Like many people, I got to know this series through the anime, then discovered there was a game being localized by MangaGamer and so I discovered visual novels, my favorite game genre nowadays.
Higurashi, then, was far more than just a series or a game to me, it set the standards by which I compared all visual novels to it. It’s tough experiencing a masterpiece as your first taste a genre, because you’ll find afterwards, they’ll be disappointing.
Higurashi was my religion for a while. I extolled how amazing it is, how good, the mystery’s, the suspense, the tenseness, the plot and characters becoming more involved with each installment. Mind you, Higurashi is still one of my favorite VN’s and it won’t be dethroned that easily. Might be because of nostalgia, or maybe, it’s just because it’s that good.
Mind you, that evaluation is mixed with said nostalgia. I can’t escape that, but even now whenever I think of Higurashi, I can remember scenes and how relieved I was when I finished and finally knew how that whole fuckery came to be, and if everyone was okay.
Higurashi was very well marketed and sold. For those that don’t know, because this is old, Higurashi is an horror and suspense VN but got sold to fans of galge/girl’s dating-sim. It was made so the first part was like a typical, normal game, with these cute girls, and then the twist happens and it mind-fucked everyone. In fact, the very art was done to emulate galge ones, so that when troll faces pop out, you know you’re in dip shit.
It was a stroke of genius for 07th Expansion, because it quickly became a cult hit which grew with each installment, until it finally received a manga and an anime. Prior to Higurashi, 07th Expansion was a small company doing card illustrations, and was as underground as a doujin company is.
This can be found everywhere, if you’d search, but I’ll tell how Higurashi happened. Call me a nerd, which I am, but I like knowing these things and telling them.
07th Expansion was back then a company made of 3-4 people, Ryuuk was the writer and artist, his brother was the programmer and his friend did the website. Said friend encouraged Ryuuk to turn Higurashi, which was a play Ryuuk had written before, into a game because he really liked it. So we can thank him for Higurashi and 07th Expansion existing as a game maker.
I’m sure you’ll find names and more details if you search for this story, because it’s been a long while since I’ve read it, and I know it because I’m particularly passionate about those that impress me.