Ever17: The Out of Infinity Review for VN Noobs
“The past isn’t important. What is important is whether or not you can smile right now… That is proof of your existence… So you have to smile.”
Ever17: The Out of Infinity is a visual novel produced by KID that originally released in 2002 for the Playstation 2 and Sega Dreamcast. In 2003, KID released the novel on PC and Hirameki International brought the game to the United States 2 years later. Thank goodness they did.
Ever17 is part of a larger series called the Infinity series. Other novels in the series include Never7: The End of Infinity, Remember11: The Age of Infinity, 12Riven ―the Ψcliminal of integral―, and Code_18 (Code_18 was not made by KID, nor written by any of the KID staff.). The series is made up of separate stories with recurring themes and theories. Of the entire Infinity series, Ever17 is the only one that ever made it overseas to the United States, though fan translations exist for Never7 and Remember11. 12Riven is also currently being translated.
Now that this brief background is out of the way, let’s get into Ever17: The Out of Infinity. Ever17 is a visual novel. If you read my Clannad review, then you already have a general idea of how a VN is played. In a visual novel, There is usually little to no gameplay, allowing the writers and developers to focus solely on story. For that reason, playing a visual novel is more like reading a book than playing a game. Because it resembles reading more than gaming, many western gamers are turned off by the genre. This holds true for Ever17 — there is no gameplay, aside from picking dialogue choices. Picking the correct choices will eventually give you the good endings, which will eventually lead to the true ending — more on that later.
Ever17 begins with you, the player, visiting an underwater theme park called LeMU run by Leiblich Pharmaceutical, which is located 51 meters under the ocean. During a normal day at the park, an accident takes place and the park is evacuated as half the park is flooded. Everyone makes it out, except for a few individuals who become trapped in the theme park. LeMU is now under constant threat of implosion due to the water pressure, which is slowly but surely crushing the complex. The trapped people now have to hope for a timely rescue to come from the surface. Very quickly, they discover LeMU is not what it appears to be.
During the opening scene (up to the moment of the accident), the players perspective will change between Takeshi Kuranari and a nameless character called Kid. Once the accident takes place, the player will choose whose perspective they want to follow; Takeshi, or the Kid. Both share most of the characters, but they have some major differences as well. While playing the routes, the player will choose between one of two girls to reveal her backstory (Sora and Tsugumi for Takeshi, You and Sara for Kid) and discover more of the mystery surrounding LeMU. The characters begin to unravel the different mysteries as the novel goes on, including the true nature of existence itself.
Being a sci-fi mystery, Ever17 throws out some complex terminology at times, from the Archimedes Principle, to the Third Eye. The novel does a good job explaining all of the concepts thrown out, but sometime delves a little too deeply into the explanation. For example, there is a hologram that is something of a key story piece and we are treated to a long explanation of how the hologram works. While it adds depth to the story, it also breaks the flow of the narrative somewhat. This is a minor complaint though, since the explanations are still helpful. Fans of sci-fi should thoroughly enjoy all of the explanations as well.
This brings me to my next point on Ever17. The writing, in short, is fantastic. Each of the 4 main arcs start off in very similar fashion. Takeshi’s arcs both start off the same, as do Kid’s. This is a bit of a problem, as the stories remain the same for about 75% of the routes, resulting in re-reading or flat out skipping previously read text. However, the last quarter of the 4 main arcs are completely different and usually filled with all sorts of plot twists, twists that set up for the true arc of the novel. The endings of each arc is extremely well written, full of hints and clues allowing the reader to try and come up with his/her own theory of what is taking place.
Once each of the 4 main arcs are completed, a 5th arc is unlocked. Unlike the first four, the story shifts back and forth between Takeshi and Kid. The 5th arc also features a much different set of events as we finally see the mysteries of LeMU come to light in spectacular fashion. One mystery after another is solved, and yet more pile up. Impressively enough, these plot twists and answers make perfect sense – they don’t simply come out of nowhere. The first four arcs drop hints and clues the entire time, and the answers come in the final arc. You won’t usually be blind-sided by a mystery being solved. In the end, it all makes sense. It’s simply great writing by the KID staff in creating a complex mystery that doesn’t rely on random assumptions and unexplained plot devices.
Tying into the solid writing are characters. We have a handful of characters, and they are all interesting and complex. Reading and discovering the dynamics of each character is addicting, and full of mystery. Why doesn’t Sora eat? What exactly does Tsugumi know? Who is Coco? What happened to Kid’s memory? All of these questions pile on top of the already intriguing questions surrounding the LeMU complex, and we are provided with plenty of hints before the answers are given to us. Again, it is very well written.
But all of this would be for nothing if our two main avatars, the characters you play as, weren’t equally as interesting. I’m happy to report that Takeshi’s and Kid’s perspectives are very interesting. Takeshi’s is a little bit more focused on the people around him, where Kid is more focused on himself and his apparent amnesia. Takeshi is simply visiting LeMU for the day with his friends, while Kid simply doesn’t know why he is at LeMU. His memory starts from sitting on a bench at LeMU. He doesn’t even remember his own name. That caused me to have more interest in Kid’s story and perspective, while Takeshi’s was more of an emotional perspective.
In the end, Ever17 is a very different experience compared to Clannad. Being only the second major (30+ hours long) visual novel I’ve completed, Ever17 proved, to me, that romance doesn’t need to be the focus for a VN. A great cast of characters, coupled with a deep, complex mystery can easily become a one of the most engaging, thought-provoking stories around. Ever17 does just that. While the early and middle parts of the first four routes can be monotonous, the end payoff is more than worth it, and the final route is a mind blowing experience full of twists and turns sure to keep you on the edge of your seat. Ever17: The Out of Infinity is a visual novel that will keep you guessing and leave you with a great deal of satisfaction upon completing it.
You can download Ever17: The Out of Infinity here. You will need a bittorrent client such as utorrent to download the visual novel