Visual novels—especially those based on horror or adult themes—have had a hard time being popular in the west. With the current climate of the world, games that push you to face dark themes like rape, sexual misconduct, assault, murder and horror are usually considered snuff and are typically banned from every gaming outlet. That’s why we were surprised that the 2003 Saya no Uta—known as The Song of Saya in the US—was given a new life once more on Steam. Filled with dark themes and mature content, The Song of Saya screams to be banned from Steam but somehow is available to download and play. Despite its dark genres, we will say this now, The Song of Saya is a game meant to be played by those who love adult themed VNs. Why you might ask? We will give you that reason below as review The Song of Saya in depth. Final warning readers, this game isn’t for those weak constitutions or are of the younger crowd.
What to Expect
The Song of Saya is a visual novel—VN for short—that follows a young college student who has had his life twisted and distorted. On the cusp of losing his mind, our protagonist meets a young girl who seems to be the only normal thing left for him to hold onto. As you play The Song of Saya, you’ll need to guide this young man as he tries to balance his new world and his older existence. Make choices that will alter his reality and witness what happens to those who see beauty in the depths of hell…
Sakisaka Fuminori had a future filled with dreams and aspirations. As a medical student, Fuminori had friends and even a possible career when he finished his college days. Unfortunately, that life was ripped away from his hands when Fuminori and his family were involved in a tragic accident that killed all but him. Upon waking up from a long sleep, Fuminori saw the world not as the bright vista it once was but a living nightmare-scape filled with demon-like beings and guts/blood all over. As he began to lose his mind, Fuminori then found solace in a young girl named Saya who—unlike all of his friends who now resembled hellish beings—looked normal. Can Fuminori make a new life with this strange girl and survive the madness that is engulfing his soul?
Visual novels with the eroge moniker tend to be fan service heavy or just filled with adult themes. The Song of Saya however was something that originally changed the game back when it was released back in 2003. Developed by Nitroplus—who love their oppai and mature themes—The Song of Saya (Saya no Uta) focused less on boobs and more on horror that attacked the senses. In 2013, The Song of Saya was released, but now in 2019, a new version with revamped visuals, system stability and improved subs has graced Steam. However, is The Song of Saya worth picking up and does it truly deserve such high praise as it once got long ago? We find out in our full review of The Song of Saya for the PC!
Like most VNs, The Song of Saya is pretty simple. Read a lot of text and make choices that lead to numerous endings. Let us say that probably our only issue with The Song of Saya is that it’s very focused on traditional VN themes. Given its original release though, it’s unrealistic to expect The Song of Saya to break away from the old mechanics of most VNs of that time period. While newcomers to VNs—those who have seen games like The Letter and/or Corpse Party: Book of Shadows—might sigh at the lack of interaction, many will find it doesn’t matter. The Song of Saya plays like almost every VN out there, but its story sure as heck doesn’t.
The Song of Saya quickly hits you with audio that sounds like something from hell is trying to communicate with you and it’s unsettling. That’s because our main character—Fuminori—hears and sees the world as a hellish landscape. People aren’t people anymore but instead resemble tentacle-like beasts who speak in a garbled version of Japanese. In reality though, Fuminori is the only one perceiving the world like this due to his near fatal car crash. That’s why when he meets the normal looking Saya—who looks quite young looking—he’s overjoyed. This is the main theme of The Song of Saya, beauty in the depths of ugliness. There’s a romance story here, but it’s not your usual romance. There’s horror here, but it’s also not your usual flavor of horror. The Song of Saya isn’t like any other visual novel we’ve played here at Honey’s Anime and its strength lies in that concept.
