When a menacing red star appears in the sky signifying the impending extinction of life on Earth, a frantic project to launch the evacuation of mankind is launched. However, to put this plan into action humanity creates a new species called felixes through gene manipulation. Thanks to the much higher intelligence and near immortality of these felixes, the evacuation project is successfully set into motion. One felix, a girl named Sion, devotes her entire life to this project and thanks to her efforts, humanity is able to set out on a voyage into the stars to find a new home. Ironically enough, the girl who is responsible for freeing humans from the shackles of their doomed planet is herself confined to a research facility on a remote island where she yearns for her own freedom.
Originally released for the Japanese market in 2009, Eden* is yet another stunning and thought provoking visual novel by Minori. The developers, already known for their stellar work on titles such as Wind: A Breath of Heart as well as the Ef titles, once again worked their magic to create an engaging story filled with great characters.
Although Sion plays a large role in the tale, most of the story is viewed from the perspective of Ryou Haruna. Ryou is a tragic character who joined the army after a traumatic event in his childhood. After a distinguishing career with the Special Forces he ends up being assigned as Sion’s bodyguard during the last days of the Earth Evacuation project. What starts off as a very cushy job soon turns into the final love story on the planet. As Eden* is a kinetic novel the story is paramount, which is why I won’t mention anything else about it. Suffice to say it ranks right up there with the best of Minori and is probably one of my favorites in the genre.
It is not just the engaging storyline that make Eden* such a great title, but the beautiful art style as well. Minori has already proven that know how to create stunning visuals and this game is no exception. It might be a couple of years old at this point, but the illustrations have lost none of their charm. Instead of the sprites typically used for this genre, Eden* tells its story by making use of mostly event illustrations for all scenes. The result is backgrounds that look like something you can frame and hang on a wall thanks to the detailed visuals. The character art is equally beautiful and there is an ethereal, dreamlike quality to the visuals that is distinctive of the Minori titles. The game can be played windowed in its original screen size or full screen where anti-aliasing ensures that the pixilation due to stretching is not as noticeable. Small animations such as characters blinking or moving their lips while talking further bring the scenes to life. The cast and amount of locations are not as large as in some other visual novels, but the overall quality is very high. The incredible animated introduction sequence also deserves a special mention.
As expected from a Minori title the audio is just as impressive as the visuals. All of the characters, including Ryou are voiced by Japanese voice actors who do a great job conveying the required emotions. If for some reason you don’t want to listen to the voices or find a particular character annoying you can either mute all the speech or disable specific character voices. The game is also packed with tons of vivid sound effects and the soundtrack is absolutely incredible. The tracks all perfectly match the moving storyline and serve to further immerse players in the experience. Although the game is only about ten hours long the soundtrack contains 36 songs and all of them are very good. The tracks “Android,” “Bird cage” and “To the new world” really stood out for me and stayed with me long after I completed the game. As Eden* is a kinetic novel your interaction is basically limited to clicking a button to advance the story or setting everything to “auto” and just sitting back to enjoy the experience, so I had no issues with the controls.
Despite the fact that Eden* can be finished in about 10 hours or less, it still manages to pack a lot of character development. While the story centers mostly on love and drama there are also a couple of action scenes as well as a couple of parts that had me laughing out loud. The pace slows down considerably towards the end, but by then most players will be so caught up in the story that it hardly matters. The English translation is very good and even mundane actions in the game are described in a very engaging manner.
Players who opt for the Steam version of the game or the “standard” edition from MangaGamer will find a title that deals with mature subjects such as love and loss, but doesn’t contain anything too risqué. However, MangaGamer also sells the “Eden* PLUS + MOSAIC” version of the game which does feature additional H scenes. This version doesn’t make any changes to the original storyline, but instead adds four new scenes, one for each of the girls in the game. I like the fact that these scenes are kept separate from the story instead of being shoehorned in. These scenes still take place within the timeline of the original story, but are presented more as dreams or fantasies of Ryou. As the title suggests, the adult content is censored with mosaics for anything below the belt, but overall the scenes are quite tastefully done and relatively mild compared to other adult visual novels. Instead of abruptly leaping straight into sex these extra scenes also include a bit more story and a buildup to the H scenes which is good.
Players who enjoy kinetic novels, Minori titles or simply an engaging story with great artwork shouldn’t miss out on Eden*. It is not something for players who prefer their games free of drama or expect plenty of action though. It is also quite a sad title, so unless you are a total cynic when it comes to love, you can be sure that it will tug at your heartstrings. To get a taste of Eden* and see if it is something you will enjoy check out the demo on Steam or MangaGamer.