Yet from where I stood, it seemed the more people spoke, the murkier the answers became. From the beginning it was the same debate repeated over and over again.
Should we wait for help? Should we seek an escape route?
All I could do was look to the ceiling.
Ever17 is the tale of seven individuals who come to be trapped 153 feet within the underwater marine theme park, LeMU. During an apparently normal day at the park, a massive accident happens, placing almost half of the facility underwater. The path to the surface and the communication lines are cut off. In addition, LeMU is under constant assault by severe water pressure, limiting time to find a means of escape to 119 hours. Escape is not the only concern, however; many questions arise as to the legitimacy of the accident and whether or not those trapped there were brought there for a purpose.
Ever17 has an insane amount of hype to it. Even before I even knew what visual novels were, I knew that E17 was the kind of game which would make you shit bricks, and that it had, uhm, a girl in a washing machine. It’s rated highly on EGS, and on VNDB has comfortably secured the #1 spot with the majority (if not almost all) of people singing its praises. But I wasn’t impressed by it, and it certainly isn’t the masterpiece the entire community and their mother makes it out to be. The promised brick shitting didn’t happen. I kept waiting for something totally bizarre which came out of nowhere to happen, something which would make me frantically reload at a certain point to see what I had missed. The ‘twists’ were a total let down, but not in the deus ex machina sense. Every twist had sufficient evidence, and you were probably already thinking that something was off when the reveal happened. In fact, the twists here were more like an unreveal. A similar unreveal would have been in Remember11, once you found out who the third personality was. If you already had theorized who the third personality was, then the moment where things came to light fell flat.
Was I expecting too much? No, I wasn’t. Countless people have said that it’s among the best vns ever created. With that outlandish declaration in mind, I went in expecting something of the highest caliber, and possibly expecting to give this a score of perhaps 9 or 10. E17 isn’t a terrible vn by any means – it has an intriguing mystery which would make you stop and want to think things through, characters which are easy to like and not at all shallow, and a unique setting. But like Yume Miru Kusuri, another so called masterpiece within the community, I found it difficult to get involved and couldn’t care for the characters, nor the situation they were in. For people being thrust into an unexpected situation, I found that it was more competently dealt with in titles such as Remember11 and Swan Song, both relatively realistic depictions of disaster victims.
Considering the setting of E17, almost all of the characters (barring Tsugumi and Hokuto) go along with the flow, keeping up appearances by remaining cheerful, even playing childish games to pass the time. I kept expecting someone to finally snap. The only instance when I can think of someone seriously snapping was when Kid had enough of those bloody chicken sandwiches, throwing his to the floor. That action was met with awkwardness from everyone, almost as if he had no right to do something like that. Takeshi is even given an option to slap him. In You’s scenario, there was almost a scuffle between Tsugumi and Sara, in which we never learn what caused it. I imagine that Sara found out about the connection between them, confronted her about it, but Tsugumi most likely scoffed and denied everything. Hence why Sara called her inhumane, and gripped the memento fiercely.
I seriously wanted to like this, and gave myself plenty of chances. But I couldn’t. Plenty of people will probably scoff at this, but I found R11 to be vastly superior. After the story seriously started to kick in after about an hour, I was hooked. The characters fascinated me, and the consciousness switching of Satoru and Kokoro allowed a quick pace, dragging you out of a world where you just began to get comfortable, and into another where you could have someone running towards you with a knife. Very gripping stuff. I think one of the problems I had with E17 was that it had too many slice-of-life moments, which is a genre I seriously cannot stand and which R11 lacked. While the people in E17 bonded together to beat the tough times and overcome them with lightheartedness and chicken sandwiches, R11 truly built up a world where nobody could be trusted – only the person who shared your body. It’s an interesting parallel. The cast of both are disaster victims (the people residing at SPHIA, not so much – although you could say that they’re victims of themselves, or society), yet interact with each other in vastly different ways. While I think I only ‘shat bricks’ three times in E17 (and even then, it was a mild thought of ‘oh, wow’), R11 had me often thinking, ‘FFFFFFFF’. Different strokes for different folks, I suppose it all comes down to.
The ending bugged me. I imagine that it was a thoroughly satisfying conclusion for most – everyone got their happy ending (unlike R11’s cast), and I was especially pleased for Tsugumi, who finally got the happiness she was denied of for so long, and I was also glad that Sara could finally live a normal life. That final CG of everyone was cheesy as hell, but it probably made a lot of people happy. After all, who isn’t happy after everyone gets their happy ending, after finally escaping a time loop? No matter how Disneyfied or saccharine that ending is?
I can’t help but feel that I’m going the wrong way entirely about reading through the Infinity series. I started with Remember11, backtracked to Ever17, and most likely will read Never7 next, essentially going through the series backwards. While Never7 looks even more dated than E17 (understandable, N7 was published in 2000), the plot looks far more appealing, revolving around mysterious deaths on an island, which is right up my alley. The opening looks deliciously disastrous as well, with who seems to be the main girl constantly looking shocked or upset. I’ve heard that it also has mentions of the Cure virus, in particular, its origins. Ayup, I am definitely going through this incorrectly. N7 deals with the Cure virus, then E17 has someone who has been infected by it. You (Haru) wants to summon Blick Winkel in E17, someone else also wants to summon Blick Winkel in R11. Good grief, what elements of R11 are in 12Riven? On the subject of R11, I heard that it ran out of budget during production, and that the PSP expands on certain plot elements – I wonder if that’s true.
The music was well done, with tracks befitting of the setting. ‘Das Absuchen’ has a start which makes you think that something is about to go wrong, and fills you with a sense of dread. ‘Tief Blau’ is another standout. The eerily pretty sounding opening ‘LeMU～遙かなるレムリア大陸～’ sung by Kaori is well worth a listen. When I first started playing I wasn’t at all fond of it, but as soon as I started reading the third scenario I gave it another listen, and started appreciating it more. The Engrish ‘come together, see it together’ isn’t even that annoying. The lyrics are very fitting and deserving of being the series’ opening. The ending of the Coco’s scenario it something else altogether, though… It was absolutely terrible. It was sunny and cheerful, yes, but I listened to the first half a minute or so before I set it on mute.
The backgrounds in this are impressive, and never feel too repetitive. The hallways are cold and unwelcoming, and you almost feel like you’re wandering around there hopelessly (in before Blick Winkel jokes~). The backgrounds which depict the attractions suit what they are very well – the Lemurian ruins look mysterious, and the gift shop is bright and filled with stuffed animals. The character sprites and designs take some getting used to, but they’re not terrible by any means. The hair on all characters have some odd and simple gradients, and there was something about the eyes which made me frown. The outfits are also looking a bit dated, considering that this takes place in the future. The colouring in Coco’s outfit especially would make one want to facepalm – pink, and orange?! The sprites also turn to side often, and look rather awkward while doing so.
There are also a plethora of extras which are worth noting. Besides from the usual CG gallery and soundtrack, there are also wallpapers, special promotional images which can be looked at, system voices (for example, you good have Tsugumi saying, “you got mail… although there’s none for me”), and shortcuts to look back on certain scenes. It’s the kind of VN which most likely has excellent re-playability, due it being the kind of VN where you can discover something new each time.