I just finished Da Capo 2… what to say about it…
I think I’ll frame it in comparison with Dal Segno, as I did with the original, because it’s a good way for me to exemplify my points. This does contain spoilers, but they’re marked and it can be read without them.
Now then… this one is a much closer battle than the last one. Both are in a rare class of VN where I’ve been so engaged in them that I’ve been able to just sit down and read them all the way through without any extended breaks of weeks or months. But, to start from the conclusion… I’m gonna have to give it to Da Capo 2 over Dal Segno after all. In fact, I’d have to say that D.C.2 is the best non-Key, non-07th VN I’ve ever read. Previously, the number of fictional stories that have made me cry had been three: Rewrite, Clannad and Little Busters… but I have to raise that number by one.
But to compare individual aspects:
Soundtrack, I’m still gonna just barely give to D.S.
Art is even. I can’t decide.
D.S. kicks D.C.2’s ass in engine, though that can’t really be helped. It’s still annoying though.
And as for story…
D.C.2 has higher highs and lower lows than D.S. Overall, the story was considerably better, but D.C.2 also fucked up in some crucial ways that prevent it from being as good as it could have been. Koko’s entire existence for one. Her character design is cheap, boring and plain. And to be frank, she’s drawn terribly as well. She has no personality, and her route is pretty much just some high school drama shit with little to no substance. Anzu’s route was amazing all the way through right until the end where it just went problemsolvedtheend without any method to the madness, and it killed my engagement. I’m referring to the fact that just as Yoshiyuki is about to leave, he gives Anzu her present and she remembers him all of a sudden for absolutely no reason. Nothing about him giving her a present should have such an effect. That one was a big issue for me. The way Wataru behaves in Nanaka’s route kind of ruined his character a little for me. The way he acts in Koko’s route is understandable, but he’s just being an unreasonable asshole for quite a bit of Nanaka’s route. We don’t get any real explanation of why Yoshiyuki is able to stay around in every route other than Yume’s and Otome’s. That final scene at the end of Sakura’s route also got under my skin. As far as I can tell, it’s just there to confuse you so that you want to read D.C.3 to find out what the fuck is going on, and it prevents D.C.2 from standing on it’s own as a story, which it could have done spectacularly without this one scene. Oh, and the way it handles routes and branches can be really messy at times. Things like characters having to explain the same thing to each other upwards of three times because of it. It’s not like Dal Segno never fucks up in somewhat similar ways, but it’s never so drastic, and the parts where it does are fewer and further between.
Another problem. I’d have to disagree with your suggestion @Naoki_Saten of skipping the first one. Even though the original was mediocre at best, I really doubt that D.C.2 would have had as much of an impact on me if I hadn’t read the original. Especially considering that Sakura was pretty much the only character I liked from the original. The problem with this is, you actually have to sit through the entire original to get the best out of the second one, which kind of sucks.
Still, I’m just a negative nancy tsundere, so feel free to ignore my criticisms of D.C.2, and just take away that it’s still amazing. Despite what it does wrong, it just does so many things right that it more than compensates for whatever weaknesses it has tenfold. 9/10.
Oh, but saying that D.S. doesn’t live up to Da Capo still isn’t really fair either. Sure, it’s at least not as good as D.C.2, and I don’t know about D.C.3, but it’s still solid, especially considering how terrible the original was by comparison.