The Clannad anime series is a much-loved anime series and people talk about it's heartfelt story,humor and drama elements that many people can relate to.The Clannad visual novel was actually released before the Clannad anime,the Clannad visual novel was released in 2004 for PC and has been ported to many consoles/portables and this review is for the PS3 version.
As you probably guessed,the Clannad visual novel has many of the same story elements that the Clannad anime has,but being like most other visual novels it allows you to make story decisions and Clannad has many story arcs and they can take the story in some very different directions and you can make the main character who's a male named Tomoya end a story arc as the boyfriend of one of at least 5 different girls.After you complete each story arc you can do the after story which shows the lives of the characters up to 10 years after they graduate highschool.Even though the Clannad visual novel has many different story arcs for it's main story and after story it has a true story arc to follow(which if you complete is rewarded with a gold trophy that says you've completed the true story arc)and the true story arc is very similar to the Clannad anime but it does have some big differences which I won't spoil.
Part of the reason you'll want to try to activate different story arcs is because you'll want to find all the light orbs because it does something important for the story.You can make decisions that will allow Tomoya to play pranks or you can make decisions that will effect baseball results or that will allow somebody to perform a long combo attack on another character and there's other types of outcomes that can happen from the decisions you make.
However,making the right decisions to activate certain story arcs isn't as easy as it sounds because you'll often have to make the right decision nearly everytime from a choice from at least 3 decisions(sometimes even more)to stay on that story arc.It's possible to go off all the story arcs to get a bad ending.
For people who don't know,Clannad's story setting begins in highschool and the main character named 'Tomoya' is a teenage male who's had a rough upbringing at home and has experienced personal tragedy and he doesn't care about his school grades,he doesn't listen to his teachers etc.He can't even play baseball anymore(which he loves)because his right arm is permanently damaged.Tomoya meets a girl named 'Nagisa' who's constantly sick with a type of illness that makes her immune system weak and it causes her to miss a lot of school and
she had to repeat her final year of highschool.
END OF SPOILER
She isn't very confident in social situations and she enjoys drama but she was disappointed the drama club got disbanded.Tomoya and Nagisa become friends and they support eachother through tough situations and they meet other friends who want to help start another drama club and Tomoya's and Nagisa's relationship has the potential to blossom into something more than just friendship.The story has other characters with enjoyable and diverse personalities/hobbies/backgrounds.The story can be very spiritual at times too.
The story then moves into the after story phase which occurs after highschool and lasts up to 10 years after the characters have graduated highschool and some of them are married and have children.It shows the relationship of certain characters with their children and it's very heartwarming.But the after story has some potentially heart breaking moments too.I like how the characters develop/evolve as people and seeing how the lives for the characters are when they're in highschool and in adulthood.It's heartwarming seeing some of the characters sharing a special moment with their children and husband/wife.
The artstyle for the game is still beautiful after all these years and breath taking with stunning views of things such as sunsets or a nice use of rainfall effects or you'll see a lot of things going on in the school,in dorms,you'll see nice urban areas in Japan and beautiful cherry blossom trees and the game will even take you to nice tropical locations and the romantic scenes and scenes of characters playing with their kids or scenes of characters with their spouse and children are beautifully done.The artstyle does look a bit dated(keep in mind,this game was released in 2004)but it looks beautiful nonetheless.Some scenes look very spiritual and the art effects for those scenes is wonderfully done and use beautiful light effects and it's hard to explain it without spoiling it for you.
The music is beautiful and relaxing/peaceful and it helps you feel the emotion of the story more.The music also suits the funny moments or the spiritual moments.
Overall,I loved experiencing this game from start to end and after I finished it I didn't want it to end because the characters grew on me so much and I felt as if I was a part of their lives.This game is one of the most captivating visual novel/anime series I've ever experienced.Unfortunately,the PS3 version of this game is only available in Japanese language.If you want to play a translated version of this game,you'll need to have the PC version of this game and download the fan-made translation patch.
If I score this game as a visual novel and not an actual video game I'll give a score of 9.75 out of 10.The only reasons I don't give this game a score of 10 is it's visuals look a bit dated despite still being very beautiful from an artistic perspective and the game was insanely expensive to buy(cost me over 90 AUD).