Developer – Minori
Translator – No Name Losers & MangaGamer
Length – 2-10 Hours
Eden is one of the latest visual novel localisations to hit the ground running on Steam and the community’s reaction to it has been pretty positive (except for those odd people that seem to think all visual novels without gameplay are bad). I had been planning to wait a bit longer to give it a go, mostly because of my thoughts about the last Minori VN I read, but Kai from Deluscar persuaded me to pick it up and now here we are (and here’s Kai’s review!). Eden is a short experience and that works really well for it, allowing the gorgeous visuals to push its limited story aspect to an enjoyable level before it overstays its welcome. While not perfect, Eden has convinced me to give Minori another chance in the future.
With the world destined to be destroyed, humanity’s final hope lies with a genetically modified girl, Sion. Blessed with prodigious intellect and youthful longevity, she has spent her entire life designing the machines that are to be used to give her creators and captors another chance at survival, and now she is nearing her end. Ryou Haruna is a soldier sent to guard the great individual, who has been seen by only a handful of people during her effective imprisonment, though the impact they have on each other is more profound than either could have predicted. As political manoeuvring takes place in the shadows and humanity prepares to leave Earth to burn, Ryou may be the only person capable of showing Sion the beauty of the world she has worked so hard to save.
Eden fulfils its role as a short story well, presenting a selection of intriguing concepts and following them to their logical conclusions without stopping to explore them in too much depth. That kind of storytelling strategy requires an element of suspension of disbelief, which Minori has done a good job of cultivating. I enjoyed the experience of learning about Eden’s version of our world and the people living in it without becoming overly attached to either, and the main storyline managed to hold my attention for the duration of the novel. That said, there are sacrifices that have been made to accommodate the short length of the tale. Characters other than the leads don’t get the development they deserve, falling by the wayside once their role is complete (or have arguable relevance to begin with, in one case), while the story itself doesn’t have the twists and turns it would need to reach that next level of entertainment. It’s the kind of production that works well in the short term but would not be appropriate for a longer running time.
One of the major problems I had with Ef, Minori’s other translated visual novel was that it didn’t have the excitement I was looking for in either a romance or a drama. While the complaint remains for Eden, the number of new concepts you encounter goes a long way to making up for it. The issues you might associate with the end of the world, on both large and small scales, are explored tastefully and to enough of a degree that I was kept interested in the story at hand. While one of Eden’s taglines revolves around the relationship between Sion and Ryou, I have to say that romance did not play a major role in my enjoyment of the visual novel. Both of the main characters are the stoic, always in control and completely unflappable types, meaning that the emotion they can portray while being true to their personalities reaches the same level as the amount of blood you can wring from a stone…until the end of the story. That’s only partially a complaint, however, because the two do remain true to their personalities and they’re a relatively unique pairing who still exhibit their feelings in their own ways, which I have to give Minori credit for. The result, unfortunately, is a distinct lack of the overt romance readers may be looking for or have expected.
Even if I didn’t like Ef when I played it I was forced to admit that its visual design was extraordinary, and Eden follows in those footsteps…for the most part. Fascination with the visuals alone could just about carry a reader through the entirety of the novel. Sprites blend into the background so well that just about every scene is of CG quality; their clothing and posture are both beautifully drawn to a level that they add an extra layer of depth to the visual novel itself. Those aforementioned backgrounds are similarly dazzling and Minori uses picturesque vistas to good effect. Before I start gushing more praise, I do have to note than some of the characters’ faces (one in particular) aren’t as natural as they could be, which is a little jarring when compared to the quality of just about everything else. The musical side of the coin shines similarly brilliantly, with scores that settle deep into your bones to supplement the atmosphere of the scenes they accompany. I did feel that some of the tracks could have been selected better but overall the soundtrack is exquisite.
Summary – Eden works well as a short story. It guides its readers through a number of interesting situations involving well-characterized individuals without fostering the connection or level of emotional involvement of a longer tale. Most of the negative comments I have made stem from the design of the novel or the goals that have been chosen for it rather than any lack of talent in its creators and the experience was quite enjoyable overall. Minori continues to lead the pack with wonderful visuals that just about carry the visual novel and are accompanied by excellent background music to boot. At less than ten hours long, I can happily confirm that Eden is worth your time if it sounds like your kind of story.
Score: 7.5/10 – Enjoyable
Plus Mosaic is Eden’s R18 version, and only adds some extra adult content at the end of the main story.