By Ace829 8 Comments
WARNING: If you don't like anime-styled characters, then you won't like this blog, so I'm just letting you anime-haters know this before you get mad at me for forcing you to read my blog about teh animes.
So around two months ago, before the season where all the publishers decide to release their games in a small and cramped 3 month window instead of spreading out their releases, I played a game well-known to the visual novel community but mostly unknown to the gamer community called Ever17: The Out of Infinity. (Yeah, I know, it suffers from Square Enix naming syndrome)
To give this game a little bit of back story it, as you might have guessed, is a visual novel (pretty much an adventure game) for the PC. However, this game is a rarity because it actually received a US localization by a now defunct company called Hirameki International. Despite the localization you probably won't be able to find this game anywhere. This game is not only rare, but a USED copy goes for about $200 USD. So you're better off downloading a copy. (The developer and publisher are already defunct anyway.) You won't regret playing this game though because it is one of the best stories I've ever experienced in a game.
Just to give you a fair heads-up, in order to "beat" the game, it requires multiple playthroughs before you can go for the "true" ending. So if you don't have a lot of time or patience, this may not be for you. I would even suggest a walkthrough, if you don't want to spend too much time guessing in the dark. Thankfully, the game has a fast-forward feature for the parts that you have already seen, so no worries about reading the same thing over and over again.
The basic summary of the plot, without spoiling anything, is that you're a tourist on the artificial theme park island called "LeMU". Things go wrong though, when you and five other people are trapped in the lower floors of LeMU (the floors are underwater), and you have only one week to escape before the walls collapse, drowning everyone that is trapped. There are two character paths that you can take, one as a young man called Takeshi Kuranari, and as a teenager with amnesia simply called "The Kid".
The plot is so much more than what I listed above, but it would be spoiler territory to mention it. I will say that the twists are incredible and mind-blowing, especially in the "true" ending. The exposition in the beginning of each playthrough can be a bit much, though. I found myself struggling to read after an hour into the game, but it isn't on the Final Fantasy XIII level of horrid beginnings, just a slow start for an hour or two.
The characters may seem like your typical archetypes in the beginning as well. To give a few examples, Tsugumi, the one with the black attire, seems like the classic tsundere type. Takeshi seems like your bumbling shounen protagonist with a bit of a perverted mind. And Sora seems like the motherly figure who watches out for everyone and makes sure they're all safe.
I say 'seem' because as the game goes on, each of these characters develop into so much more, and at the end you can't help but root for them, or at least find them likable. Tsugumi, in the beginning, comes off as a complete bitch in the first few hours of each playthrough, but later events and more exposition provides context as to why she is the way she is. As a result, I found her to be a lot more likable and understood her. After a few heartbreaking scenes involving her, she became my favorite character in the whole game. On the flip side, the only character I didn't really find all that engaging was Coco Yagami, who just stays the same as she was when the game started. I didn't hate her, just felt kinda 'meh' towards her character. (Also, the game says she's 13, but she acts a lot like an 7 year old. -_-)
The art style definitely shows it's age, but it isn't necessarily bad thing. Especially now with moeblobs running the anime scene, it's a little refreshing to see a "simple" anime art style. The backgrounds are also nicely drawn. Once again, going for simple art style and not trying to be too fancy. Certainly more colorful than many modern games, but not sickeningly so like many modern anime. (Okay, I'll stop hating on modern anime.)
The music in this game is really well-done with solid tracks all-around and a few heavy-hitters greatly enhancing a lot of the emotional scenes. Other than the heavy hitters, there really isn't anything that would make you want to listen to it on repeat since some of it just sounds like elevator music BUT it's some damn fine elevator music. Here's one of the best tracks that I'm talking about:
It may not elicit much emotion from you at the moment, but when you combine it with one of the tear-jerking scenes it really makes you want to just BAWWW all over the floor. It's just that damn powerful.
The "true" ending is the main reason why you should play through the game so many times. Although, the 'good' endings and heck even the 'bad' ones are really good, the "true" ending ties up so many loose ends and provides the proper closure to so many arcs that it is not only a wholly satisfying experience, but you just feel like you played through a true emotional roller coaster.
I honestly can't think of any criticisms except for one. The localization effort is hit and miss. It's understandable since the localization company didn't seem to have big bucks flowing around to do a much better job (I assume), but it still does hamper the experience a small bit. The numerous grammar and spelling errors can be annoying, with examples such as: "Naturally, I knows the hacker" is a famous error in the translation. And there are a few things outright mistranslated. However, when the translation team does get things right, it is done really well. There are some lines during the emotional scenes that are very descriptive and really immerses you in the world. This is one of the best adventure games I've ever played, and I really do recommend to anyone who doesn't hate anime art styles or doesn't hate good stories.
The game doesn't take a powerful PC to run (shocker!) since it is a game originally released in 2002. However, if you're willing to wait and if you have a lot of hope, there is currently a remake about to release for the Xbox 360, but it is only for Japan. Good news is, you can urge niche game publishers like Aksys Games or Atlus to localize the game for American shores so that more people can experience the awesomeness that is Ever 17.