I was really excited to test eden* after reading a few reviews that set some pretty high expectations. But did it live up to them? The main focus of this game is of course the story and it delivers very well on that front. The genre is essentially an apocalyptic sci-fi romance story. In the interest of avoiding spoilers, I won’t say anything beyond that about the actual events of the game and instead just talk about my impressions in a more general sense.
Somewhat atypical of a visual novel, it’s both short and completely linear. The very earliest parts of the game have some very heavy foreshadowing of the ending, but that doesn’t make it lose its impact. The game does a good job of developing the characters’ personalities and relationships and it pays off in really making you care about and empathize with everyone. Elica, the maid, ended up being my favorite character through her combination of badassery and extreme devotion to helping out those she cares about. I like to think of myself as not particularly weak to tearjerker moments but I cried at least 3 times during this game.
The visual presentation is a very strong point of eden*. The CGs look great and the resolution is respectably high at 1024×640. The only thing I didn’t like was the way male faces are drawn, most of them looked rather weird. There’s also enough CGs that you’ll spend most of the game looking at event-specific ones rather than a handful of constantly reused backgrounds. There’s around 200 for the main scenario and about 50 more for the PLUS+MOSAIC scenarios. Characters have animations for blinking and mouth flapping synced with the voices. There’s also a variety of ‘cinematic’ effects used throughout, such as lens flare, motion blur, and a depth of field filter. They’re all fairly small on their own, and the lens flare is overused, but on the whole I do think they make the game look a lot nicer.
The sound design of the game was also good but not as much of a standout as the visuals. The music was very nice and did a generally good job of matching the tone of each scene. It’s done by the same composer as ef, so for anyone who’s played that you should already have a good idea of what to expect. The voice acting was all well done, and the protagonist is voiced as well which is a nice thing that a lot of VNs lack.
There are two versions of the game, the standard one and PLUS+MOSAIC. There are only two differences between them; a few CGs in the main storyline are edited to be a bit more risqué and there are four ero scenes added. The ero scenes are bit unusual in that they’re not integrated into the main scenario at all. Instead, after finishing the game you can view them all separately along with the rather silly scenarios that lead up to them. I like this approach because I don’t think these scenes would have fit very well into the tone and pacing of the main game. There’s one per character, and it’s all pretty vanilla stuff. The kinkiest thing you’ll see here is a threesome. They’re all decent, and the scenes leading up to them are actually quite funny. So if you want to see some porn then PLUS+MOSAIC is worth the few extra dollars, and if you don’t you’re not missing out on much because the changes in the main story are extremely minimal.
I had high expectations going into eden* and it really lived up to them. The art is great, the characters are well developed, the story is touching, and in the end I’d say it’s easily in the top five VNs I’ve ever read.