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34 of 35 people found the following review helpful
on July 5, 2006
FIRST UP - THE DISCLAIMER - ever17 is what is termed a "visual novel". This means that it is a story-driven game that revolves around the plot and story, and not fancy graphics, animation, cutscenes, or blowing people up. There is actually little to no animation in ever17, not even moving mouths. If you're expecting to watch an anime episode, you'll be disappointed. If you're expecting to run throgh tunnels and caves with a gun the size of Rhode Island blowing up things, you'll be disappointed. If you're expecting a compelling and engaging story with interesting characters, and don't fret over the thought of reading text and dialogue, you'll be astounded. :) Now on to the review!

The translated visual novel market is a pretty small one in the English-speaking world. There aren't many out, and the ones that are released tend to be ero-games with adult content, which makes the games more niche than this niche market already is.

Luckily, this niche market has one very incredible game now in the form of ever17. While ever17 has some issues, it is hands-down the best translated visual novel/bishoujo game available, and anyone interested in the genre should own it.

For starters, ever17 is packed with very talented voice acting from the likes of Souchirou Hoshi (Takeshi, and the Kid), Kana Ueda (Sara), Yuu Asakawa (Tsugumi) and others. The voices really help make this game even better than the already-incredible story makes it, by adding emotion and humor into it and making it come alive. Similarly, the music in the game is very good, and adds great effect to various scenes, sounding lighthearted, creepy, and intense as needed. The opening song, "LeMU ~the faraway Lemuria~" is incredible when viewed with the opening animation, which is synchronized almost flawlessly with the music and sets the stage for the rest of the game.

As far as visuals go (beyond the opening animation) - ever17 has some fantastic character designs, and each of the characters in the game has a variety of poses and facial expressions throughout the game - they keep the "change the face but use the same body for 90 poses but with different clothes" technique to a minimum, and the game benefits. Throughout, there are some minor lighting animation effects here or there, but nothing major. Additionally, this is a game that's a few years old, and so it doesn't have animated mouths or anything of the sort - characters tend to be static and different poses are swapped around to show movement.

Hirameki, the group that translated and released ever17, has had some weirdisms in the past with translations and scripts (see my review of Hourglass of Summer for some of them :) ), but ever17 is largely translated well - there were a few spelling mistakes and oddly-phrased sentences, but by and large the translation is done much better than their past releases, for anyone who is worried about that. This is a great accomplishment when you consider that a lot of ever17's text is about science, physics, pseudoscience, and philosophical concepts that could be very difficult to translate properly and correctly. I only had one quibble, and that was regarding the translation of a date, which they translated directly as Japanese YY/MM/DD format. I, being a stupid gaijin of course, assumed it was DD/MM/YY format... and so I was pretty confused because of that, until later in the game where it's explained and a lightbulb in my head went on.

ever17 contains a load of unlockable extras when you finish the game's endings - and there are a lot of endings! I believe 11 total endings altogether (perhaps 12, I forget) - including good and bad endings for each girl. With each ending, you get some wallpapers, screensavers, system sound sets that you can use for Windows sounds like shutting down, emptying the trash, etc... and the ability to jump to various points in time during a girl's path - so you can drop right into day 5 of Sara's path, if you want. All in all, this is the most extras/goodies I've gotten in a visual novel so far, way beyond the usual "CG sets and memory scenes" you get in most of these types of games.

Now that all the "side reviews" are done, it's time to tackle the most important quality of a visual novel - the storyline. ever17 starts out innocently enough (as long as you ignore the opening animation, which shows glimpses of what will happen) - a group of young people, anywhere from around age 12 to 24, all happen to gather at an amusement park/underwater theme park - LeMU. Very quickly, though, events unfold that drive the story along, and soon, the player (you get to choose which of two characters to play, each with completely different storylines for 2 of the 5 companion girls) awakens in a LeMU that is largely deserted except for a handful of other stranded folk.

