In 2012 I bought more games than I had any previous year. From cheap steam games to old PS2 games at the used bookstore to holiday shopping deals, I ended up with a ton of games I didn’t have enough time playing. So for the first part of 2013 I’m trying to get my money’s worth out of these games. So yes, The Pile is a backlog blog. Also, a metaphorical pile, I have shelves. This week I’ll be talking about Ever17 ~the out of infinity~ from KID. (Note: I changed the title back to what it was originally going to be, because opinions).
I learned about KID and the Infinity series after finishing Virtue’s Last Reward. Well, not so much about the Infinity series, just that they were games like this. Not completely sure about the whole series, but I know that Kotaro Uchikoshi (writer behind Nine Hours, Nine Persons, Nine Doors and Virtue’s Last Reward) was involved with this one. Given how much I loved 999 and VLR, I decided to give the Infinity series a try, and Ever17 is the one that came up the most, so I figured why not.
It turned out to be a fantastic game, and I’d highly recommend it to people that liked VLR and 999, it’s pure visual novel, no puzzles here (well, there’s one really simple one). Everything boils down to choosing dialogue options. If you haven’t played those and want to start with this one, just know that the game requires you to play it multiple times to get the most out of it. It has the benefit of starting a certain sections of the story (broken up by days) and the fast forward function, so play through it a couple times, then use a faq to figure out the right choices for the best ending. One wrong choice can lead to a bad ending, which should be familiar for fans of 999.
The reason I started with the recommendation is that I’m going to go more in depth from here on out. There will be full spoilers from Ever17 of course, and some spoilers from 999 and Virtue’s Last Reward.
On the SurfaceEver17 takes place in the underwater theme park based on the fictional ancient continent Lemuria. Something happens, and a group of characters ends up trapped underwater in this theme park. It’s less malicious than the premise of the Nonary game, they aren’t forced to fight each other. Over the course of the next few days they work together to survive and try to escape.
What makes Ever17 so neat compared to 999 and VLR is that there are two protagonists, Takeshi and Kid (who is called that because he has amnesia). It’s the same scenario for both, you’re just playing from a different point of view, which affects the relationships you have with characters. Thankfully, it didn’t become one of those games where you be really nice to someone just to see them in a swimsuit. More on these two in a bit.
There are five girls in the game. Tsugumi, who is cold hearted and hates everyone. You (short for a much longer name) who works at the theme park, bright upbeat personality. Sara, computer genius visiting the park for school. Sora, the more mature park’s guide. And Coco, the peppy kid who is there to visit her father.
“Only you are in the infinite loop.”Now playing the game the first couple of times, I was thinking that it was interesting enough. The characters were fine, the dialogue was fine. Nothing about this is really jumping out though. Of course I’m used to VLR and 999’s bleak and hateful atmosphere between characters. In this game, everyone is friendly enough to each other, and they are just trying to survive. There are minor moments, but for the most part, it’s routine.
When things start getting weird, that game gets really interesting. The first thing is that there is always someone (out of the main characters) that does not get trapped with you. Coco isn’t trapped with you in Kid’s story, but you’ll see her at times. She’ll talk to you and of course you’re the only one that can see her. It doesn’t really make much sense throughout. I mean, you saw her in the intro, she didn’t die 20 years ago or something like that. But after every ending it shows the computer in the control room, which scans the facility for life readings. After every ending, there is always one person left behind. Every. Single. Time. Since I played Kid’s story, I thought “Oh shit, Coco was actually down there!” That was the extent of a downer moment in that first playthrough.
Takeshi’s story, things get messed up pretty bad. Tsugumi’s leg gets impaled by a falling piece of metal. Then near the end Coco comes down with symptoms from the nefarious Tief Blau virus. That leads to everyone coming down with it and in my first ending everyone dying a bloody miserable death. (Tief Blau causes severe internal bleeding, which leads to people coughing up insane amounts of blood. If you get the good ending, it still sucks! Takeshi ends up dead either by drowning or...drowning. Poor guy can’t catch a break.
Bad endings are all fine and dandy, but that’s not why I played this game. I wanted the complete mind games that I’ve come to expect from these games, and Ever17 did not disappoint. You have to go through the the other four paths first before you unlock Coco’s path, but man, through and through that path is insane. And is every bit as good as the biggest twists in VLR and 999.
You’ll pick between Takeshi and Kid early on, and you’ll stay as that respective character until the end. In Coco’s path, you’ll play as both characters, going back and forth. There are plenty of hints along the way, so I was able to figure out that the two scenarios were taking place in different times. The biggest one was You’s name, or names. Yubiseiakikana and Yubiseiharukana. I didn’t remember her full name the first time, but when the other name was mentioned, I immediately jumped on the fact that it wasn’t the same. There is also the fact that cure for Tief Blau is the, wait for it, Cure Virus. A side effect of Cure is that you don’t age, which would explain why Tsugumi and Takeshi would look the same. It also explains why Sara and Coco aren’t in both stories.
