Ever17: Beauty in the eye of the non-believer / Reviews / Visual Novels

Ever17 – Why it is overrated (A review and a critique)


Warning: This post assumes that you have finished all five routes of Ever17. If you have not, you will not understand this post. Spoilers are contained, continue at your own risk.

Those familiar with visual novels would no doubt agree that Ever17 is one of the most notable visual novels to date. Since its initial publication, much has been written about Ever17’s excellent design and mind blowing story. A quick search on google would result in hundreds of reviews hailing Ever17 as a masterpiece of human imagination. With some patience, Ever17 is a visual novel anyone can enjoy. However, I believe Ever17 is overrated. This post will illustrate what makes Ever17 so interesting, and in turn explain why it is not as great as it appears to be at first.

I am aware that this will be a very long post. Most people might not have the patience to read everything, especially if they disagree with my thesis. However, I urge that even if you don’t read anything else, read the conclusion.

To start things off, a quick self introduction seems in order. I am a fourth year Engineering and Film student at the University of Auckland. Apart from watching and making films, I also enjoy books, music, and video games. Until about two weeks ago, I was a stranger to the world of visual novels. That changed when I set out to prove a point and to discover why my friend ImperialX is so passionate about visual novels. Thus began my journey with Ever17. You can read my impression after playing each route here. Otherwise, here is a quick summary.

My Experience

My journey through the first four routes was a journey of transformation. At first, while playing Tsugumi and Sora’s route, I was bored to death. Then, during You’s route, I realized the nature of Ever17 and began taking notes and screen shots. By the time I finished Sara’s route, I was engaged both emotionally and intellectually.

I then took 2 days off just to reorganize my notes. By the time I started Coco’s route, I thought I’ve figured out most of the mysteries. How naive I was. There was no way I could’ve predicted what awaited me. The plot twists took me completely by surprise. Many a time, I found myself gasping in disbelief. In truth, It is tempting to say that Coco’s route was better than all previous routes combined. The conclusive ending also put a solid full stop on every thread of the plot.

I began blogging immediately after the credit finished rolling. It was near midnight, but I didn’t care.  I wanted to share with the world Ever17’s brilliance, I wanted to hail it as a work of art, I wanted to call it a masterpiece, all while trying to sound as objective as possible. However the excitement simply could not be contained. In the end, I decided that I’m far too close to the work to write anything of value. So instead of posting a bunch of capitalized superlatives, I decided to wait. It seemed appropriate for me to take a few days off to think things through.

Warning: If you have not, played through all 5 routes of Ever17 and decided to ignore the first warning, this is a good place for you to stop. Though I believe Ever17 is overrated, but I still think it is worth the time.


The first thing I realized after a few days is that contrary to popular belief, the story of Ever17 is really not all that great. If we consider each route individually, then every route is average at best. If we consider all five routes as one big story, then it is quite repetitive and lacks contents, especially considering the length of the visual novel. Imagine for a moment seeing the story from Sora, or Yubiseiharukana’s point of view and you’d see how plain, event wise, the whole thing really is.


Characterization was also one dimensional with limited character developments. This is unsurprising due to the plot’s necessary repetitions. Arguably, Tsugumi, and maybe Sora, were the only two characters who underwent any noticeable development. Other characters have their eventual character arcs alluded to but was never realized. Intimate conversations would occasionally result in insights into other character’s backgrounds, but more often than not, those conversations only act as unnatural segue into philosophical discussions.


Not only does Ever17 lack in both plot and character, the theme of the visual novel is also quite vague, or perhaps even nonexistent. By theme I am referring to the ideas which a piece of work embodies, this is not to be confused with subject. For example, the subject of The Good, the Bad and the Ugly, is three men fighting against one another for a large sum of gold. While one of the theme is moral ambiguity. A strong theme is the essence of any good story. It is the message that the audience takes away and ponders over long after the story has ended. Unfortunately Ever17 contains no such message, or at least not a strong one. When the visual novel ends, there’s simply nothing more to think about. This is perhaps the visual novel’s biggest shortcoming. When deciding the quality of any work, the most important criteria is not how enjoyable it was, or how technically advanced it was, but rather what kind of message it was delivering and how well it was delivered.

Mozart’s Requiem for example is a work of art. It embodies the hope of a dying man in the hands of a merciful God. Pollock’s drip paintings are works of art. Even though they lacked the most basic subject matter and went against all rules of visual arts, they are the affirmations of human existence in a time when extinction seemed imminent. ARIA is a work of art. Its dreamlike serenity demonstrates that beauty can be found even in the most insignificant corners of life. Many people can proudly say that their lives has been changed by these great works of art, but few can say the same about Ever17. Because in comparison, Ever17 offers nothing.

One could argue that Ever17 actually does have a theme, and it is about the nature of seeing. How BW, who is pure perception, can influence physical events, seem to suggest passive observations are also active creation. What Sora said about herself existing only when someone sees her can then be generalized to all reality. Perhaps, because we played Ever17, then the world from the visual novel is not just some binary data or animation, but the characters were really alive and talking to us through the screen. Our passive observation created the world inside the computer. This interpretation is not baseless, but it is also one that can be applied to any visual novels, video games, and whatever other interactive mediums ever created. The whole point of interactive medium is to experience a story we, as an observer, can also participate in. Since that the suspension of belief is the most important aspect of any form of Play. Then as far as gameplay is concerned, any events that takes place in visual novel, game, or even book can be considered real; Real enough for us to be surprised, to be humored, to be excited. All Ever17 did was to point out the obvious.

Narrative Structure

If Ever17 lacks plot, character and theme, then what is it that made it so entertaining? The answer lies with Ever17’s biggest innovation; narrative structure. While plot refers to events which makes up the story, the narrative structure is about how a plot is shown to the audience. Traditionally, different routes in a visual novel implies playing through the same timeline again. With Ever17, by introducing BW, the developers was able to trick the player into thinking that they were playing a traditional visual novel, while the routes were intimately linked and clues regarding their relationship hidden in plain sight. It is only until Coco’s route that the player realizes that every assumption they have made were mistaken, every event they experienced was misinterpreted, and every plot hole they saw was misjudged. This moment of understanding, the instant of enlightenment is the cause for all the heart stopping, breathtaking, awe inspiring epiphany.


Unfortunately, to experience the euphoric ecstasy of Ever17, the visual novel depends on the reader to be a veteran of the visual novel culture. In this culture, most players would be happy to click through every route of a visual novel regardless of it’s quality. It is a culture where finishing a visual novel and giving it a score is a worthwhile achievement in itself. I admit, I am making a gross generalisation here, but this is a generalisation the developers of Ever17 took full advantage of. Clues regarding Coco’s route were fitted randomly into the first four routes without any form of disguise. The developers did this because the developers knew that even if players think the visual novel was bad, most would still play to the end.  Truthfully, if there was some kind of disguise employed, then the first four routes must have been purposely disguised as badly written visual novel with lots of plot holes. The genius of this is that it doesn’t even matter if it seems bad. After all, the motto for veteran VN players are; when dialogues seem awkward, just click! When plot holes are jarring, just click! When the whole visual novel falls to pieces, just click! Giving out a 1/10 is as satisfying as giving out a 10/10. So why the frustration? Why the impatience? Why even think? Just click!


The downside of this is that Ever17 is very unfriendly to new comers. Given the length of the whole thing, few newbies would be interested enough to play through every route. Unless, of course, if they somehow knew something amazing awaits near the end. But then the simple fact of knowing already takes away half of the pleasure from Coco’s route. Additionally, for anyone who’s not a “veteran” with the “Just Click!” mindset, they would likely start seeing hints like I did. By noticing things before Coco’s route, it would most definitely detract from the breathtaking finale.

On a side note, it is potentially possible for Ever17 to be played like a puzzle and Coco’s route treated as the answer booklet. In that case, the happiness would come from the satisfaction of solving the puzzle, rather than the surprise at the end. A risk to this approach is that anyone who did not figure out the plot twists, but still noticed most of the clues would not be surprised at what happened, but neither do they feel a sense of accomplishment. What they would feel is a sense of failure.

At this point, some of you might suggest that Ever17 is just too deep for the newcomers. They do not have the endurance to enjoy it. They should play a few short visual novels first and be slowly eased into the medium. Others would suggest that the first four routes of Ever17 are not that bad. They might be slow compared to the Hollywood action flicks, but they can be fairly good if the reader have the patience. In one sense, both these advice about easing into the medium, and the first four routes not being dull seem like good advice. However it raises the question; If a person can be trained to endure the first four routes of Ever17 simply by playing more visual novels, and if the training might even get a person to think the first four routes of Ever17 is good, then doesn’t that say something about the quality of visual novels in general?

Replay Value

Additionally, even for the “veterans”, Ever17 has nearly no replay value. Since Ever17 lacks both plot and character, and is devoid of any significant theme; there are only two things that makes Ever17 worth playing. These are the unexpected plot twist, and finding the “hidden” clues. Most people would be happy with one play-through and simply trust everything fits into place. Some might choose to play through the whole thing twice. Once to experience the surprising twist, and again to be amazed by the developer’s intricate planning. A few brave souls might even struggle through a third time just to make sure they saw every clue, but less than a handful would bother venture any further. After all, unlike the writings of Shakespeare or Wordsworth, Ever17 can only endure so many read-throughs. There is only so little it can offer.

Entertainment Value

Some might be asking, why so serious? Why be so analytical? We approach entertainment purely for enjoyment, right? As long as something brings us happiness, then it is good, right? Yes, I agree. I am not denying the happiness that Ever17 could bring. I am certainly not saying that Ever17 is a bad visual novel. What I am saying is that the joy Ever17 brings is very temporary and very limited. It is but a momentary thrill. It is like a glorified crossword puzzle, or a well executed card trick. The joy comes from the challenge, and the joy comes from the unknown. It was entertaining while it lasted, and it leaves a sense of wonder when it ends, but nothing more. Once the puzzle has been solved, and the trick revealed, then it holds no more value.

Perhaps Ever17 can then be described as the intellectual equivalent of a roller coaster ride. It’s exciting, it’s thrilling, but once it’s over, it’s over. You might get off the ride with your heart in your throat and stars in your eyes but none of that lasts very long. After a while, if you think about it carefully, despite the adrenaline rush, there is not much substance to the ride. Soon, a newer ride will be built. It will be bigger, it will be better, and it will be faster. The former would remain only in the mind as a fading memory.


To history, Ever17 will be remembered along side Fantasmagorie, one of the earliest animated film, Choose Your Own Adventure series, which popularised the gamebook genre, and maybe even the original Assassin’s Creed video game, which revolutionised how players interact with the game environment. They are the embodiment of innovation and the manifestation of potential. Indeed, each one of these works pushed the boundary of their respective mediums, but that doesn’t automatically turn them into art. All things considered, Ever17 really is not so much different; just a clever idea, a passing thrill, a nice piece of entertainment with momentary value.

Yet despite the lack in plot, lack in character, lack in theme and lack in replay value, Ever17 is still being hailed by many as the pinnacle of human imagination; Over the years, a cult following has grown around this rather average piece of work. Believers would cry for blood at the first sight of disagreement.  Threads after threads have been posted all around the internet to proclaim Ever17’s greatness. Though I am not suggesting that Ever17 is unworthy of praise, what I am suggesting is that it is unworthy of the amount of praise it has received. And in turn, these exaggeration, and blind worship surrounding Ever17 has made this visual novel the very definition of “overrated”.


58 thoughts on “Ever17 – Why it is overrated (A review and a critique)

  1. Your opinion is your opinion, but I will say that I am just a little bit disappointed. That you have a different opinion than mine on some things? Not in the slightest. But simply that I feel that you assume, way, way too much.

    I never play a visual novel that I find boring and I honestly think few does. If they don’t like a route, I’d imagine the vast majority would not play it. I know I don’t when it comes to visual novels — and far from every game has a true route. I would not endure hours upon hours of boredom for a few good hours.

    “Giving out a 1/10 is as satisfying as giving out a 10/10.” Is an example of what I found on a whole a bit insulting. I hate using the word “insulting”, but it really feels like you assume way too much about others in this critic. I’ve never felt the way you describe, and the handful of people I know who likes VN would almost certainly answer the same I’d imagine. I think it was unnecessary in this critic.

