on Feb 18 by Shadocchi
Between huge releases and popular games, I return to a simple visual novel called The Letter. Created all the way back in 2005 and then updated in 2007, The Letter is the tale of a son visiting his old home and remembering his father. While he does travel back in time, the story is straightforward and simple with a warm and youthful tone to its writing.
After living in Tokyo for much of his life, Takahiro Watanabe travels back to his old countryside home to visit his mother and pay respects to his father. While he feels no particular attachment to his father who died when he was very young, he still acknowledges his dead parent. One night, after trying to visit the local temple in the rain, Takahiro falls down the steps, sending him to the summer of his childhood and giving him the chance to see everything before it faded away.
As said above, The Letter is incredibly simple. Even though there are some time travel shenanigans, it’s always to-the-point and almost refreshingly warm. There’s a loving, young tone to the whole story that was noted to be present in the Japanese text, which mixes the sadness at death with the warmth of love for one’s family. It feels a lot different to some of the other short title’s I’ve looked at for this segment, and perhaps because everything is kept minimal, the emphasis naturally falls to the narration and its simple observance of family.
As any screenshot will show you, The Letter isn’t one for fancy graphics. Or sprites. Or any original content besides the writing, which is fine if all you’re looking for is a short and sweet bite. The music is borrowed and the backgrounds are blurred photos, but don’t let it detract from your enjoyment of the game. The focus is always on the writing, and thankfully the translation handles it well, enough to make it have its own style compared to other titles.
There’s not much more that can be said about The Letter, given it’s incredibly short and simple. Even though the ending can be predictable and the time travel aspect rather sudden, it’s still cute in a way and enjoyable for half an hour or longer. What makes it stand apart from other visual novels is its slightly different approach to tone and how you can almost see the heart that went into making it. It’s old, for sure, but it has still got its own life.
The Letter is an incredibly simple piece from small team P.o.l.c. that reaches out to you with its warm and loving tone. While there’s nothing in particular to look at, none of its borrowed resources should detract from your experience, and if anything add to the air of simplicity and straightforwardness of the visual novel itself. As a short work, it works as a dose of sweet family love tinged with a tiny bit of sadness that may stick in your mind for some time after you play it.
The Letter was translated as part of Insani’s 2008 al|together line-up and is available for download for Windows or Mac on their site.