The visual novel is an unusual concept to the Western gaming community. Some games have reached mainstream by giving the player a chance to become involved in the story’s direction. However, Petit Novel Series- Harvest December sticks to its Japanese roots with its in-depth storytelling, without gameplay. This aspect requires the individual to take a backseat and just watch the events unfold.  Harvest December, while a great effort, may not be great game to introduce newcomers of the genre.

The game is broken down into 13 chapters, each representing a different month of the year. This helps with the breakdown of the overall story, but it’s difficult to get through some chapters in one sitting due to drawn out parts that have no context to the overall plot.

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Without gameplay, Harvest December includes a narrative that centers on Masaki Konno and his coming of age. Masaki’s main problem throughout the story is the love triangle with Yuki Towada, the daughter of the richest family in Tagami and Shiro-Sama, the local goddess. This narrative shows Masaki growing up and having to face issues such as love, loss, infidelity, and abortion. Masaki also has a large number of friends that are introduced in different chapters, some further the plot, while others are one dimensional – the story could have progressed better without them. Throughout the main narrative the player will experience side stories through the perspective of Masaki’s friends Kouhei and Mizuho, these stories loosely come back into play through the main narrative, but sometimes feel too long and over explained.

There is no voice acting, so the player will have to read to fully understand the story. [As the title implies the amount of reading involved is about the length of a short novel such as the Great Gatsby.] This poses no issue, with the exception of a few drawn out scenes and a couple of translations. The game  functions well in the since that auto scroll can be set to move as fast as the player wants, but lacks features that are common with the Nintendo 3DS, such as 3D and touch capabilities. This lack of functionality is not detrimental to the immersion, mostly in part of the lack of full motion animation.

Harvest December is a game that, while charming, is not suited for everyone. If you are a fan of Japanese culture, anime or manga, I would highly recommend this game, especially for the price of $11.99. The game has a lot of dragging sections, but the emotional moments throughout make this a game that is at least worth a playthrough.