    I will say this though that my first visual novel was Ever17 and I loved it from the beginning. The OST, the characters, the setting. I enjoyed all of the routes, I never endured anything, but I also understand that’s somewhat that it can be entirely different for everyone.

    All these things being said, I also agree with a lot of the points that you raised. For example, I agree with your general assessment that Ever17 is not something you think about a month afterwards. It is overrated, I swear to god, no matter how much I enjoyed playing it. It was a thrill, it was amazing, for a while. The anime ARIA is much more memorable in that regard. Frankly, Ever17 isn’t a masterpiece. I would say it’s a 9/10 in terms of entertainment to me personally, but it does not leave you thinking about some things. It doesn’t change your perspective or influence your life afterwards.

    Objectively speaking I’d probably rate this VN an 8.25/10.

    • Hi Anon Ymous (nice name!), thank you for your comment! First of all, sorry for offending you but I assure you they were not baseless.

      When I was writing, I looked up the most active users on vndb. I found that the majority of them gave score in a kind of normal distribution with their average always between 4 and 6. The number of 8,9,10s they gave balance out with 1, 2, 3s. These are people who’ve got hundred of visual novels under their belts, They would know a bad VN just by seeing the author and studio. Then the only reason they could have a distribution like they did would be if they never dropped any visual novels which came their way, regarless of quality. It is even likely they would read visual novels they knew would be bad just to balance their distribution. I know this is not how everyone approach, but I feel these are the kind of people Ever17 is geared towards, since they are the ones that can endure the first four routes with minimal expectation.

      I am also sure some people did enjoy even the first four routes, such as yourself. But considering how long each route took me, for the same amount of time, I could have watch the godfather trilogy, or I could have gotten through all of death note, or I could have read Tomorrow When the War Began. In term of plot, or character, or engagement, I feel like the first few routes of Ever17 just falters in comparison to so many other good stories out there.

  2. If want a VN which leave you with a lot of questions to think about then try Remember 11, it’s made by the same devolper but it doesn’t have such a clear ending as Ever 17.

    • Thanks for the recommendation, I’ll look into it. Though I’m not having a problem with clear endings. Like how fairy tales usually end with “And the moral of the story is….”, most film and books leaves some kind of message behind too, regardless if it’s an open or closed ending. I feel like that “moral of the story” is what Ever17 really lacked.

      • Okay this will be slightly off topic, but I wanted to get my own thoughts put in here as well.

        I absolutely agree that the heavy handed approach is also a method. But more often than not, I find myself disliking it a lot when it’s used. A good example of this is Christine Love’s Analogue: A Hate Story. A ton of people and press praised the writing and the message it gave off a lot, but I find myself thinking that they must never have experienced truly good writing.

        The reason is simple. It was not subtle in the least. Christine Love is a staunch feminist unless I’m wrong, and it was over-the-head-with-a-hammer obvious that the authors opinion was shining through it all. To give you an example of this, as I feared, whenever something that was obviously misogynistic came up, an AI always came up and said “This is just horrible, right?” at every single point.

        She, the AI, missed no opportunity to show her wisdom and righteousness. I mean, we know it’s wrong, we know it’s not good.. but at every single point? If you did not agree with her on some thing or another you were immidietly the bad man. Which of course you kind of were, but it was always the extreme rebuttal. I hate the fake choice it gave you. I don’t even understand the point of it. I don’t think there was any real point to it at all.

        You constantly got a yes-or-no popup, and if you said no you were hated or extremely disliked or made her sad, and if you said yes you were a living angel.

        It’s simple. The messages were correct. Misogynist elements that came up were obviously wrong. But that doesn’t mean you should constantly get bombarded with a window that essentially says “Yeah, I agree, it’s horrible, for the thousand time already” or “No, please scold me and feel saddened”.

        On an even more unrelated topic I wanted to say this as well. I think that ultimately, a masterpiece should make you think about things, it should affect you to the point were it makes you change your perspective or understand something in another light. To cut it short, you should think of it months and perhaps even years afterwards. That, to me, is the mark of a masterpiece.

        • I agree whole heartedly about a masterpiece being something that makes you think. It’s not even about how the ending ends. As long as it have a central theme or idea, and that idea was clearly delivered.

  3. “Unfortunately Ever17 contains no such message.”

    Ever17 definitely delivers a message. This message entails everything that’s wrong with our current entertainment industry, and the direction where fiction as a genre is heading. This includes all forms of mediums such as anime, manga, literature, movies and TV shows.

    In your journey of finding the message Ever17 tries to deliver, you looked at characters, plot and themes within the story itself. You were greeted with dissatisfaction given the limited character development, atrocious pacing of the plot as well as objectless philosophy promiscuously injected into each individual arc, serving seemingly no purpose whatsoever.

    The narrative structure is the only element that redeems Ever17 as a piece of fiction in general. After all, without the deception of multiple timelines and existence of Blickwinkel, Ever17 has no real way of piecing its unsatisfactory plot progression, character development and lack of themes into a good story. However, that alone does not justify the consistent boredom that the reader has to go through before reaching a breathtaking revelation, and even more so the lack of need in any post-game analysis. That’s the objective way of judging it – the content is simply lacking.

    That’s what you’re telling yourself. That’s how you have judged Ever17 throughout this article.

    If the message is contained within the content of the piece of work, this method certainly works. Mozart’s Requiem and ARIA have powerful messages that are interpreted simply through their composition and character development respectively. It should be pointed out that this method of searching for a message from a piece of art doesn’t always work. One example is 4’33 by John Cage. If you only look at the content of the piece, what kind of message will you get? Literally nothing. Is it a terrible piece of music because, well…the content was lacking?

    What if the message Ever17 has to deliver is of the same nature, and has nothing to do with its content?

    The amount of patience to appreciate different forms of art on average within our population is actually decreasing. We don’t need a statistician to point this out to us – we only have to look at the films being released and the books being written today compared to merely fifty years ago to notice the discrepancy. I think the 2009 film Sherlock Holmes directed by Guy Ritchie is a perfect example of what I’m talking about. The original appeal of the franchise was completely thrown out the window in exchange for faster pacing, less thinking. More action, less deduction. More black magic, less reality. Why did they just not make a faithful adaptation for Sherlock Holmes? Because in the 2009 market, not many people would pay to see it, simply because it’s “too slow and boring”. I’ve heard that from many people who I urged to try out the novels.

    I think you’re probably clever enough to see Ever17’s message by now. Just what does it mean for any piece of entertainment medium to be considered a masterpiece? Also, what does the mere existence of Ever17 have to say about the state of our current entertainment industry? Do we still have the patience to judge a book not only after opening the cover, but reading every page until we reach the next cover? Or do most of us lack the patience to even finish reading A Study In Scarlet, and have to resort to cheap forms of entertainment as we can see from the majority of 2012’s top box office earnings?

    Ever17 was a commercial failure, even in Japan. If Sherlock Holmes got a faithful adaptation today, it will also be a box office flop. Because this is your first visual novel, I will forgive your remark about the quality of visual novels being lacking in general. However, I will say this: if there were people in the visual novel community who thought the first four arcs were good actually exist, I dare say there weren’t many of them since KID went bankrupt. Indeed, Ever17’s message is for everyone – more so the Westerners, but also including the Japanese where visual novels as a medium is already mainstream. Yes – the first four arcs were boring even by Japanese standards.

    Not only should you not judge a book by its cover, you should also not judge a book until you reach the other cover. People who don’t finish Ever17 not only wasted several hours of their lives, but also end up missing out on one of the greatest narrative innovations seen in the history of entertainment sector. In essence, Every17 is the ultimate “SCREW YOU” to every single person who lacks patience when seeking for mediums to entertain themselves.

    Why did I not recommend you Umineko no Naku Koro ni, Steins;Gate, Baldr Sky or the multitude visual novels which don’t suffer from plot, character or thematic issues? Because they don’t deliver the same message as Ever17 – the message I truly wanted you to know.

    I enjoyed 4’33 by John Cage. Thank you for the recommendation.

  4. This is interesting. I actually agree with both of you here. Keep in mind as you read this that I’m NOT arguing about whatever or not this is a masterpiece.

    Today, everyone wants to get rewarded instantly. They have no patience. The best example I have of this is achievements in games.” Congratulations, you completed 10 quests — you’re awesome!” after one hour of playing. To add to that, people read less books and video games are as popular as ever, and I find it extremely difficult to praise the vast majority of them when it comes to story, because many times it’s nonexistant to secondary or even third in terms of priority.

    To add to this point, even if the beginning of this visual novel is slow and even somewhat bland, since it’s awesome in the last part, perhaps even a masterpiece at the end, is it still unforgivable and make it overall average to slash just a good piece of a media? I think it’s debatable.

    The reason is as following. Masterpieces are called masterpieces because they are top notch, the best of the best, the supreme. The vast majority of media that you consume will not be masterpieces. I don’t think it’s fair to say “I could have watch the Godfather instead and still have a ton of time left over” and name other masterpieces, without taking into account “lesser” media which you would undoubtedly spend much more time with. I would also argue that relatively speaking, not many pieces of media can rival the epicness of the ending of this visual novel.

    All these things being said, I did say after all that I agree with both of you. The reason I quit MMOs was because I found out that the amount of time I put out in comparison to the enjoyment I actually got, was very bad. I quit soon after I realised that I enjoyed TV-series and the likes a lot more, and they take a lot less time. It’s simply a matter of getting as much enjoyment as possible, in total, when also accounting for the length of it.

    My own stance on this VN is that I don’t think it’s a masterpiece. In that regard, it’s overrated. But it’s still an excellent piece of media I would recommend to many people. It was extremely satisfying to play and I won’t hesitate to say that I love it. I absolutely disagree with your statement that you’ll soon find a new and better experience, because as I said, masterpieces are very rare and I still haven’t found many things that rivals this in terms of the feeling it gave off.

    • I think it was a misunderstanding when I bought up Godfathers and the like. I was trying to say that the first FOUR routes of ever17 was boring. I feel like the majority of books that manages to get published (not eBooks), or films could’ve done a better job with the time. The first four routes were a chore to endure through. But because there is a FIFTH route, it makes everything worth while.

      Other than that, you are I are on the same wave length. =)

      • Actually, could you clarify it a bit? As in, your enjoyment, not whatever or not this is overrated or a masterpiece.

        For example, do you find yourself disappointed? Do you regret taking up this task?

        Nevertheless, I do want to say one thing. I hope that you read a VN that is actually a masterpiece or at least have the power to truly be one, and I’d like to hear your opinion after you are done with that. Something that doesn’t lack these problems that you accurately describe.

        I remember hearing about how the guy who translated Forest replayed it a ton of times because there were always more things that you would realize. The kind of VN that gives off that feeling, or at least something that makes you realize or question some things.

        The reason is simple — I’d really like for you to share in the sentiment that visual novels as a medium has a purpose and even a strong one. It’s just a medium, so there’s no reason for there to not be masterpieces. I also think that there is room for it in between books and TV-series, in the sense that a visual novel has voices, music and art that can immerse you in the atmosphere and enhance it greatly, while having a deeper plot than you’d find normally in TV-series normally since a visual novel cost a lot less to produce, and is ultimately mostly just text.

        I just mean, there are visual novels that take over a hundred hours to complete, and the vast majority take tens of hours. The better and longer ones usually take 30-60 hours. A TV-serie or an anime for that matter, would nearly never go on for that long and instead be much shorter. You can also read something faster than you can hear. I don’t think I have to spell it out that it gives visual novels an edge when it comes to plot, even if it can prolong things more than necessary.

        • If I can refer you to my 3rd and 4th paragraph, you’ll see that I enjoyed Ever17 quite a lot. In fact I keep on referring to it as “a thrill” providing “ecstasy”, and at one point “heart stopping, breathtaking, awe inspiring”.

          If I wasn’t planning on writing a review of it. I would be quite happy to just end with considering it as a fantastic game. But the more I think about it, and the longer I wait for the halo effect to wear off, I just realise it’s not as great as it seems at first.

