The first time this came out, around 2005 or so, I was really eager to play it, which I did. However, I quit before even finishing anyone’s route (I believe I’d gotten onto Sora’s somehow) and it eventually got deleted off my hard drive because I couldn’t fit anything else into it (this was when I had a horrible laptop with only 40gb). The art someone bothered me too, and in general, I just lost the motivation to play.
Fast-forward to 6 days ago. My friend Espr starts playing it and suddenly, I hear praise being heaped onto the game. Combined with the fact that Ever17 made many people shit bricks, I knew I had to play this, especially now that I’m less superficial when it comes to visual novels. Besides, the story (and Tsugumi) was what mattered the most.
So let’s dissect it into the usual bases for review, starting off with the graphics. Admittedly, I was put off, somewhat, by the art. Sometimes, a character’s sprite looked kind of awkward when he or she faced this way, or how this person’s eyes didn’t look right, but I quickly put that aside. What then got my attention was the background. It is really quite vividly done. The flower beds in the rest area are full of life with pink roses (at least, that’s what I think they are). Even the blocks in the ruins have some grit in them – not flat shades of brown and grey. The corridors did look a tad bland though, putting the fact that they’re corridors aside, and we do see a lot of them, given that you’ll be stuck in that place for a total of about 5 weeks’ time.
There are a plethora of effects present within the game, such as flickering lights, a shaking screen, and the ever-present fade effect, I decided to turn off the screen-shaking one and the flicker effect because my head was starting to hurt. Beyond that though, there aren’t as many special effects as opposed to many more recent games that feature cut-ins, more active paper dolls, and the like.
The interface itself is simple enough – a single box for text. All other things either have to be switched on or off via the options menu, or the quick-access options. Now the options themselves are pretty simple as well – simply numbers or phrases and words. All well and and good, but I would’ve prefered a way to better fine-tune my volume, speech, and SFX volume, at least, rather than just a range of 0 to 4. But enough nitpicking about the options.
Many people have praised the sounds department of Ever17. On the other hand, I only found it above-average. Whether this is because of differing tastes or a lack thereof, because I haven’t listened to it enough, or because I never actually paid full attention to it is yet to be determined. However, as I write this, I’m growing to like it more and more. Particularly since the track pretty much matches the scenes’ atmospheres rather well. From the relaxing ambience that Klamauk provides, to the intenseness that Drittes Auge exudes, and still through to the dark, suspenseful atmosphere that IBF Notfall sets. As for the sound effects themselves, so-so. Enough to do the job, but I can’t really remember them. Not that anyone really bothers remembering the aural counterparts of onomatopoeia.
Other nitpicking would I guess be… the overly long kick-the-can game and the numerous misspelled words and formatting errors. But that’s really it.
And now, the other half of the review – the plot. Take note that potential spoilers may or may not slip out by accident, so do beware.
I went through the order of Tsugumi – Sora – You – Sara – Coco, which, as I look back, seems to be one of the better orders to play through.
What began as a simple escape for survival slowly turns into a search for the truth behind the underwater facility LeMU. Just by playing through Tsugumi’s path, the player learns the nature of LeMU’s construction. Yet at the very end, that life reading constantly reminds the player that there is still more behind the story. That there is a truth greater than the last just waiting to be revealed. And on that premise, I played through the rest of the main three’s paths. What I noticed is that with each path one plays through, there is a dialogue between you and the girl whose path you are on. Obviously, the topic of the discussion will vary depending on the girl you “pick”. Life, Death, and Existence, Dimensions, The Third Eye, and Memory. I honestly had no clue as to what all of that was about until further down each path. Not only that, but to see events from the first four paths converge into the final path, and for all those discussions to tie in so well with perhaps the biggest twist in the game, that was truly a treat.
Another thing the game did so well for me was to have me keep guessing about everything. On the consistencies and inconsistencies between the Takeshi and Kid perspectives: Why was Coco present in the former’s alone, while Sara only in the latter’s? I formulated all sorts of theories throughout the day – even as I was taking a bath (yes, I bathe) – like time leaps, parallel dimensions, out-of-body experiences, and even ghosts. The Kid’s past is also constantly shrouded in mystery until the very end, with each plot element’s revelation to constantly turn my head over and over again.
Character development is another thing that I can definitely say is done and done well in e17. The most salient, in my opinion, was Tsugumi’s. Her radical change from a cold-hearted loner to someone who can fully appreciate the company of those that she loves all the way to the end as a mother who’d do nothing less than risk her life for her children was quite – dare I say it – heartwarming? Takeshi’s development is visibly noticeable too. On day 1, he used to be somewhat immature guy who, while being somewhat reliable, often said things too irresponsibly and irrationally. By the end of the ordeal though, he becomes a lot more mature and his actions, all the way to his tragic death to save Tsugumi, Sora, and the others (assuming we’re going by the Coco route here) prove it.
