Lost Friends is telling the sad story about two friends, Kirio and Hakamori, who live in Uruk, a small village in the mountains. The people in Uruk believe that the dead from the village become holy beings, watching and protecting them and everyone pays their respect to them. If a resident of Uruk comites a crime, they are forced out of the village and become a ‘Nameless’, having to give up on their existents. A Nameless isn’t treated as a person anymore and no one’s allowed to make contact with them in any form because it’s believed that something bad would happen otherwise. It’s also said that Nameless are able to summon man-eating monsters.
Hakamori became a Nameless five years ago and lives all alone outside the village ever since. The only one who’s visiting him’s Kirio but Hakamori’s attitude changed completely causing their friendship to break apart. Since Kirio blames himself for what happened five years ago he seeks forgiveness from his friend and wants to bring him back to the village but Hakamori doesn’t cooperate no matter how many times he tries to apologize.
One day a monster called Jack appears out of nowhere causing the situation to turn in an unexpected direction.
Kirio was born in the small mountain village Uruk and lives together with his grandmother. He doesn’t look like it but he’s already 17 years old and seen as an adult in the village. Even though he’s always visiting the criminal Hakamori, Yoruma and Kirio’s grandmother are turning a blind eye on it because he’s a hard worker and kind to everyone. They still keep telling him to give up and to respect the rules of the village. Kirio blames himself for what happened five years ago because he had the chance to prevent it but didn’t say a word. After that his friendship with Hakamori turned sour and no matter what he tries, Hakamori won’t forgive him.
A young man who lived in Uruk until the villagers chased him out because of a certain incident, making him a Nameless. He’s currently living in an abandoned house near the village and is treatened as an outsider ever since. Once best friends with Kirio, Hakamori now gives him the cold shoulder and refuses to talk to him. As a Nameless, he was forced to cast off his real name. Hakamori’s only what Kirio calls him.
Jack’s a strange creature coming from across the mountain to make lots of human friends. He’s a curious and honest fellow who doesn’t understand why humans are scared of monsters like him. The first person he meets is Hakamori which he enjoys talking to. One day as Kirio discovers Jack, the monster begins to follow the boy around, developing an interest in the village. Kirio tells him to stay away from Uruk because it would cause a panic if someone sees him but the monster doesn’t listen to him.
A gentle, obedient man from Uruk who cares for Kirito and is like a big brother to him. He usually pretents to not see Kirio breaking the law (coming in contact with and talking to the Nameless) even though he’s the leader of the village’s vigilance committee, trying to keep the town safe every day and night.
I discovered the Visual Novel Enigma: thanks to Fruitbat Factory and played the English version not long ago. Since I ended up liking the Visual Novel more than expected, especially the characters and storytelling, I decided to take a closer look at Uzumeya’s site and saw that they released another Visual Novel called Lost Friends. It’s a free game and very short (around 1-2 hours long depending on how fast you read) but interesting to read.
I like the ‘you reap what you sow’ theme they used and how Kirio’s to live with the guilt of making the wrong decision years ago which affected the life of his friend and his friend’s family. While the customs and rules of the village are fascinating, the villagers seem so obsessed with worshiping their dead ancestors that they don’t even listen properly to people they accused of something, especially not if it’s hurting their believes. I don’t want to spoil what the incident from five years ago’s about but it’s a tragic story that could have been prevented. The result of that’s even sadder…
Even though the friendship with Hakamori seems beyond help, it’s hinted that Hakamori still likes Kirio a lot. Well, Uzumeya loves its bromance so it’s not surprising but I really have to say that I never fully understood Hakamori. The game gives some insights of his past but it’s difficult to tell what he’s thinking and what he wants from Kirio. Does he really not forgive him and likes seeing him like that (all down and drowning in self-pity)? Does he tell him to leave him alone because it’s the best for Kirio? Or does he actually enjoy Kirio’s presence? I remember him saying that he doesn’t want the situation to change, that he’s glad to live outside the village and not being bond by their stupid rules anymore. He still’s like a mystery to me.
Jack’s appearance and his interests in humans gets the ball rolling again and which results in Kirio confronting Hakamori one last time. I still haven’t seen the first ED because I can’t seem to get it even with using the guide on pixiv but the three other EDs are all far from being happy. No forgiveness and becoming friends once again, no acceptance between the monster and the village, it’s only getting worse with not so pleasant outcomes. The endings don’t have the same impact as the ones in Enigma: because the story’s not long enough to sympathize with the characters but it’s still kinda sad and makes you think about what else could have been done…
The story idea and background’s interesting and the way it’s written makes you want to know more about the situation and the characters. Too bad, it’s only a short game and some questions are left unanswered. Like what exactly’s Jack? Yeah, they make it clear that he’s a monster from across the mountain and that there are more of him but why exactly’s he so determined in making human friends? What’s his intention? I liked that his view’s different from that of humans. That he sees no difference in dead animals and dead humans and doesn’t think it’s a crime to eat corpses but I wanted to know more about him…
I think the art’s well done and I like that the artist uses a different, rough art style. It fits the game and gives it the look of a children’s book. Only the important characters come with a sprite and the developer uses a simple way to portray the conversations. That means, you won’t see any mouth movement or eye blinking of the characters but it’s not something you would expect from a free game anyway. It’s fine like this.
There are 16 CGs altogether and completing all four endings unlocks an extra mode, including a gallery and an ED overview. Unfortunately, the bgm’s rather annoying at times with only a few worthwhile tunes and the version I played didn’t let you save while a choice’s on-screen, Uzumeya fixed that in version 1.02, though. There’s also the problem, that when you load an earlier save, the game doesn’t see the text as already read so you can’t skip it. You either have to start a new game after getting your first ending or set the settings to skip all text. At least they gave the text you have already seen a different color. Only having seven saves isn’t exactly a lot but it’s enough to create a save for each choice.
Well, I still need to reach ED 01 somehow and I’m curious if it will be much different from ED 02 because it looks like they both go in the same direction. I wonder if I’m just too stupid to read the guide correctly haha…
Anyway if you like Enigma: or fantasy stories with sad ends and understand Japanese, give Lost Friends a try. It’s only a short Visual Novel but the overall theme and story’s interesting…and it’s completely free!