  5. While I agree on some of your points- especially about Sara and You lacking some more critical characterization- I think your assumption that there is no theme kind of ignore one that I found pretty blatant: situations happen without a clear antagonist character driving them. Leiblich is obviously the main “villain,” but they’re just a concept, a corporation with no representative character in sight besides one scientist who promptly dies in the 2017 routes. (There’s also Sora, technically, but she’s neutral to Leiblich’s intentions.) They aren’t fighting Evil McDr. Villain; they’re just five, or six, or six people and an AI trying to get out of a seemingly impossible situation.

    I agree it doesn’t quite make for a lasting climax. They topple Leiblich, but it isn’t personal like defeating a story-arching antagonist would be. And it’s perhaps a little chipper in the end, something I have a problem with all of Uchikoshi’s work. However, it gives the early elements of the story a very unique dynamic, where people can’t just distinguish between good or evil and band together through that.

    Going along with that, I ask this: Did you play any of the bad ends? Tsugumi’s ending is a bit harder to get than the rest, so many ended up on the bad ending instead. It’s not inexcusable that you didn’t or anything; I can chalk that up to the nature of VNs being a rough barrier to penetrate. Still, I thought the 2017 bad ending very heavily supported the idea that Ever17 isn’t about defeating Leiblich or escaping LeMU, it was about banding together in that sort of situation. While Coco’s dying, Takeshi, the Kid and You only have Sora’s knowledge and Tsugumi’s wit and power to help them figure a solution out… But if Takeshi didn’t sort out Sora’s wayward feelings he won’t return to her, and if Tsugumi isn’t relieved of her starving for revenge, then she won’t stick around to help any of them out. As a result, they all unfortunately die in the process. A lot of bad endings can feel very out of place, but Ever17, I think had a very good reflection of the nature of the LeMU situation, and that they aren’t fighting against LeMU, but simply not cooperating with each other.

    • Hello, I’m not entirely sure what you mean that the theme is: situations happen without a clear antagonist character driving them. Do you mean it sort of like “bad things just happens to good people without a reason”?

      And I don’t how that relates to Leiblich. Personally, I found the ending climax satisfying enough, and they actually did topple Leiblich in the end, even though that wasn’t the main focus.

      And no, I didn’t play any of the bad ends.

      • Sort of on the theme. There’s an antagonist in Leiblich, and they did defeat them in the end… But, first off, it wasn’t really an immediate effect of the followed characters actions; Yubiseiharukana went and charged them right before the 2034 event without much warning on the player’s part. (Not that it didn’t make sense, I just found it a bit sudden.) But more importantly Leiblich really play second to reviving Takeshi and Coco, and also to the original conflict of being trapped in the facility, which doesn’t really have to do with Leiblich at first. The problems are either outside of human conflict to solve (a deadly virus and survival) or have to do with bonding together more than figuring out how to defeat Leiblich; the corporation’s usually out of the main characters’ hands.

        (I may be noticing this a bit more heavily because Uchikoshi, the writer for E17, very often deals with antagonist shifting and… More or less your reading of “shit happens becasue people suck” in 999 and Virtue’s Last Reward. Hell, VLR was called “Good People Die” in Japanese.)

        On your second note, I did find the climax satisfying. However, I personally think the overall effect while playing the game was more impressive than finishing it. Ever17 was creating mystery and suspense by having unclear conflict (they weren’t really ever in any danger in 2034!); it wasn’t really supposed to blow you out of your seat at the end, it meant to keep you at the edge of it for about 5 hours straight. To that, I totally appreciate the way the game handled it, but it was certainly a different kind of climax than the norm.

        • Very well said. The last few hours really was quite amazing. It’s a different climax to the typical story. And I guess now that you mention it. I guess that the visual novel can be interpreted to have that theme, especially given how it’s one that Uchikoshi always uses.

          I’m still not sure if that theme’s delivery is powerful enough for people to wonder about, and if that theme itself is powerful enough to be worth the hype.

  6. As stated in your first article about Ever17, you asked:

    “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? ”

    And I think that’s why Ever17 was recommended to you, despite not being a masterpiece in terms of pacing and themes, it is probably the best example to justify the existence of the medium, and perhaps to make you realise its potential. (Even if it’s not the most newcommer-friendly one)

    The route system, the first person point of view, the addition of visuals and music to the text, the good, bad and true endings to the story. Ever17 makes use of each and every of the characteristics of the visual novel medium to their full extend to create that thrilling experience you described so well in your ” Beauty in the eyes of a nonbeliever” articles.

    It may be a one-time-only roller coaster ride, but I think Ever17 has succeded in its mission if it convinced you that visual novels do have a unique place out there in the entertainment industry. I hope it has inspired you to give this strange medium a few more tries.

    • You make some excellent points. Albeit my criticisms, I did enjoy the roller coaster ride and am beginning to understand why people enjoy visual novel so much. In all honesty, when I started, I was of secretly hoping to either dismiss VN’s all together, objectively of course. It turns out things got a bit more complex than that, and I most definitely will be giving VN more tries. =)

  7. Interesting review. I strongly agree with some of your opinions. I’ve read and re-read many visual novels especially with those I like. But I never gave Ever17 a second read. To me Ever17 is like a very good song in your playlist but you’d immediately switch to next song after hearing a few notes.
    You just pick a wrong visual novel on your first try. If you’d read many more, you would have had a different view on Ever17. I won’t dare to judge whether is good or bad , just different.
    If you like characterization, you can try higurashi.

    • Thank you for your comment. I’m glad you enjoyed the review. I agree it’s not the most newbie friendly visual novels out there, but I did enjoy it in the end. It might actually be better this way. My original goal was to see if VN are a worth while medium, and I think Ever17 really proved to me it’s potential. Because I read quite a bit, and watch lots of films, if I started a more newbie friendly one, then I might have just dismissed the whole medium and say something along the line of “Why don’t they just write a book instead?”. That probably won’t happen now.

      Thank you for your recommendation! I’ll definitely have a look when I have time!

  8. Hi, I actually just finished Ever17 in its entirety a few hours ago. I find myself disagreeing with most of the things you’ve written, but concur with your conclusion: Ever17 is overrated.

    I consider myself to be somewhat of a visual novel veteran. I’ve read enough of them to lose count, in both English and Japanese, over a period of time that will soon approach a decade. Ironically, due to its exalted status in the VN community, I had actually been careful to stay away from it, waiting for the appropriate time to properly sit down and enjoy this much-heralded masterpiece.

    I was… underwhelmed.

    You opine that Ever17 is a visual novel best enjoyed by experienced readers, but I actually feel it’s the other way around: Ever17 is a good read for those who have only read a few visual novels and are not too immersed in the genre. I certainly wish I could have read it as one of my first.

    The Infinity series is kind of the like the M. Night Shyamalan of the visual novel world. Its “schtick” is the promise of a mind-blowing plot twist. (Unfortunately, this is generally accompanied with a side of self-gratifying epistemological sophistry — although I was glad to see them refrain from trotting out Schrödinger’s Cat for further mutilation.)

    My experience was thus: I was pretty bored after You’s route, but I began connecting the dots after finishing Tsugumi’s route.
    “Hmmmmm… An A.I. character, a character than never ages, a character whose name mysteriously changes between routes, two mutually-exclusive characters and two characters who are conveniently never seen together (one of which is always the reader’s perspective). Gee, how convenient, what’s coming is DEFINITELY NOT OBVIOUS AT ALL.”
    I began connecting the dots pretty quickly and came up with the hypothesis that the two different narratives corresponded to two different time frames (although in my original theory, the player Kid was an older amnesiac version of the player Takeshi since his age hadn’t been revealed and the other Takeshi was likely a liar — Sara’s route ruthlessly sank that portion of my speculation). Regardless, I was already suspecting what would eventually be revealed as the ‘main’ plot twist in the game: player Kid and player Takeshi were in two seperate time periods. Really, once you have that figured out, the rest easily falls into place. The only thing that I hadn’t already figured out by the time I got around to reading Coco’s route was the Tsugumi-Hokuto-Sara relation and that is frankly just a minor detail in the game’s plot.

    Ultimately, this leads to Ever17’s main problem: the game relies entirely too much on the time differential plot twist in Coco’s route to deliver its “cathartic payload”. The means through which this is accomplished — misdirection of the reader through clever use of the medium and by taking advantage of the reader’s own expectations — is actually a fairly common device that I’ve encountered in many other visual novels. And while most other VNs that use this plot device have redeeming qualities beyond that, Ever17 offers very little else. Essentially, when the twist is anticipated, the reader is only left with a poorly-written novel on his hands, from the one-dimensional characters to the completely forced and unrealistic romantic subplots.

    Ever17 is great as a beginner’s visual novel. Perhaps not as the very first one would read, but definitely in the first ten or so. What makes it so brilliant in the eyes of so many is too easily spoiled through experienced eyes.

    • I agree with every single point you have made. I am speaking, not from experience, but from what I have heard and read. When I was talking about veterans in my post, I am referring to veterans who never played a VN with this kind of mis direction. The people who are use to every route being completely independent. The way I understand it, Ever17 is one of the first to employ this kind of mis-direction.

      Since you have been playing VN for decades, I am assuming you have played many later VN that was in a way inspired by Ever17. In fact, I hear that using time travel or multiple dimensions has become the norm of top notch VN now days. So when looking back, It would definitely appear underwhelming.

      In a way, everything you said is an embodiment of my entire thesis. I just didn’t have the experience to say that in my post. You are precisely the type of people who have rode on the bigger and better roller coaster rides before trying the older, smaller, slower Ever17.

      You probably don’t know how glad I am that you commented. It sort of proves to me my suspicious was correct. From a historic point of view, Ever17 was a break through and should be acknowledged as such, but it is only innovative for it’s time, and it certainly cannot, and should not be considered a masterpiece

      • Actually a visual novel from 1996 also used time travel and parallel worlds to connect character routes.
        That visual novel was called YU-NO.
        Even after all this time it’s still one of the top listed visual novels.
        So Ever17 is not the first to use this type of theme.

    • For a self-proclaimed ‘veteran,’ you should’ve played and/or finished Ever17 back in the day. Probably the hype got into you after all these years, or after all the spoilers and the “watch out for the twist/last route!” comments have bombarded you. The hype takes the joy out of good things. That’s probably why I found G-Senjou and Steins;Gate mediocre.

      You say that the schtick of the infinity series are the plot twists. Well, have you read R11?

  9. Ive been playing visual novels almost 2/3rds of that time, although in English, and am not the only person to have evaded Ever17 because I’ve heard it otherwise isn’t a great VN. I would like to ask you: Can I read the last few hours of this game and still enjoy it enough? I’m sure I could just hold down the skip button or something without reading it…maybe while reading a book.

    Moving on, yes….most good VNs have a major narrative twist at the end. Time travel, other dimensions….etc. The problem with VNs is they are incredibly slow at the beginning….that’s why I don’t play as many anymore. MuvLuv is a perfect example of this, and having known the twist ahead of time, I was a bit underwhelmed. I still enjoyed it as a nice action movie, (and suspect it’s better than Ever17), but there’s not a lot of replay value when it’s just plot…..without believable characters. I’d hesitate to say a work has to have value, lessons, or whatever you said to be rewatchable, but they definitely could use more depth……

    For the record the VNs that stick with me the most are: One~ Kagayaku Kisetsu e~ (lot’s of trite stuff, but it was one of my first VNs and I loved the mood of the endings at the time), Fate/Stay Night, and (for now) Muv-luv alternative (just for the “cool stuff” in the way I love Terminator 2 or parallel worlds) & steins; gate (which did have a moral.) I don’t think I can touch Higurashi having seen the anime, and knowing the twist…it’s hard to rewatch something once you know the plot, when that’s all there is….

    You have to admit though that VNs lend themselves nicely to narrative games with the structure, such as time-travel. There is room for growth in this genre, but the problem is the other parts of the writing are still = to light novel crap and gal-game wish fulfillment.

    • All I can say is that the last few hours would have far less impact on you if you skip the hours before it. In fact, the more carefully you read every single arc, even though they mostly seem to be identical, the more you will get out of the visual novel.

