This post is spoiler free
Visual novels. Are they digitized manga, with gimmick features soon to be forgotten? Are they an inferior form of video games best suited for dating sims? Or do they deserve to be considered an art form in their own right? What are visual novels? What potential do they possess? And where do they sit in this over crowded entertainment industry? These are the questions I set out to explore. To aid me with my quest, I have turned to one of the best visual novels ever made; Ever 17.
Before getting ahead of things, some background information seems necessary. I am a film student, and casual gamer with a taste for literature. My experience in Japanese media culture is primarily limited to anime, and even that is quite a recent development. As things currently stands, my feelings towards visual novels are mostly skepticism. I find it difficult to imagine what visual novel could offer that books, or films and televisions (Anime included), or video games cannot provide. On the other hand, I consider myself quite open to new things. I wouldn’t mind being proven wrong if it means discovering something new and special to grok at.
For my quest, the plan is to complete one route of Ever 17 per day. At the end of each day, I will write up a brief impression of my experience so far. When I have gone through all five routes, I will do a full write up about both Ever 17 and visual novels in general from the point of view of a first-time-initial-skeptic. So without further ado, let day one begin!
Day 1: Tsugumi’s Route
Estimated time spent: 10 hours
My first few hours of playing can be summarized in two words; complete boredom. I would often catch myself watching youtube videos after less than 10 minutes of Ever 17. If it wasn’t for the fact that I already wrote the section above, I might have even given up on this project all together.
For a start, the choice of language reminds me of high school student’s attempt at writing short stories (This might be entirely a problem with translation). I was often confused by why certain things happen. Everything just feels very random. The worst thing is that despite something sinister is being hinted at, I simply did not care.
Things got a little more interesting after about 5 hours. The story finally seemed to have decided where it wanted to go. Getting use to the language style also helped with my sense of immersion, but I can still not over look the occasional spelling mistakes.
Near the end, I got quite involved with the characters. Instead of taking a break every 20 minutes, I saw through the last 3 hours in one sitting. In comparison, the second half of the story feels much better written which just makes my boredom during the first half that much more obvious.
As of now, I still don’t see visual novel being much different from a moving picture book. Regarding just Ever 17, I would not call it great yet, but it does make a nice reading when there’s nothing better to do. Of course, there are still four more route to go, and I am looking forward to playing more.
As always, thank you for reading and feel free to leave me a message in the comment section below. And be sure to check back soon!