Individual routes having bearing on main story: significant or not?

Bringing along a Skype discussion into the forums…

To summarize, @Kanon started the discussion by saying that the alternate routes in Air are pointless in relation to the main story. Basically, since finishing the alternate routes has no canonical bearing to the main routes (as compared to Clannad where you receive a light orb which is needed for the Key magic), they are rendered pointless.

After a pretty length discussion and a few butt jokes, I think the main point that I got from it was that if a terrible route has canonical bearing to the main route, then it can be justified because of that somehow.

I honestly disagree with that notion, because if I think a route is bad, no amount of significance would be able to justify it.

Another point of discussion brought in were which Key works involved the side routes having bearing on the main story?
Kanon is exempt since it has no “main story” (I will not accept using Ayu’s route as the main story)
Air I can pretty much agree that it didn’t, although I never read the VN, so I can’t say this with confidence
Clannad, yes, because Light Orbs
Little Busters yes, because each route finished gives both Riki and Rin more confidence to be able to face the challenges of the post bus crash real world
Rewrite maybe. I honestly believe that it didn’t, because even though he needed the characters to fight alongside him in Moon route, I don’t think the completion of their routes were necessary to summon them to the fight

So what do you guys think? Is it important to you if the individual routes have bearing on the main story? Which Key works do you think those applied to? And any other info you might wanna add regarding the connections between alternate routes and main routes

Might want to label the topic as a Spoiler topic, or cover that Little Busters text in spoiler tags~ :stuck_out_tongue:

You’re focusing too much on Kotarou there. It wasn’t him who needed the routes, it was Kagari.

Solution: Don’t make bad routes. Then it doesn’t matter if they are canonically relevant. :wink:

In all seriousness, I actually can’t think of many VNs that have both a main story and side routes. Usually they all tell unconnected stories, or they all contribute to parts of one main story line. Key is really the only company I see doing this.


By main story, I think Pepe meant something like a “true end.” Lots of VNs have a true route, and then a bunch of other routes. G-Senjou, Steins;Gate, Ever17, and Kara no Shoujo are popular examples~

Hmm… I wonder if this is going to be a common theme for me…

…Just kidding. I get it now, thanks for clarifying

Yeah, in my experience eroge with stories beyond just “here are girls, you can date them” don’t do what KEY does with irrelevant side routes. While there’s stuff like G-Sen or Eustia, they’re branch routes off of a central storyline and you don’t have to play through them to reach the “true” ending of the game.

I don’t think there’s a single KEY game where all the character routes actually contribute to what the main story is trying to do, largely because of the studio’s habit of using multiple writers who don’t communicate. This is especially terrible given the way route unlocks work, where you have to play -all- of them in order to get to the actual damn point.
The only character routes in AIR, Clannad, and LB that actually ~matter~ per se are the ones for the main heroines (Misuzu, Nagisa, Rin). Rewrite’s sort of an outlier with both Kotori and Akane mattering in that sense, but that’s probably because Rewrite doesn’t really have a main heroine to speak of, heh.

I’d definitely prefer it if future KEY games integrated the routes better, and with AB that appears to be the goal given that there was gonna be actual communication between members of the writing staff, but, you know, “indefinitely delayed”.

1 Like

In this regard, I think Little Busters is the most well-written. (Refrain Spoilers) I know some people argue that the heroine routes have little bearing on Refrain, but they’re all written within the context of the world. They all give you insight into the different characters struggle, trying to satisfy their regrets before leaving the world. With Clannad it’s kinda shoehorned in, Rewrite even moreso. But in LB, each route contributes to the buildup of Refrain. There’s the growing sense of mystery, and the attachment you form to each of the heroines which makes the payoff so much more intense.

I do feel like it’s important, and Key probably don’t give it as much attention as they should. But at the same time they do more than most VN developers do in making all the routes contribute to some grander plot. Rewrite was a bit vague, but there’s certainly ways to argue that each route counted. I don’t believe the same conclusions could’ve been reached in Moon without the experience in each of the routes.

1 Like

I thought about it some more and if Clannad is an good example of a VN where the majority of character routes are insignificant to the overarching plot, the opposite example would be Fate Stay/Night, where literally every route is significant and works towards some kind of overall narrative goal.

If I had my way, every scenarioge would be like F/SN, hahaha. Of course, that would require more routes to not actually be about heroines, and we all know that’s not going to happen.

1 Like

Has anyone here played Virtue’s Last Reward? Now that’s a visual novel that does ingenious things with the way routes are presented.


I’d have played it by now if I wasn’t spoiled on one of the Big Twists™

I argue that the heroine routes are just downright boring. It doesn’t matter if they are all written in context :stuck_out_tongue:

I find that annoying though. It’s like… sometimes I only want to read one route. Having a route that both stands on it’s own is much better. I only read one route of F/SN (the Sakura one) and if it wasn’t for my prior knowledge of the franchise, I’d have been completely lost at points.

F/SN is supposed to be read as one big story, split up into 3 parts (routes). I’m not sure if you knew/know this but there is an order you’re supposed to read them in, and Sakura is last. No wonder it would have been confusing.

Yeah, I know~ But after getting all the Taiga Dojo things I couldn’t really be bothered to continue, so I just beelined for the end. As I said…

(I could have sworn I wrote “and sets it’s self apart” after “on it’s own” though @.@)

But yeah, most of the time I’ll just go for what the people around me consider the best route. Having to go through a bunch of sub-par routes before it is just a pain.

Ah, I see the difference between us. I am a completionist, you just want to read the best parts. If there are routes I don’t think I’m going to like, I read them first and save the best for last. So for me, those routes being important to the main story make them much more interesting, and for you, its a pain.

…How did you skip to Heaven’s Feel? The route is literally locked until you complete the first two, and for good reason.

See, my notion of a good VN is one where there are no “sub-par” routes, haha.

The PC version of Realta Nua released the routes separately so you can technically play them in any order, even though thats a really bad idea

I moved 7 posts to an existing topic: General Visual Novel Thread

Sorry for the late reply on this topic :stuck_out_tongue:

How so? Care to refresh my memory?

Well I didn’t exactly mean a true end. Kanon has a true end (which is the Ayu route) and that doesn’t need the other routes to have any bearing. When you have a “true” end, that also implies that you can have “false” ends.
The example I want to try to point out here is that there is a main story. Neither true end nor false end, but all routes are part of the main story… Or not, in the case of AIR >_<

But yeah let’s set things straight:
True end: a specific character’s route which is supposedly the correct canonical ending.
Main story: a separate story from any specific character’s route, which is also the correct canonical ending.

Both can have bearing on the main story. Ever17 doesn’t have a main story, but the alternate routes have a bearing. (or it could be argues that Coco route is the main story… This is starting to get confusing hahaha)

They were all outcomes that Kagari had gone through in order to find as close to a happy ending as possible.

And yeah, this main route thing is getting confusing. If you mean a main story, like the whole girl in the sky thing from Air, then the other routes could be considered part of the story… Even in things like G-Senjou, the routes that completely drop the main plot can still be considered part of the main story.

But she did find that happy ending, and that kind of invalidates the other routes, doesn’t it? Of course their value as standalone stories still have meaning, but on the main story, they don’t

And I guess I’m not the best person to talk about AIR as I haven’t even played the VN >_< I am honestly not sure how the Air route works