      There are other ways of approaching the visual novel, but I quickly decided that it was like a jigsaw puzzle. Yes, the final product might make a fine picture for framing, but it’s the tedious hours you put in that got you there which makes the experience so much more rewarding.

      Ever17 is overrated, yes. But it is still a good Visual Novel.

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  11. Well. About the VNs, Ever17 is not the first one i’ve read neither is in my language (so i never knew if it was hyped or not), but between all the ones i’ve proved, it´s by far the better one, and is by far one of the better things i’ve read ever.

    And i have something to say about the theme. And that the real theme is easier to understand viewing it not just as Ever17, but as the Infinity Saga in it’s entirely.


    First of all, we have Never7, the story of a young man without any goal in his life, who just happen to gain the power of predicting the future in a field trip with some classmates.. Or so he believes, but then some things get messed up and the time travel makes its apparition, and by the second to last route, we learn about a syndrome that makes possible for an everyman dude to cause miracles of the divine kind (or maybe not), and all the weird thing of time travel, premonitions and such are just miracles made possible by the main character, just because he tought he could do it.

    Now. ¿what can we see in Never7?

    1.- The time travel thing is a device that allows the protagonist to repair all the things that went badly, in just as much time as the first time. That is, making right all that went wrong with the same setting, and the same man, with the same character, but changing this tiny little seemingly unrelated decition that changed everything or learning a secret that no one would trust to anybody (a minor theme= fixing errors).

    2.- An anthropo-centric universe where a simple human being can (an does) create miracles, and just as happened with BW in Ever17, we can see it not just as part of the story, but it affects the way we read it. We see the character making impossible tasks, even as changing the game mechanics by doing so. Because, at some of the routes, the time travel is possible, because of the miracles that made it possible, but in other routes we learn that time travel is impossible, and that makes the time travel an impossible task, just because we cannot belive it as possible. And even the last route depends on it, because in its universe, there is no time travel, nor premonitions, no miracles.

    It’s a normal and realistic world just because the player has already saw the other routes where all kind of miracles happens, and he cannot believe in them anymore, as he already crossed the line of disbelief.

    It’s hard to explain, and it’s even harder with my horrible english redaction (is easier to read english than to write in english), but the thing is: anthropo-centric universe, and miracles that the reader have to believe before he can see them.


    Now. Ever17.

    1.- We don’t have the same anthropo-centric universe anymore. People now is very little and cannot confront all those big things that have them trapped in a cage made of destiny.

    Lieblich is never fought because it´s too big for the heroes.

    The cure and TB viruses, also are too big things for our heroes (wich are not like any virus of the real world).

    And even the miserable 51 meters of water over LeMu are capable of killing any unprepared hero who jut happens to be an idiot trying to swim over them.

    2.- Now, there is another theme is expressed in the game, and is the inmortality, in its three ways, as its mentioned by some character (professor Morino), and in these three examples, being technically inmortal does not means that someone can be considered as defeating those almost oppressive destiny chains.

    Tsugumi (the inmortality of the body) could not avoid for her children to be stolen by Leiblich

    Sora (inmortality of the memories) it’s not even a human, but a property of Leiblich. a property that can be deleted, rewritten and copied as they desires, because she is just memory data, and we can see how, by the true ending, the “2017 Sora” is with the heroes, laughing and playing in her new robot body, but the “2034 Sora”, even being just as the same thing, is still trapped inside the crashed LeMU, with the possibility for the computer LEMMIH to being destroyed completely by the pressure and the water (and any one of the heroes have even a little sympathy for her).

    You (genetical inmortality) Being terminally sick and making a clone of yourself does not mean that by the las minute yo are not gona die. no, you are going to be replaced by none other than yourself (i am you, you are me), after your death.

    But at the end almost all the troubles of these little people are solved because they “prayed” to this godlike creature known as Blick Winkel, A.K.A. the reader. Who just happens to want the freakin’ good endings (and at doing so, saving them and destroying lieblich)


    And then comes Remember11:

    Remember11 is the tale of this girl and this boy who just happen to exchange bodies now an then, and incidentally are trapped in some weird places with the company of some weir people. And Blick Winkel (or more like his sadistic brother) appears again, but it’s not a good thing.

    The thing is.., This guy, Satoru find out that this supreme being known as “self” has been manipulating the humanity (and forcing them to do bad things like killing each other, for no apparent reason) and he wants to chain it into the human world. so he, supported by none other than Lieblich Medizin, build this time-machine-thing and make a complex project involving people with diferent personality archetypes (anima, animus, shadow, persona, trickster, great mother and wise man), for it to create a joint personality equivalent to “self” for the summoning..

    But things go dark.

    1.- We, as this “self” thing we are, have many options and almost every one can cause someone’s death (and one of the 31 bad endings this game have), and we clearly can see the real influence of our directions (at some point three of the characters are going to eat, and we can decide not what the protagonist wants to eat, but what all three of them wants, and they even say it at the same time for it to be even more uncanny), and we can lead the protagonist to make stupid (or even lethal) errors that even the character points out, or rejects because he/she knows it´s an error. But they keep obeying because they are not the ones who decide, but the reader is.

    2.- Also, every character is trapped in some way or another. Like literally being trapped in a mountain refuge, after a plane crash, dying of starvation and cold in the midst of the snow, trapped inside his mind (a mind sick with realistic personality disorder), or trapped by the desire of revenge (wich may be over a murdered child, or over the freedom of humanity), or institutionality trapped (being an employ of Leiblich, of course), But this “trapped thing” is less like a theme nad mor like a horror element.


    So. These are what i think are the games’ themes, but that’s not all. Because comparing the three games we have:

    Never7: Universe with the human hero at its center.
    Ever17: Universe with a benevolent godlike thing at its center.
    Remember11: Universe with a hellish eldritch abomination at it’s center.

    Except they are THE SAME UNIVERSE, and always the three of them manages themselves under the same logic.

    And what we can think as the theme of the Infinity saga, is the variable nature of godhood. And how sometimes it seems that god is by our side protecting us and helping us, but some other times it looks like god hates us, and wants us to be miserable or just don’t want (or can’t) reply our prays. And there are times, of course, when it looks like the most beautiful thing ever is the humanity itself, and the human creation, and we think of ourselves as capable of anything (and maybe the only intelligent being of all the universe).

    But at the end, we don’t know, and that is what we can learn of the Infinity visual Novels. That’s what is left with us, and what we will retain, after many years upon reading them. That we don’t know

  12. Very nice review. The post has a lot of valid points, and I can understand how you can have this opinion. Personally, I diagree with you, and I don’t think it’s overrated, it’s just a slower paced story than most people are used to. It might be overrated to most, but I love Ever 17 to bits, but I can see why some people do not to the extent I do. Visual Novels are different from most Visual Mediums, visual novels are pretty much a visual book with voices and a choice once and a while.

    Ever 17 is not a piece of art: it is an excellent bit of entertainment. Ever 17 is a game rides on it’s atmosphere and mystery. Like all of Uchikoshi’s works, that’s pretty much how it is. He focuses on the atmosphere of being trapped and throws sci-fi at you for a good measure. I really enjoyed it all, I was never bored of Ever 17 because of the said atmosphere, the music and my curiosity helped with that. I agree with you on the characters: most are flat in character development. If you do not mind the archetypes they are based on, they are still enjoyable though. It might be a meh story in characters and theme, but the atmosphere, the experience of being trapped in an underwater theme park surrounded by conspiracy, mystery and water makes it a fun ride.

    I think there’s a possibility that the hype ruined your experience with the game; if you came into Ever 17 expecting less, you might have liked it more. There are a lot of books,shows, games etc. where I didn’t like something because of all the hype I got before experiencing it but experiencing it for the second time I enjoyed it quite a bit more because I had lower expectations. I only had one experience with visual novels prior to playing ever 17, and that was 999: Nine Hours, Nine Persons, Nine Doors. 999 is another story written by Uchikoshi with similar themes but a darker atmosphere and better pacing. Because I played 999 right before Ever 17, it gave me the incentive to see this game the whole way through. (I try to finish most of the games I play anyways) I disagree that this game would be good for veterans . I think you need to be used to the Japanese style of story telling, because this is written with a few slice of life elements. I think you might prefer 999 and VLR a bit more than Ever 17 considering all your complaints, I certainly did.

    I also disagree that ever 17 is a one trick pony- it has replay value and is enjoyable on runs in the future. Yes, most of the satisfaction from Ever 17 is based on Coco’s route, but even if you know the mystery, the route is still enjoyable. This is coming from a person who played it several times and still enjoyed it. It’s like watching one of your favorite movies again: you know it’s coming, but it’s still a fun ride.

    If I came out sounding like a desperate fanboy, I apologize. I’m a high school student and I don’t really go in and analyze stories as much as somebody like you might. Maybe Ever 17 is a better story for those that are like me and do not analyze the story as much and I can see how it has flaws. I enjoyed all of ever 17 though, and my opinion differs from yours.

    • Thank you for your comments! I was actually recommended 999 first because my friend thought I would never finish Ever17. But then I read that 999 was just Ever17 with puzzles to keep impatient people interested, so I decided to try the “pure” version of the story instead. In hindsight, you are probably right in that I might enjoy 999 a bit more. However I also hear that because 999 tries to keep the player interested, it sacrifices a lot of the mystery elements and that made the final reveal much less satisfying. So I’m not sure.

      And I think you are absolutely right. For me at least, my enjoyment of a text depend very much on what expectation I had going into it. In this case my expectation was high and Ever17 didn’t quite live up to it. It doesn’t mean I didn’t enjoy Ever17 though. I think it was still very entertaining.

      The only thing I do not understand is how you can play it through several times! Isn’t it more like a thriller like Paranormal Activity where the whole thing depends on you not knowing what’s going to happen? But if you know when the monster is going to jump out, who’s going to die, then the suspense is gone and all of a sudden the film is just about some people running around screaming in an empty house

  13. I finished Ever17 just yesterday, and I have to say it was horribly tedious and generally just bad. When they started throwing the twists at me in Coco’s route I had a horrible feeling I was going to give it a good rating after all, but essentially as soon as I’d finished I thought “Nope, that was shit. 1/4.”

    While I’m no visual novel veteran, I have read Higurashi, Umineko, Planetarian, Steins;Gate, Rewrite, Symphonic Rain, Higanbana First Night, some of Grisaia no Kajitsu, Fate/stay night and Katawa Shoujo and also some more game-y visual novels like all the Ace Attorney games, the entire Layton series and also Danganronpa.

    As you can probably tell when I say I adore Higurashi, I have no problem with slow pacing. But Ever17 fails so horribly at being interesting when MYSTERIES aren’t happening that I honestly didn’t want to keep reading after two or three routes. The music is bland and uninteresting and very few tracks stand out. The character sprites and backgrounds feel lifeless, though that may be a product of the general atmosphere. (I do rather enjoy the CGs though).

    When you have multiple routes where 80% of the events are the same, you really need to stop making me read the same crap over and over again, which is why I have to say that despite being a very interesting use of multiple timelines and visual novel routes, Ever17 doesn’t work, and possibly any kind of story with this format is doomed to fail. Maybe I’m just bitter about this, but much as I think the idea of a mystery told over several routes is ‘clever’ (it really is), the fact that visual novels force you to reread to pick the right choices (most likely using a walkthrough) just to get to another route has always taken the immersion out of it. This is why I like Higurashi and Umineko so much; they don’t have choices.

    Another big problem related to the one above is the horribly slow skip speed. Compared to ONscripter or the Siglus Engine, it’s only something like 1/20th of the speed, and it took me something like 50 minutes to get through one route /with skip mode on/. That is NOT how a visual novel should work. Ugh.

    Christ I don’t even know what else to say, I’m basically ranting at this point. Ever17 is not good. Don’t waste your time. The true route doesn’t make the tedious buildup worth your time. I don’t know who I’m talking to. Read something better like Higurashi instead. Okay bye.

    …Also, were mysteries like Coco’s appearance in Kid’s routes and the Bio-scan life readings ever explained? I don’t think they were. God the whole Blick Winkel thing was stupid.

    • It seems like our opinions are very similar. One thing I did find interesting though is that you found the experience not worthwhile, while even though I criticise it for the flat characters and un-engaging plot, I found it to be quite decent, although no masterpiece.