With sections of the park collapsing from the underwater pressure, food in short supply, and electricity and power going on and off throughout, those stranded learn they only have 119 hours before the pressure from the surrounding ocean collapses the bulkhead and floods the entire park, drowning them all. Scenes shift between light-hearted and care-free to intense and thrilling as the main character interacts with the others he's trapped with, learning about their lives, their memories, and their beliefs, all the while becoming closer to them.

Plots revolving around physics, time travel, and geometric perception are mixed with fairy tale imagery of Rip Van Winkle (in the localized version, at least), genetics and inheritance, deadly plagues, and just what it means to "exist", often leaving you wondering just what on earth is going on and what sort of philosophy the game is trying to get at.

After you've gone through the 4 individual paths for Tsugumi and Sora, You and Sara, you'll probably have some suspicions and inklings about what's going on based on the hints and clues strewn throughout - and then when you play the game through the fifth time, your character can finally begin to piece it all together and you'll be heading through the final, and most amazing, storyline.

All four of the seemingly disjoint and different stories are drawn together in an incredible and understandable way that left me speechless at how well it was written. The strange themes and ideas from each branch are explained and worked together into a cohesive story that all culminates in one of the most memorable endings of any game available.

I truly can't say enough good things about ever17 - it was one of the longer visual novels I've played through, with high (actually, mandatory!) replay value to get all 4 of the "original girls'" endings so that you can play through Coco's path for the final and true ending. The overlap in each path is minimal for the most part, since each main character only deals with two of the girls (Takeshi can learn about Tsugumi or Sora, the Kid can come to know Sara or You), and so each path is very new and unique from the others you may have already played, keeping the game interesting and fresh throughout each play-through. And the fifth path, Coco's, walks through a unique amalgamation of the individual paths as your character begins to unlock the mysteries of the events at LeMU park on May 1, finally learning what has happened prior, what is happening now, and even what may still happen in the future.

It can't be stressed enough, but if you enjoy visual novels, ever17 is an absolute MUST HAVE - and even if you don't, I think it would be worth the purchase if you enjoy sci-fi/existential thrillers.
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
on February 15, 2006
If you love existential scifi anime and the sort of story where you have to think really hard about what's going on before the pieces slowly come together in a blaze of enlightenment - what are you waiting for?

No, this is not a traditional videogame. There is no "action", you will not blast anything or score any points. You will be reading, and learning, and laughing, and being surprised over and over again, as you try to uncover the mystery behind the events that unfold in front of you.

If you love mysterious anime, you MUST get this NOW!
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
on March 14, 2007
With the development of anime and manga popularity here in America there is one thing that never made the transition, Visual Novels. These "games" are not your typical action first person shooters or even adventure games. They have limited control over what can be done by the user. It's closest comparison would be a choose your own adventure book. Quite a few have already been translated into english but are of the adult variety. This is one of the first in hopefully, a long line of non-adult visual novels and it's a real winner. If you don't like alot of reading, this probably isn't for you. But if you want a memorable story that you will probably be thinking about long after the credits roll at the end, then this is for you.

The basic plot is a group of young people ranging from 13ish to about 20 are involved in an accident in a theme park floating ontop of the ocean. The characters are trapped in one of the underwater sections of the park and are left with minimal time left before the water outside implodes the part they are in. There are 4 main story paths and a 5th one you can only get after completing the other 4. The 5th one is what brings it all together to one of the most satisfying conclusions I've ever witnessed.

There is a bunch of future technology in this visual novel that are actually well thought out. Unlike other stories where it's put there either to be cool or to help move the plot along, these devices actually make sense and could easily be feasible within the next 20-30 years.

It's not just the technology that makes sense. The entire story is pretty tightly woven, unlike many which have more holes then a clump of swiss cheese.

This truly is the cream of the crop as far as interactive video entertainment.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on January 8, 2010
This question is only one of the many philosophical questions that you will encounter in your journey with Ever 17. What exactly is Ever 17? It is romance, Sci-Fi, mystery and philosophy flawlessly weaved together to form what is unquestionably the most mind-blowing visual novel ever seen outside of Japan.