With several endings, The Song of Saya throws players into a world of madness quickly and constantly. Fuminori and his friends—or more so his former friends—are thrown into his nightmare as he begins to fall more in love with Saya and she—in turn—falls in love with him. Saya begins to do various actions—which we won’t spoil—that cause Fuminori’s life to change dramatically. As you play through the semi-short The Song of Saya, you’ll begin to see a horror VN that makes you dwell on what is wrong and right quite intensely. Is Fuminori wrong for loving something clearly not human? Are his friends truly understanding his predicament? Where does life and death draw a fine line between right and wrong? Expect yourself to be challenged by these questions while you play The Song of Saya. You’ll find that answers in this game aren’t so simple.
What helps The Song of Saya even more is the artwork which is just…unique. Saya might be very anime-like with her cat-like hair and her pale skin, but most of the other characters resemble a mix of western and eastern themes. While the CG backdrops are used and repeated a lot—and we mean a lot—they always show you the beauty and hell that these characters are walking through. Seeing Fuminori’s world never grows old and those who love horror titles like Silent Hill with come to appreciate its twisted design of blood and entrails everywhere. There are some more adult CG scenes in The Song of Saya, but the Steam version is a bit censored and while we aren’t sure which scenes from the original have been altered we do know the original version was very—very—mature orientated.
The final amazing element to The Song of Saya is the OST, which is just downright breathtaking. From the very first few minutes to the last several hours, The Song of Saya’s OST fills your ears with songs that are haunting and equally mesmerizing. The voice acting—even the garbled audio—makes each character sound incredible and adds life to this brilliant title. We recommend highly you grab some solid headphones and play The Song of Saya. This way, the music will capture you and immerse you into this nightmare you don’t want to wake up from.
Honey's Gameplay Consensus:
The Song of Saya is an experience that can’t be described in words. As soon as we began our time with The Song of Saya we understood this wasn’t an ordinary VN. Filled with a fusion of horror, romance and adult themes/genres, The Song of Saya hits you in ways you won’t expect and probably won’t be able to understand. At times you’ll love and hate characters all while wondering…why? Is Fuminori twisted for loving the only “normal” looking thing in his life—in this case Saya—or are those around him twisted for judging him? Fuminori will do things that are evil and horrible—no spoilers but the guy isn’t innocent—but you will find yourself wondering if he had a choice in the matter or was always destined to be this way. The Song of Saya is a VN we say you must play if you love horror done right. While it might not have many choices you can make, the few it has are enough and it’s why we can honestly recommend The Song of Saya for anyone who is mature enough to handle it.
Haunting narrative that will cause your mind to question everything you come across.
Beautifully done CG images that are both scary, horrifying and beautiful.
Gripping OST that stays with you long after you turn the game off.
Numerous endings with truly different end results.
Relies heavily on the old style of VNs
Might be too mature for some to handle
Honey's Final Verdict:
Those who explore our world daily who know that life is filled with beauty and horror. What The Song of Saya does as a VN is it makes you remember that life for every person is different and sometimes what seems disgusting to one might be enticing to another. Are the actions in The Song of Saya right or wrong? That will be up to you to decide as you play. We don’t condone violence or sexual misconduct, but The Song of Saya puts you face to face with these themes and reminds you that these elements do exist in life and isn’t afraid to make you ponder the ramifications of what a person will do for their own existence. The Song of Saya is a must play adult themed game and we hope you guys/girls will try it out if you’re of the right mindset! Have you already entered the waking nightmare that is The Song of Saya? Let us know in the comments below and for more game reviews, be sure to stick with us here at Honey’s Anime!
Hey everyone I’m Aaron Curbelo or Blade as I’m called by my YouTube Subscribers. I’ve been an anime/manga fan since I was a young kid. In terms of anime I have watched nearly a thousand shows and have read hundreds of manga series. I love writing and honestly was so happy to join Honey’s Anime to get a shot to write articles for such a wonderful site. I’m a firm believer in respect in the anime community being the most important embodiment we should all have. We all love anime and we have varying opinions of series but we should respect one another for those differences! Life is too precious to spend it making needless arguments in a community that should be the shining example of loving an amazing medium. I hope as a writer for Honey’s Anime I can bring you folks some amazing articles to read and enjoy!