From the creator of the ultra-depressing Narcissu comes Ame no Marginal (Rain Marginal), a story that’s nearly as depressing but now with fantasy elements. Life-shortening diseases aren’t good enough? How about alternate dimensions where people never age? Ame no Marginal is an “ambitious” step in the right direction for someone passionate in the art of “feelsy” visual novel creation.
Notice the quotes around key words in the last paragraph. “Feelsy” is a term some may not be familiar with, but one that can be understood without much effort. Essentially, writing with the intention of making you cry. Feel pity. Think Clannad or AnoHana. Such is the niche in mind. “Ambitious” is a somewhat sarcastic choice of term, yet with the context of knowing the production values of Narcissu, it’s understandable. In Narcissu, there was barely anything; some pictures here and there, a few music tracks, and lots of text. Ame no Marginal takes the necessary steps for a (non)sequel game and provides more for the reader to absorb.
Such comes in the form of more pictures, more music, and (minimal) voice acting. Characters are actually given proper appearances and designs, as well as distinct voices, while background music is noticeably more varied. There still remains lots of text with unmoving images, yet the execution is a lot easier to digest with occasional spurts of variety to go with the walls of words. In a technical sense, Ame no Marginal is by no means marginally better than Narcissu; it’s head and shoulders above it.
The name of the game of visual novels, however, is storytelling. Faring against thousands of different titles, even with the leniency of its limited capabilities, Ame no Marginal falls between “interestingly dull” and “painfully standard.” Perhaps it is the lack of a distinct focus, as the game has the player weave between two different stories in a single playthrough. Perhaps it is the fantasy aspect which, while its rules are well regarded, seeps into fulfilling the “feelsy” nature of the game just a tad too strongly. Whatever it may be, its narrative felt fairly unimpactful, and left less of an emotional “oomph” with me than its spiritual predecessor. Let me explain it this way: it feels more like reading a harrowing story out of a newspaper than feeding into a tragic novel… with a tragic novel’s level of detail.
Pleasant in-game, the soundtrack isn’t anything special outside of it. Explained dramatically, the pieces of Ame no Marginal’s armor are well-suited for the battle at hand, improving its chances at lasting. Outside of that specific battle, it is useless, only capable of fending off attacks from a specific source. Call it “Fire-resistant armor,” or in this case, “Negative-emotion-stimulating armor.” Harboring the necessities of (hopefully) influencing the tear duct, its choice in music can range from naive peppiness to lamenting life’s cruelty. Some parts catchy, some parts gloomy; while never truly invigorating. This is made up for somewhat by the art direction, which is pleasant for its production value. Cute little girls actually look cute this time around. Even more than that, the alternative dimension has such a wondrous isolation vibe that it makes it intriguing almost by default.
Yes, the characters. Not only accentuated by text this time around. By its end, most characters were at least likable, though lacking in total development. The POV character, whose name escapes me (if he even had one), began as a very
edgy depressed young man with little will to live (it literally starts with him contemplating jumping off a tall building). Afterwards, he’s teleported to a dimension where time stands still and meets a little girl, who explains his current situation. After that… he’s just kind of normal. He starts to care for the girl and feels sorry for her, but that’s pretty much it. I would think someone who starts the game contemplating suicide would be a little more somber throughout. As the player progresses, the little girl ends up becoming the star of the game, as she receives far more backstory into her character than the POV character. This, in turn, makes her the most developed character in the game, and the fact that another story is told along the way feels a little too unfocused to provide that proper “oomph.”
All in all, certainly worth the “Free” tag on Steam. A nice read for anyone who enjoys the “feelsy” nature of certain visual novels, and isn’t scared by a lot of text without any choices.
The ending is bullshit, though.
The rating for this title and more can be found on MyVideoGameList.