Ever 17 starts out with a college student Kuranari Takeshi and a mysterious teenager who has amnesia individually visiting "LeMU", a state-of-the-art marine theme park completely submerged underwater. However, when an evacuation alarm suddenly sounds, they fail to escape the premises in time and are subsequently trapped underwater with several other girls. The communication is cut, the group faces a dire future as LeMU's structural frame deteriorates due to the water pressure. Love is formed under the pressure of communal survival, yet the your goal is also to unveil the truth behind the strange events.

The game takes place in the form of two halves where you play as a different person in each, either Takeshi or the nameless teenager "Kid". There are four possible endings, two for each character. Takeshi's two primary paths are with Tsugumi and Sora, while `Kid''s two primary paths are with You and Sara, all girls who are trapped alongside the two protagonists. Once you have completed all four endings, a final "true ending" featuring Coco can be unlocked, which will tie all four routes together and bring a conclusion to this epic expedition.

To say it quite simply, Ever 17 possibly has one of the best, if not the best story ever written by mankind. The synopsis given above is as much as I can reveal about this amazing game without any forms of spoilers. However, trust me when I say this, this game will blow your mind. As you play through the first four paths, you will often reach a conclusion that is somewhat complete, but you feel that something is missing. The observant players will also start to notice many strange occurrences that will not be explained at the ending.

The first four routes, after your first play-through, is not what you will call "Epic". They're not bad by any means. Each of the four individual arcs even standalone are still quite decent stories. but I'm willing to bet that as you're playing, you'll be thinking: "This isn't as epic as that guys said. Best story ever written? Pfft." Well, I don't blame you. Only by the time you get to the fifth path leading to the "true" end, which can only be accessed after completing all four "good" endings, will the story shows its full colours, and you will start having difficulties remembering to breath.

Ever 17 keeps its cards very closely, and almost gives nothing away throughout the first four paths. It's incredibly impressive how much information they hide from the player, yet are still able to stand by themselves as good individual stories. However, this doesn't show by a grain of sand just how brilliant the final path is. As you step onto the final arc with confusion at the "plotholes" you dug out as you were playing the first four, the revelations, fast ingenious explanations plot twists leap out at you hard and fast and many will leave you gasping at the screen.

The way each of the elements in a very elaborate mystery come together is insane and by the end of Ever 17, there is practically nothing unanswered or unaddressed. The plot twists are done in the same way. It's rare nowadays to see plot twists done as well as this. The relations between the first four arcs and the final arc is so tight that even when these incredible plot twists are thrown at your face, you will not be able to say "That's ridiculous. This is just stupid." because they're so closely linked to the events that you played through yourself in the first four arcs. Also, these plot twists are not only impressive for how well related they are with the story, but how many of them have real drama - real, mature, understandable drama. Highly complex theories are involved in the course of playing, including parallel universes, the predestination paradox theory, the 4th dimension and the Pygmalion Effect. In fact, it's handy to have Wikipedia open while playing through this game (especially this final arc).

The cast in Ever 17 are extremely well done. Not a single character who has a sprite is made without an integral purpose for the plot. Again, during the first four arcs, they will seem to be typical, generic anime/manga/VN characters. Ever 17 keeps their true stories hidden until the end where the truth is let loose at you, knocking you off your seats. Again, this game is amazingly made that even though you haven't even had a glimpse at the truth throughout the first four arcs, they are still genuinely likable and relatable characters. Of course, this in turn makes the revelations at the true end even more breathtaking.

For a visual novel released in 2002, the graphics and gameplay are quite well done. Even at a 800x600 resolution, one cannot fail to appreciate the detailed backgrounds. The character sprites are drawn quite well too, and all the different expressions are pleasing to look at. It's nothing exceptional for a visual novel, and there isn't much diversity, but thinking about how big most hard drives are back in 2002, this is perfectly understandable. It's already spacious enough for the limited storage mediums back then at 2.25GB.

