Higurashi: When They Cry

released on Aug 10, 2002

Higurashi: When They Cry is a Japanese murder mystery visual novel. The series is focused on a group of young friends and the strange events that occur in the rural village of Hinamizawa, where they reside. The gameplay requires relatively little player interaction as most of the game is composed of text dialogues. The original release contained no voice acting for the characters. The game utilizes intermissions where the player can obtain several Tips. These Tips allow the player to read various supplementary information that may or may not be useful in solving the mystery.

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It was Ryukishi's first work, so of course it's a bit rough around the edges. But beneath its tropey silliness is substantial and emotional writing, with a solid message about relying on others that ties it all together. Higurashi is excellent at exploring the intricacies of abusive situations and how people stuck in them react. Even though the abusers themselves are portrayed a bit too one-dimensionally evil for my tastes, the victims' characterization more than makes up for it. Satoko, Satoshi, and Shion are each incredible depictions of the way these different toxic mindsets manifest in people's lives, and the amount of moral complexity that the latter two have makes it consistently a joy to watch their development. Keiichi is quite the engaging protagonist. Usually I feel like a lot of media makes 'average guy' protagonists such blank slates that it prevents interesting characterization, but Keiichi isn't weighed down at all by this problem, standing as his own fully-explored person. Seeing his internal moral debates with himself over the events of Onikakushi and especially Tatarigoroshi is really engaging, particularly in how he applies his own paranoia-filled rationale to the people around him. The story's also surprisingly good at tying this together by exploring the ideological throughline between all of their situations as well as the unique one Rika is in, even if trying to tie so many complex situations together means some things get a bit oversimplified. Ultimately, Higurashi is a story that simply explores a lot of complicated situations in life with a great amount of nuance, somewhat awkwardly but still decently managing to craft a coherent whole out of them. And despite the ways it stumbles, I can't help but respect it.

maybe its not fair to review a series i havent finished but idgaf. this game is everything. i dont understand it tbh but thats okay because i love it.

Truly a masterpiece. A confusing, mind binding, beautiful work that I can’t stop reading. The suspense is thrilling, the horror is crafted a million times better than whatever the fuck the survival horror genre is doing, and the mystery, while having all the clues laid out in front of you, allows you to theorize so much on what is going on Hinamizawa and what is truly happening. Also I’m happy the SoL content was cut in Ch. 4.

Since this entry contains Chapters 1 to 4, I'm gonna review them individually (with as little spoilers as possible) and add a summary for the bundle itself after all of them to sum up my thoughts on it as a whole.
Note: you can also find these reviews submitted individually in the respective chapters' pages.
---[Higurashi Ch. 1 ~ Onikakushi]---
Score: 9/10
Considering this chapter is free on Steam, if I didn't have the rest of Higurashi in my possession already this would have sold me on the entire thing. Great start, great presentation of the whole premise, I love the characters and the SoL content. After the first half finishes this turns into one of the best experiences I've had in this medium so that really means something. Overall, a really good experience and a great start, setting the mysteries you'll want to unravel from here onwards.
---[Higurashi Ch. 2 ~ Watanagashi]---
Score: 9/10
Even though it's still a really enjoyable chapter, it didn't hit nearly as hard as Chapter 1 did. The Slice of Life content is still really good and entertaining and so is the more serious and eerie stuff, but it lacked impact compared to Chapter 1 (it may not be fair to compare it as much but oh well). Considering giving it a 8 due to the weird pacing at times and the lack of impact, but it still deserves a 9. Still great with the introduction of new characters and setting up the mystery even further.
---[Higurashi Ch. 3 ~ Tatarigoroshi]---
Score: 10/10
This is so far the peak of Higurashi, this whole chapter is amazing from start to finish, Satoko went from being my least favourite main character to one of my favourite characters overall. A specific optional tip in Day 7 made me die inside a bit, which is the only time this game had this kind of impact on me. The second half of this chapter is just perfectly written and crafted, Keiichi really shows how good of a MC he can be, and the entire ending of this left me in awe. If it does get better than this, I'm in for a ride.
---[Higurashi Ch. 4 ~ Himatsubushi]---
Score: 8/10
I don't really have much to say about this, to be completely honest. It gave more mystery to some existing unknowns and it was a nice change of pace from the previous three chapters. Ooishi and the MC really shine here, but as much as I like this chapter, giving it a 9/10 would be unfair to the other three, as this one really shows it's a bonus chapter at times (plus it's quite short compared to the rest). Still worth it and a great time regardless.
---[Higurashi no Naku Koro ni (Question Arcs)]---
Score: 9/10
Definitely a solid read that has captured my attention completely, as I love both sides/natures of what it has to offer. If it gets better than this, sign me in for the Answers Arcs (which I'm probably starting soon enough).