This is a difficult game series to write about, mostly because Umineko was a social experience. Me and a friend played them as they came out after discovering 07th Expansion had already done 3 of them. I had no idea, since the only series I knew of was Higurashi. So when I stumbled upon it, and very eagerly told my friend, we got on-board.
Umineko was a big fever, which I’m sure outsiders and people that didn’t experience it can’t understand because you had to have been there. There were forums filled with over 1000 pages discussing theories each time a new chapter came out, dissecting what was said and how it was said. Everything got turned over, discussions and very incensed arguing happened over theories. Me and my friend discussed theories and watched those forums talk, I’m a bit shy and I had no idea what to say, but I was there and reading and involved, even if it was in a more faraway way.
So it’s hard to speak about these games, they have a lot of nostalgia and memories outside of them but related to it.
I can tell you it was fun, and it felt like a community was born because of these games and theories, because it was and I felt really sad when Umineko finally finished and everyone went away.
But I’m here to be honest, brutally so, and I’ll say I was not as enamored of this series as I was with Higurashi. In fact, I only played EP7 when 8, and final, came out because I felt I had to have closure after years of waiting.
Mostly, I think Umineko suffers from some pacing issues. Much as I like Ryuukishi’s trolling, it also felt after EP4, everything got more annoying and out there just to mess with us. I’m sure lots loved how much he criticized and trolled us, but I felt my interest wan heavily after EP6, to the point I wasn’t sure if I was going to conclude the game. I just wanted the mysteries to be over with, because 6 and 7 were huge drags, slow and felt like they were there just to fill in space.
I’ll say the first arc, the 4 game episodes, were superb and I loved the fighting between Battler and Beato. Higurashi and Umineko drew me in because of the mysteries, which I kept guessing but didn’t get right which made me really happy. But the second arc, the other 4 game episodes, were centered around the fantasy side of things, and to me, it fell flat and boring. It was never why I was lured in to the series, and I found my interest waning and since then I haven’t felt like playing another 07th Expansion game 😅
I played Higanbana First Night, which was indeed nice, but, maybe it’s nostalgia speaking, I was craving more stories like Higurashi. Higurashi was why I fell in love with them, I understand their need to expand beyond that, but Higanbana also focused more on the fantasy side of the things. Plus it was pretty depressive.
I’ll always cherish Umineko, it gave me a lot, but it was also a game that started with a lot of hype and expectations and failed to deliver on them.
I’ll say that I know some people refuse to play 07th Expansion games because of the art, but I have no idea why. Ryuukishi’s art is extremely expressive, which the remakes and new sprites fail to deliver on, plus the games are extremely atmospheric. Music and sound effects deliver on all the fronts, and this was an amazing read.
So I’ll say this as a fan of the makers and the series, play this series, whichever version you prefer, if you’re a fan of mysteries with a fantasy bend.
Though personally, I’d say play the first 5 games and then jump to the last one. The community has pretty much died down, and some games were made just to make us think and guess, so the thrill of finally discovering the mystery and how it went down has gotten cold. You’ve got to remember these games were released twice a year, and were basically a conversation between us and Ryuukishi as we guessed and made theories, him rebutting or making of fun of them in-game.
I’m not going to talk about the decidedly poor anime adaptation, there’s really nothing to say. The manga is a very good adaptation, from what I’ve seen, but none of them will reach the level of the game.
Happy gaming everyone and keep on digging ~(＾◇^)/
Have you heard about this game before? Have you played it? If so, I’d love to know what you think of it!