12 Days of Visual Novels: euphoria

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In the spotlight today for the 12 days of visual novels: euphoria. We have something a little different this time around. We have asked loyal customer and euphoria super-fan, Kitty-tama, to give us an in-depth review of our release:

Hello everyone, this is Kitty-tama. Euphoria is an eroge very near and dear to my heart, and I’m very honored to share my thoughts and feelings about it.

KT-Header imageFirst Impressions
When I first ever played Euphoria in its original Japanese version, my first thought upon booting it up was, “this will be an intense ride, huh?” I had an idea of what to expect based on the OVAs that were released. The OVAs couldn’t begin to tell the story of the game. It most certainly was an intense ride, but it was so much more than that. And oh, was it. The first thing that caught my attention was the atmosphere Euphoria gave off. There’s a feeling of mystery and tension right from the opening sentence. Needless to say, I was drawn in. Much like Keisuke, questions swirled in my mind; what led to Keisuke and the heroines to be in that white prison? Who brought them there? Why were they there?

Reeled in after being grabbed by the hook that is Euphoria’s storytelling, I found I was completing the heroine routes in quite a rapid succession. The mystery began to unravel with every route. What initially felt like unrelated heroine stories only having loose relation to each other ended in a mind blowing conclusion that I can only call “breathtaking”. I felt a concoction of emotions that I’d never felt with any other eroge I’d played before after I first completed Euphoria for the very first time. It was my most memorable eroge experience, without a single doubt.

The moment I was met with the English version’s menu, I felt overwhelming excitement and joy within me. Finally, I would be able to understand the finer details I missed playing Euphoria in its native language. By expanding my knowledge of the game, its characters, and its world, so too would my love for it grow even more. I was one hundred percent right.

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Story
Euphoria starts off with the protagonist, Takatou Keisuke, awakening in an unfamiliar white room. Not only is he there, but his childhood friend Hokari Kanae, classmates Manaka Nemu and Byakuya Rinne, his junior Makiba Rika, and English teacher Aoi Natsuki are there as well, not to mention the class rep, Andou Miyako. The seven of them are in this white facility with no idea as to how they got there. Suddenly, a robotic voice announces the start of a “game” that they are to partake in, or else they die. Miyako, deeply disturbed by what this cruel game entails, gets into an angry panic and forfiets from participating. However… if one refuses to play the game or breaks the rules established, the result is elimination. Keisuke and the others are forced to witness Miyako die, and it is from there that the characters realize their fate: Keisuke must violate the girl of his choice or else they too will face the cruel hands of death. Despite the terrifying scene in front of him, Keisuke becomes aroused at the sight of Class Rep’s torture. This is because deep down, he is truly a sadist. The more depraved and dark something is, the more turned on he is because of it. The fact is usually kept hidden from everyone around him within the recesses of his mind. Unfortunately for Keisuke, Nemu discovers his demented tastes and uses his secret to blackmail him into doing whatever she wants of him. Within the walls of this white hell, where it’s rape or be killed, just what will happen to these six people…? Will Keisuke ultimately succumb to his darkest desires, or will he make it out, protect Kanae in the process and return to his normal life…?

Though the premise sounds an awful lot like some SAW nukige adaptation, it’s not so simple; there are quite a lot of layers to the story. It should be noted, however, that there are scenes of a very brutal nature not for those with weak dispositions (as well as the supremely vanilla). Despite that, I feel the brutality is justified by the story in the end. Asou Ei’s writing delivers a narrative that is tight and vivid, making what Keisuke and the heroines experience chilling and, at times, downright disturbing. In addition, because of how analytical Keisuke’s thoughts come across, as well as a non stop tension in the air, the mystery and suspense of the base plot shines through, making for a read that is quite difficult to stop. Euphoria isn’t all about the tension and mystery and scary parts despite what one might initially think. Hidden within the darkness are shining lights of sweetness; whether it be tender lovemaking scenes within the heroine routes, or even downright emotional moments, there are times of calm within the storm of madness. Perhaps the most frustrating aspect of Euphoria is that it’s very difficult to explain exactly what makes it such a worthwhile read, what makes it so good, because that requires spoiling the game itself. The content can be quite intense at times, but in my eyes one should keep an open mind (and a steeled stomach!) when approaching Euphoria. It’s truly a beautiful story that really needs to be experienced.

