Norn9 Var Commons Review

Game: Norn9 Var Commons
Genre: Adventure Game, Visual Novel
System: Nintendo Switch (also on PS Vita)
Developer | Publisher: Idea Factory | Aksys Games
Age Rating: EU 12+ | US T
Price: UK £44.99 | EU €49,99 | US $49.99
Release date: March 30th, 2023

Review code used, with many thanks to Reef Entertainment.

Back in Time…

Norn9 Var Commons introduces us to a young boy, Sorata Suzuhara. One day Sorata is on a field trip with his classmates, but suddenly he hears strange music coming from an unknown place. Next thing he knows, he encounters a strange girl who informs him that he’s in Taisho era Japan. The strange girl offers to help him to find his home by boarding a ship she has been waiting for. However, when they find the so-called ship, we find out it is a high-tech spaceship with 12 passengers who are called Espers. The Espers all have a special and yet unknown power they can wield. They are on a journey to help humanity, on the order of a multinational entity called “The World”. This is where their story starts…

The Passengers

This game is a little different from other Otome games. Norn9 Var Commons introduces us to three different heroines with three different love interest routes. Below, you will see all three heroines and which men they are linked with. This will make it easier to find the route you want.

  • Koharu -> Kakeru, Senri, Masamune
  • Nanami -> Heishi, Akito, Ron
  • Mikoto -> Sakuya, Natsuhiko, Itsuki

There are a lot of different route orders you can go with, as you will find online. But this is the route I went with: Kakeru -> Senri -> Heishi -> Sakuya -> Itsuki -> Masamune -> Akito -> Ron -> Natsuhiko.


Koharu is the first person Sorata meets when he travels back in time and one of the three heroines of the game. As her nickname suggests (Ms Weirdo), she is a bit strange when you first meet her. She doesn’t remember her own name, and it seems she isn’t accustomed to having regular conversations. When she learns something new, she writes it all down on a notepad, which she carries around with her. She is the sweetest and most thoughtful person in this game, and her aloofness can be adorable at times.

Her routes were the most endearing ones; this was, of course, due to the fact that she is very inexperienced with love and romance. The routes had a nice pace and were easy to play.


Out of all the girls, Nanami is the quietest in Norn9 Var Commons. She is the type to keep all of her thoughts and emotions under wraps; this is because she has been raised to be very polite by her well-known family. Her family comes from a long line of Shinobi descendants, going all the way back to ancient times. For this reason, the always carries a Kunai knife with her to protect her from unwanted attention. Aside from being more on the shy side, Nanami is strong-willed and will not back down from anything. She also has a lot of patience, which she has to have in order to deal with her lovers. 


Out of the three heroines, Mikoto was the one I most related with. At first, she seems very mature and carries a great responsibility over all the other crew mates. Mikoto’s power is one of the powers we get introduced to at the start of the game. She can create powerful barriers to protect people, items, buildings, etc. This power gave her the nickname The Guardian. Mikoto grew up in a rich family, where everyone has high expectations for her and her powers. Because she grew up rich, she can often act like a princess and be very critical of everything. This makes her a little entitled at the start of the game, but deep down, she is really nice and wants to take care of her fellow female Espers.


In general, Kakeru is kind and always tries to be cheerful. He is also very clever and is good at reading people. This can come off as him being manipulative, but this is often not his intention. Most of the time he hides his real thoughts and personality under a mask so that no one can see what he is really thinking. This is because Kakeru doesn’t want people to see him as weak. Kakeru is one of three passengers who shows his power openly to his companions; he can grow and manipulate plants at will.  

In most of the routes in Norn9 Var Commons, he will mostly tease his companions or put them on the spot. In his own route, we discover that there is more behind the Kakeru mask than he lets on. This was the first route I played, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. He is a good match for Koharu, and his route even made me blush a couple of times. I am not sure everyone will enjoy this smooth talker and his route, but he is one of my favourites.

The clever people reader, Kakeru


Every Otome game has one, the little brother type. This time it is Senri. Senri is very unsociable and tends to keep to his room because he wants to be left alone for a yet unknown reason. He often seems rude due to his lack of communication and communication skills with the other Espers. When Koharu gets to know him, we see that he is protective and will do anything for someone he loves. When Senri wants to relax he loves to go swimming in a pond on the ship or snack on some sweet treats.

I think he is the one that is the most similar matched to Koharu. They are both trying to be brave and want to help the ones they love. Their love is also adorable as they try to figure out how to be together romantically.

