SumagaThe second work of one of the lesser known NitroPlus writers, Shimokura Baio (下倉バイオ), Sumaga is a mix of mystery, comedy and horror set in a quirky world on a brink of extinction.

What sets this novel apart from others is its mind-blowing approach to storytelling; the amnesiac protagonist is able to restart each day anew whenever he dies with some of his memories left intact. Through multiple deaths he, along with the player, has to find a way to motivate and guide giant-monster-fighting young witches through the battles in a way as to to cause the least casualties. Nothing is simple, however, with many situations forcing the protagonist to choose between whom he should sacrifice and whom he should save as he advances the world to an otherwise nonexistent tomorrow. It’s basically like Groundhog’s Day just on a far bigger scale.

Unfortunately, despite the fantastic premise, Sumaga is not really as exciting as it sounds, mainly due to underwhelming characters who are either too boring to care about or too ditzy to be taken seriously. It also has some pacing issues, sometimes making it feel like it takes forever to get anywhere because of all the overabundant romantic-comedy-esque scenes.

The overarching mystery itself is quite a curious affair indeed and apart from picking your interest also offers a plethora of surreal Freudian happenings to blow your mind. Another peculiar thing about this vn is that once you solve the mystery, you unlock alternate routes for the three main heroines. However, with the mystery solved, they feel like meat & potatoes, without the meat, so, not being a big fan of the characters anyway, I just ended skimming through those.

Sumaga is a mixed bag of exciting mind-blowing concepts, pacing issues and awkward characters. Despite its faults, however, it should still be checked out by anyone interested in visual novels just to experience its fascinating storytelling method, which blows even Groundhog’s Day to dust. Now I’m really looking forward to see what next Shimokura Baio will come up with.

Positive: Negative:
Innovative storytelling Awkward characters are hard to relate to
Side-heroine Oki is a pretty interesting character Slow pace
Mind-blowing surreal mysteries

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