      I can only speculate that it’s because you actually skipped a whole lot of the routes, while I actually forced myself to play each route carefully, reading every line. By doing that, I was able to pick up on minor details which you might have missed, as well as slight variance between each play through. Which made Coco’s route much more interesting for me.

      • When I was talking about skipping, I was referring to… Okay it’ll be easier to explain the order I did all the routes
        >You’s bad end
        >Sora’s/Tsugumi’s bad end
        >You’s bad end (covering all the choices I hadn’t read the first time)
        >Sara’s bad end
        >Sora’s/Tsugumi’s bad end (covering all the choices I hadn’t read the first time)

        By this point I was /really/ fucking bored, so used a walkthrough and did You’s, Sara’s, Tsugumi’s, Sora’s and Coco’s (good) endings in that order. So as you can see I’d already read something like 90% of the text but I still had to go through the entire story to get all the right choices that would lead me to each endings. For clarification I didn’t skip a single line of text that the game had marked as “unread” until they started repeating scenes in Coco’s route (which aren’t recognised as the same scene for obvious reasons, even if the dialogue is exactly the same).

        Maybe if you use a walkthrough and just get all the good endings first try then you wouldn’t want to kill yourself while dragging yourself through Takeshi’s ‘common’ route for the FOURTH FUCKING TIME just to get to Sora’s generally uninteresting route and ending. WHY IS THE SKIP SPEED SO SLOW?!

        …Sorry, I’m getting more and more annoyed the more I think about Ever17 at this point. I need to start Little Busters or Chaos;Head before I go insane.

        • That’s fair enough. I think I can understand your frustration. Before I began playing, i read that some people recommend using a walkthrough to play through the bad endings first and then the good endings, all while reading every single word. It’s apparently suppose to add even more to the story if you have the patience. I personally decided I didn’t have the patience and simply went with the good endings which gave me a fairly enjoyable experience.

          And no need to apologise. I understand your frustration, it seems perfectly normal to me. Enjoy Little buster or Chaos;Head.

  14. If you’d like an faster game with good gameplay, the creator of Ever 17 had made the game 999: 9 persons, 9 door and 9 hours. It’s for DS but you could play using an emulator easily on the PC. The game is somewhat inspired from Ever 17. The game was a thrill ride right from the very beginning with some of the most intelligent puzzles I’ve seen and these puzzles also adds to the story.

    Ever 17 had one of the most unpredictable endings in any kind of media, which really impressed me. The game requires some patience to play through I know, but each route adds to the plot very much, (giving you not just a what-if scenario, but also adding more content keeping you disturbed about the “real” truth”), setting up for a grand finale that you’ll never forgot and will leave you mouth watering.

    • By “Faster game” I’m going to assume you mean “Slow text speed that cannot be fast-forwarded to my actual reading speed” and by “good gameplay” I’m going to assume you mean “escape-the-room sequences that are unchanged and unskippable on subsequent playthroughs for no justifiable reason”. I got the Submarine Ending and then my DS flash cart apparently decided that saving was for wussies, but since I apparently have to endure that first puzzle sequence six or seven /fucking/ times, I don’t particularly care to finish it.

      If you’d like a faster game with good (well not really) gameplay, Danganronpa for the PSP/Vita similarly features a group of people trapped in a location, forced to play a dangerous game for their survival by a malevolent game-master. Except Monokuma is roughly a million times more awesome than Zero. And the trials beat the escape-the-room sequences any day.

      I’ll agree that the revelations in Coco’s route were brilliant and unpredictable, and there was a decent period of time where I was simply grinning while the twists just kept coming, but immediately after I finished it I found myself thinking “Well, that makes sense. Alright, cool. Okay then.” and moved on to other things. Compare this to, say, Umineko Episode 1, which upon finishing (at two in the morning) I sat upright on my bed, squeezing a pillow and staring at a wall for roughly three hours while trying to process what just happened. As for “never forget”… That’s not really saying much? I mean I haven’t forgotten the ending of Shrek the Third, have I? Do I /regret/ reading Ever17? No, I don’t. But I would generally steer most people away from it because for me, the ending only sort of broke even, rather than pushing it up into a level of noteworthiness.

      I know I’ve basically addressed your entire post at this point but I’m going to continue with some more thoughts about Ever17 I should have put into my posts above, okay? Okay.

      Let’s compare Ever17 to the Ace Attorney franchise. They’re both more interesting for the twists in the mystery plot(s) than any actual character-driven events. I read Ace Attorney because I want to scream “HOLY SHIT” at the top of my lungs, not because I want to cry. I’m not saying that Ace Attorney doesn’t have emotional moments, but the critical difference is that Ever17 is obligated to try and make you care for the characters and the character-driven events, because otherwise, for all intents and purposes, nothing actually happens until Coco’s route. Sure, there are scenes where characters have to fix the generator or rescuse Chami, and all the endings have Urgency and Drama and Tension in them, but that tends to be more character driven than anything.And if you remember the characters, you can probably spot the problem. They’re fucking boring and only exist to serve a role in the plot.

      Think about moments like the game of Kick the Can or the mealtime scenes. These are the kind of scenes I would expect to find in the common route of Rewrite. In fact, let’s compare Ever17 to Rewrite now, both because of the similarity this paragraph and the next are focusing on, and also because Rewrite is a good example of a visual novel that, while of inconsistent quality at times, is made absolutely worth reading by the time of the true route. Rewrite’s common route is essentially an entire month of high school students having fun, and roughly 1% of the text ends up being relevant to the actual plot. I know a lot of people seriously disliked this part of the story, but the fact that I found it somewhat enjoyable as opposed to not at all demonstrates how it succeeds in areas that Ever17 quite problematically does not.

      A lot of the problem is with the atmosphere. I addressed this somewhat in my original comment: “The music is bland and uninteresting and very few tracks stand out. The character sprites and backgrounds feel lifeless, though that may be a product of the general atmosphere.” but I’d like to go into more detail here. Two of the things that make Rewrite stand out are the soundtrack (my favourite visual novel soundtrack to date) and the artwork (while not all the CGs are perfect, the visual novel is 720p and looks extremely nice). Combined these two things work with the writing and characters to give a scenario (the common route) that would be intolerably tedious otherwise. Ever17, by comparison, lacks all of these qualities. As I also said earlier, “Ever17 fails so horribly at being interesting when MYSTERIES aren’t happening” and I honestly meant that. It’s similar to Ace Attorney in that regard, but Ace Attorney both a) provides almost constantly with the mysteries and b) doesn’t really slouch during the other moments either. I admit that almost sounds like I just contradicted myself, but hopefully you can understand what I’m talking about.

      The 720p graphics and professional, high quality soundtrack of Rewrite certainly aren’t required to give a slow-paced, ‘boring’ story an incredibly engaging atmosphere that drives away any sense of “I’d rather be doing something else” when it essentially has no plot driving it though, and I wouldn’t want you to think that’s what I believe. (You may need to read that sentence a few times in case you forgot the first half by the time you got to the word ‘though’.) This is where I bring out my favourite visual novel ever, Higurashi When They Cry. Unfortunately I can’t really explain exactly how this visual novel (with 640×480 resolution, quite low quality sound, arguably terrible character art and dangerously close to completely awful translation) manages to be so remarkably immersive. It just does. Do yourself a service and go read it, I’m sure you won’t regret it. By halfway through the first arc you will hopefully understand the size of the gap in immersion between Ever17 and other, more slice-of-life visual novels.

      I could ramble about atmosphere and immersion and make comparisons to other visual novels that I do like for another ten paragraphs, but essentially it comes back down to two words that I can’t help but associate with the entire experience of Ever17. “Bland” and “lifeless”. Bland, lifeless, bland, lifeless, bland, lifeless, bland, lifeless. There /is/ no atmosphere, there /is/ no investment, there /is/ no immersion, there is /nothing but the intrigue generated by the mysteries/. This leads to a bizarre example of cognitive dissonance during the final route when questions finally are answered; I was grinning and excited as the story pieced together everything that until a moment earlier had made no sense, but underneath that, when we get back to the actual meat of the visual novel, I still felt nothing. This includes the actual “ending” where everyone lives Happily Ever After. In fact, by the time I got to the actual “okay let’s save Takeshi and Coco” part I found myself bored again, and that’s kind of sad.

      Essentially what Ever17 has that would make it worth recommending is “one good twist that the entire story and mystery is based around”, and does that make it worth your time? No, I don’t think so. Maybe I’ve become jaded by other Japanese mind-screw mysteries at this point, but while the twist was both a) genuinely unexpected for me and b) didn’t make me want to punch the writer for being stupid (Ghost Triiiiiiiiiick *shakes fist*) the experience, in the end, offers nothing else.

      I hate to bring Higurashi up again when I don’t really need to, but that was a lie. I love to bring Higurashi up again because it is my favourite visual novel and everyone should read it. Anyway, if I may make one more comparison between the two, it’s that Ever17 has, as I explained, only one thing going for it that only barely justifies the failure in almost every other area. Higurashi, by comparison, has an elaborate, brilliant mystery that makes use of timelines and the classic visual novel structure (while managing to /not actually use/ that structure, amazingly) with some remarkable twists, but it also has extensive character depth and development, slow but fantastically enjoyable pacing, some outstanding music that adds to the already-incredible emotional scenes and even one of the greatest action scenes ever written. Sure, at this point I’m just gushing but if you can see the point I’m trying to make then I’m happy.

      Obviously everything here is my opinion, but I hope you can sympathise even if you don’t agree. Bland. Lifeless. Bland. Lifeless. Bland. Lifeless. Bland.

      (I like how this comment gradually shifted from my internet-comment-slightly-angry-response writing style to my formal-‘I-totally-know-what-I’m-talking-about’-essay writing style and then sort of back again a bit.)

      • I guess this concludes as opinions of different people. For the question you asked in your article the reason behind the high rating for Ever 17, it’s because it’s most people’s first VN. Ever 17 opened them into the world of visual novels. The same with me too, the very first one was exciting, which made me to try even more VN’s.

        Probably you could find a faults with the game upon replaying it after one whole playthrough, but I wouldn’t dare to do that, because I want the experience to remain fresh in my mind. A game that I’ll never forget.

        As for my post, about 999: 9 persons, 9 doors, 9 hours, by “fast” what I meant was, while Ever 17 was slow paced, the former was a thrilling ride, with a sense of urgency in the mind every moment you play. I sincerely request to make a full playthrough, the puzzles are extremely good, the setting is great, the ending is awesome just like Ever 17, especially the last puzzle was hell emotional (like I said the puzzle not only adds gameplay but drives the story).

          • I think above anything else, this debate shows the importance of expectation when a player engages with a text. Which is why I named the post “why Ever17 is OVERRATED”. Because for me personally, i went in knowing the cult following of this visual novel, and expected it to be some grand masterpiece. What I found was a pretty entertaining piece of text but it simply didn’t live up to my expectation. While as you said, for people who didn’t expect much and who plays Ever 17, i imagine it could be quite a mind blowing experience.

      • You make some very excellent points, and I haven’t played Rewrite so I can’t comment on some of your arguments. However one thing I would like to point out is that Rewrite came 10 years after Ever17, and considering how long VN has been around, 10 years is a long time. Saying one is better than another by comparing graphics and soundtracks and animation is like saying Michael Bay’s Transformer is better than the original Star Wars because it had better graphics.

        I’m NOT saying your points are invalid. I’m just saying it’s important that we realise texts doesn’t exist in a vacuum, but are instead a product of their time.

  15. “When deciding the quality of any work, the most important criteria is not how enjoyable it was, or how technically advanced it was, but rather what kind of message it was delivering and how well it was delivered.”

    Who are you to decide what’s the most important aspect of how someone experiences a Visual Novel, or any form of art and/or entertainment?
    Do you think the people from KID made this with the intention to preach about something?..

    Besides, you call Ever17 a cheap thrill roller-coaster ride with no long-lasting impression, I can’t but disagree with you there.
    For me personally, when I first played this game years ago when I was still younger, the scenes in the Qualle with Tsugumi where she dove into the philosophical question of life and existence really ringed true with me.
    Sure I could have obtained the same insight, perspective, knowledge or thought-provocation from reading a book on the subject (or even a work of fiction) but the fact remained that I was back then a kid, not the scholar I am today. I had contemplated life, sentience and existence before then but only abstractly and theoretically. Tsugumi’s ‘condition’ and story really made the whole issue seem more -real- to me than any self-contrived contemplation I might have come up with at that age.

