Finally, here’s the epilogue for NORN9. It only unlocks after you finish all 9 Happy Ends and you restart the game from the beginning. This is told from Sorata’s point of view.
While Sorata is on the ship, Masamune seems to keep preventing him from telling anyone about his observations – including the fact that Sorata keeps seeing a girl (Aion) which no one else can. Sorata does manage to share this with Koharu one night, and she remarks that maybe the girl wants to see him. While Sorata doesn’t recognise the girl at all so he can’t reason why, he feels as though she met her a long time ago. However, she also doesn’t talk to him and Sorata notices that she often looks at Masamune and the girls when they’re present. As he gets on better terms with her, he gets her to help him out in the preparation of the test of courage (Heishi’s route), and also learns that the Hiyoko can see her too. He’s told by them that her name is Aine (愛音). Sorata also sees Aine helping Sakuya out, to see the future, when Mikoto goes missing – in the end she was found trapped underground in a place no one knew existed on the ship before. Sorata also mentioned Aine’s name to Masamune and while he looked extremely shocked, Sorata couldn’t find out anything more from him.
When they reach their destination, they meet Aion (アイオン)/Aine and everything is explained to them. Sorata is called to talk to her (and Masamune) at one side. Aion is reaching her limits so while in the past she was full of emotions, she only speaks what is necessary of her now. In the first place, conducting 3 Resets was her limit so even while the people on this island do regular maintenance on her it is a mystery as to why she could last till today. Masamune believes that Sorata is the reason. Just before they did the 3rd Reset, Sorata was brought here and put into a cold sleep for 2000 years beside Aion. But recently he woke up and found his way to Norn (I didn’t describe this in the Prologue post, but when Sorata found himself on the streets he was feeling cold and Koharu helped to warm him up). Sorata has the same genetic make-up as the scientist who created Aion’s antecedent. Masamune explains that it isn’t impossible as after each Reset, Aion and the island people would be controlling the flow of the world such that it becomes an ideal one – and so in the repetition of things the 100% same person can be born biologically, Sorata isn’t the only case. Wanting to prevent Aion’s deterioration, they saw Sorata as their last hope – either to save Aion, or to create a replacement. Sorata is shocked to hear this, as that means all of his family and friends are all dead by now. While Sorata thinks that it’s impossible to expect something so huge from him, Masamune thinks otherwise as seeing Sorata reminded him of the young Natsuhiko – who could’ve probably helped them but he’s opposed to Reset. Sorata can’t help but similarly to Natsuhiko’s stance but Masamune argues otherwise. Moreover, Natsuhiko tried to destroy Aion and even the sleeping Sorata – but Aion protected Sorata from his attacks, and the islander’s wishes for 2000 years. So it’s no wonder Sorata feels a sense of familiarity with Aion and can’t bring himself to just leave Aion alone.
Like in Sakuya’s route, the two doors to the past and future are brought out. Sorata asks to go see the past ‘cos while he doesn’t agree to Reset, he wants to see if he can really save Aion. So Sorata goes through the door and witnesses the relationship between Aine, Aion’s antecedent, and the scientist who made her (his first name is also Sorata but to avoid confusion let me just continue calling him the scientist). The scientist still finds it a miracle that he managed to create Aine who is very human-like. Sorata observes that despite a few physical differences, Aine is pretty much like today’s Aion. He also sees Shirou, whom the scientist recognises as a fellow scientist for the UN, and the number one person in the field of andriod research. Shirou had hid in his room ever since his wife passed away, but it appears as though he’s recovered. Days later, the scientist tells Aine that the UN is eyeing her for their Reset project which requires an andriod with a heart. The scientist refuses to let her be used, and tells Aine to not talk and act like an ordinary andriod so that no one finds out she’s the one they’re after. He doesn’t know how long this will have to go on for, but he tells Aine not to talk if she wants to remain together – instead, she can continue to sing for him. And so Aine obeyed since he’s her master, but she also couldn’t confess her true feelings to him. They leave the house and went on the run. Though it was hard, they also appeared happy.
