A story of insanity, murder, and a love that will change the world…for the worse.I’ve covered visual novels before on my blog, namely Katawa Shoujo, but after finishing another one I had to discuss it here. Saya no Uta, its translated title being ‘Song of Saya’ is a psychological horror suspense love story.
Psychological. Horror. Suspense. Love. One of these words is not like the other and that was what drew me to try this visual novel out.
Fuminori Sakisaka is a med-student who ends up in the hospital with life ending injuries from a car crash. With his parents dead and his life fading away, he undergoes an experimental brain surgery in the hopes of saving his life.
He’s alive…but he wishes he wasn’t. When he opens his eyes he sees the world in a new horrifying way. Everything around him is pulsing, undulating flesh and gore. Human beings now look like crawling, disfigured, abominations that scream gibberish at him.
Being a medical student with a major in neuroscience, he understands what is happening to him. He knows he is seeing, hearing, and tasting the world differently because of the surgery, and he knows enough to know that there is no cure for this, and if he reveals what has happened to him he will be locked away.
For the three months he stays recovering in the hospitable he has time to come to turns with his horrifying new life and pretend to be normal around humans that now disgust him, sounds that tear through his ears, and everything tasting of filth and smelling of foulness.
Fuminori had been contemplating suicide. He was given the will to live again by a chance encounter. He met Saya.
He falls in love. With a new purpose in life, he is able to brave the insanity that is his life, to have and to hold her…until death do they part.
And there will be death.
This story was a treat on several levels. It drew me into the suspense and set up the story in a perfect opening scene where Fuminori is surrounded by gibbering monsters towering over him. Discordant sounds that you could barely call music pumps through the speakers. Then it cuts to the third person perspective and we see what these beasts look like in the real world.
The music is gone, the monsters have been replaced with three of his closest friends, and everything is normal. Koji, Omi, and Yo had been throwing around the idea of going on a skiing trip. Fuminori can’t take it any more and flees, leaving them to worry about their friend.
That song I just mentioned plays every time we are seeing the gory world through Fuminori’s eyes, and it has a fitting name: Schizophrenia. In fact, the whole soundtrack is a masterpiece, and should be listened to if you are looking for a mix of beauty, chilling calmness, and suspense.
Although they are called ‘Visual Novels’ the visuals usually take a backseat to the story and soundtrack. These kind of games have only still images and text in which to tell their story and Saya no Uta does this in spades, by jumping between the real world and the world that Fuminori sees. The game will leave his perspective and go into the third person at points to tell the story of his friends and neighbors as things start to go out of hand.I want to say this story chilled me, but I feel that it’s too cliche to say that. The word that keeps coming to my mind as I thought about making this post was ‘Ramifications’. As the reader follows Fuminori through his new life, and the actions his friends take there are moments where two and two come together and the ramifications of everything start to become clear. The story is hardly subtle in these elements, but how they are revealed, and what those ramifications are make up for it.
The main goal of any story is to have the readers connect with the characters, and Saya no Uta uses this to play the sickest trick in the world with the player. Fuminori is crystal clear in his logic, and sincere in his love for Saya. He’s not stupid and knows everything he is doing and chose to do them. He realizes early on that Saya can’t be human, and holds no gripes in killing one of his friends who endangers his love.
Fuminori is doing all his actions out of love, and because it is logical and we see it through his eyes, we connect, empathize, and become culpable when he goes beyond simple acts of survival but cold, meditated murder. He isn’t crazy…and that’s what make it horrifying. Seeing it through his eyes makes it reasonable to think that anyone could do these acts out of love. His monstrous acts start looking very human.
It’s clear that Saya isn’t human, but the story never shows us what she really looks like. The player can infer and guess from what they see later in the story, but nothing clear is given. Her personality is one of a being disconnected from humanity and yet strangely human. She honestly loves Fuminori, which threw me for a loop when I played it. I was expecting her to be a heartless succubus just using him. The truth is much more disturbing, and when she explains what she is in the form of an analogy, you will never think of dandelions the same way ever again.
Visual Novels are known to have multiple endings based upon what choices you pick throughout the game. Fate-Stay/Night was famous for having three huge story arcs that branched off from each other very early on in the story. That game was like a trilogy of books melted into one game. Most Visual Novels have several bad endings that are similar to game overs, a good ending, and a ‘true ending’ that is usually better than the good ending or reveals some final twist in the story.
Saya no Uta only has three endings, and the only ending you can call ‘good’ is the first one you can get to about one hour into the game. This was the most emotionally touching and poignant of the endings to me. If you continue the story you get an ending that is downright depressing, and yet is an ending that in any other story we’d accept as the right ending. The final ending and the climax of Fuminori’s and Saya’s love can only be labeled as a ‘Very Bad’ ending.
The game is short, clocking in at maybe 4 or 5 hours to finish it and see all of the endings, which could make this a great introduction to Visual Novels for those who want to experience them but not sit through a story longer than the Lord of the Rings trilogy. Be warned though that many visual novels have adult content and this horror VN does have its fair share of sex scenes, similar to the way old exploitation films had such scenes, which although (mostly)tame are made disturbing when you realize Saya only looks human to Fuminori.
This is a story that will move you, thrill you, maybe even sicken you, and both warm and chill your heart.
You’ve been warned. Now go play it.