    Naturally we’re dealing with a matter of perspective here and obviously such sequences wouldn’t have the same impact on someone who’s been confronted with what’s behind them before from other works of fiction, education books or personal revelation.
    Gladly however I am able to report that, re-playing Ever17 after about a decade has passed, I still greatly enjoy it. Nostalgia or not, I still love Ever17 and Tsugumi’s story still had an impact on me. Even now that I have a quite rounded out opinion on the subject matter it still touched me deeply simply because of the reality of it. Tsugumi wasn’t preaching her beliefs, merely the story of her life. I admire that.

    I really hate doing so, but I can only conclude that you seem unable to ‘get’ what Ever17, or perhaps all Visual Novels, are about.
    Giving an objective review isn’t about being as meta as possible.
    If people feel it deserves a 10/10, it does. That’s what a rating is.
    Just because you don’t belong to the majority agreeing with a certain rating doesn’t make it overrated, deal with it.

    This is a Visual Novel, not some religious fanatic trying to force his ideals, beliefs and lifestyle upon anyone willing/forced to listen.
    Not every Visual Novel has to impose a strong lasting message to be good and deserve good ratings just as how it is with movies.
    Can you honestly say a great well executed comedy that has everyone laughing their asses off rank lower than a thought provoking one?

    • Hello Frank, thank you for your comment.

      First of all, I’m sure you agree that not only are we all entitled to our own opinions and perspectives, we are also entitled to expressing our own opinion and attempt to convince others of our own view. Or else you wouldn’t have written a comment pointing out what you believe was wrong with my opinions.

      Since we are allowed to try and convince others of my value, I propose that the message, and the execution of the message is the single most important thing in ranking a text. My argument being: a lots of things are enjoyable, but few are thought provoking, and indeed, a lot of text has been written through history, many of which would have entertained their audiences, but over time, only the masterpieces, the ones with a solid message, has survived.

      As for the comedy show you gave an example of. It may be so good that everyone’s laughing their asses off, but the same audience would probably laugh their asses off at the next comedy show next week too, and the one after that, and the one after that. There are just so many well executed comedy shows. And after a while, they might not even remember anything from the first show at all. It was entertaining, it was great fun, but not very memorable.

      Of course, like you said, this all depends on the context within which the text is consumed. If say a man met his wife for the first time at the said comedy show, then chances are, he will remember that comedy show quite vividly. But it could’ve been any other comedy show and it would have been equally memorable, so the lasting impression was not due to any virtue on the part of the show itself.

      Once again, I emphasise that I am not saying Ever17 is not enjoyable. Ever17 was quite enjoyable. And if people want to give it a 10/10 with 10 being the most fun they’ve had and 0 being completely boring, then I’m fine with it. However, on a scale like that, much of the masterpieces, such as 1984, Pride and Prejudice, and basically the entire works of Shakespeare would probably only get a 1/10 or 2/10 by today’s enjoyability standard. And as such, I would consider a scale like that not very good.

  16. Are people really gushing that much over Ever17? It does tend to get high ratings from people who know something about VNs, but I honestly don’t think it’s well known enough to garner the sort of praise you’re talking about, at least as far as the “pinnacle of creativity” goes. Maybe it’s far better known in its home country; I don’t know about that, but I’m pretty sure it was a commercial flop here in the States.

    I went into Ever17 without any preconceptions, and I enjoyed it, though it was definitely way too long. My impression was that it badly needed some editing, but that it was an interesting game – I enjoyed the setting and atmosphere of the story. I think some of the praise for Ever17 has to do with the fact that it’s not a VN about a guy in high school who has a bunch of girls following him around, which from what I can tell is 95% of all VNs. It could also be because it’s one of the few non-high school harem VNs that got an official English translation, and well before guys like JAST were around putting out translated digital releases of Japanese VNs.

    Ever17 did have its flaws, so I can partly agree with your analysis, though I wouldn’t call it merely average. The characters weren’t all that compelling anyway. I think Ever17 was really outdone by the Zero Escape games, which are written by the same guy but have better characters and stories and more genuine tension as a result (especially 999.)

  17. I feel like if you cannot call Ever17 objectively amazing, then your criteria for what is good are either wrong, or incomplete.
    Of course it doesn’t have replay value, it’s a mystery. Of course its prime value is temporary/momentary, that’s what a peak is. Optimizing for peaks means you get something that is wonderfully intensive, an insight, and then the peak ends. You could make those peaks the baseline, but then they wouldn’t be peaks, and if you had such resources available (to make a previous peak into a baseline), they would allow you to make even greater peaks at some expense to your new baseline.

    You yourself found Ever 17 to brilliant. And then you string together these arbitrary, supposedly objective concepts like replayability, theme and so on to conclude that it’s actually shit. There are no magical categories of what makes a work of art good, reality reduce to singular base components, physical dots, and Ever17 is a wonderfully beautiful and unique pattern, a combination of dots.

    This is why literature analysis in school ruins people’s minds. Being analytic means ignoring most of reality and focusing on an arbitrary subset of it. It doesn’t have a message? Those words don’t mean anything, words aren’t direct reality, just abstracted pieces of it, and they only have value so far as they focus your mind’s eye to pay attention to physical reality, to understand true interactions and connections. Pay deep attention to the very real pattern that Ever17 weaves, all of the neural connections it makes you experience, insights that do remain in your memory, and you will see that you are wrong: Ever17 is objectively amazing. Even if the first 10 hours are pure shit this is still true, the fact that it could be better does not change the very real intensity of the true ending — the fact it is amazing in spite of being shit adds to this intensity more than anything.

    Your expectations of a work of art are wrong. Fix them. It will make you much more adept at seeing the value that actually exists. Contrary to popular belief being critical of something does not raise you above it in status — failing to see the value of something, if it is there, just makes you an idiot. You have successfully used your intelligence to make yourself less capable of dealing with reality, and therefore more stupid.

    I’m serious. This is a very incompetent attempt by me to fix an error in your mind.
    You correctly found Ever17 to be brilliant, that was reality. And now you’ve changed your mind. If you change the right answer, what do you get?

    • Put it this way. I think the only reason anyone would think Ever17 is brilliant, myself included, is because the first 40 hours are exceptionally boring. By comparison, the ending seems amazing. Other than that, there’s nothing else to it that makes it good. I guess the difference between you and I is that I think of generating peaks by first lowering the expectation of players to the lowest it can be is kind of cheap. Where as you are only concerned with the relative difference between the peak and the baseline.

      • No that wasn’t the point I was making. I mean, we call it a peak because it’s relatively higher than the baseline, that’s true. But there’s a design difference between trying to maintain a baseline as high as you can, and in trying to make a peak as high as you can. If you focus on making a peak as high as you can, you will always have something that is higher, in an absolute sense, than the highest baseline you could maintain. As far as I can tell this actually is Uchikoshi’s philosophy. While his baseline has gotten higher in say, 999 or Punchline, it’s clear that 99% of his actual effort seems to be focused almost obsessively towards making the coolest, most mindblowing twist he can.

        Basically the point was that if you care only about the total experience, then who knows which approach is better, possibly you wouldn’t even consider the dichotomy, there’s other ways of doing it too. But if your primary concern is the most amazing, awesome, absolute moment, then you optimize for peaks, even at the cost of the baseline. Not in any relative sense, but in actually getting an objectively high peak.

        I highly doubt that the start of Ever17 was intentionally made boring so as to make the peak pop out more. If it was, then it’s certainly not a mistake Nakawazawa nor Uchikoshi repeated, as the baselines of I/O and 999 aren’t even close to the snoozefest of Ever17 and Never7.
        The thing is, he’s made so, so many works that have a peak-focus. All of them, really. I don’t think Uchikoshi has written so much as a shopping note that didn’t have a twist in it. If Ever17 had been his first or only work, then maybe it would even be probable that he might do something like that, but when a man tries to reach some ultimate height every single time, you know he’s the genuine article, and he’s probably looking for some achievement, some value that is absolute, not relative.
        I suspect much of Ever17 is boring partially because of the incompetence you’d expect in relatively new writers, and because this was very much a time when the selling points of VNs was having 2-5 times more hours of “gameplay” than other games. They might have been incompetent writers but their minds weren’t, and they did in fact manage to cook up something amazing, even if the work as a whole was a bit boring even when it didn’t need to be.

        Personally I’m fond of the whole peak-philosophy. A baseline of 20 and a peak of 5000? I’ll forget the baseline but I’ll remember the peak forever. If you opt to make a baseline of 100 with a peak of 200 instead, then chances are I might forget both of those.

        If your argument really is that the highest peaks of Ever17 are good only from a relative standpoint, not an absolute one — then I implore you to mention any works of fiction with even a single moment that is better than the highest of highs in Ever17. I don’t care about the medium, how obscure or niche it is, how long of a commitment it is, how much I have to pay for it, if you make me an honest recommendation then I’ll drop everything and give it a go. Even if it’s something you have to be a very specific sort of person to enjoy, I’m sure I can find some way to view it from the right perspective. The more titles that come to mind, the better, I’ll filter/prioritize them myself.

        If you can recommend me something with a _baseline_ higher than the peaks of Ever17, then I will hail you as a god. If there is anything in the world that is that much better than Ever17, then I am wrong, and you are perfectly correct in saying that Ever17 isn’t all that great. Only this part would I say is relative. After all, the point of calling something great, amazing is basically to signal that it’s one of the better things you could be spending your time on, the highest of the high, the best of the best. You wouldn’t call something amazing even if it had a lot of objective value, if everything else in existence were significantly better.

        • Hmm, I think our discussion of peaks and baseline is a little flawed. Personally I prefer mediums with a constant fluctuation of peaks and troughs. I believe most people are like that, an now that I think about it, might be subconsciously the biggest issue I have with Ever17. It’s the typical setup for super short viral videos. Everything seems normal, and suddenly bam! something unexpected happens and the viewer is left thinking “well that escalated quickly.” It works great for 10 second shorts. Personally I don’t think it works well for longer formats.

          If you like twist endings, Sixths Sense, the Prestige, even the original star wars are good examples of twist endings, without sacrificing any of the engagement in the first 80% of the film. Shawshank Redemption is another really nice film.

          If you are feeling old school, Psycho and Space Odyssey 2001 are both great though a little dated. Space Odyssey 2001 is a lot like Ever17 in some ways. It can be incredibly boring, there’s no mind blowing twist endings, but it’s incredibly deep.

          A film that I was reminded of as soon as I finished Ever 17 but could not remember the name until today is The Never Ending Story (1984).

          In terms of story driven games, I thoroughly enjoyed The Walking Dead and The Wolf Among Us both by telltale games. As well as the Mass Effect Trilogy.

          By now you could probably get a sense that my taste are very westernized, so it could be entirely be a cultural thing. I feel entertainment is suppose to entertain me throughout it’s duration. If it weren’t for this post, I would’ve probably stopped playing Ever 17 after the first hour, as would most western audience. But I hear with visual novel, it’s common for people to just click through the vn regardless of how boring it might be, because in japan, people turn to entertainment not for excitement, but for relaxation. And clicking through boring stories can be very relaxing. And for those who had completely no expectation of any sort of excitement, I can understand how cool the Ever 17 ending could be.

          • Cheers. I’ve seen/played almost all of those. Happen to actually be named after a character in The Never Ending Story because of how much my mom liked that film. The expectations I had for Ever17 were “horribly boring, but the ending makes it all worth it”. I was intrigued by the notion of a mass consensus that it’s a very boring way to spend tens of hours, and yet everyone who had finished it claimed that it’s the best thing ever, and totally worth the slog. I expected something amazing and I got it — I could barely sleep for two days after I beat it, didn’t get anything particularly meaningful done during the day either, mostly just letting off steam because of my excitement.

