Review: Higurashi When They Cry Hou – Ch.3 Tatarigoroshi

Any fan of mysteries and visual novels has probably heard of the Higurashi series before. Last year, MangaGamer began the long task of retranslating and re-releasing this historic series in English. It all started off with Higurashi When They Cry Hou – Ch.1 Onikakushi which introduced players to the rural Japanese town of Hinamizawa as protagonist Keiichi moved there with his family. Almost immediately, he makes friends with a group of girls in his class of all ages. This group provides for all sorts of fun and hijinks, but this is just an early distraction from what comes next. As the story proceeds, things grow a lot darker, as there is apparently a curse on the town which causes targeted people to die once a year during the Watanagashi.

Questions such as whether there is really a curse, and if not, who is behind the killings permeate the once happy atmosphere with dread. These questions were not answered by the end of Ch.1 Onikakushi, nor were they resolved by the end of Ch.2 Watanagashi. In fact, the mysteries continue to compound as the story twists and turns in Higurashi When They Cry Hou – Ch.3 Tatarigoroshi. The nature of the Higurashi series is that the whole visual novel is spread across two main “arcs.” The first half is known as the Question Arc and presents players with copious mysteries, while the Answer Arc finally starts to make sense of the madness plaguing Hinamizawa. We’re still smack dab in the middle of the Question Arc for this chapter which means there are even more mysterious happenings this time around.

One thing which really stands out about the series is that each of these chapters includes the same locations and characters but changes up the storyline. In the first, things were pretty nonchalant until it was revealed that mysterious deaths were occurring in an otherwise peaceful town. Ch.2 Watanagashi seemed to kick off well until one simple choice by Keiichi severely changed the course of everyone’s lives. As for Ch.3 Tatarigoroshi, it takes a completely different path. Not only is it perhaps the most serious chapter yet, it also proves one of the most surprising by its conclusion. Fans may be surprised to learn that this storyline in particular might just usurp other Question Arcs as the best of them all.


Even so, interested players should play through each chapter rather than just skipping right to this one. The reason for this is simple. You see, only in Ch.1 Onikakushi, do we ever really receive a carefully constructed introduction to all characters, the basics of their relationships, and the town itself. Each chapter builds upon the knowledge players should gain from reading each prior tale which means skipping over one or two is a terrible idea. This chapter specifically delves into much deeper focus with Satoko than past chapters. Despite being one of the youngest girls in the group, her tale shows much more is lurking beneath the surface of this childish prankster. It’s a great change from having a focus primarily on Keiichi, Rena, and Mion as the first two chapters did.

As with previous chapters, this version of the game uses redone sprites (though players can opt to play through with the original artwork as desired). The current artwork is of a good enough quality that most will not be bothered by it, though the modified photo backgrounds sometimes come across as odd. For whatever reason, there also appear to be more typos this time around than in previous iterations. These can certainly be fixed with a patch but are currently somewhat distracting. There is no voice acting in any of the Higurashi games either so newcomers should just be aware of that. One other thing worth mentioning is that this is indeed a kinetic novel, meaning that there are no choices to be made. This story is so carefully crafted that adding more potential plotlines would be way too much.


Discounting the typos, the writing in Higurashi When They Cry Hou – Ch.3 Tatarigoroshi is as good as it has always been. Players still manage to be lured into a calm, happy life in the town despite knowing that something is at some point going to go horribly off the rails. It actually seems like more time is spent with trying to lure players into a false sense of security than before. Across the ten to fifteen hours of gameplay you’ll see some serene moments and glimmers of hope before the story demolishes everyone’s wishes without warning. Speaking of warnings, folks with a sensitivity to topics such as child abuse should be very careful when playing this chapter specifically.

Some may be tiring of the same soundtrack being used time and time again, but this time it appears we’ve gotten a few new tracks. Regardless of the opinion on the re-use of songs, it’s safe to say that Higurashi’s soundtrack as a whole is well done. After all, it only takes a simple track shift to completely alter the mood. A happy song paired with our group of kids playing lets folks believe nothing could go wrong. Then, as a creepier track begins, you know that something has just changed and that bad things are about to go down. Dread is a powerful emotion that continues to be evoked with skill throughout each chapter presented.


Closing Comments:

There’s so much that could – but should not – be said about Higurashi When They Cry Hou – Ch.3 Tatarigoroshi to convince people to pick it up. If you feel that you’ve already braved the darkest, scariest secrets of Hinamizawa then you will be surprised by the latest chapter. Somehow we’re able to see yet another form of the story and how everything ends up as a result. Folks lagging on playing through Higurashi should start soon as the complete series will take a great amount of time to play through. The only trouble with being on top of each release is having to wait about half a year for the next episode to become available. We’re nearly at the end of the Question Arc now — soon we’ll finally start getting some much-needed answers.

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