Geekscream (2/2): Saya no Uta

Alien beauty... and unimaginable horror

Alien beauty... and unimaginable horror

A vicious car wreck. A single moment of senseless violence, of acrid smoke and sparks, of the stinging spray of crimson and stained shards of bone. A terrible moment of wracking pain, of a world gone insane… of darkness.

When you wake up, the insanity isn’t over.

Kouji Fuminori, protagonist and medical student, had lost more than his parents in the accident. His injuries were so severe that nothing short of an extremely experimental neurosurgery procedure could have stopped him from succumbing to death by internal bleeding. It worked, he lived… but at a cost of almost everything.

The medical procedure that saved his life had done so by removing or scrambled whatever it was in his brain that recognized beauty and pleasure – or at least the mundane as mundane. Now, whenever he opens his eyes, it is to a world gone irrevocably mad. A nightmarish, Lovecraftian dystopia of dripping fluids and exposed organs, of tendrils of meat and screeching voices replacing those he once loved and cherished. The reds, yellows and blacks of fetid meat and pus replaces the white, clean walls of the hospital. The taste of food he once loved, now twisted and revolting, like sun-rotted carcass.

Day in, day out. The crushing weight of his madness never ceases. Every day, trying to live in this warped and monstrous world, every day, trying to bear the company of what he knows to be sympathetic friends, but what he experiences as sickening fiends. Day in, day out, the relentless nightmare of his twisted senses slowly claws and tears at his will to live.

It’s only her that keeps him sane. He knows that, with his twisted senses, she can’t be human. But her impossibly perfect, alien white skin, the pleasing patter of her feet when she rushes to the door to greet him home, the softness of her caress, and the pure, paradoxically innocent lust when she couples with him… it is all that keeps him going.

“Saya.”

“Song of Saya” is a Nitroplus eroge visual novel released some years ago, making a minor splash for its dark, twisted setting that didn’t so much take away from its simple, achingly well done love story as add a truly unique twist to it. A full translation of it was recently released by an American fansub group, meaning that you can, er, use the usual channels to… acquire the game, and patch it to enjoy the game in English.

As long as you’ve got a fairly strong stomach for gore, I heartily, aha, recommend it. The game is a very, very simplified visual novel, having only two decision points that easily lead to all three conclusions – of which, for your own sake, I won’t spoil overly much.

But it’s clear to me, as a Nitroplus newbie, that there’s at least one writer on their staff with some amazing talent. While the descent into strongly Lovecraftian madness and cannibalism, and the sickening psychosis that afflicts some of the cast, isn’t easy to stomach, he deftly manages to get you to sympathize with the protagonist anyhow, and especially with his determined drive to protect the last and final thing he can truly cherish in his world of decay.

Saya, for all of her implied monstrosity, and even for all of the atrocities she eventually commits, is an innocent. And the love she shares with Kouji isn’t false or based on sham or seduction. She doesn’t try to warp him or twist him into something other than human – rather, she truly cares for this strange man, this single hairless ape that sees her and is enthralled instead of repulsed. So as much as he desperately tries to protect her against what he now sees and fully experiences as a world gone literally to hell, she too strives to ensure his happiness, even at the cost of her own, if need be.

That juxtaposition of beauty and rot, of angel and betentacled demon in single form, makes Saya no Uta stand tall and proud above the competition, as short and simple as the game may be – like the statue of an ancient goddess of some long-banished cult, achingly beautiful, but leaving you with the vague impression of dreadful forms at the corner of your eye.

Nitroplus did good, in almost all ways. Keeping it simple was no stupid decision, and the haunting art is coupled beautifully with a soundtrack that twists between paranoiac, overdriven guitar that claws at your reptilian brain, and the soft intermingling of otherworldly chorus and bells, like a stream of warm, gentle water trickling between cracked, parched lips.

Of course, in the world of Saya, if it’s the caress of quenching water you feel, it is, certainly and most definitely; eerily and disturbingly… something else.

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~ by Gonzo Mehum on February 4, 2009.

2 Responses to “Geekscream (2/2): Saya no Uta”

  1. I’ll make sure to look for it :P
    Seems like it would be interesting.

  2. Thanks mate!
    I’ve been seeing it around for a while, but I’m not a fan of simple flesh games. You’ve convinced me it’s got something more to give.
    b(^.^)d

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