This review is spoiler-free.
In Search of Haru is a free, short and sweet Otome game by SEEC inc.
The game follows high-schooler Konatsu Shinosaka. As a child, she was relentlessly bullied for being chubby. Her only solace was a boy at the playground who went to a different school. The only thing she remembers about him is his name. “Call me Haru,” he said.
One summer, her parents split up and she moved away. Over the years, she took care of herself and lost the weight. Years later, her parents got back together, and she moved back to her old hometown again. Now attending the only area high school, she vows to find Haru, the boy who made her childhood special.
Haru struggles with her past, trying desperately to keep the truth about the bullied chubby girl a secret. Her insecurities crop up multiple times in the story and make her feel more real as a teenage girl.
The game is based around collecting Memory Fragments to fill up the story experience bar at the top. The majority of the game is spent in the school hallway. At the end of a 60-second timer, approximately 8 students flood into the hallway. Tap on them to talk to them and earn a memory fragment. When the next batch of students arrive, the clock freezes until you click on one.
To hurry your progress along, a 10-second boost can be pressed to move the clock faster. You can also use the bonus Lucky Scratcher to earn extra memory fragments.
Other than the generic male and female students, a cat and the three Haru potentials will walk into the hallway. Tap on them for bonus stars and to complete your Yearbook Collection. The more you click on potential Harus, you can unlock profile information and a bonus screen.
You must click on Memory Fragments to collect them. Memory Fragments will disappear after 20 seconds and will not count toward your experience bar.
An additional tip: When you clear all students and memory charms from the hallway, an ad may pop up. Watch the ad to earn an additional 10 Memory Fragments. Do not use your 10-second bonus until you know for a fact the ad won’t trigger this time. You can clear all students in about 15 seconds. If the ad triggers, you can watch the ad, clear the Memory Fragments, and trigger a second ad for 10 more Fragments.
The Haru Candidates
He’s the class president who is protective of the main character like an older brother.
He’s a bit of a troublemaker and the main character’s class partner.
He’s quiet and Konatsu finds him a bit intimidating. They work together in the library after school.
When I downloaded this game, I assumed either of the three Haru candidates would be your Haru depending on who you select as your target. THAT’S NOT TRUE AT ALL. There is only one right answer for who your childhood Haru is. The other two trigger different endings.
As you hit milestones in your experience bar, the next part of the story will play. The story starts linear, but twice in your playthrough you’ll make a choice for a total of 4 possible endings.
You can get the Normal Ending, which is sweet but somewhat unsatisfying. There’s the Dark Ending, which makes me very uncomfortable, and Konatsu’s reaction doesn’t make much sense. The Bad Ending is, well, bad. And of course, the Good Ending is all the magic you hope it would be.
I love that this game has an actual mystery involved, and it keeps you wanting to read more. Sometimes it feels like you’re watching ads more than reading the story, but it’s a good game to farm through while watching TV. You can skip dialogue even if you haven’t read the part yet. Afterward, you can click the story icon and read through all the parts together when you can give it your full attention.
Even with the Memory Fragment grind, the game is pretty short and can be completed in a day or two. None of the items in the shop are necessary to complete any of the storylines, the Yearbook, and the still collection. If you’re interested in unlocking the boys’ profiles, you may need to purchase cookies from the shop. Their appearances are too rare to finish them alone.
Overall, this a fantastic choice for a no-nonsense Otome game. There are very few components and a straightforward story that can be completed in a timely fashion with no long-term commitment.