As for the soundtrack, it's composed from 26 full length tracks, a commendable length for a 2002 game. The diversity is average, but are used perfectly in fitting situations. Throughout the entire game, I have had no problems with an inappropriately placed track. To me, the only purpose music serves in a visual novel is to create to appropriate mood alongside the CG. I can't ask for anything better for this game, so there's no reason why I shouldn't say the soundtrack is flawless as well. I especially love "Karma", the piano piece that plays at the menu and at the end of some arcs. Every time I hear the song, my emotions are let loose and I cannot stop my eyes to get misty.

This game is also fully voice-acted, and I'm pleased to say that the voice acting is top notch. Everyone is portrayed perfectly accurately and there are no room for complaints here from me.

The only gripe I have with this game is the English localization. While I'm thankful to Hirameki International for translating this game, they not only lost some of the original messages during the course of translation, there are many typos in this game. Clearly, a rushed-effort, something unthinkable for a masterpiece that in all seriousness, deserves the absolute best, careful localization. The Chinese one is much better done, but there's no point in saying that here. ^^;;

As hard as I tried to get the points across, this review doesn't even come close to describing how prodigiously incredible it truly is. The visual novel community is small enough as it is, and the truly saddening fact is that out of the few people who have played this classic, hardly any of them have even gotten a tiny glimpse of cards this game holds. Just like how few people in the World can understand the Theory of Relativity, few players can truly appreciate this game. Most people lose their patience while playing through the first four arcs. Many don't even play a second one, thinking that it's all Ever 17 can offer. The problem is that Ever 17 is designed so well that, as previously mentioned, any of the first four arcs by themselves are still good stories. Many people just play one arc and say "That was a good ending. I can stop now. The other arcs look the same, probably won't be much different except the girl you end up with." Little do they know just how much they're missing out.

Ever 17 is an ageless masterpiece. It has already entered the realms in which its staggering success cannot be fully expressed in the form of human linguistics. It is a piece of art that only few people with the utmost patience can come to appreciate. Will you be one of those people who choose to stick with this game to the end, and hear a tale that will remain inside your mind for the rest of your life?
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on October 29, 2007
Visual novels are a popular style of game in Japan. Your point of view is as one of the characters and you follow through several screens of dialogue until you come to a decision point. Once you make the choice, you follow the path of the story as chosen by your decisions. There is no animation and the majority of what you see on screen is text and images.

Thankfully, many titles are available with English subtitles and with English menus. Among those, Ever17 is the best I've ever played and it ranks among the best games I've ever played in all genres.

Graphically, the images are beautiful and an enhancement to the story. The text is well done in English, with only a few of the inevitable translation errors. Unless you also speak Japanese, most of these will pass unnoticed.

The heart of Ever17 is the story. You play as one of the two male characters in the story and how you interact with the five female characters and the other male character determines what happens. And what happens is amazing. The storylines are deep and engrossing. These are characters you will root for, cry with, and enjoy right from the beginning.

If you're looking for a visual novel, pick this one. If you're tired of the same stile of games you're used to playing and have never tried a visual novel, this is a great entry point.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on June 23, 2008
I can't even begin to express how AMAZING this game was. (I'd go through an in-depth analysis, but since that's already been done by the reviewers before me, I'll pass)

I'd label Ever 17 as a mystery/romance...so, EVERYONE can enjoy it
the story is unimaginable..it's so well written, it had me in tears...really, especially Tsugumi's ending, it was SO SAD

many of the individual endings were sad..and a bit confusing, but Coco's ending, the TRUE ending, cleared everything up..and the true ending was overall happy :D

but..anyway, since I'm a HORRIBLE writer, and can't BEGIN to describe how AMAZING and UNFORGETTABLE this game is...I'll just tell you this: I don't care how you do it, JUST GET THIS GAME. you won't regret it. It's a story that'll stay with you F.O.R.E.V.E.R.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on September 23, 2012
Seeing as others have already done a fine job of giving this masterpiece the accolade it deserves, I am merely writing this review in support of their claims. Ever 17 is without a doubt the most profound, heart wrenching work I have ever had the pleasure of reading/playing. It elicits both thought-provoking questions and scenarios, and also great emotion. This is an absolute must-play for both visual novel fans and neophytes to the VN world.
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