But one day, the scientist met with an accident and passed away. And Aine was taken away by Shirou. He doesn’t believe that the person is the same even if the same soul is reincarnated – as the environment the person would grow up in is different. He wishes for the exact same person to be reborn – same soul, body, and environment – no matter how many times he has to repeat history (probably referring to his wife). He redesigns and renames Aine as Aion, who will create this eternity. While Aion thinks of Shirou’s words as ridiculous, she understands his attachment and can’t help but be filled with hope too. Back in the present, Sorata questions her if she believes in what Shirou said but she remains silent. Sorata himself insists that he’s a different person, that’s why he can’t grant her wish. Just then, Shirou appears before them. He doesn’t have enough time for another Reset, and aims his gun at Sorata. He tells them that the reason Aion is at her limit isn’t due to deterioration, but ‘cos her heart has been erroded with time. So the only two ways to destroy Aion is to use the fire which can destroy civilisation (Koharu’s power) or to kill her heart. When Shirou shoots at Sorata, Aion jumps in to shield him to Shirou’s surprise. Furthermore, Koharu, Nanami and Mikoto also come in to help them while the rest of the Norn members are outside dealing with Shirou’s robot army. Koharu tells him to back down and while he does leave them, Shirou didn’t expect her to not kill him.
Meanwhile, Sorata tells Aion that he isn’t the person she’s waiting for. However, he wants to be with her and as he won’t be going anywhere else, he asks Aine to start talking. In response, she finally speaks as Aine and says that she wants to live on with him too. The final scene shows a hand touching Aine (which I assume belongs to the scientist Sorata?), before the screen blacks out.
From the start I wasn’t quite sure what to expect from NORN9, since all I grasped was that – oh they’re on some journey, lol. And yeah it was probably better that way for me, since what I mostly enjoyed from the game was the characters and their interactions. I mean, I liked even Sorata thanks to his amusing commentary and narration. Concerning the plot, you can see that they wanted you to go play all 9 routes as they pretty much shredded it up and sprinkled bits of information in each route – moreover you only unlock the epilogue if you finish all 9 happy ends and while the epilogue ends abruptly, it does explain key questions such as why Sorata is here, the antagonist’s motivation etc. I think that they could’ve pulled off an amazing plot, but it felt like they were running out of time? They also added in references to Norse mythology but in the end, I felt that it wasn’t stringed tightly throughout the whole game. So were references to a tarot card (which I felt could’ve been capitalised on more), and the creation of the world in 7 days. Also, a lot of things are left up to our imagination, such as Kakeru’s or Ron’s background. So essentially, it felt as though I was left hanging in the middle for some of the routes. Perhaps if they just focused on 3-4 routes to showcase the important perspectives (for example Kakeru, Masamune, Natsuhiko) we could’ve obtained more depth and take away more from the game. But then again, a main attraction of NORN9 is the presence of 3 heroines.
The art on the whole was lovely, and certainly one of the strongest points alongside the amazing music and voice-acting. Both the OP, ED and even the insert songs were great. Thinking about it, Otomate titles don’t usually have a /lot/ of CGs but in this case there are just over 100 CGs since there are 9 routes. (I think that Teita got to improve quite a bit and I’m really happy that she’s back working on Jyuuzaengi 2!) I would like to also add though that due to the lack of scenes with emotional impact, unlike say Jyuuzaengi or Kami naru Kimi to, none of the background numbers affect me…? For example I really like the track that plays while you’re in the Gallery section (2nd track playing on the official website) but yeah, the emotional connection ends there. …I don’t know if I’m making sense.
All in all, I think the easiest way for me to sum up my thoughts is that NORN9 had lost potential to be a great game. I wouldn’t say that it’s a terrible game for I did enjoy my play of it – it’s just not a mind-blowing, great game.
If RED worked on this I’m sure it would be awesome. That bring said, if you’re interested in the characters you can mostly certainly check it out – since they’re the main charm of the game!