Horror Mystery Visual Novel Review: Sakura no Mori Dreamers
Written by Rastafoo69, edited by Otaku Apologist
Sakura no Mori Dreamers, a horror visual novel developed by Moonstone. English localization by Mangagamer. Originally released in Japan on February 19, 2016. Download on MangaGamer for $45.00. For PC Windows. Full voice acting. Uncensored genitals.
After a terrifying plane crash that left hundreds dead, you survived with the ability to see shadow monsters! Learn more about your power, spend time with your friends, and explore the dramatic world of Sakuranomori Dreamers!
This review contains massive spoilers. These are unavoidable and crucial to a serious review of the game.
The plot of this game is a revenge storyline. The love of your life was murdered and you’ve devoted yourself to finding the culprit. Along the way, you’ll make friends and allies who help you on your quest.
The writing features some conflicting genres. Schoolyard romance is mixed with horror-mystery, which severely damages the pacing of the story. The romance scenes feel completely disconnected from the rest of the plot. The author juggles between two writing styles.
For example, the characters will have a ten minute conversation about sunblock, then someone will get murdered. It’s such a massive contrast, you’ll feel tempted to skip through the slice of life content to get back to the mystery.
The author doesn’t explain things to try and keep you interested. For example, you live alone in an apartment while a girl who claims to be your sister but actually isn’t, lives in an apartment with her mother. Still, they both come over to your house all the time.
Turns out, they are your cousin and aunt. After your parents died, your aunt has treated you like a son, which is why you’re so close. Unfortunately, this isn’t explained for over an hour of gameplay, so you’ll be completely confused for no reason!
The enemy of the game is also never explained. You battle shadows called “bodachs”, but it’s unclear where they come from or if they’re a natural phenomenon. You never feel a conclusive victory, because so many questions are left unanswered.
The romance as well, is lacking. The girls will fall in love with you without a real reason. Worse, they fall in love pretty quickly, before they ever get to know you deeply. It’s not terrible, but many games have done it better.
The main appeal of this game is the main character and his growth over time. After the death of his childhood friend, his lust for revenge drives him to hunt down her killer. What he experienced was heartbreaking, but he uses it to keep moving forward against the odds. Honestly, he’s the best character in the entire game.
Shinji Fukigami is the protagonist of the story. After the death of his childhood friend and a three year time skip, Shinji becomes obsessed with catching her killer. Grief, passion, and a drive for revenge push him forward to greatness.
Madoka Akitsu is the childhood friend of Shinji. She dies at the end of the prologue, and is the driving force for Shinji to defeat the evil bodachs. She appears in the sequel title, implying her death can be reversed or avoided.
Hatsune Fukigami is the cousin of the protagonist. Caring and devoted, she’s been in love with him for years. Her shy and submissive nature can get predictable, but many players will be drawn to her innocent demeanor.
Kureha Kiritou is a classmate of the protagonist and has the ability to destroy bodachs. She wants to socialize with boys and be a normal girl, but is often too busy fighting evil with the Sakura no Mori Dreamers.
Mifuyu Erisaka is a classmate of the protagonist and has the ability to destroy bodachs. She used to be partners with Kureha, but recently left The Dreamers. She loves painting, and tends to always have a serious face. She does not appear until Chapter 2.
Mahoro Shizumiya is a year older than the protagonist. She was a sickly child, which made her a soft-spoken person once she got better. Her ability to access the dream realm where Bodachs live is crucial, because it allows The Dreamers to fight the Bodachs directly. Proper and well mannered, she’s definitely wife material.
Sakura No Mori is a visual novel. You click the screen to advance the story. Every so often, the game presents you with choices. Progress can be saved in multiple save slots. CTRL skips the dialogue. Press alt-enter to toggle fullscreen mode.
You’ll likely play for hours without ever making a single choice. Outside of the four romance endings, there is only one route to play, and therefore no reason for choices. If you’re focused on getting a specific waifu, I recommend using a walkthrough.