            It’s not really about entertainment or relaxation for me. It’s about the quality, complexity of the pattern being woven by a work art. It’s about the thinking, the neural connections it forms. I’d be surprised if most people who are drawn to mystery aren’t somewhat like this. It comes with the territory that you can’t really relax in the turn-off-your-mind sense when you’re actually paying attention to the mystery, and I think it’s somewhat expected that the set-up isn’t necessarily high-entertainment.

            The whole peak-baseline hypothesis is flawed and incomplete, sure. But I think it’s reasonable useful when talking about Uchikoshi’s work. In more general terms, I’d say the prime value of a work of art is the unique neural connections it forms in your mind. Even more generally, the value of art/entertainment period is the things it does to your mind, but I don’t personally feel all that attracted to the aspects of de-stressing and relaxation, I just sleep for that stuff. When I’m awake I want to think, I want these wonderful patterns running in my head. The value of a twist, then, is that it’s a coming-together of a vast multitude of data, suddenly it all makes sense, or suddenly everything you know gets turned upside, your full image of the story is significantly modified as your form new neural connections to the data. A message or a theme has value because of the unique interplay of ideas it presents. I mean it makes sense that all that is good in fiction has to reduce in some way to “because of neural connections”, or more generally mind-connections in case there are aliens that don’t utilize neurons, because that’s the point, the things it does to your mind, to your basic sentient-experience components. And on that level, I would say the search for emotional intensity and the search for a clever mystery are reasonably similar. High-emotion is basically your mind telling you, there is great value in this pattern. Same goes for the appreciation of mystery. The latter just tends to be more geared towards the complexity of the pattern whereas the former has more to do with the strength of its connections, perhaps. Both types I think consider the… goodness of the pattern. Because there’s a difference between random noise and meaningful combinations, and the connections you want to be strong/intense are the ones you perceive to be good. Hell, on a fundamental level both appreciations probably do flow from the exact same set of basic components, valuing specific types of connections, and the appreciation of intensity and complexity is of a consequence of your what-is-good-components which tell you that such connections tend to be more effective, better. Because they generate more accurate images of reality, perhaps. I’m sure there is some set of components which generates sentience that is biased towards complex patterns because simple patterns allow for less accurate images of reality which results in less capability for meaningful movement based upon your inner experience of stimuli, introspection and what have you.

            I think it’s wrong to say that Ever17 isn’t very good because of some far too abstract analysis that it has a 4:1 ratio of boring stuff to good stuff. What really matters is what it does to your mind, and this is a consideration far beyond the actual hours of gameplay. I didn’t think about Ever17 just while playing Ever17, I’ve also thought about it quite a lot after the event, probably somewhere in the tens or hundreds of hours of thinking after being done with it and choosing not to replay it because well, the twist is in my mind now, there isn’t much to gain from replaying Ever17 when the twist was the point. I liked that thinking, a lot. I particularly like the thoughts it inspired, thoughts that were tangentially but not directly related to Ever17, the unique neural connections and insights that formed _because_ I played Ever17, even if they are more generally useful thoughts that could have been formed from some other piece of reality, regardless, Ever17 was very good at bringing those types of insights to focus. Whenever I play something that’s really, really good, whether it’s because it’s insightful, intense or whatever… it kind of feels like I’m a better person for having experienced it, it’s that good. It feels like an achievement, like my mind is in a better state now because of the subtle or not-so subtle ways in which it has been shaped by the experience and the insights that correlate to it. It’s like a triple-combo of mental fuel, mental connections and an appreciation of value, all in one. It feels like living — not like a reason to live for, but like a condensed form of life itself, like I don’t _need_ a reason to live for, as if that’s just a meaningless, confused concept, and this, this is living itself, this is everything that is good, the same fundamental good as all other aspects of joy in life, even non-fiction ones. Ever17 isn’t at the top of my list but… it’s pretty damn high up there. It was a platform for some very, very pleasant thinking. Unique and valuable insights. And while this is a personal connection, I don’t think it’s a relative connection. There is something real about the pattern that is presented in Ever17 which does something good to the minds of most human-type existents with a penchant for mystery. For all the incompetence of the writing, the twist was very competent, clearly generated from a very interesting mind. It’s kind of the same way I think Nasu is a terrible writer but I’ll be damned if the pattern of Fate/stay night isn’t something exquisite.

            Whether you choose to call parts of it themes or characters or messages or whatever, this is what really matters, the pattern that’s there, the interactions and connections among its most base components. You should be looking at the pattern itself, not seeing everything through some abstract lens of themes and the sort, because there’s almost certainly parts in that pattern that your mind _can_ process, but your words can’t. All that happens is you look a pattern, go through a checklist of themes and characters and see that it maybe doesn’t have the strongest such connections, and then you conclude that it’s a bad pattern, which is where the problem starts, because you’re throwing away everything about that pattern that your chosen words didn’t cover. Instead of a preset list of words or categories that you consider, I think one really should just focus on the work itself and then generate the words you use based on that, in an attempt to give the reader an accurate image of what type of experience it is. I don’t think you should even mention themes unless it’s an integral part of the experience. You can mention the fact that it’s boring and frequently faffs around with some pretty uninteresting, one-dimensional character development — because that’s true, it’s a real part of the experience. But at some point you need to accurately describe what’s really there, where did all that effort go, instead of just deducting points for things it didn’t opt to focus on. If you did, I think you’d realize the unique value that Ever17 does offer, and that it’s really quite advanced in that regard. A decade later and I still don’t think there’s been a twist significantly better than Ever17’s. If it’s the best twist in existence then… it’s the best, 30 hours or whatever is a relatively small price to pay when you can’t get anything as good for less blood, sweat and tears.

            If you dislike Ever17, that’s fine. But I don’t think you should dislike it _because_ of some “objective” consideration of incomplete categories. It sounds to me like you had the same reaction to Ever17’s twist(s) that most of us did: it was something brilliant. But then you managed to convince yourself that it actually isn’t all that good because it doesn’t fit your image of what a good work is supposed to be like. Those sorts of images probably do have value in filtering content before you play them, in deciding whether to play a game or not, and you can override them if you hear enough good stuff anyways, so it’s a working system. But after the fact? I feel like they’re more harmful than anything else. Literature analysis teaches people to like things less, even they shouldn’t. There’s stuff that you appreciate _more_ because of that sort of analysis, sure, because it has a pattern that fits your restrictive, somewhat arbitrary image of what a good work is. And then there’s times when it makes you drag things through the mud even if it’s something really unique and actually pretty damn wonderful. I think most people are correct in giving Ever17 the highest of ratings, even if it’s boring. It’s a pattern that in some respect is so above and beyond, so ultimate, that it deserves it. It’s perhaps the most clever twist in gaming, the only contenders that come to mind belong to the same writers, stuff like Remember 11 and 999. That’s not because of relative perception due to how boring it is — if you wrote a 1000-word description of the twist and showed it to someone who hasn’t played the game, they’d probably think it’s clever too. The fact that thinking about it still leaves me and many others giddy, years after not having played the game, is some pretty hard evidence that it’s not just a momentary reaction of “oh this is so much better than the previous stuff”. It is better. But it’s also actually really, really damn clever.

          • So… Following your logic… 2001: A space oddyssey is actually a piece of shit?.

            I gladly disagree with your opinion on pacing.

            Moreover… As peaks are always relative to a low/average point one might stipulate that the relative heightmap is more important than the real height numbers. This is actually very basic stuff in the entertainment industry.. Look up ‘extra credits: pacing’ on youtube for a prime example.

            I would like to say more but alas it is almost 2016 and i am typing on my phone… Happy newyear everyone!

    • “I feel like if you cannot call Ever17 objectively amazing, then your criteria for what is good are either wrong, or incomplete.”
      Pffffahahahahahahahahahaha. Hoo boy, this’ll be fun.

      “Of course it doesn’t have replay value, it’s a mystery.”
      What? Mysteries have replay value. Ever17 does too, it’s just buried under how horribly boring it is.

      “Of course its prime value is temporary/momentary, that’s what a peak is.”
      No-one is saying that a work shouldn’t have peaks. But having 99% of a work be unengaging is inexcusable.

      “You yourself found Ever 17 to brilliant. And then you string together these arbitrary, supposedly objective concepts like replayability, theme and so on to conclude that it’s actually shit. There are no magical categories of what makes a work of art good, reality reduce to singular base components, physical dots, and Ever17 is a wonderfully beautiful and unique pattern, a combination of dots.”
      I am amazed by how far up your own arse you are. I can only hope it’s warm and comfortable, though it’s clear the smell has made you delirious.

      “Pay deep attention to the very real pattern that Ever17 weaves, all of the neural connections it makes you experience, insights that do remain in your memory, and you will see that you are wrong: Ever17 is objectively amazing. Even if the first 10 hours are pure shit this is still true, the fact that it could be better does not change the very real intensity of the true ending — the fact it is amazing in spite of being shit adds to this intensity more than anything.”
      This is your biggest issue. You think that your experience is one shared with everyone who read Ever17. It isn’t. When it came to the true route, I understood what was happening, but my reaction never exceeded “oh that’s pretty clever”. If the rest of the story had actually engaged and interested me, I would’ve been invested by the time of the true route and definitely would’ve enjoyed it more, but in failing that, Ever17 fails as a story. It is not “objectively amazing” by any means, and I can’t believe how pretentious you are. I hate every single word of the paragraph I just

  18. Okay, continuing from where I left off.

    “Your expectations of a work of art are wrong. Fix them. It will make you much more adept at seeing the value that actually exists.”
    You’re essentially saying SEE REALITY MY WAY, BECAUSE I AM RIGHT! Your entire first comment is. You do not come across as anything other than idiotic. Now that I’ve made that clear, let’s move on to some actual discussion.

    “it’s clear that 99% of his actual effort seems to be focused almost obsessively towards making the coolest, most mindblowing twist he can.”
    You know, I actually do like this approach. I’m into mind-blowing twists and “peaks” as much as you are. However, you think it somehow makes Ever17 good, just because there’s one brilliant idea that the entire novel is written around. Unfortunately, the twist was wasted on a painfully boring experience, and that’s just something we have to accept.

    “Personally I’m fond of the whole peak-philosophy. A baseline of 20 and a peak of 5000? I’ll forget the baseline but I’ll remember the peak forever. If you opt to make a baseline of 100 with a peak of 200 instead, then chances are I might forget both of those.”
    False dichotomy. I’ll play along with your imaginary “objective” numerical entertainment scale though. A competent writer wouldn’t need to have a baseline of 20 just to be able to reach 5000. My experience of Ever17 was a baseline of around 5, and a peak of maybe 200 (because, as I said, I wasn’t invested enough to have my mind blown). I can think of plenty of stories with a baseline of 300-500, and a couple that have so much escalation that the peaks practically become the baseline and push into the thousands. I will be sure to name them at some point.

    “If your argument really is that the highest peaks of Ever17 are good only from a relative standpoint, not an absolute one — then I implore you to mention any works of fiction with even a single moment that is better than the highest of highs in Ever17.”
    As I just said. Ever17’s “highest of highs” really isn’t that impressive. I could probably think of dozens of twists that have affected me more. Sorry for jumping around a bit as I get onto your third comment, I obviously can’t be bothered responding to every single thing you’ve said so hopefully this doesn’t get too incoherent.

    “I could barely sleep for two days after I beat it, didn’t get anything particularly meaningful done during the day either, mostly just letting off steam because of my excitement.”
    I’ve had a couple of experiences like that before. Ever17 was not one of them. In fact, by the time the “twist” was over and we were on to the ending, I was already over it and back to being bored. The ending was no more engaging than the rest of the story, by the way.

    “I’d say the prime value of a work of art is the unique neural connections it forms in your mind.”
    I think I agree with that. Ever17 hasn’t had much of an impact though, other than immense frustration at all the time I wasted on it. There are stories that I still think about every single day, despite it having been years since I read them. There are stories that have affected my personality, given me characters to love, and had peaks I can never forget. Ever17 isn’t one at all, it’s a dull, one-note, boring experience.

