eden* is a simple but unique visual novel from minori, the developers of ef – a fairy tale of the two. It isn’t an epic tale like what you might find an Eushully game. It doesn’t ooze melodrama like a Key game. It doesn’t have the plot twists of a Nitroplus game. It’s just a touching, heartfelt story.
eden* is short and sweet, clocking in at maybe 15 hours long. It focuses more on its characters than its story. It will leave an impact, even if it doesn’t leave you in tears. It is deliciously bittersweet.
A Study of Character
As a character study, eden* focuses on exploring a cast of interesting characters. I won’t cover them in too much detail, you can read more about them here. eden*’s characters are wonderful for a few reasons:
First, they are simply interesting people. Even the characters who seem to be less inspired have elements that make a huge difference. For example, Elica, who appears to be just an unassuming maid, is also a genetically engineered genius.
Second, eden* skillfully uses flashbacks to bolster character development, and not as a replacement. It’s hard to get into this without encroaching on spoiler territory, but each character’s personality and identity is shaped by their troubled pasts. They are just as much defined by their flaws as their strengths.
Lastly, eden* manages to tell a complete story about all of the main characters in a relatively short game, something I highly value and revere. As someone who no longer has the time to play 80+ hour visual novels, eden* is perfect.
Themes and Stuff
It’s hard to discuss eden*’s story without touching on spoilers, so I will instead ramble about some of the game’s themes.
In the first half of the game, eden* touches on some interesting science fiction concepts, such as the aforementioned genetic engineering and its morality. In addition, the military setting brings up topics such as politics and chain of command.
The second half pulls a complete 180. It feels a lot like a fairy tale. The characters learn how to live life. They learn to persevere in the face of death. They learn that sometimes being selfish is okay.
Kastel compares the first half of eden* to Muv-Luv Unlimited. While a good comparison of setting, the atmosphere and mood is more similar to planetarian. I also disagree with his comparison for the second half of eden* for similar reasons, though mentioning what exactly he and I would compare is a bit of a spoiler.
It’s God Damn Beautiful
It’s god damn beautiful.
eden* and ef do not share the same artist, but the similarity in art style is plain as day. The sprites and CG look amazing; what’s more, transitions between sprites and CG don’t feel jarring because of the sheer number of CGs and because sprites and CG look very similar. It also helps that non-CG scenes feel very dynamic due to character poses; sprite and camera movement; and animated eyes and mouths.
The backgrounds are stunningly detailed. minori’s usage of light leaves me breathless at times, and eden* is no exception. eden* is easily the best-looking visual novel I’ve ever played.
eden*’s soundtrack is no slouch, either. Composer Tenmon is famous for not just minori visual novels, but also Makoto Shinkai films. Speaking of which, Shinkai animated eden*’s the opening movie, and it’s god damn beautiful. As an aside, I still maintain that ef – a fairy tale of the two’s opening movie is Makoto Shinkai’s greatest work.
The Obligatory Seiyuu Section
I usually only cover the best voices in my tester’s corners, but Sion, Elica, and Lavie are all wonderfully voiced, so you’ll have to deal with a little more text than usual.
Sion’s seiyuu is Shimura Yumi. She has a couple anime roles, but mostly does eroge work, and quite notable eroge work at that, though the only game she’s been in that can be played in English is Arcana Heart. Sion’s voice is calm and gentle. But not in a weak or shy way. She is strong, reassuring, and sincere.
Elica is voiced by the wonderful Nakajima Yumiko. For some incomprehensible reason, the only other notable eroge or anime she’s done is ef, where she played the delightful Amamiya Yuuko, one of, if not the most memorable voice I’ve ever heard in Japanese media. Hell, any media.
Finally, we have Lavie, who is played by Nakamura Eriko, famous for her role as Haruka in the iDOLM@STER games and anime. She also has parts in some well-known eroge, like Aiyoku no Eustia. Her strong, emotive voice fits her personality to a t.
You should play eden*. It has something for everyone.
Lolis, maids, and girls with guns.
Tense action and the cutest romance you’ll ever see.
Tranquil satisfaction, painful regret, and cathartic redemption.
Breaking free of the past, living for the present, and forging ahead into the future.
Fulfilling lives and peaceful deaths.