Review: Campus Notes – forget me not.

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Campus Notes uses the real life setting of Tsukuba University to tell an out-of-this-world story.

Title: Campus Notes – forget me not.
Developer: 4th Cluster
Publisher: Dogenzaka Lab
Playtime: 7 hours
Buy Campus Notes – forget me not. on here Steam.
I received a review copy from the publisher.

Campus Notes – forget me not. is the third game in a series from Japanese indie team 4th cluster, but it also stands alone as its own story. (The reason two of the three choices that appear at the first choice stage in the game are grayed out is because they lead to the two other stories.)

The protagonist, Yuta, has just enrolled at Tsukuba University. A few weeks into his new campus life he finds himself caught up in a mysterious incident; everyone at the university loses all their memories of him with every single new day. He comes across a few other students who are in the same situation as him and together they form the Chivalric Order of Bertha to investigate the phenomenon and hopefully resolve this strange problem.

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Finding out about mystery behind the amnesia was an enjoyable ride, although I felt like the conclusion was a bit rushed. The true ending needs a very specific selection of choices to reach it, so I ended up using a walkthrough to unlock the “secret” part, but somehow the payoff fell a little flat after the build-up.

However, the journey there was a lot of fun and I also felt like I learned a lot during the game! Little interesting facts were woven into the dialogue between the characters in a natural and engaging way, and I also learned about the real life locations without any of it feeling forced.

The translation was good, but I did spot a lot of typos and grammatical errors so it could have done with one more proofread.

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Yuta, our protagonist, is fairly generic but not unlikable, while the three female characters are excellent. Each is intelligent and multi-faceted and brings so much charisma to the game. They have distinct personalities and manners of speaking without being cliché and their banter is always fun to read.

My favourite was Kaen-chan, the bubbly bug-lover and creator of sad bread. Togi-chan was unique and full of surprises, although I didn’t particularly like the direction her route took. Shion was my least favourite as I found her somewhat lackluster compared to the others, but I did still like her. The three work well off each other and I was more emotionally affected by the friendship between them than the relationship between each of them and the protagonist. With him being so bland, it was hard to see what they saw in him, so I wish there had been more development and time spent with each girl in their routes. However, the overall focus of the game was more on the story than the romance, so this isn’t a big issue, and all the girls have ample time to shine.

Oh, and let’s not forget about Fuma, Yuta’s bestie. Why no Fuma route?!

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The character designs are nice and have a wide range of different facial expressions and the CGS, although infrequent, are pretty. The backgrounds are taken from still photographs around Tsukuba so, while they aren’t the most attractive to look at, it makes sense to use them and reminds you that this is set in a real place in Japan.

The music is a mixed bag. There are some tracks I really enjoyed, whereas others started to grate on me after a while. I particularly loved the ending track. Also bear in mind that this isn’t a voiced game.

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I would wholeheartedly recommend Campus Notes to mystery fans, as well as anyone who’s bored of cliché dialogue and wants to see interesting, intelligent girls in their visual novels. If you’re picky about plotholes then it might not work for you, but overall the story is filled with smart, interesting dialogue and will surely resonate with anyone with an interest in the sciences. It might even inspire you to study at Tsukuba in the future as the developers, who formed the circle while they were studying there together, hope!

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