Kansen 4 ~The Day After~ Review
Well, after a bit of a hiatus, I’m back with more eroge reviews to come, and what better a day to begin than on Valentine’s Day? Considering the most recent big romance movie to come out was a story of love and zombies, I figured that I’d follow suit and present to you a review of Speed’s fourth entry into its zombie eroge series Kansen 4 ~The Day After~, released April 30, 2010. Considering how much I enjoyed the third game, I was eager to try out the next one despite warnings from a few fellow members of the fanbase that it wouldn’t be as good. Thanks to those warnings I was able to keep my expectations to a minimum, and one playthrough later…well, I can at least say it’s better than Kansen 2.
Pros: Strong finale to the story, likable characters, story has some nice nods to its predecessors, good voice acting, good artwork, uses some new music and uses them well.
Cons: Most of the story feels a bit too standard for the series, the false ending routes get a bit too much attention than needed, Kozue is pretty lacking as a heroine, the return of those God awful time limit choices!!!
WTF?!: It’s always funny to see how some eroge companies put self-product placement into their games.
Kansen 4 starts at about the same time as the first game with the main story occurring the day after its events. Just before the virus breaks out, Daisuke Sendou and his group of friends decide to go on a camping trip just before the summer break ends. Because of the distance of the camp grounds from the city, they unknowingly escape the initial outbreak, but at the same time are completely unaware of it until the hordes of the infected make their way out of the city…
Okay, I’m going to have to start with what I feel is one of the biggest flaws that Kansen 4 has concerning its story. It’s not bad by any means, but from when the zombies show up until the final act the game’s story just feels too standard for the series. We have the arrival of the zombies basically signifying the end of Daisuke and co.’s normal peaceful life, Daisuke is the natural leader of the group from the start in the face of this crisis like Yasuyuki and Hiroshi, Daisuke and co. flee the zombies and over the course of this he gets closer with the heroines…it just feels like the writers were playing it safe compared to how Kansen 3 did things a bit different from its predecessors. Now I realize that Kansen 3 was probably made to bring fans back after its sadly subpar prequel, and I can understand wanting to play it safe so as not to lose those fans again, but at the same doing this almost robs Kansen 4 of an identity of its own amongst the other games of the series.
To its credit though, Kansen 4 does a good enough job getting things started. While the prologue to establish the characters is a little on the long side, it does a good job introducing the central cast and establishing them as a group of friends. A good example would be Aya’s arc of her befriending Daisuke and co. at the beginning of the game as it not only helps in giving the prologue some heart but also provides an additional feeling of the loss of normalcy with the outbreak since that also means the end of the days of having a normal social life with the friends she’d just started to make. The prologue also does a good job at giving nods to both the first and third game, the latter of which actually making for a nice little tie in to Wataru and Rin’s background that was only talked about in the third game.
Before I get to where this game truly excels, I should mention one more story element that I only kind of consider a flaw but it’s a tad off-putting all the same. Basically the false ending routes seem to have gotten a bit too much attention than needed from the game’s writer. Don’t get me wrong, giving the fake/bad ending routes some story isn’t a bad thing; I don’t even mind that in some cases we find out a little extra about some of the characters in them. The thing is none of these routes prove to be of any real significance to the real story of the game (which pretty much retcons most of what occurs in those routes anyway), give no real incentive to see them aside from the ero scenes since the character info is pretty minor and implied anyway in the main route, and in the end only come off as filler. I feel that if you’re going to give those kinds of endings story, then they should either reveal something significant to the main plot (like 999) or provide some kind of incentive to see them besides just ero scenes (like the Tiger Dojo of Fate/Stay Night or the quest system of Rewrite).
That out of the way, I can now talk about what I feel is the strongest point in Kansen 4’s story, what not only finally gives the story an identity but also has me glad I sat through and played to the end: the finale. Now I know how that sounds at first, like if you’d ask me how this game was and my answer would be “Well…I liked the end of it”, but there’s a bit more to it than that. First, the way that the finale is written (regardless of the route you’re on) makes for an interesting contrast to Kansen 3 in that while the third game ended on a triumphant note this game’s ending is more bittersweet, having it match tones with the first and second games endings which do make sense for an aftermath of this first outbreak. Kansen 4 does manage to distinguish itself from its predecessors in this area, though, by being able to pull off an effective bittersweet ending without having to fall back on the way overused “only two survivors at the end” trope that so many horror stories often do.
