Growing up in a world that’s vast and full of discovery isn’t easy for everyone, especially in an environment that’s rapidly changing around you. In Last Stanza, we follow a group of a young students who all experience their own unique highs and lows, and share their emotions with you the reader as you dive deeper into the narrative. Unlike most other visual novels, Last Stanza focuses more on the slice of life category, and places most of its attention on a variety of characters rather than just the main protagonist. You get to see different perspectives which help to broaden your perspective on what’s taking place around them, but also you get to truly discover each character and their unique traits. Each and every one of them has their own story to tell. Are you ready to hear them all?
What to Expect
Last Stanza is a visual novel that’s quite linear in its story route, but it provides a sensational narrative that conveys an important message about life, along with its many obstacles, and how we can cope with them in order to move forward. Much of the story touches on issues relating to death, depression, loneliness, joy, and sadness, just to name a few. This story really helps to cement the point that life is not all glitz and glamour and that oftentimes, it’s all just an imperfect conundrum of events that we have to come to accept. We all have to deal with loss at some point, whether it be with someone very close to us or perhaps having to sacrifice ourselves in order to share our happiness with someone who’s in pain. Last Stanza paints that picture quite vividly and while there isn’t any voice acting to really help convey the emotions more accurately, the in-game music does so splendidly and you’re able to truly understand what’s happening during every scene. Expect an artstyle that’s anime-inspired but carves its own artistic path with character and background design, which gives Last Stanza its own uniqueness.
Last Stanza is a kinetic novel which means that unlike most visual novels where players have a choice, and that choice guides you down a predetermined path, it’s a singular script that’s written without any sort of alternate routes. This doesn’t mean that the story is going to be bland by any means; in fact, Last Stanza’s story is packed full of surprises and you’ll only be able to experience them once you play all the way through.
Kicking things off, we’re going to take a look at the visuals, since they do sort of reflect the narrative in some way or another. The art-style, as we mentioned earlier, does take inspiration from anime, but Last Stanza creates its own distinct style that helps to convey emotions in a delicate, understanding way. It’s by no means jaw-dropping or groundbreaking, but its simple approach is perhaps what provides enough meaning, and helps to breathe life into the characters. The UI is clean and pleasing which doesn’t get in the way of the dialogue, and you’re able to customize the way things look via the options menu.
Last Stanza does a splendid job in this area because the well orchestrated music really helps to evoke emotion out of you while reading, but it also helps to paint a more accurate picture of just what’s taking place. For example, in moments where Liam and Lena are in somewhat of an emotional disconnect, the music shifts into a very dramatic tone and really helps to emphasize just how the two of them are feeling in that very moment. Other times, the music shifts into a more buoyant tone, helping to lighten things up and provide you with the cue that something good is about to unfold. We feel that this section is what really helps to sell Last Stanza very well, aside from its impactful story of course.
In terms of gameplay, Last Stanza is a visual novel that’s described more as a kinetic novel due to its very linear path, and its centered around a singular script. To dip a little bit into the narrative, much of the game is centered around Liam, a young student with a pretty melancholy approach to his daily routine. A lot has happened in his life and you start to see how much it affects him because of how close he was to certain people within the story. Beatrice, Liam’s closest friend, also has her own emotional revelations that we come to discover as the story progresses. Last Stanza really places a big emphasis on loss, and learning to cope with it in a variety of ways.
As you’ll see in the story, each character has their own history and how they deal with it differs from person to person. Liam just can’t seem to let go of his past, which often blur his state of mind and leaves him in this somewhat dream-like state that often bothers Beatrice. Beatrice is the polar opposite of him in that she’s the more cheerful and amiable, always trying her best to bring Liam back to life in some way or another. You start to see just how much things start to eat away at Beatrice slowly, and that she’s growing tired of trying to maintain a happy-go-lucky vibe around Liam all the time. The whole aspect of this experience is to help draw a much more clearer picture on the fact that learning to cope with your inner demons isn’t an easy feat, and oftentimes it requires the help of others to really bring you out of that dark shell you’ve been living in.
Last Stanza helps us to better understand human emotions and make us realize that life itself is never perfect, but because of those imperfections life itself is actually quite balanced. We can’t have good without bad, love without pain, and joy without sadness. Last Stanza illustrates this well with its characters, who are all trying to find themselves in some way or another, with Diana for example going through the loss of her grandmother and learning to share that pain with everyone so openly in the literature club. Stephen and William are two other examples of polar opposites, where Stephen is the more composed and articulate in his ways, while William doesn’t take himself very seriously and sort of brings Stephen back down to reality at times. Friendship and bonding is one surefire way to develop stronger long-term relationships, and Last Stanza coneys that message incredibly well.
Honey's Gameplay Consensus:
In the end, while it certainly was short when compared to other visual novels, Last Stanza provided us with a look into a world that felt all too real. That of course is a good thing because it helps us to better realize and perhaps even clarify within ourselves, that we are in fact human and emotions are meant to be expressed in some way or another. While we may not agree with some of these emotions at times, it’s important to extend your hand out to those who may be experiencing something off-putting, and bring them back into a place of comfort. As students in a literature club that may be a bit challenging, but if there’s one thing that Last Stanza teaches us is that anything can be overcome, it all just requires some assistance from those around you who care.
A wonderfully scripted short story about young students who must learn to overcome their own struggles to see brighter days ahead.
Unique character design.
The music really helped to set the tone better.
It’s certainly short due to the lack of alternate paths, so not many people may find that appealing.
Honey's Final Verdict:
We hope that you found our review of Last Stanza to be an enjoyable one. Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below, and don’t forget to follow us on our social media to know what’s happening in our world! If you’d like to catch us playing some of our reviewed titles live, then check out our official Twitch channel! Visual novel fans should really check this one out because while it’s certainly short, it’s a sweet one.
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Author: Rob "NualphaJPN" B.
A passionate fan of gaming, writing, journalism, anime, and philosophy. I've lived in Japan for many years and consider this place to be my permanent home. I love to travel around Japan and learn about the history and culture! Leave a comment if you enjoy my articles and watch me play on twitch.tv/honeysgaming ! Take care!