The unsociable little brother type, Senri


This is the oldest of all the passengers on the ship. This also makes him the father figure of the group and the peacekeeper. He is very responsible and always has to solve everyone’s problems, but he can also be clumsy and a little awkward at times. The most important task he has on the ship is reporting to The World, this is something he has to do multiple times a day, but he almost never hears anything back. Masamune loves to read and is very knowledgeable about a variety of subjects; he uses this knowledge to tutor some of his fellow crew-mates.

I liked Masamune’s route well enough, but I got a bit of a weird vibe from him. This was maybe due to the big age gap between him and Koharu and that he called her a good girl all the time. I cringed whenever he said this. But overall, their route was enjoyable to play, and it was nice to see another side to Masamune than just being a “big brother”.

The “big brother” Masamune


He is the goofball of the Espers and is friends with everyone. In a lot of routes of Norn9 Var Commons, he also tries to come up with a lot of crazy and fun ideas for the group to keep everyone’s spirits up. He does all of these things because he possesses telepathy, which means he can feel people’s emotions. But his own feelings tend to leak out as well to the other crew mates. Because of this, Heishi tries very hard to hide his emotions and to feel indifferent toward situations, not to upset others. This makes him much smarter than he lets on at the start of the game. 

When playing his route, we find out he has big dreams and will do anything to make these happen. It sometimes makes him seem a little childlike. As for the rest of his route, I just couldn’t get into it for some reason. Heishi and Nanami had a good dynamic as friends, but their romance was a bit childlike for me. 

The cheerful and telepathic Heishi


Akito, at first glance, is the distant, arrogant, and aggressive type. But when we get to know him, he is most definitely affectionate and caring. He is especially caring towards some of his fellow male espers. He will, on occasion, even bake or cook some sweets for the crew. This is a classic example of a Tsundere character. Adding to his caring personality is that he is a good cook and is also the chef on the ship. One thing that made me laugh throughout his route is that he is scared of the Hiyoko’s on board (there are ducks on the ship that are the ship’s staff); every time Akito sees one, he gets really scared or just runs off. 

Akito was also one of the characters I was excited to play, I loved his route, and it was an easy playthrough. Seeing a Tsundere character turn from aggressive and arrogant to affectionate and caring always makes me smile. And this was no different. 

The aggressive-ish and affectionate Akito


If we are talking personality, this guy is the worst. We don’t get to see much of him in most routes, and I even forgot he was there a couple of times. He mostly keeps to himself and if you do come across him, he will say these cryptic comments. He also refuses to learn anyone’s name. Since he keeps to himself, nobody knows anything about him. Ron is the biggest mystery in the game. 

I kind of have a love-hate relationship with Ron. Most of the time, he annoyed me with his cocky attitude, but there was something that entertained me in his route. In the end, it was a surprisingly entertaining route that kept me on the edge of my seat. 

The cocky and cryptic Ron


Born in a rich family and the childhood friend of Mikoto. He is a little entitled and doesn’t seem to have an outspoken personality at first. Sakuya is described as Prince-like and the most handsome man. The only time that we see a real personality from him is when he interacts with Mikoto. He can be very caring and is also intelligent. One of the only things he does, at the beginning of Norn9 Var Commons, is following Mikoto around as a sort of guard dog, trying to protect her anytime something happens. This doesn’t really change throughout the game, unfortunately. Sakuya’s whole route was about him and Mikoto misunderstanding one another and not admitting to loving each other. In the end, it was just not my route, I had difficulty getting through it, and I also thought their love was a bit cringy. 

Intelligent and prince-like Sakuya


He is the biggest flirt on the ship and is always trying to tease the girls with his compliments and jokes. This is likely because he grew up in a pleasure district, where he learned to seduce women and make them happy with his words. But Itsuki is very good at hiding his real personality; he would never communicate his true feelings and thoughts to others. This personality he built makes sure people don’t take him too seriously, so they don’t find out how cunning and intelligent he can be.

He is definitely in my top two favourite men. His route was so good, and he had some nice character development throughout it. Itsuki’s flirtatious nature was such fun to play with, and it did make me blush on multiple occasions. I liked Itsuki from the start, and I had high hopes for his route; it certainly didn’t disappoint. And as a side note, there are some more intense scenes in this route, which was a nice change of pace from some of the other routes. 

The flirtatious and cunning Itsuki


In the game, we meet him as the intruder of the ship. Aside from the occasional sighting when he is attacking the ship or doing an interview with the Hiyoko’s, we don’t see much of him. He is very cold, and it almost seems like he has no emotions. For a yet unknown reason, he is searching for Espers, who have unique powers, going so far as trying to abduct them. Natsuhiko is very much into technology and inventing different types of machines and other technology. 

