Higurashi When They Cry (ひぐらしのなく頃に Higurashi no Naku Koro ni?, lit. When the Cicadas Cry), known simply as When They Cry for the North American release of the anime adaptation, is a Japanese murder mystery dōjin soft sound novel series produced by 07th Expansion. The games are built on the NScripter game engine and are playable on the Windows operating system. A sound novel is similar to a visual novel in that the gameplay requires relatively little player interaction as most of the game is composed of text dialogues.
The game utilizes intermissions where the player can obtain several Tips. These Tips allow the player to read various supplementary information that may or may not be useful in solving the mystery. For example, one of the Tips can be as simple as “this is a small village; children who go to this school are combined into one classroom regardless of what grade or year they are in.” On the other hand, they can provide valuable hints, such as being able to read the excerpts of the newspaper articles regarding the murders that occurred in Hinamizawa. At the beginning of each of the story arcs, a cryptic poem by someone known as Frederica Bernkastel is read; these reveal some of what is going to happen in the following arc.
1. Lens 2 Surprise
1.1 The players will be surprised by the story of this game. The game tells a murder mystery story, which is hard to be guessed by players.
e.g: The hero of the first story is the murderer, but even the hero himself does not know that, neither the players.
1.2 This game provides tips that may or may not be useful to the players. Players may guess the story by themselves; but the players’ stories are usually much different from the true story, which makes surprise.
2. Lens 4 Curiosity
2.1 This game is only to tell a story. The story is very difficult to predict, and the tips provided to the players increase their curiosity.
2.2 The game puts several separate mystical stories into different part of the game. The players will think of questions such that “what happened to the people” or “who kills them”, and they will not get the answer until they play the later parts of the game (When They Cry: Kai)(“Kai” = “解” = “solution/proof”).
2.3 Some separate stories are related to other stories. When player read a story, they may also think of the questions that previous stories put to their mind.
3. Lens 39 Time
3.1 The length of the gameplay activities is only determined by how long does the player take to read and think about the stories.
3.2 The whole story is quite long, but it is separated into several parts of the game. The player can play the game at anytime, and can finish one part of the game within several hours.
3.3 The game is like a novel, and it let the players think about the truth of the stories at any time and as long as they like. The players are totally free to read and think, with on time limits in the game.
4. Lens 70 Story
4.1 The game really needs a story because it is a sound novel game. The whole game is just to let the player discover the truth of this story.
4.2 It is a murder mystery story, and difficult to reach the truth when the player read it at the first time. It is separated into several small stories, and the small stories are all within the same world and same timeline. The players would be interested in the truth hidden under all these small stories and try to discover it.
5. lens 72 Indirect Control
5.1 The game designer wants the players to be interested in the story and to discover the truth by discussing with other players; also, the game designer would like the players to extend the story by themselves.
5.2 The game let the players to do it without set the goals.
First, it separates the game into several parts, and published them in different time. For example, players can only read the story without knowing any “truth” when the first five parts of the game is published; at that time, the players are willing to discuss the story together to get the truth. And the parts that contain “truth” are published after several months.
Second, it allows any player to rewrite the story as dojin (within the same world, using the same characters and not for making profit) and publish it as novel, manga or any other form. Then the players are free to extend the story to any form and extend the story as they like.
e.g. This game now has been rewrite and transformed to PS2, NDS, IOS and Android; the form of the story now includes games, manga, novels, and TV series. All the extensions mentioned above are done by the players and other dojin groups.
Game Official site: http://www.oyashirosama.com/web/top/index.htm
A Game Review: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w0QKoD40asQ