LifeisXbox’s A Year of Springs Review | Time to embark on three distinctive journeys which revolve around three main characters: friends Haru, Erika, and Manami during your time playing A Year of Springs. These unique and informative short stories all have different topics which are covered to provide us with more awareness when it comes to labels we hear and the emotions that go hand in hand when many people may experience these. Without going into too much detail, A Year of Springs is an interactive visual novel that consists of three separate parts, allowing you to make your own choices from multiple avenues that can and will affect the outcome you inevitably reach. A Year of Springs has been developed by npckc and published Ratalaika Games S.L. is one of the newest releases that ultimately can be seen as short but impactful to create an interesting mixture of video games and reality as we know it.
“I became quite emotional and wholeheartedly welcomed the novels with their real-world approach”
ℹ️ Reviewed on Xbox One S | Review code provided by PR/publisher. This review is the personal opinion of the writer.
What we liked!
- Three separate novels | The first thing I must bring to everyone’s attention is A Year of Springs is set throughout three separate stories. This is something I don’t believe I have experienced in any visual novels up until this point. Each one focuses on a different main character. For example, the first revolves and focuses on Haru, anxious about visiting hot springs for Manami’s birthday. The other two then focus on the other main characters. I actually really liked this approach as this allows different topics to be explored and concentrated on instead of being mixed amongst numerous others. The way they all consist of the same friends also adds a nice touch.
- Touches on reality | The topics that are mentioned are those which some have experienced, are yet to experience, and/or never will experience but are aware of. A Year of Springs not only covers the impact of emotions, ways of connecting with others, and a sense of belonging but also covers important labels. These include, but are not limited to, those who are transgender and the difficulties they can face as well as different sexual orientations that people can discover about themselves. Being someone who is always open to learning more about others and the world, I became quite emotional and wholeheartedly welcomed the novels with their real-world approach.
- Insightful take | Not only were topics spoken about but they were expanded on in further detail, allowing those who aren’t particularly aware or knowledgable about them to try and understand, even if only a little, from other peoples perspectives. The game didn’t just approach a label, mention it, and then continue without fully acknowledging them; the characters were shown to us for the parts they struggled with and how friends tried to support and help them through where possible. With Haru, the thought of going to the hot springs made her/them very nervous as being trans meant she/they didn’t feel comfortable sharing the experience with friends, in fear of making other people uncomfortable and not being confident enough. Focusing on not only being transgender but how this can impact everyday life was insightful and made me understand better what it means to realise and go through life changes, no matter who you are. We all process differently at the end of the day.
- Soothing background music | I greatly appreciated the tranquil sound and music that has been included in A Year of Springs as it brought a wonderful friendly feeling when reading through the novels. Due to this, I felt more able to take in the different stories better as there was no overbearing music to contend with or unwanted sound effects. I was amazed that each novel had different music so nothing was ever repetitive; my ears are ecstatic about this. You can also listen to any of the music separately from an option included in the main menu and I will be the first to admit that on multiple occasions I had this music playing in-between breaks as background noise due to the gentle nature.
- Good performance | Although I wouldn’t expect visual novel titles to have many (if any) performance issues due to the low amount of activity, I have experienced these with similar games rarely; it’s still always nice to play any game without encountering any problems with performance. Everything seemed smooth, including transitions between scenes, dialogue, and menu navigation to create an even more relaxing time for us gamers. Not much more to say other than the entire game could not have run any more trouble-free and effortless.
- Minimalistic detail in appearance | A Year of Springs certainly showcases a simple approach when it comes to the graphics seen throughout the game. The use of pastel colouring gives a neutral feeling, with these shades considered soft and light, to perhaps aim towards the nature of the game being portrayed in calming settings. I do think if harsh colours would have been used that it could have given off the wrong impression and made everything a little daunting making this a great decision. The text itself came off a little childish to me because of the chosen font. The menus were all bold yet subtle. In terms of detail, the use of block colours and bold dividing lines shows off how minimal detail can work but when it comes to visual novels, I personally prefer more detailed imagery to enhance everything.
- Replayability for other endings | To obtain the full completion for A Year of Springs, you must reach every ending the game has for each novel. Choosing different dialogue options can open up other conversations between characters that you may not have already seen. It should be noted, as at first I was unaware, that once you are finished with a playthrough and unlock a new ending, you can open up the extras menu for a little extra summary. There are plenty of achievements related to these and because there is a fair few for you to reach, I would say there is an element of replayability. Unfortunately due to A Year of Springs having relatively short stories and endings that can be reached briskly, I can’t say the replayability is very noticeable and would probably only be played through more than once each novel for completionists.
What we disliked
- On the short side | I would say each novel takes around X minutes to complete that I found was somewhat disappointing. I believe additional detail and dialogue could have been added quite easily in various places throughout each novel to give more depth and length to them all. The overall completion takes between one to two hours if played purely from your own process of elimination, thus working out which dialogue options are necessary to make progress towards the desired endings. Similar to most visual novels games, there is the option to skip text you’ve already read, making playthroughs progress faster. Although this is a welcomed feature, I don’t think the length of A Year of Springs warrants the need for this. In my opinion, greater detail and longer playthroughs create greater enjoyment when playing visual novel games.
How long to beat the story | Approximately Less Than 1 Hour
How long to achieve 1000G | Approximately 1-2 Hours
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Hello, I’m Victoria. I’m from the UK and have been playing video games for as long as I can remember. I’ve pretty much mained Xbox since I was ten years old. Although I find it thoroughly enjoyable to not only experience gameplay, I also find comfort in getting lost and engrossed in the online worlds. Another side of my Xbox passion would be achievements. I thrive when I hear the little sound of one popping up on screen and I’m always finding ways to work on my Gamerscore.