Not any work is perfect, though. While Euphoria is by large and far a fantastic eroge, there are also a number of flaws with its story. The first thing in particular that comes to mind is Rinne’s route. It just wasn’t very well executed to me. That’s not to say it isn’t still of a good quality. It is, and it fits fine within the overall story, I suppose, especially after one completes the true ending. Regardless, her route to me came across as one giant question mark. Maybe this is because the second half of Rinne’s route, where most of my issues lie, was written by Ban’ya Izumi and not Asou Ei (who wrote the rest of the routes). His writing isn’t awful, but between an overall supremely confusing storyline, as well as a couple of H scenes that felt somewhat forced and killed the pacing, Rinne’s route was weak. The cruelty ending was just plain silly and felt very out of character for Keisuke.The conclusion of the route had me laughing hard… which is likely not the intended reaction. Another flaw I find with Euphoria’s story is the true ending. On its own, it is utterly amazing and a very satisfying conclusion! When thought of extensively, though, it feels like the end tried to do too much at once. It’s kind of disappointing, as a result. But if one doesn’t think too much about it, it is a fantastic, epic ending.

KT-charactersCharacters
Initially, one might think of the characters to be shallow stereotypes with no originality whatsoever. They may appear to be trite, cookie cutouts, but the more one delves into the game, the more clear it becomes that this is far from the truth. Each character has a distinct personality and mannerisms. Keisuke might be a sadist but he also experiences guilt and shame over his desires. Nemu is bewitching in how manipulative and scheming she is, but her motivations aren’t very clear at first. Kanae is very sweet and gentle, yet stubborn when the situation calls for it. Natsuki is kind and tries to bring control to the situation even though she isn’t the most useful. Rinne, calm and analytical, is also quite aloof and gives off an air of disinterest. Rika is the most vulnerable, frequently crying and clinging to whatever kindness she is shown regardless if it’s pure manipulation or not. Each character is portrayed in a fairly realistic manner in how they react to what’s going on around them. Without spoiling anything, the characters are more than they appear at first. I found everyone to be quite endearing by the end of the game. It’s quite difficult to hate them!

KT-scrnsht2Art
The art in Euphoria is absolutely stunning. Hamashima Shigeo gave the heroines very distinct designs that are appealing to the eye. Not only that, but she also drew them with very realistic body proportions, something I found to be quite refreshing compared to the typical eroge art I’m used to seeing. One thing of special note in my eyes is the facial expressions. Whether it be the arrogant smirk on Nemu’s face, the adorable but not very intimidating pout of Kanae, or even the intense orgasmic ahegao look seen in many of the H scenes, every character has very lively expressions that are really breathed to life thanks to Hamashima’s artistic talent. Sadly, background characters lack faces, breaking the immersion somewhat.

Sound
Euphoria’s soundtrack is very well composed. Each piece of music in the game suits its purpose well, fitting the scenes appropriately. Because of the somewhat small track list, however, tracks get reused frequently. For me, this wasn’t necessarily a huge problem. The monotony of some of the tracks added to the monotony of the situation the characters face. It’s quite atmospheric. The theme song of the game, Rakuen no Tobira, is haunting in its beauty. From Aoba Ringo’s powerful vocals to a very emotionally impacting instrumentation, this song is the highlight of Euphoria’s music.

The voice acting is top notch. Each voice actress brings her respective heroine to life, making an already somewhat horrifying base scenario even more chilling. Aozora Ramune (otherwise known as Aoba Ringo) as Nemu is perhaps the star of the game. She brings out Nemu’s arrogance in such a way that makes you really want to punch her while also being so charmed you just can’t do a thing. However, the other voice actresses did a phenomenal job too. Himari delivers Kanae’s warmth and kindness with a soft, gentle tone that truly melted my heart with every word she spoke. Konoha’s voice made Rika’s vulnerability and fear very tangible in her performance. Misonoo Mei and Sugihara Matsuri did fantastic jobs voicing Natsuki and Rinne, as well. The voice acting during the H portions was very well done, although at times it felt a little too silly to be erotic. Without spoiling anything, however, the voice actresses demonstrated their vocal talent and range within Euphoria, and I can safely say it’s worth hearing.


H Scenes
Given the reputation Euphoria has on the internet thanks to its hentai anime adaptation, many people falsely assume it’s “that one ero guro torture porn game” or some variant of that. The game does have hardcore scenes, that is certain. Dark and cruel, the scenes not only further drive Keisuke’s sadism, but they also further develop the heroines and their interactions with Keisuke as well. The H scenes are quite detailed with vivid, erotic descriptions and lewd dialogue, although sometimes the dialogue can be a bit odd and even comedic. Although at first glance, Euphoria would seem like the type of eroge to have H scenes that are only hardcore and brutal, there are sweet vanilla scenes, too. Because this game was made by CLOCKUP, the vanilla scenes might be a tad more intense than a more typical romance focused eroge. This wasn’t an issue for me, personally, though. I actually quite liked the emotional yet blatantly erotic feel to the vanilla scenes.