The options menu allows you to fully customize audio levels and text display speeds. Unfortunately, there is no method to customize keyboard shortcuts and they’re never explained to you. Good luck if you want to leave fullscreen mode!
Another issue is a lack of dialogue rewind. You can view a text backlog, but you’ll never be able to rewind. This means any cut-in images or fullscreen artworks that you accidentally click past, are gone, even when they’re important to the story, like a vision of death.
The game has a Japanese anime art style. With hundreds of fully colored images, the artist masterfully produced some gorgeous visuals. Both men and women are depicted in sprite art and fullscreen CGs, including the protagonist who has a face and unique features.
These artworks inspire genuine emotion when you know the context behind them. Like the scene where Madoko kisses the protagonist. It’s sunset at a pond in the forest. Every time I see it, I remember the tragedy of her death.
Deflowering and sex scenes are drawn damn well, with beads of sweat and blood realistically slipping between the legs. Characters are drawn in a variety of positions, including a seated blowjob where you can see your waifu’s ass raised high.
One problem is that all waifus have a titfuck scene, regardless of breast size. That means the petite girls suddenly have larger breasts when it fits the sex scenes. This was very noticeable and pretty unnecessary.
The game’s opening video features false advertising. The hard rock and horror graphics are fully animated and gorgeous, but the actual game is more of a slice of life experience. Watch the video below.
VOICE ACTING AND SOUND EFFECTS (SFX)
Sakura No Mori Dreamers has full Japanese voice acting for all characters. This includes multiple male characters, which was surprising and super enjoyable to hear.
The voice actors do a fantastic job during both horror moments and goofy slice of life scenes. Like when your stepsister Hatsune says “Bai bai!” as you leave. It’s so cute and lovable I knew I wanted to play her route for sure!
Sound settings allow you to customize your menu narration. You can make your favorite waifu announce what you’re doing! Hearing my beloved Madoko announce “configure!” when I enter the options menu, was so sweet!
Sound effects are used often to mix up the dialogue, ie. Aapoking sound plays when a friend elbows your side. These tiny moments give small actions new life. The very first sound you’ll hear is bicycle tires spinning as you ride through the streets. Over time, these sound effects become familiar and calming, because you know the horror is over, and relaxing times are ahead.
The soundtrack includes a handful of songs. They get repetitive very fast. The same piano track plays repeatedly for any scene expressing sadness, tension, apprehension, etc. At first the music touched my heart, but you can only hear the same track so many times before getting tired of it.
The music in the animated opening didn’t fit the game at all. Hard rock and electric guitar clash horribly with the slice of life romance that dominates much of the game. It was genuinely shocking to see how edgy the opening tried to be.
Some music tracks are very enjoyable. Bass guitar mixes with low notes on an electric piano, easily crafting a relaxing rhythm. And although tracks get do repetitive, they always fit the scene they play in.
The game has around 15 hentai scenes in total. The gallery cannot be viewed until the game is completed. Playing the game will not result in easy scenes either. The game takes 30 hours to complete and has 4 romantic routes, so finding all the scenes organically will take a lifetime. You’re likely to play over ten hours without any sexual events. Don’t play this game for the sex, play it for the plot.
When sex does occur, it drags on with tons of dialogue and internal monologues. The pacing of these scenes is pretty bad, and you’ll likely be tempted to skip ahead just so things progress at a more realistic pace.
Sex positions include fingering, blowjobs, titfucks, and vanilla vaginal sex. Players can choose whether or not they’ll creampie the girl, which is a loved and fantastic feature to have.
There are no wild fetishes featured here. These girls fall in love with you practically at first sight. First they are hesitant, then they open their legs for you. The experience is super relaxed and romantic, but not the focus of the game.
Sakura No Mori Dreamers is a fantastic visual novel in the horror-mystery genre. The heroines are likable, the artwork is gorgeous, and the mystery is engaging. But with lackluster pacing and a repetitive soundtrack, this game is not for everyone. The game is focused on its story, and the hentai is hard to access. If you love the horror genre, this is a damn good game.