How is it connected to Higurashi?
Honestly, the only connections to Higurashi are some characters returning, like Okonogi, Tomitake and Takano. It's only the first episode so far, I think more connections will appear in future episodes.
The ending of Phase 1 is confuse and obscure, just like Higurashi and Umineko. So probably until later episodes, we'll have to try and solve the mystery by ourselves (I think it's impossible to solve with only 1 episode, though).
Also, we don't know yet if the story will loop, like Higurashi and Umineko.
It does sound dreadful. I'll add it to my wish list, but it sounds like the opposite of anything I liked in Umineko/higurashi.
Yeah, that was what I thought at first. However, if you enjoyed Higurashi and Umineko, you will probably like Ciconia. People are allowed to post up to chapter 7 on Youtube, so maybe you can check it out to see if you like the plot before purchasing it.