I am You.At two different timelines, I was set to call it a day, but no. Things get crazier. Takeshi’s story takes place 17 years before Kid’s. Everyone gets infected with Tief Blau, but thanks to Tsugumi carrying the Cure virus, everyone manages to get out alive, the surface contacts the lab you end up in, and they send rescuers to get everyone out. Because of emotions, Tsugumi and Takeshi end up back in the theme park (the lab is underneath the park) and when they get back, everyone is seemingly rescued. What’s missed is that Coco didn’t get rescued, and when Takeshi and Tsugumi took the convenient submarine out of there, Coco was left behind. She was the 1 reading.
The game is brilliant in its use of animals and AI to throw off your thoughts about the reading after the first playthrough. Tsugumi has a pet hamster which she loses partway through the story, Coco has a pet dog, and Sora isn’t really a person, just an AI which wouldn’t show up. I didn’t think much of the ONE PERSON LEFT after the first playthrough, but when the reveal happens, that’s pretty good. It’s similar to 999’s main story. Everything in the second timeline happens to save a girl.
Everyone else’s story is just as good. You having a clone of herself made because of her impending death, Tsugumi and the Cure virus, Sara and Kid being related, Sora being an AI and learning humanity. All of them were good, and seemed as integral as the main Coco storyline.
The best moments of that game is when you discover the identity of the characters you are playing as. They are still Takeshi and Kid, but different than you perceive them as. When you’re playing as Takeshi, you’re Takeshi and Kid is Kaburaki, some kid who ended up there. When you are kid, you’re not Kaburaki, you’re Hokuto, Sara’s brother. In a great twist, Takeshi in Hokuto’s story is really Kaburaki from the first timeline. Confusing stuff to write out, but it’s all executed well. The first time Hokuto looks in the mirror is fantastic. And even though I kinda saw it coming, I still said “OH SHIT” out loud.
The Cure virus is weird though, Tsugumi ended up having kids that didn’t have effects of the Cure, so her kids look the same age as Takeshi and her, even though they are really in their 30s. Also, more to do with character design than the plot, but even though look-wise everyone’s age is within five years or so, the looks of people range from 12 years old to their 30s. Less of a clever plot device than in VLR.
Blick WinkelLast but not least, there is a last entity that is the real character the player is controlling, Blick Winkel. Blick Winkel is the higher presence that can jump between timelines and see both sides. Blick Winkel actually has lines, talking to characters directly, so it’s more than breaking the fourth wall, which is a weird choice. I played Virtue’s Last Reward first after all, in the end of that game they acknowledge that there is a transcendent presence, but there is no specific mention. I really liked that Virtue’s Last Reward has you, the player, as a piece of the game. With Ever17’s take as it being another character, that’s kinda weird. Especially since Blick Winkel and Coco end up having a relationship. I think that’s par for the course for Japan, but yikes.
I should mention that Ever17 handles the time paradox magnificently. When you find out that Coco is trapped, initially you just go save her. Everything is fine, and all of the misery the characters went through in the 17 years between timelines didn’t have to happen. In the back of my mind, I was thinking, “You can’t do that Snake (Blick), you’ll create a time paradox!” Right after, the scene gets really bad, people disappear, vanish, etc. Takeshi rots and falls apart, and the game describes that in excruciating detail. I actually had a flashback to when I read a Fear Street book and yuck. So brutal. Again, this leads to Blick making a weird plan to trick himself that in 17 years these events would repeat but he wouldn’t know it. Did I mention I wasn’t a fan of how Blick Winkel was used?
Ever17, 999, and VLRI feel like I should play VLR again just to see how they tie together. A weird exchange between Phi and Sigma about boosting her on his shoulders becomes a clever callback to Ever17. I can’t help but wonder what else is lying underneath the surface. Same with 999, the motives are somewhat similar, so there’s probably some references there to be found.
We can’t play games in a vacuum, so I couldn’t help but play Ever17 with 999 and VLR’s story in mind, but Ever17 manages to have a great story, tackling some subjects that seems to be avoided a lot in games. The twists are great, and while it’s not as tight of a story (fucking Blick Winkel bothers me so much), overall it’s pretty good. It has the same elements as the two aforementioned games (viruses, being trapped, different timelines), but manages to make it it’s own story. Which gives me a lot of hope for the follow up to Virtue’s Last Reward. Also, like 999 and the number nine and Virtue’s Last Reward with AB, Ever17 has a fixation on the number 17. The bar is set high. I can’t wait.