Key is known for making visual novels that make people cry, such as Kanon, Clannad, and Air. These games tend to be filled with doe-eyed anime girls with tragic pasts that our hero must unravel across dozens of hours of reading and the occasional mini-game. In contrast, Harmonia features only the first of these tropes, as it is a title that a reader can speed through in about five hours even on the highest of text display settings. This places the title firmly in the realm of kinetic novels, visual novels that have no choice for the player to make in order to influence the plot in one way or another, typically called routes in VN terminology. Key has one other kinetic to their name, the space-themed Planaterian, which runs for about the same length of time and shares a science fiction, robot-themed plot with Harmonia. However, whereas Planatarian is a heart-wrenching story of hope in a dying world, Harmonia just sort of meanders through its plot, unable to make the reader care about its very, very small cast of characters and never really reaching a final destination.
As its background goes, the world of Harmonia is a ruinous place where electricity is a rarity and people live simple lives in small towns scattered across a desert backdrop. The hero of this tale of ruin is Rei, a young man who awakes one day in an abandon robotics factory and soon finds purpose in his life helping the people of a small town. The plot from here sees Rei helping the people of his new town solves various issues they may have, such as fixing the projector of a local shop owner so he can watch his filmmaker brother's last film, until secrets begin to be revealed that change his view of not only himself but the small town that he had made his new home.
Now part of the problem with Harmonia is just how meandering and slow it is. Rei and his female friends go from one task to another doing things that barely inform the reader of the secrets behind the Mad Max-esque setting. Due to how little time we spend with these characters, you simply go through the story not caring about them, thus rendering most of the plot entirely pointless. Most of the enjoyment that comes from reading Key visual novels comes from getting to know each character, and via the protagonist's interactions with them, come to care about them and their plights, whatever it may be. In Harmonia however, this simply doesn't happen. For most of the game's six-hour run, we know nothing about them or their past and are left with ciphers that require a key to open that just isn't there. As by the time the game does spring its big revelation on the reader, it seems both nonsensical and completely pointless. So of the four main characters in Harmonia, none of them are interesting or develop terribly well either. This alone makes Harmonia among the worst of Key's visual novel offerings and not one I would recommend to anyone.
Besides its lackluster plot and characters, Harmonia is a bit strange in that it uses NVL mode (as discussed in my review of Umineko) instead of the custom user interface that looks quite a bit nicer than simply displaying text over character sprites and occasionally to the side of them. Because of this, Harmonia feels unfinished and like it was rushed to market simply because they could. Should it be given a clean up, an actual GUI, and some extended story sequences to explain parts of the game world that are simply left up in the air, Harmonia could potentially become a solid entry in Key's storied canon of visual novels. As things stand, it is just not worth a gamer's time or money.
Harmonia is a mess of a visual novel that fails to make the reader feel for its characters or plot and likely should have been put back in the oven for a few months before releasing it on the world.
- Nice Art
- Enjoyable Music
- Overall Package
- Short Length