A Year Of Springs is a quirky emotional visual novel about relationships. However, it falls short with there being a chance of an abrupt ending to the story.
A year of springs is brought to us by npckc and Ratalaika Games S.L. The game boasts a visual novel approach with an emotional story. The story follows three Friends Haru, Erika, and Manami. Haru is a transgender woman living in Japan. The story is set in 2019/2020 and at that current moment in Japan and in present day the laws were/are difficult for transgender individuals pre transition. Join us here at VIBE as we set out to review this quaint and charming tale.
A Year Of Springs takes place over three chapters. Each chapter unlocks when the previous one is finished and can have different endings depending on the choices made by the player. One night, hot springs focuses around the three girls going to a hot spring, Last Day of Spring focuses around Harus birthday party and Spring Leaves No Flowers is about Manami meeting up with both girls and realizing that they are both acting strange towards her.
Meet the Characters
Haru is a 19 year old woman at the beginning of the story. It’s identified very early into the story that Haru is a transgender woman who is struggling with self esteem and being accepted. Haru states she doesn’t have many friends apart from a childhood friend Manami who invites her to a weekend away at a spa very early into the story. The story does extremely well to tackle issues that any transgender individual would be facing in Japan. Haru is an extremely likeable character and I found myself wanting to protect all three characters with my life! All through the game, I kept my fingers crossed that Haru would have a pleasant ending to her story.
Erika at first is seen as outgoing and loud compared to the other two girls. However, Erika shaped up to be one of the most and if not the most likeable character in the game. Erika is the new best friend of Manami. Erika has met Manami in high school and they clicked. When Manami decides to have a spa weekend for her birthday, she thinks its the perfect opportunity to invite both of her best friends. Erika presents as very inquisitive and forward friend. Erika opens up several wholesome scenes and becomes Haru’s biggest lifecoach/friend.
Manami is an understanding and caring character who shows great love for both her bestfriends. She has little screen time until the last chapter in which she received almost a full chapter towards her character development. This character is best friends with Haru and has maintained contact despite them going to different high schools. Manami currently has a boyfriend and in the story spends a lot of time with him.
Highlighting Important issues
As was mentioned prior, A Year of Springs outlines some of the struggles Haru faces due to her being pre transition. I had to do some research to confirm some of the things mentioned in the game. As a result of this, I did find that the struggles and issues discussed were based on real experiences transgender individuals face in Japan. Haru begins discussing that to achieve her goal of gender affirmation surgery she would have to be sterilized before she could legally be referred to as a woman in legal documents. Haru is understandably upset about this, but she continues throughout the game discussing other issues she faces. Another instance occurs at the hotsprings pictured below.
The hot springs trip presented Haru with the fear of not being able to access the baths with her friends and instead wanting to reserve a family bath. Erika takes Haru to a bath later at midnight and has an open and honest chat with her about how she should just do what she wants to do instead of worrying. Haru takes the opportunity to educate Erika regarding this. The story allows characters to discuss in length such important issues such as lack of access to appropriate bathrooms for the person and having to have their incorrect name on Identification. As a result of this, the story of this visual novel is perfect for educating players about the important social issues that transgender individuals face in modern Japan.
Like most visual novels, more thought is put into the design of the game and the story content. As a result of this, the game is extremely short and spans roughly at two hours. However, the story is deep, rich, and a great insight into a modern Japan. The art style was quaint, quirky, and gave off warm vibes to the player. The short duration of the game made the visual novel easy to retain and follow. I played the game in one sitting and enjoyed progressing to the next chapter to find out more of the story. The main positive aspects of the story was that there were multiple endings, well written, and reveals a very current socially driven plot.
Not a 10/10
The game has some cons. As a result of this, the game did not achieve a perfect review score. I found the ending that I had in my playthrough to be very abrupt and didn’t resolve any of the story. On the other hand, this may be great for replayability but the story did not capture me enough to go through a very similar experience again. A lot of the dialogue is essentially just a repeat of what was mentioned in the previous chapter. Additionally, the character Manami had next to no development. Her character seemed to remain the same throughout the entire game.
Choices were rare in the game for players and at points I was confused regarding what it was asking me to pick. One frustrating element of the player being allowed to choose was that if you weren’t going down a specific story route, some choices would be marked off completely. As a result of this, there was only one choice which made it difficult for the player to have access to an ending tailored to them.
Just like this wholesome message from the devs of A Year Of Springs, us at VIBE would like to extend a thanks to our readers. Thanks for joining us in reviewing this charming visual novel and remember, TRANS RIGHTS ARE HUMANS RIGHTS. It costs nothing to be a kind human being. Pick up A year Of Springs across several platforms and check out the trailer down below.
25, Indie Game connoisseur. Also a hamster mum, fiancée & working in the addiction field. Gaming and writing are my escape and comfort for when the world gets too much!