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Review: eden*

Eden Title 2

The title screen once you've completed the first chapter.

Introduction
I always have been an avid VN player. Lately I hadn’t really the time to play that much so I was pretty behind the releases. Which explains why I hadn’t even heard of eden* until recently even though it came off in 2009.
To start off, eden* has been developed by minori, a group which caused much controversy in early 2010 when they decided to not only shut fan translations of their work (which is understandable and fully within their right) but also to block foreign IPs on their website. Because of that, and since minori games require to have a japanese OS to be played without crack, I stopped bothering about their work whatsoever.

Holy shit I was wrong.

To summarize, eden* is now first on the list of my favorites Visual Novels.

Release Data
Full title: Eden* They Were Only Two, On The Planet
Developer: minori
Language: Japanese
Age rating: All (eden*), 18+ (PLUS+MOSAIC)

Synopsis
In the future, the Earth is on the brink of extinction. The “Star of Destruction”, an energy mass that appeared near Mars causes strange climate changes. According to the scientists, the planet will be completely inhabitable within 100 years. Panic spreads and brings its lot of wars and terrorist assaults and the formation of a united World Government prevents humanity to simply destroy itself.
To avoid extinction, “Felix” – genetically engineered individuals – are created to become the scientists who will find a way to survival.

99 years later, the Escape Plan is almost ready: humanity will travel outer space to survive. Most have already embarked and a single Felix girl is staying on Earth to ascertain the success of the plan. One day, Ryo, a soldier, is assigned to guard duty to the laboratory where Shion, the Felix girl, resides.

And the story of eden* is all about Ryo and Shion and their last days on the dying planet.

The "Star of Destruction".

Story and Dialogue
Obviously the most important part of a VN. Despite what the synopsis might indicate, the story doesn’t really revolve around a battle for survival because as the start of the game, the Escape Plan is almost complete and the Earth will be destroyed shortly. eden* is before everything a love story between Ryo and Shion, who, like the title spoils it, end up being the last people alive on Earth. So the focus is clearly on the characters, who are much more complex than you might initially think.
The game is in Japanese, and considering my level of Japanese, I had to rely on the ATLAS translator to fully understand everything. As such, I’m unable to comment on the quality of the writing itself. What I can say however, is that the psychology of the protagonists are nicely conveyed, and the dialogue contribute to create an atmosphere nostalgic and apocalyptic at the same time.

Graphics
As usual for minori, the CGs are outstanding. The characters are blended into the backgrounds and if we can deplore a bit the large use of glows and lens flares (very definitely in the Scenery Porn category), the overall quality is top-notch. The only downside is the huge file size of the graphic archive: certain poses have to be duplicated and because of the blend, every CG is full resolution (1024×640).

ev148d01

When I say "Scenery Porn", I really mean it.

B006_0006_0007

A typical dialogue CG, here between Ryo and Erica.

Audio
Like ef, eden* music is composed by TENMON. There isn’t that many tracks – around thirty – and several of them are just the same theme with different instruments. Overall, the music fits the situation: mysterious and a bit nostalgic inside the laboratory and quiet, tranquil for Ryo’s lodge.
As for the voice acting, it’s really high quality. If you’ve played other minori titles, such as ef, you’ll immediately recognize Yumiko Nakajima who voices Erica (she was Yuuko Amamiya in ef) and Kôichi Tôchika as Naoto Inaba (he was Yuu Himura in ef).

Gameplay
Visual novels rarely emphasize gameplay but in the case of eden*, there is simply none. No routes, no vague simulation part, nothing. You just hit Enter to read the text, or, alternatively, enable the automatic skipping and just sit back.

Conclusion
Well, like I wrote in the introduction, I found eden* to be an excellent VN, shorter than ef (which isn’t necessarily a bad thing) and less melodramatic. It remains very touching though and if you understand Japanese at least enough to use ATLAS without cringe, I recommend it to you. Note that you’ll need a crack (which is easy to find) in order to play without a Japanese OS.

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