Title: Evan's Remains
Release Date: June 11, 2020
Reviewed On: Switch
Publisher: Whitethorn Digital
Genre: Adventure Visual Novel
A good mystery has you eager to get to the conclusion. Each moment of the narrative provides subtle clues and new plot points that string you along little by little. I believe the maitan69-developed adventure visual novel Evan’s Remains encompasses these elements. However, I can’t help but feel a little left out of the loop with some of the game’s darker themes.
Evan’s Remains has players assume the role of Dysis, a girl sent to a mysterious island by a company named Up-Bring after a letter is received from a missing genius named Evan requesting her help. Without any context of the situation, Dysis reports to the island and begins her search for Evan. This leads her to meet a quiet boy named Clover, who is focused on uncovering the secrets of the island and saving someone he loves. The two end up working together in hopes that they each help one another with their objective.
Given that this is a mystery, it’s imperative not to spoil too much of the narrative. I will say that it is rather engaging and fun to follow as more mysteries are uncovered. However, Dysis is sometimes too good at connecting the dots as she draws on facts that aren’t even revealed to the player, so you always feel “out of the loop” as she’s talking.
Still, the writing leaves Dysis, and the player in the same state of confusion as more information about the island and the powers at play come to light. By the conclusion, I couldn’t help but have a sense of anger and hopelessness that I wasn’t expecting, and I can only commend the developer for taking a chance on not completely giving the player what they want. Sure, the information dump at the end that most mystery visuals novels have is there, but it isn’t really what you expect.
Evan’s Remains has plenty of visual novel elements to it as the game focuses on numerous character dialogue. We get to know each of these characters throughout the course of the game, but they are each exceptionally complex. I hated this after the big reveal because it genuinely makes you question your judgment skills and abilities to piece together clues.
I have a feeling this is what the writer wanted, though, and we are meant to have these lasting feelings about the characters. The best part about the mystery is how you’re left reflecting on the events and how each of these characters fit into a much larger puzzle than you imagined.
Evan’s Remains isn’t all story though the game also features numerous platforming puzzles. These puzzles revolve around jumping on platforms that disappear after you jump off of them. It’s an interesting idea that because a bit more complicated in later portions as new elements are introduced. I found it funny how it’s told to Dysis that she can just walk past them, but she insists on solving them because there’s nothing else to do. However, the game does allow you to skip any puzzle you wish.
I enjoyed the level of difficulty of the puzzles as they were hard enough to make you think but easy enough to be accessible to even non-puzzle loving fans. There are some genuinely clever ways that the developer has put together some of the more intricate puzzles that each builds on the simple premise of disappearing platforms.
The game is presented in a beautiful pixel art design that gives each moment of gameplay a playful tone that makes it less intimidating. This visual style also parallels the dark themes that the narrative touches on which make elements of the story a bit more menacing. It also features multiple environments that only change the background, but do provide a sense of progression through the game’s 5-hour runtime.
Given that this game has puzzle elements, it would have been nice if the developer included a mode that only features the puzzles. You see, I had a really great time with them and just didn’t want them to end. Also, the pacing can take a hit during some parts of the story where small distractions are introduced that turn out to be unnecessary when everything is revealed.
Evan’s Remains is a beautiful game that blends puzzle and visual novel elements together to tell a gripping narrative. However, some dark themes emerge from this with a few convenient “ah-ha” moments that don’t really match up with what is revealed to the player. Still, the journey is one that is most difficult to put down as you find yourself anxious to uncover everything it has to offer.
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