Ryukishi and 07th Expansion go to explore new territories! And they probably needed it after Higanbana.
What jumps at you first is the all around gorgeous presentation: The sound effects, the pause menu, the coloring, and even the illustrations during the mini-game… and of course the opening. The musics aren't all spectacular, but perfectly fit the tone.
The story… significantly improves as it goes on. S1 had a twitchy pacing, annoying patterns, sometimes awkwardly used musics, a whiny Rose, way too many unnecessary fight scenes, and too much Greek Chorus
. By S4, these problems have all but disapeared, like the team progressively learned to dose out the VN's elements right.
The plot is very solidly built and coherent overall. The alliances, negotiations and betrayals are really fascinating to follow, and I really liked how the story is deliberately "predictable", relying on carefully built-up developments rather than sudden twists. And while the themes can be disturbing, they still makes me reflect on why
I don't agree. Ryūkishi hasn't completely got rid of some annoying writing habits, though.
The character designs are all beautiful (… well YMMV on Miguel!) but, regarding the spritework… while R7, Suzuki and Natsunishi's are very expressive, Sōichirō and Ninagawa's are rather lacking…
Let's face it though, RGD is no Umineko in terms of character complexity. I don't hate
any of the characters, but not that many really stand out either. Most of the "Primavera 7" only get an (admittedly well-done) individual development late in the story, and some characters' potential was probably not exploited fully (Meixue…) Thankfully the 4 main characters (Rose, Leo, Wayne, and Jeanne) were handled wonderfully.
Sadly, the ending leaves several character arcs blatantly unfinished, and I felt like the series' themes didn't have a satisfying conclusion (discussing said themes would take a much longer review). And the final development is the only "HUH?!" that I had in the entire series.
But… despite its flaws I really loved RGD. Is it Ryukishi07's Magnum Opus
? Probably not. Is it encouraging? I think so. It's clear R7 wanted to experiment new things, and while everything didn't work, what did showed a lot of potential. Which makes the lack of character depth and frustrating ending all the more regrettable.