Planetarian is a Visual Novel written and created by Key. Anyone familiar with the visual novel world will know Key. If you know anime, you know Key. They are responsible for Air, Kanon, Little Busters, and—of course—Clannad.
If you know their previous works, you’ll come into Planetarian expecting just about what you’ll get. However, there are a few small things anyone considering this title should know before they purchase it. It’s hard to say whether these small things are pros or cons. That will depend on the person.
Let’s start by talking story. It’s beautiful, and incredibly moving, which is very typical of Key. We open on a ‘Junker’ in a post-apocalyptic setting. He’s avoiding dangerous automatons in a rubbled city, and ends up taking cover in a large building that happens to have a planetarium at the top. There, he meets an android that is styled like a young girl, who helps run the planetarium, although it’s been practically destroyed for years now. The story progresses from there.
I would say more, but this visual novel is short. Very, very short. The run time, if you set it on auto read, is under 5 hours. I finished it in less than 4. It is kinetic, and very simple. It is not a masterpiece like many other Key novels that offer tons of routes and replay value. However, that’s not to say that Planetarian isn’t good.
The story, while short (and summarized in full in 3 paragraphs by Wikipedia), is absolutely touching and masterfully written. You never even know the protagonist’s name, but it doesn’t matter. Planetarian has the power to leave a player in a sobbing mess at the end.
After clearing the game once, you gain access to a CG gallery, and a music gallery. Unfortunately, due to the length, these are both small. There are 20 CGs, and 8 music tracks for you to listen to. Overall, however, the art is great and the music is pleasing.
There are some parts to the music loop that occasionally sounded off, but the music was very fitting for the game. Parallels can certainly drawn between the slightly disharmonious music and Yumemi, the slightly dysfunctional android.
Given what this game is, I have to offer a disclaimer. Planetarian is from 2004, and it shows. There is virtually no character animation to be found, and the age is apparent in many places. However, the story blew me away. As with the review I wrote for WORLD END ECONOMiCA episode.01, I find it hard to recommend Planetarian to someone not interested in visual novels. This is not a ‘game’, it is a visual novel, literally. If you want a touching story, look no further—Planetarian will scratch that itch.
However, I also must warn you that this story is not particularly happy. The ending is not full of hope. It will leave you moping the rest of the day. I’m not saying that’s bad, or to be avoided, but it’s something you should know going into it. This one is a must-buy for Key supporters, and visual novel lovers, just be prepared.
Planetarian: The Reverie of a Little Planet was reviewed using a code provided by Sekai Project. You can find additional information about Niche Gamer’s review/ethics policy here.