Title: Ever 17: The Out of Infinity
Release Date: August 29, 2002
Reviewed On: PC
Genre: Adventure Visual Novel
As you may or may not be aware, I like visual novels and August 29, 2019 marks an interesting milestone, that you probably don’t know. Developed by the Japanese company KID, back in the early 2000s, the Infinity series was one of the company’s flagship series. This was a series of adventure games that shared common themes but were otherwise fairly unconnected.
Today, we’re going to be talking about the most iconic of these games, the second one, Ever17 -The Out of Infinity-, as today just so happens to mark its 17th anniversary.
The game did make it out of Japan, being released physically on PC for the west thanks to the now-defunct Hirameki International, with only a few mangled translations. A serious feat back in 2005. The title later received a re-release on PSP in Japan, and whilst not officially localized, that version received an English patch thanks to some dedicated fans.
Because of this, we’re going to be reviewing it to convince people to try and hunt down copies online. With our collective willpower, we might be able to convince Spike Chunsoft to re-release it on steam? I can dream, right? Oh yeah, there was also an Xbox 360 remake that was developed by MAGES and Cyberfront that we never received too.
Ever17 takes place in the “distant future” of 2017 following the viewpoints of two character who have arrived at a theme park based entirely underwater called LeMU. One of our protagonists, Takeshi, planned to go with his friends but he believes they’ve all gone on ahead into the park and ditched him. As he searches for his friends throughout the park, he ends up running into our other protagonist, a kid suffering from a serious case of amnesia.
The chance encounter doesn’t last long, however, as the kid runs off after a mysterious girl he spots and Takeshi goes back to find his friends. Both their goals are interrupted when an explosion rocks LeMU and they both find themselves trapped in the slowly flooding facility. Teaming up with others who have been left behind, the group of six (or five? Or was it seven?) have 119 hours to find a way out of the theme park before it implodes.
The game is oddly paced. Something you’ll notice quickly is the lack of an antagonist. Hell, even the threat of looming death isn’t too drastic, as the characters are trapped in over their heads to properly comprehend. It’s one thing for an ontological mystery to have an evil bad guy to trap characters in a location, but the bad guy here is essentially the ocean.
You can’t exactly fight the ocean, so the cast just has to make the most of a bad situation doing what they can to try and delay the inevitable whilst praying for a rescue team to make contact. A large majority of both protagonist’s routes are just working out what they can do. Spoilers, it’s not much. The backgrounds in the abandoned park help sell that feeling of isolation and emptiness, which is fantastic.
Each protagonist has two main routes within their path. Each of these routes ranges from pretty good to excellent, with one exception which is just kind of a drag. However, all four main routes need to be completed to unlock the fifth route. This is where the biggest flaw of the game lies. When playing as either of the protagonists, you’re going to be experiencing a lot of the same dialogue multiple times and establishing the same setting and characters who ultimately encounter the same problems (I hope you like fried chicken sandwiches). It can feel somewhat oppressive for a short while, but once you get past that, you’re in for a real treat. It helps that the game is almost fully voiced, with only your selected protagonist being silent, but they aren’t exactly faceless.
Ever17 has been described as a game in which the themes and concepts are about deducing them for yourselves. The game does have some romantic elements but what did you expect with two male leads and between three and five heroines. This is then balanced out with healthy doses of science fact and fiction. For an amusement park based entirely underwater, it feels surprisingly plausible. Just don’t think about the logistical nightmare of installing it there.
These elements are only amplified by Takeshi Abo’s fantastic score, which easily holds up despite the fact it was composed for a PC game back in 2002. This mishmash of tones makes the endings quite intriguing to pursue. You get to find out more about the extremely solid cast, and they bring up new pieces of lore that ultimately slot into others like jigsaw puzzle pieces. This all culminates in an incident, the fifth ending, which has to be one of my favorite finales of any visual novel- hell, one of my favorite finales in fiction overall. I couldn’t even tell you when the finale begins on the fifth route, the whole thing is a rolling ball of questions, reveals and emotional character moments every five minutes. It’s a work of art.
I would personally describe Ever17: The Out of Infinity as a story about looking for hope in a moment when everything seems futile. Sometimes you just need that hope. If I didn’t have it, you may not have even seen this review. I kid, but I’m really happy to know that the game holds up so well. Ever17 is just such an important game to me, I just had to share it with all of you.
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