The second thing that makes the finale so strong comes from how well Aya and Makoto’s routes turn out either as a result of or in connection with that. While the relationship building between both heroines and Daisuke is handled well and made believable over the course of the story, be it Aya’s opening up to her new friends that ends up resulting in a slightly stronger connection between her and Daisuke or how the events of the outbreak and Daisuke’s leadership have inadvertently gotten Makoto‘s feelings towards him to be more than just friends, it’s the finale’s bittersweet tone that helps to give the end of both routes more feeling than any of its predecessors’ and that says a lot considering how good all three games main finales are (yes, even the second game had that in at least Maya’s good ending). The outcomes of Aya and Makoto’s routes I find are a good representation of an answer to the question “What do you do in the aftermath of a life shattering tragedy?”. Do you move on and start things over completely anew or do you pick up the pieces of whatever is left and try to rebuild from there? Since neither answer can really be considered wrong and both endings do such a good job portraying those situations, Aya and Makoto’s routes are at a deadlocked tie for my favorite route for this game.
Sadly this also brings me to the final major story flaw of Kansen 4, Kozue’s route. Now don’t get me wrong, I don’t hate the character, it’s just that her role in the game’s story really has problems. While the prologue does a good job in establishing her in Daisuke’s circle of friends, there’s no getting around the fact that she’s a blatant clone of Rin from Kansen 3 (if you’re wondering why I haven’t praised Kansen 4 for finally not cloning Yu again, here’s why) both in terms of her relationship with Daisuke and some aspects of her personality (heck, she’s even voiced by the same voice actress). Of course “some aspects” is the key word here since Kozue sadly did not get any of what made Rin such a good heroine in the previous game. You know that one member of the group of characters in a horror movie that, when the killer or monster(s) show up, half their dialogue from then on is screaming and the other half is complaining? That’s basically Kozue for most of the game after the zombies show up, and as you can expect she contributes very little to the story as a result whereas Rin, despite being scared by the events of the outbreak herself, pulled what weight she could in a supportive fashion such as helping prepare the group’s food and she had the additional disadvantage of being sickly. Kozue’s limited involvement in the story also really hurts the relationship development between her and Daisuke since by the end you can only see the relationship as more plausible than believable since their getting together at the end doesn’t really feel earned like the other two routes. It also doesn’t help that the route’s end scene is rather short compared to Aya and Makoto’s routes, and it really has me wondering if the creative team either ran out of time or simply didn’t know what to do with the route.
Moving on to the technical aspects of the game, I can say that Kansen 4 does not have as many bugs as its predecessor, though the game can crash if you click on the game window immediately after you run it. While I do think the game window is a little too big (and sadly you can’t adjust its size), the only real flaw is the return of the timed choices and like in Kansen 3 if you mess it up and haven’t saved in a while it’s time to retread your steps. I’ve already ranted about what I think about the timed choices in this series so you all should know how I feel about them and why I consider them a negative. To Kansen 4’s credit though, there are less timed choices than in the previous games so it’s not quite as annoying as before.
In the area of presentation Kansen 4 does as good as always with good artwork all around (though some of the zombies do dress a little funny).The voice acting is all good, and the music takes a another step forward by giving up the old ending theme entirely and giving us a new one that actually really helps in setting the atmosphere for the finale.
As for the ero scenes, once again they’re all good, be they the romance ones or the zombie related ones, whichever you prefer.
A student and part time mechanic at the auto repair shop owned by Makoto’s father, Daisuke has a love of motor bikes and has hopes to turn that into a career after graduating.
One of Daisuke’s classmates, Aya is an excellent student with refined air about her. Doesn’t seem to have any friends or interact much with the other students, though it’s unclear whether it’s because she’s antisocial or just shy.
Daisuke’s classmate and friend, Makoto has an outgoing and tomboyish personality which actually helps her get along well with both boys and girls alike. Because Daisuke works at her father’s repair shop where she also works, and because the two have similar interests in the field of mechanics, Makoto and Daisuke meet and hang out frequently.
Daisuke’s neighbor and childhood friend, Kozue usually hangs out with both him and Makoto, especially since she sees Daisuke as an older brother figure. While she normally has a bright personality around her friends, Kozue does at times show a timid side that may hint at her not reacting well to stressful situations.
Daisuke’s upper classman and childhood friend.
Kansen 4 is a good but flawed entry into the Kansen series; while it doesn’t really do that much wrong aside from messing up with putting Kozue into the story and focusing a little too much on the false routes than needed, it doesn’t bring anything new to the table either. The strong finale does at least make up for that and makes the game memorable enough that I’d recommend this to anyone who likes the series. Just don’t go in expecting this to top the third game, and I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.
Final Score: 6/10 Above Average
Author Recommendation: For Fans Only!