    Alright I’m too tired to keep going. I’m done. Somehow I can’t work up the energy to complain about this story like I could back when I’d just finished it 😀
    I await your candid reply~

    • “Pffffahahahahahahahahahaha. Hoo boy, this’ll be fun.”
      “I await your candid reply~”

      Don’t be glib. I have no obligation to this argument. If you want to say something and don’t particularly care about a reply, fine, anything goes. If you want an actual reply, try not to signal… whatever the hell this is supposed to be. At some point the threshold to reply just gets so obnoxious I won’t.

      “I am amazed by how far up your own arse you are. I can only hope it’s warm and comfortable, though it’s clear the smell has made you delirious.”

      And yet I’m not wrong. Which is really the only bad thing you can say about a person. Which is what you should have said — you think I’m wrong, so tell me why I’m wrong. Don’t waste time and focus on this sort of pointless shit.

      How many geniuses do you know of? You don’t have to know them personally, just… you know, having a rough image of their personality and level of competence. I think when one sees that so many extremely intelligent people are what one might call “assholes”, one has to ask themselves why this is the case. Let’s momentarily ignore the negative reasons for this, that’s the point of an honest query in regards to something one perceives as bad behavior — your mind will automatically come up with reasons to deny behavior like that, and then you get an inaccurate image where you just see the negative with no sense of the positive, no way of making a true calculation of how bad/good it actually is.

      One of the first things that comes to mind is that normality is probably on some level a permanent failure state. It’s a package-deal of good and bad stuff, and by virtue of being the low-energy state, the status quo, it’s extremely hard to exit that paradigm once you’ve gotten accustomed to it. There’s a reason low-energy states are default: even if the high-energy state might be better at times, even frequently… if the high-energy state is default, then you need to expend energy to move to the low-energy state, which defeats the purpose of conserving energy, you’d never be able to do that very well. Since it’s so easy to procure food nowadays, though, assuming you’re not poor — it really is just better to stick to the high-energy state most of the time. When the entire point of being a genius is that you see further than normal people, there is a requirement to be abnormal, a high-energy state that breaks the status quo, and it would be strange if it was somehow a disconnected phenomenon, constrained to intelligence only. All of that works together, you would expect such a mind to have an abnormal personality as well. Abnormal behavior is perceived as stand-offish by normal people. Breaking the status quo is a faux pas. That’s one possible explanation for the asshole-phenomenon.

      The other thing is that a sense of superiority is ridiculously useful, to the point where a code centered around maximizing for intelligence and insight would consider it one of the supreme virtues. When you expect to see further than other people, you typically try to. It’s excellent motivation. When you expect other people to be wrong, you tend to actually see the mistakes they’re making — and if you’re actually smart, you’ll eventually end up with an accurate image, where you manage to deny everything that’s wrong, but are honest enough to not manage to deny the core principles they employ that are correct, if you can deny something that’s correct, you’re being dishonest. I’d argue it can be a virtue even when it’s not quite right, meaning that you actually are inferior to another. Even then it still focuses your mind in what I would call a useful manner — even people who are superior to you make mistakes, and if you frequently spot their mistakes, you can raise your own level of competence pretty quickly. Sure, at some ultimate end-level you should get rid of all inaccuracies for perfect accuracy, but when you have a human mind, what works to extend your human mind further, to focus better, is certainly a truth. It’s kind of like how you should be selfish, AND recognize that other that there is a lot of value to civilization and… other people, basically, actions that are perceived as altruistic are frequently the right thing to do, even for a selfish actor, assuming they have a proper set of values, people who are stupid and selfish frequently do do the wrong thing, but that’s more of a stupid thing. Being selfish fits the shape of your mind better, and when a selfish person has 5000 times more fuel than an altruistic one, when their mind isn’t plagued by guilt and anything else that would put a halt to their thinking — it’s just better to be selfish, even if you want to help other people, do it because you _want_ to, that’s how you move forward with a human mind, you leverage your wants into movement. If your wants are insufficient to reach your goals, to reach value, then you generate new ones, modify them.

      The notion of humility as a virtue is wrong, basically. It used to be a good survival method. In more tribal environments, which in this context means pre-internet, pre-industrialization, being humble meant you didn’t step on people’s toes and didn’t get ostracized, which was horrible for your quality of life. In the internet age that matters much less. We have this nice bubble of civilization where we mostly live kind-of-alone, where we can specialize for some nice non-zero-sum value-generation, and due to modern logistics and communication we can enjoy the specializations of others without particularly having to be a part of their community or even interact with them. Being a bit offensive on the internet doesn’t tend to lead to any significant consequences. Sometimes that’s bad, sometimes that’s good. It does promote anonymous, low-value trash that is offensive for the sake of being offensive… but there are things that will piss off people that aren’t just bad things. I think in general people have better minds these days, more competent minds. Being offended is probably just a remnant of bad minds. It doesn’t seem optimal. If you care even slightly about the truth you should be able to look at something and not go crazy no matter what it is. Just… figure out what’s the truth. If they’re wrong then they’re wrong and that’s a shame, maybe you can correct them, maybe it’s not worth it. If they’re right on any level then you don’t want to miss out on that because you found yourself flinching at what they had to say.

      Finally, I think one can make a case for honesty frequently being perceived as… offensive.

      “This is your biggest issue. You think that your experience is one shared with everyone who read Ever17.”

      Not quite, no. I think most people had the same experience of boring-amazing. In fact I’m quite certain of this, based upon the vndb ratings distribution, accounts of tens of people who played the game (when they all say the same thing among various forums that’s statistically significant), and the work itself (it’s bound to be boring, so anyone who rates it 9-10 had the same-ish experience). My argument doesn’t rely upon literally everyone experiencing Ever17 the same way. At one point an argument I present does rely upon the assumption that Synian, when they actually got to the true ending, did experience it as something genuinely brilliant at that moment.

      Calling something objectively amazing doesn’t mean that everyone who plays it will experience it as amazing. It means the pattern that’s there actually is amazing. If most people with good minds who play it form good neural connections in their minds by virtue of the experience, if there’s a high probability of that happening, then it’s actually good. When that doesn’t happen, well, that’s a shame. Could have been coincidental, unlucky or there could be a problem with the mind that played it. Saying that every mind has to be moved by it is an unrealistic standard, you can always hypothesize a mind that doesn’t enjoy anything. Or maybe — maybe you actually do frequently experience things that are significantly better than Ever17. In which case, names, please. That’s the fastest way to prove me wrong. Ever17 could be better. My defense of it hinges upon the fact that this potential is mostly untapped, that currently there are not very many things that are better than Ever17. And like I said, if you even hint that a work is significantly better than Ever17, I’ll gladly check it out. I want that experience. The more the better, every title is a blow to Ever17’s armor. Stronger blows are better too, of course.

      “You’re essentially saying SEE REALITY MY WAY, BECAUSE I AM RIGHT!”

      There’s only one reality, and one right way to see it.
      What I’m saying is more to the point of… there is a right way of seeing reality. When I say something like that in an argument, I consider myself to be closer to the correct view than the person I am talking to, yes. One could call this the fundamental basis for an argument: believing yourself to be more correct than the opposition. At the very least, believing the opposition to be wrong, even if you yourself are not 100% right. No one has a 100% accurate image of reality, that would require knowing everything about reality. Chances are that real phenomena are so interconnected that you cannot have a 100% fully accurate image of anything without knowing all of reality. But the closer you are the better. And I think my views on art and fiction are… pretty accurate.

      “False dichotomy. I’ll play along with your imaginary ‘objective’ numerical entertainment scale though”

      It’s a relative scale when you don’t have units of measurements, just numbers, the point being higher numbers are relatively higher than lower ones. Also I believe I already admitted that this is an incomplete perspective, which was useful for making a point regarding Uchikoshi’s writing: if you focus on making peaks you can make something really, really memorable and… good. The highest peak you can make is always higher than the highest baseline one can make. It is a false dichotomy, because the value of a work of art reduces to its neural connections which don’t particularly care about peaks and the baseline. But then again, they do, when the baseline is so bad it barely forms any connections, and only the peaks do. You could have written Ever17 well enough that the baseline formed significant connections too, but the writers were incompetent and that might not have been a possibility. They managed to do a damn good peak, though. The fact that they were bad writers, the fact that their baseline was crap, it hurt their peak a little bit, but not significantly — they managed to successfully leverage their wonderful minds and ideas to make something really good in spite of the fact that they shouldn’t have been able to write anything good at their level of writing. Kind of like Nasu. Ultimately the mind of the writer matters more than their skill, skill is a part of what makes the worlds they shape good but… whether the world is interesting at all has less to do with skill. And Uchikoshi’s baseline got a lot better as he got more accustomed to writing (e.g. 999). So did Nakazawa’s. I/O was sweeeet, in pretty much every way.

      “However, you think it somehow makes Ever17 good, just because there’s one brilliant idea that the entire novel is written around.”

      No I think it’s good because the idea is brilliant _enough_ to justify the boring experience. It’s a specific degree of brilliance which is very high.

      “There are stories that I still think about every single day, despite it having been years since I read them. There are stories that have affected my personality, given me characters to love, and had peaks I can never forget.”

      “I will be sure to name them at some point.”

      Please do.

      Hell, for the sake of symmetry I’ll name some works off the top of my head that I perceive to be better than Ever17, even if it’s not relevant to the argument.
      Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann
      One Outs
      R11 would be if it had gotten a proper ending, the script for the unfinished route is a twist on par if not better than Ever17’s.
      Ping Pong The Animation
      Golgo 13, maybe. Could see it going either way. E17 is pretty high in my mind.
      Shokugeki no Souma
      Nisemonogatari, maybe some of the other -gataris too.
      Zaregoto series
      Horizon in the Middle of Nowhere
      Some of the Ace Attorney games, perhaps
      Saya no Uta
      Danganronpa 2
      Hanachirasu, maybe? Same as G13, could see it going either way.
      Umineko is similar to that, too.
      Space Dandy is similar too.
      No Game No Life
      Unlimited Bladeworks and Heaven’s Feel are close but I think they might be just a little bit below.
      Valkyria Chronicles 3? Could be a bit below, maybe.
      Katawa Shoujo isn’t quite up there, neither is Hotel Dusk. Still worth a mention.
      Oh and let’s not forget The Fountainhead, The Virtue of Selfishness and Atlas Shrugged. Those are definitely up there.

      A lot of these are the very rare works that manage to have a consistent, ridiculously high baseline. Still no baselines higher than the peak of E17, but if E17’s peak is 5000, many of these things have baselines to the thousands. And more importantly, they make for some very good thinking.

  19. @FRANK (Jan 1, 2016)

    >Moreover… As peaks are always relative to a low/average point one might stipulate that the relative heightmap is more important than the real height numbers.

    I cannot even begin to understand the set of confusions which gives rise to a sentence like this. What do you think the point of using real, “absolute” numbers is? It’s to generalize that value to the point where you can speak of it relative to everything else in the universe you could be doing. Art/entertainment does not exist in a vacuum, it is an expression of reality just as much as literally everything else in the universe is. You could talk about its peaks relative to the work itself, in the sense that part X was better than part Y, but if you wanted to posit that part X was _good_, then that is relative to the rest of the universe, not the work itself. The point of pacing is to get the most you can out of the script/ideas you have. The point of art is in being a “better reality” than what you can find in, say, nature. It’s more concentrated: modified (and maximized) according to intent, mental “work”, we could call it. If it synergizes with the rest of reality, makes you more capable of dealing with your daily life, then that is also a form of concentrated value born from deliberation, writing the work relative to the rest of reality. Focusing your value into a peak (relative to the work itself) is an attempt to gain a peak relative to the rest of value, the strategy could be described as gaming the fact that you have memory. If you were an organism without memory, one could argue that only the moment matters. If you were a machine that produced fuel relative to perceived value, one could argue that only total value (all singular moments added together) matters. But you have memory: all of those insights occurring at once will modify your mind in a way that would not occur if that value was diluted to the point where its absolute number is low enough that you’ll mostly just forget that moment. The reason why more evenly paced works still have value is because you still form an image of the work-as-a-whole in your mind, your mind doesn’t treat it as disconnected events, but I do think the peak strategy is in general superior, in that it fits the structure of the human mind better for generating value.

    Also, not sure why I can’t reply directly to your comment, every other comment here seems to be showing “Reply”. Did you disable replies to your comment, or is the interface borked?

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