After around 4 years, Laura Shigihara's first original game finally released today. Rakuen is inspired by classics like To the Moon, which Laura herself provided the theme song to, and takes you on an S-Grade Emotional Roller Coaster.
Rakuen is an adventure game about a little Boy who lives in the hospital. One day, the Boy asks his Mom to escort him to the fantasy world from his favorite storybook, so that he can ask the Guardian of the Forest to grant him one wish. In order to receive his wish, the Boy must complete a set of challenges that revolve around helping his neighbors in the hospital by interacting with their alter-egos in the fantasy world...
...A cranky old man who guards a broken music box with his life while complaining that he never gets any visitors; a young woman in a coma whose husband hasn’t left her side in months; a little girl who laments over a friend she was never able to say goodbye to after growing ill… The Boy slowly begins to realize that his neighbors are plagued by secrets and struggles that are mysteriously tied to the strange hospital.
- Heartwarming and character-rich story.
- A unique non-combat adventure that mixes whimsical dungeons, eerie room escape puzzles, and dialogue-based mysteries that are intricately tied to the story.
- Walk a mile in everyone's shoes as you traverse each character's life to learn about their unfinished business and help them through it.
- An original soundtrack featuring multiple vocal songs that are closely tied to each character.
- Collect items and build friendships to gradually make the hospital a better place.
- Go on humorous quests for strange creatures in the fantasy world.
I just played through the first 45 minutes (instead of 2+ hours as I was planning to, thanks to PC issues) and I had to stop there and make a thread. The game is gorgeous, touching and the characters so far have all felt relatable in some way. Dialogue made me smile broadly, and sad too. I can't wait to see how the story unfolds, especially now that Mom has arrived and read the Boy from Rakuen...
The soundtrack is incredible (as was to be expected from supershigi). Even if you have no intention of playing this yourself (what the hell is wrong with you?!), you owe it to yourself to check out the Bandcamp page where Laura is selling the soundtrack. Don't worry, you can actually listen to the entire thing in your browser without paying a dime. It is a soothing, colorful selection of both lyrical and instrumental tracks that should be enchanting enough for anybody.
The game launched at $9.99/9,99€ today and I'd say it is absolutely worth that much and more. However, if you're tight on cash, I'm sure it'll go on sale during the upcoming Steam Summer Sale (probably around late June to mid July), so even if you can't buy it right now, wishlist it for later.
I waited four years for this gem. So far I am in love with it.