This was by far my favourite character, and I think many people will think so. The relationship he has with Mikoto is so perfect, and they really complement each other, and with this route, you also get a lot of intense content. Be warned 😆. Story-wise, it was recommended to leave Natsuhiko till the last, and I totally agree with that. This route is the one that ties the whole plot together and has a proper satisfied ending. 

Unemotional tech nerd Natsuhiko

Visuals and Sound

Since the original game on the PS Vita was released in 2015, the graphics looked fine but just a bit more simple than some other Otome games I have played in the past years. This is to be expected. I was entranced by the overall geometric glass and cloud theme of Norn9 Var Commons and in the OP, which gave it a slightly futuristic feel. The backgrounds throughout the game were also very detailed, which I can appreciate. 

I really enjoyed the background songs in the game, and they fit the mood. I even admit to having listened to the BGM’s (Background Music) in my spare time, just to feel like I am playing the game. The opening and ending songs were also nice to listen to; I would even go out of my way to let the songs play in the game without skipping. 


There are a few things to note about the system. First of all, you can’t use your left joystick to move through the menu; you have to use the buttons on the left. This confused me at first, but you get used to it.

In the game, you get an affection meter you can access at any time to see your affection progress with a character. Paired with this is an affection Up icon you see when making the right choice. This came in useful because normally, in an Otome game, I am left guessing what the right answer is. Thus you get a real-life tracker of how you are doing on a route.

A maximum effection level

Menu items

Lastly, we get a lot of extra items in this game. We have the usual content, such as the Gallery and the Movie, but in Norn9, we have a Norn9 Quest, Norn9 Store, Norn + Ensemble, and the HYK (Hiyoko Channel). Starting with the most confusing one, the Norn9 Quest. This game can be played to earn points for the Norn9 Store, which confused me. I didn’t have to do anything to earn or lose points, so I am not really sure what the point is of the game.

The Norn9 quest in retro style

Next up is the Norn9 Store. As the name suggests, this is a store where you can buy all of the route’s short stories, weird photoshopped illustrations (some of them did make me cackle), 4-Panel Comics, and the Background music collection.

Norn + Ensemble is also a sort of game. After finishing a route, you get two new keywords; with these keywords, you can make a character say your favourite lines like you are conversing with them. Basically, you can create entire sentences with some of the characters’ taglines.

Finally, we have come to the funniest system extra, the Hiyoko Channel. Throughout all of the routes, you will be asked to turn on the television or not. When you do, you will see the Hiyokos interviewing the Norn passengers in a TMZ style. These interviews are about the most random topics, and they made me laugh. They also added a fun break in the routes.

The Hiyoko Channel interviewing Natsuhiko

Overall thoughts

Right off the bat, the concept of Norn9 Var Commons piqued my interest. It is not something I have seen before, and it turned out to be super interesting. One minor note of the concept was that there were a lot of plot holes, and not all the routes were finished nicely. Of course, I can’t give too much away, but I will just say not everything is what it seems.

At the start of the game, when we met Sorata, I was super confused about where the game was going. I should also note that I hadn’t read any summary of this game, so that I would be surprised. But when Sorata joined the ship, this luckily cleared up my confusion. Whilst we are on the topic of Sorata, other than the prologue, Sorata didn’t have any major part in the game. In almost every route, I even forgot about him completely, and so did the game. After playing the routes, I understand the bigger part he has to play in the game, as we find out in Sorata’s epilogue, but maybe they should have involved Sorata more in the other stories.

Sorata and a Hiyoko

Lengthwise, Norn9 Var Commons gives you so much playtime. This is because there are three heroines to play, each with three love interests. The game took me quite a while to finish, and I didn’t mind it one bit. In terms of quantity, this game is definitely worth the money. I also thought using three heroines was unique. I have personally never seen this before in an Otome game, and because of this, you get a lot of different personalities and variety in gameplay. The heroines were diverse, and every character had a unique personality. You can see the creators spent a lot of time and effort in making the characters’ looks and personalities unique. 


Norn9 Var Commons is a pretty good start to my Otome year. It has a lot of different, well-thought-out characters. I think there is a character everyone can relate to. The story itself left me curious about where it would go, and I loved the sci-fi theme that the whole game has. Whether it was a well-beloved game for you when it first came out or whether you are looking for a new Otome game, this is a good one. I think, even though the game is a remake of an older game, it still brings something new to the Otome world.

Final verdict: I like it a lot

I like it a lot


  1. I’m glad to see this game appear on the Switch, nearly a decade after its original release on the Vita. I always thought of it as a hidden gem, one of the finest otomes I’ve ever played ; I hope that Switch release will allow more otome aficionados to discover it!

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