- The story centers on Nara who by accident ends being transported to the Spirit World and meeting Hayato, Shuye, and a cast of various other characters.
- Nara has to survive a month in the Spirit World. The question arises on whether she will be able to survive and if she would finally let go of her hatred or let it consume her completely.
- In this route, Hayato and Nara try to overcome the complexities around their former friendship, though Nara’s bitterness might stop that from progressing any further.
This review will go a bit deeper into the game in regards to story and the character dynamics. To read my initial thoughts about the game, check out my first review talking about the demo.
★ ☆ ✰ Rating: 9/10
It’s been a long time coming but the first route for Spirit Parade was finally released after some delay, but I must say that the wait is sort of worth it! The art hasn’t really changed from the last time that I played the demo, but it still looks as beautiful and mystical as last time. The CGs are amazing and there is so much detailed placed within them, along with the background art. The mini-game is also easy to play, though I was happy once I was able to just bypass it. However, it is the story what really makes this route shine!
As stated before, Nara (name is changeable) is thrown into the Spirit World during its month long festival and decides to to stay with the kitsune family and pay off her debt during her time there. In her time there, Nara comes to find a sort of new independence as she works and figures things out on her own, while also getting to know Hayato’s family better. There is still a giant wall between her and her childhood friend that is really a yokai, Hayato, because of something that he did to her in the past that she still holds a grudge over. On the other hand, Hayato tries his best to help Nara and be protective of her because she is only a human and is limited to what she can do. Depending on the choices made, Nara and Hayato are able to explain where they are coming from and rebuilding their old relationship into something new, or never really get to understand each other.
Personally, it is good to see that Nara can change and grow during her time in the Spirit World and it comes in forms. She can make a complete 180 and forgive Hayato while also coming to understand her parents as she gains the courage to break out of her shell and ask those dreaded questions. However, she can also keep moving forward without ever doing the latter half or simply be set in her own bitterness, though she does pay the consequences for it in some ways. Whatever way she does, Nara has a humane reaction to everything and it is great that the writer knew that everything Nara went through simply couldn’t be forgiven in some instances, especially since she was holding that grudge for so long. In Hayato’s part, it is good that he tries to see things from her perspective and tries to make amends for it in his own way. He still has trouble understanding that Nara doesn’t need him as a protector, but he does make the solid effort but he can also twist his support into something darker that leads to him never seeing Nara again.
Personally, I really enjoyed seeing more of the kitsune family and their interactions with each other, especially between Mikio and Hayato. While, Asuka and Sakuya tend to by more vocal about their disdain towards their older brother’s way of living, Hayato usually stays quiet and even Nara become curious at a certain point, which just adds more intrigue since his route is the next one coming up. However, the player can see tha the family does care about each other in their own ways and that Mikio seems to have a sadder side to him due to what happens to Hayato in a certain bad ending, and how Mikio expresses his feelings afterwards.
After 2 years of waiting, you might be thinking if Spirit Parade was worth the wait. For myself, this route is a great introduction and definitely shows that the game and its characters have a lot to offer. Some might think it is a little on the short side (or that it isn’t what they want without the voices), but it does a good job exploring its characters and their changes, but also leaving for the player to wonder about and setting up for the next route. I am really looking forward to Mikio’s route and what more Spirit Parade has to offer, so consider checking it out!