, the main route is Furukawa. Her route is given the most attention. You can also unlock After Story once you complete all the other routes. After Story continues Tomoya and Furukawa’s relationship.
My biggest complaint to the CLANNAD visual novel is just how long it is. Having all the different routes and choices is great but it is also very time-consuming. If you are a big fan of CLANNAD the length of the visual novel will be no problem. I thought that the graphics were well done and true to the anime. I felt that making the graphics HD was a good call. The CLANNAD visual novel has a good story with tons and tons of routes to take. If you are a fan of the anime this is a must have game.
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