One aspect that this game just does not lack is the presence of “WTF moments,” which I guess are self-explanatory. I waited for the entire first 4 paths, yet only experienced one during the Sara path’s end. But I’d taken nearly two hours on just the 5th day of Coco’s path – mind you, this was all done without voices. The more that the game reveals, the more shocking truths become, and the more the player will be drawn to continue. Each plot element’s revelation is like the slow budding of a rose. Each and every single petal slowly unfurls itself until you see the full picture – a rose in perfect bloom. After that it’s really up to you whether or not you take the rose.
Now just a bit of reading a little too far into the game itself – on a couple of issues that the game involves, but doesn’t necessarily raise in full detail – or just some random rambling and afterthoughts.
Medical and scientific advancement at the cost of human integrity and dignity.
As much as I prefer not to delve into things related to religion, I’ll be borrowing the definition of human integrity and dignity from my last year’s Christian Life Education class. For the purposes of this post, Integrity will be defined as “the physical, emotional, and spiritual completeness of a person and dignity will be defined as “the quality of life or state of well-being [of a person].” Going by these definitions (and even if we aren’t), Leiblich’s rather inhumane treatment of patients within the mysterious “research center” is still unacceptable, probably even by standards 10 years from now. Using Tsugumi and Sara’s experiences as bases, we can assume that children were constantly subjected to tests, including but not limited to blood tests, fitness tests, and general examinations. Furthermore, constant physical abuse may be the case as well, given that both were being beaten up and yelled at every night or so.
This theme isn’t too uncommon however. Many dystopian-set anime usually have something similar to this, or perhaps derivatives of such a theme. While my memory fails to recall anything else, Kino no Tabi’s second movie – the Country of Disease – if I remember correctly, involves this as well. Those with terminal diseases were sent out of the utopian city into the countryside in the hopes that they would overcome their disease; thus, a resistance would be formed towards that disease, which the city would use. I think. While not as severe as the treatment given to Tsugumi and Sara, it is still no less than abandonment – not a very nice thing to do.
As to what happens to the city is left entirely up to the viewer’s discretion, but as for Lieblich, they got what they deserved in the end. Perhaps it’s a clear message that science needs to slow down and take things more slowly, at a more “humanitarian pace”? It’s not for me to say what’s right and wrong – I’m just rambling here.
On Blick Winkel and the Fourth Dimension.
Blick Winkel, as we know, is a being from the fourth dimension. That much is established. However, that which is not said is equally important. First of all, because Blick Winkel is from the fourth dimension, it is assumed that he doesn’t have any “gender” (there are no established conventions like this within human knowledge). That said, it is still implied that he has a male presence within the game. Why so? Two things: One, both perspectives played through are male. Perhaps Blick would be more comfortable in a male perspective, rather than a female’s? Two, and the more concrete, Coco calls Blick “brother.” Unfortunately, within the canon of e17 and within the limits of my thought capacity (which isn’t very good, by the way), I can’t formulate anything solid.
The player, as he finds out in the end, plays as Blick Winkel, rather than two separate people. That said, the thought process that is brought up in the endgame begins to make more sense. In the e17 world, their realities take place within the third dimension; thus, they need a being from the dimension n+1 in order to view space fully and to traverse time-space. Likewise, in the real world (the actual one), e17 is essentially taking place in a 2D environment – your computer (monitor). Therefore, to view the plane fully, one would have to be a being of n+1 – us. In other words, we, in the third dimension, in order to manipulate “events” (save the fact that they’re scripted anyway) in the second dimension, have to play the role of a being in the fourth dimension of that world so the events of the third dimension of that world can be changed.
Ah, another draw of Tsugumi (and pretty much her entire family). While I cannot and do not claim to be even decently knowledgeable on the subject, I do know that the gist of transhumanism is using science and technology in order to surpass the physical and mental limits of human beings. Cure is pretty much the transhumanist’s dream, when working with that definition. Significantly enhanced physical speed and strength, extremely accelerated cell regeneration, and most of all – agelessness. Infravision seems to be another effect, but it doesn’t seem to be found in all cases. Offspring of “Cure” species seem to possess some boosts as well – as is the case of Hokuto and Sara, with their above-average physical and mental capabilities (skin diving 300something feet and single-handedly hacking a 64-bit code are definitely not things normal teenagers can do).
To be honest, the entire issue of transhumanism is rather intriguing for me, and god knows that this past week, a day hasn’t passed where I didn’t wish I had Cure in me. However, how far are we willing to go? What sacrifices need to be made in order to further the study? Similar to first issue, there may come a time that human integrity and dignity will have to be given up in exchange for scientific progress, and who knows what kind of backlash that will create on the world.
But enough about all that, just go play the game. Let it work its magic on you.