Gameplay
Euphoria is a standard visual novel. There’s no real gameplay beyond selecting a heroine when the menu comes up or making decisions when branches occur. It’s worth noting that this is a game that should be one hundred percent completed, as each ending unlocks staff comments in the extras menu!

KT-SettingsSystem
Euphoria is a highly customizable eroge in regards to player preferences. One can choose to enable or disable ahegao, cut in images, scat, and gore as well. These options really help to make Euphoria a more accessible experience for those who might be of a more squeamish disposition. Should one choose to disable the gore or scat elements, only the event CG are effected; the text remains the same, but it may be easier to digest without the visuals. Another innovative setting is the synchronized finish function. It’s useful for those, let’s say, “enjoying” the scenes in Euphoria. Otherwise, though, the other settings aren’t of particular note and are standard ones I’ve seen in other eroge, such as adjusting the text speed.

Translation
The translation of Euphoria was very well done. It read smoothly and had me hooked the same way the original Japanese text did back when I read it for the very first time. I noticed a line or two was a bit punched up during H scenes but I didn’t mind it a single bit. It was quite amusing! There were some typos, though, and while they weren’t awful by any stretch and far and few between, it felt like Euphoria could have used just a tiny bit more polish. Otherwise though, I don’t have any complaints.

Conclusion
Euphoria is an eroge that I love immensely. With an immersive story, very fleshed out characters, a memorable soundtrack, not to mention phenomenal voice acting and art, it’s quite easy to see why one would love this game. Sadly, the darker contents of the game, as well as the misconceptions many people hold due to the OVAs and other exaggerated sentiments, makes it feel very intimidating and inaccessible to the average eroge consumer. I strongly urge those interested in Euphoria to check out the demo and see how you react to the content. The demo gives a very balanced perspective of what to expect from the full game, but it merely scratches the tip of the iceberg. Euphoria is an unforgettable, even beautiful eroge. If you can keep an open mind, I think you’ll find a lot to love in this game. This was the eroge that taught me to never, ever judge a book by its cover. It may look gross and scary, but there’s a whole lot going on underneath the surface. Thanks to the scat and gore filters in the settings, Euphoria is a lot more accessible. Consider checking it out. It’s very worth your time.
What did you think about euphoria? Let us know in the comments or using the hashtag #12daysofVNs! Check back tomorrow for our next installment of the 12 Days of Visual Novels! (And don’t forget about our winter sale either!)


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5 Comments

  1. huh. I didn’t find Rinne’s second half route bad at all (assuming by second half you mean after the first credit sequence). Confusing at first and a massive wtf, but I love those. I also thought it was telegraphed well before hand (I mean something was obviously up with her from day 1) and I also thought the art and the voice actress sold it really well. The art particularly, the eyes, was amazing. I wanted more of a bonus from the va interview than we got. It fit with the character and was great but I wanted some discussion of the massive range she had to go through. I would say more but don’t want to spoil things. Not sure what you mean is the cruelty end but neither of the two second half endings I thought were bad or unbelievable. The amount of time that passed and what that can do to will needs to be remembered. I have yet to get through the true ending but I found nemu’s route (aka when you choose nemu five times) to be the one so far (between nemu, Rinne, and Rikka’s route) to be the weakest and Rikka’s route to be the best. On nemu’s route the total brutality of the route didn’t mesh well with the twist to my mind. It may be explained better in another route later … one of the two possible second half endings left open yet another twist in nemus character but so far that would be the weakest. But weakest in a really really strong bunch. Rance is the only game that comes close to having such believable characters for a hentai game.

    • Hi there! I just found her route to be kind of weak in the end personally, but it’s good that you enjoyed it. ^^ You can unlock the Cruelty Ending in Kanae’s route, but that’s all I’ll say to avoid spoiling anything for anyone. I agree for sure that the characters feel realistic! Thank you for the comment, it’s quite interesting seeing how our opinions differ. I can’t wait for you to complete euphoria entirely! (Nemu’s route ends on a cliffhanger intentionally if that’s why you found it weak. All will be answered!) Sorry for my long winded comment!

  2. Anywhere we can discuss with spoilers as I would be interested in what you found weak about it. Ah the cruelty route is with the friend ok not doing her until last. And yeah I expected nemu’s route was purposely obtuse. Do not worry about long winded comments I enjoy them!

  3. some one needs to tell me how to get kanae when i get to my firsst choosing of the key hole it shows everone except kanae what do i do email me or something iem90862@live.com

    • Hello! In order to do Kanae’s route, you must complete Nemu’s first. Recommended route order is Rika, Natsuki, Rinne, Nemu, Kanae. Hope this helps!

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