I love Rakuen. I have played other games by creator, Laura Shigihara, but this game has something to say. At first glance this might seem like a completely lighthearted adventure that deals with the imagination of a child who is sick in the hospital. You're not wrong, but you're not right either.
There is a lot more to it than that. Shigihara is not afraid to confront both personal, and societal issues head on. There's so much being said in this game, and it all plays together very nicely. For fear of saying too much I won't share any details about the exact issues tackled in this game, but what I will say is "please pay close attention".
The mood set in the game varies between playful and sweet, or grim, and intense. Some of life's most challenging issues are presented in such a way that your heart swells in both fear and compassion. You WILL laugh, You WILL smile, and You WILL cry. Be sure to keep a bucket near by for all of the ugly crying you are going to do.
The artwork in Rakuen is really vibrant and delightful it is easy to become immersed in it's world. The gameplay can be a little slow at times, but this is another adventure where it's not really about the technical gameplay in and of itself. This one is all about the music and the story. Everything is orchestrated around the storytelling. Every song is reflective of both the visual atmosphere and the mood. If there's a celebration it's bright and energetic. If it's scary the music is tense. If it's sad the words and tone will make you cry for days.
The attention to detail in the game is fantastic. If you know something of medical conditions there are prescriptions and things around that might be able to help you figure out a little bit more of what's going on than the average Joe. If there's a specialty shop you might learn a little something about the product they offer in a real way you might not have before.
I know this is a bit of a brief review, but I really just don't want to give too much away. Play this game. Play it now. Don't forget your bucket.
Don't have time to play? Come watch my playthrough of Rakuen here: