It was just meant to be a fun day out at LeMU, the underwater theme park. But when the uppermost level of the park floods, a group of visitors are left trapped inside. The damaged structure of the park will only hold up for a few more days – but is that enough time for the group to be found and rescued? For that matter, is help even coming?
It’s actually been a while since I finished Ever 17, but my recent playthrough of 999 inspired me to go back and review this title as well. Both stories were written by Kotaro Uchikoshi, and a read of each of them will reveal some clear similarities. In each case, we have a small, disparate group trapped in an impending doom situation, replete with sci-fi concepts and some twists that ultimately tie everything together.
Unlike 999, Ever 17 is a pure visual novel – there are no gameplay elements, although there is a branching story. The most notable aspect of this is that one decision early on actually decides the PoV character – you can either end up playing as college student Takeshi Kuranari, or the teenaged ‘Kid’, a young man suffering from amnesia. The changing PoV has a knock-on effect on the events you experience, in a way that can only be explained by playing through both storylines in order to unlock the true ending.
With eleven possible endings and two main PoV characters, it should come as no surprise that Ever 17 is quite a lengthy visual novel – in fact, I ended up taking a break partway through. There is a fair bit of padding, such as numerous descriptions of cooking fried chicken sandwiches – pretty much the only food available in LeMU – but at its core, Ever 17 is an engaging story. I definitely felt a sense of tension and unease at the prospect of the characters being trapped underwater and potentially drowned. The core mystery and its corresponding twists were also well done, drawing me into the story and making me curious to see how it would all pan out. Admittedly, not every story element sat well with me, and some felt a bit ridiculous even for a sci-fi visual novel, but overall the story was both enjoyable and memorable.
At first glance, Ever 17’s small cast of characters looks like a collection of stereotypes – tsundere girl, chirpy high school student, loli girl, and so on. Fortunately, each of them has a more interesting story behind their simplistic exterior, but to discuss any of that here would be to invite major spoilers.
Visually, Ever 17 is solid but not outstanding. The setting is novel but often quite pedestrian – you spend a lot of time in corridors or minimally furnished rooms. Character designs are similarly decent but not amazing – my favourite by far was Tsugumi’s gothic lolita look. Later remakes of the game swap out the 2D character sprites for 3D versions – based on screencaps, these are pretty faithful to the originals but not as visually appealing overall. As with many visual novels, the background music is good at setting the tone of the game, but isn’t particularly memorable in its own right.
The game’s localisation is good overall, but does have a few quirks. Clearly a find and replace was used for some name changes late in the process – for example, it seems that Kid was originally called “Youth”, as all instances of the string “youth” now say “kid” in the text. For example, “You think” has become “Kidink”.
Although you’ll need to sink quite a bit of time into it, Ever 17 proves worth the effort by offering an intriguing sci-fi story with plenty of twists. If you enjoyed 999 or any of Uchikoshi’s more recent works, you should definitely try to seek this one out.