The Sagara Family is a fairly old visual novel first released in Japan in 2003 and released in English in 2005, now available on JAST USA’s online store. The Sagara Family is a definitive example of a wide-branching, multiple route, nukige. There are lots of sex scenes, and no gameplay elements, just decisions to be made. If you like the look of this game, others listed here might also interest you.
In The Sagara Family you play as a young man, newly accepted to college, who is going to be living with friends of his family from now on. Well a friend of the family, Maria Sagara, who happens to have four daughters. That’s right, MC-kun is going to be living with five women from now on, and we all know what that means. There’s a lot of variety to the story of the game, as each woman has her own route, where our protagonist Yusuke involves himself with their lives. He also has the opportunity to involve himself in their lives in pairs, with a variety of routes for specific pairs of women. This ability to pursue two of five women is an interesting dynamic, one that isn’t often available in games. Honestly, it’s one of the reasons I see this game as so definitive, as the variety for all elements of the game from story to scenes, is naturally increased by having pairs routes.
When it comes to sexual situations the game is mostly vanilla. There’s some BDSM stuff, some costume play, and other fetishes have their moments as well, but it’s all through the lens of a romance-themed experience. I suppose the most accessible fetish is one for MILFs given the family dynamic, and of course there’s a fetish built-in when you are on a paired route, but anything else is rare. Yusuke is thoughtful, romantic, and protective, and he approaches most scenes lovingly.
The game’s over a decade old, so there are some age issues that can’t be helped. Its music is dated, and I couldn’t get the background music sound slider to work (it stayed at full volume no matter what I did). It was also designed for smaller screens, so the full screen option looks and feels stretched, while the windowed mode is tiny. The art is also a bit dated, lacking the details possible in a game like Starless. Despite the dated style it still competes with nukige released today because, it has a wide variety of sexy situations, character expressions, and was a quality product for its time.
As far as problems with it that are not related to age the only thing that stands out is that this is the game that introduced me to the concept of Samey McSameFace (quality name, I know). The fact is that all the heroines, while they have a variety of body types, personalities, and coloration, have very similar faces. It doesn’t come to mind often while playing the game, but it’s noticeable when the heroines are together.
The best part of this game, other than the variety of routes based on a large number of decision-points, are the characters, and their stories. Each character is unique, and each is cute, or moe, in their own way. All story routes are good and have satisfying endings. There’s plenty of room for favorite characters and routes. Here’s the cast:
First, there’s Maria. The mother, and Yusuke’s hostess. Maria is kind but lonely, and somehow both weak to alcohol, and a big drinker on the right occasion. Making her happy will take some work, as she has four daughters whose happiness she’s put ahead of her own for quite some time. If you can manage it, you’re rewarded in a big way.
Then there’s the oldest daughter, Arisa. She’s kind, and responsible, but clumsy, and naive. Her main route might be the darkest in the game, and she brings out Yusuke’s protectiveness like nobody else. Given her personality, there’s no doubt she’d make a loyal, and open, lover. Rumors of her best-girl status are unconfirmed.
Maria’s second daughter is Sanae, and there’s something. . . odd, about her introduction. Oh, that’s right, she’s the most tsundere character in the game and she’s got a fiery temper to back it up. Yusuke is lucky if he can avoid getting punched by her three, or four, times in the first ten minutes of the game. But we all know that underneath all that fierceness there’s someone who just wants to be loved.
Emiru is next. The nerd of the family, Emiru is terribly shy, and wears a schoolgirl outfit, guaranteeing her own moe status. She loves cosplay and wears a number of outfits for her scenes. Breaking her out of her shell is a perfect use of your time.
Finally, there’s Girl, I mean Ruruka. She’s the youngest, and she’s also the most aggressive. Before Yusuke even makes it to her house she’s teasing him. Pursuing her means a lot more teasing, and it only gets more enjoyable.
The Sagara Family is a quality visual novel. Choices that matter, a variety of routes, and stories that help you get to know the women of the family in a way that isn’t shallow, all build a wonderful experience. It’s a great starting point for people who have never played a visual novel focused on decisive choices and a good pickup for fans of the same. It’s a steal at its price, with more content than something like Deviant Dungeon, for less money. Anyone who is a fan of the genre, and feels they might like even a few of its characters, can’t go wrong by going to visit the Sagara family.