Game: Once Again
Genre: Casual, Visual Novel, Adventure
System: Steam (Windows, macOS)
Developer|Publisher: RB Wolf Design and Games
Controller Support: None
Price: US $6.99 | UK £5.19 | EU € 5,69
Release Date: October 3rd, 2022
Review code provided with many thanks to RB Wolf Design.
Once Again is a short visual novel with a sorrowful, yet hopeful, message about loss, memory, and saying goodbye. While originally in Chinese, it has been nearly perfectly converted to English.
The Story of Once Again
Without going too far into spoiler territory, you play as a young man named Sia. Sia has a school assignment to write about his mother, but she is someone he’s never met. On June 6th, his tenth birthday, he falls asleep and wakes to find a magical birthday cake waiting for him.
He blows out the candle and makes a wish, and his wish comes true: he travels back in time and meets his mother when she was alive.
Young Sia’s wish has come true, but he cannot tell her who he is. But he becomes fast friends with her, and the two of them spend some time taking and developing photos. Each summer, on his birthday, Sia receives a new cake and a new wish, and each of them takes him back to spend more time with his mother during her last summer on earth.
Travel with Sia and his mom through that wonderful summer, taking photos travelling, and getting closer. The whole story only takes about an hour to complete, and players will experience a roller coaster of emotions as they follow Sia through his time-travelling adventures.
The Gameplay of Once Again
Once Again plays like a sort of mini puzzle game. Players need to interact with items on the screen to move the action forward. At first, these items were not intuitive at all. For the most part, items that need to be clicked blend in very well with the environment. It’s not easy on several occasions to pick out the interactable item from everything else, which slows the forward momentum of the game and pulls the player out a little.
For the most part, the story is told through subtitles and small movements in each of the photos. It feels a lot like interacting with a digital photo album; it gives a lot more life to the story than flat pictures would.
How Once Again Feels
This story is deeply moving. You can feel Sia’s desperation to find his mother over and over again, waiting whole years until it is once again his birthday. The player lives with him, summer by summer, as he gets closer to his mom and learns about her passion for photography at the same time.
The game overall is very melancholy and has absolutely stunning visuals, and amazing music. The message or moral of the story is beautiful; it’s all about making sure to say goodbye properly whenever you can so you don’t have to live your life with regrets.
However, there are like three total grammatical mistakes in Once Again, but it doesn’t affect the meaning, thoughtfulness, or feel of the game. There aren’t any incomprehensible sentences; just mostly things being said differently than a native speaker would.
I really liked this visual novel; it was certainly unique. I’m not usually a big fan of these kinds of games, but there was something magical about this one. The theme is great, the story of Once Again is heartbreakingly gorgeous, the music is good, and the game does a great job of having unique art for each panel. I find that most visual novels don’t do that; there is always a lot of repeated artwork that can get dull after a while.
This is a fairly inexpensive game, so if you love moving visuals novels, Once Again is a great game for you.
Final Verdict: I Like it a Lot.
Overall, the concept of the story is unique and has the potential to be a heartwarming and emotional tale. I look forward to reading or experiencing more about Sia’s journey and how his relationship with his mother develops over time.