By William Haderlie / July 30th, 2018
|Release Date||June 28th, 2018|
|Age Rating||Adults Only|
Content Warning: This game, and all links contained within, are for 18+ Adults Only, and are all potentially NSFW. If you want to be unspoiled on potential plot spoilers, and are certain you can handle anything in the game, then skip past this next content warning to the review itself. For those who are sensitive to these things, this game does include rape/non-compliance that cannot be avoided (both by humans and by monsters), incest, and a few instances of fairly ghastly murder and cannibalism. That being said, there is much less rape and violence in this game than there was in either Beat Blades Haruka or Rance VI (also both by Alicesoft).
Evenicle is the 3rd release (and the 4th game, since one release included two games) from the partnership between MangaGamer and Alicesoft. In many ways, there are hallmarks of both Beat Blades Haruka and Rance in this newest title. So you can go in with a fair idea of what to expect from a lot of the adult elements. However, one thing that has set Alicesoft apart from other Eroge makers is how much gameplay they put in their games. The RPG mechanics were fairly simple in Beat Blades Haruka, but they were a lot more fleshed out in Rance VI, to the point where it was actually a serviceable dungeon crawler. With this latest release, Alicesoft has taken that attention to gameplay to the next level. While I would say that Rance VI was a Visual Novel with JRPG mechanics in it, Evenicle is a JRPG with Visual Novel mechanics in it. And, even better, all that gameplay that they added is solid enough to recommend the title for that alone.
After a short introduction scene that pushed the main character Asterisk (Aster for short) into the arc of the story, I already had my first surprise of the game. I found Aster looking around an overworld map that I could explore just like traditional JRPGs. Not only that, but when I gained the ability to wield the world map, I found it to be simply massive. You wander around the map with your character and the warning gauge (that you see in the upper left) fills up to let you know you are about to be attacked by monsters. Much like old Dragon Quest games, the encounters are all random on the field map other than a few optional Mega-Bosses and a few traps that you can see on the world. Also like a traditional JRPG, you gain XP by killing monsters and completing sidequests which will raise your levels and increase your base statistics.
Once in battle it proceeds similarly to classic JRPGs once they started adding a turn order display in the late 1990’s. But I didn’t find it so old that it was stale, in fact this is still one of my favorite types of RPG combat. Forgoing Mana or MP, characters instead use Battle Points (BP) in order to use abilities and cast spells. BP carry over between battles and you gain +1BP at the start of each character’s turn. The only other ways to gain BP is by using an expensive and rare item, or by having your Strategist (Kathryn) use a specific ability that you don’t get until fairly late in the game. The abilities start off fairly simple, but effective, and can grow to be quite powerful and visually arresting. You will normally never see anything but your character portraits at the bottom during battle, but if you use certain special abilities and spells your full character portrait will show on the screen before the devastating ability effect occurs. One way that they balance this BP system (so that you still need some strategy across multiple fights) is that all of your healing spells are limited to 1 spell per battle. There is a much less effective healing skill that one of your characters can earn later that will be able to be used more than that, but it is not nearly as effective as your healer spells are. As long as you keep your levels up and upgrade your equipment at every opportunity, you should not run into too many really tough fights other than a few of the final optional Mega-Bosses dotting the world.
A much longer term strategy that you will need to apply is which character’s skills you will spend your Skill Points on. You can change the skills that you have equipped any time you are out of a battle or a VN scene. But you will never have enough Skill Points to equip absolutely everything that you want, even at level 99. Your characters will gain a Skill Point every 10 levels (and one at 99), and they will also routinely gain them from Affection Events (more on that later). The only character that you will really need to worry about both Physical Attack and Magic Attack abilities is Aster. The rest of them really only use one or the other. But all 5 of your party members will earn many different options of Support and Ability Skills as well. Support Skills are used for battle but are not directly used to attack something else, so they can be buffs or defense or healing related. Ability Skills are passive buffs and non-combat oriented skills that you would use on the Overmap. You can earn new skills by either gaining them in random combat, picking up a treasure chest with the skill in it, or by completing a particular quest or sidequest which gifts a character with it.
With very few exceptions, any monster that is labeled “Gal M” (Monster Gals) can be captured by your party. You are rewarded with a sexually suggestive single picture of what they look like tied up, and then that monster is added to your inventory. Unlike many other Eroge titles, that is the limit of your interaction with most monster girls. You do not use them for sex with any of your party members. What you do instead is equip them in your item slot and they will give you a wide array of passive buffs. Basically they are the accessories of this game, instead of a ring or a necklace. Weapons and armor are either purchased from shops, dropped by enemies, earned from treasure chests, or fished from the water. The only way to gain the next new tier of weapon and armor is to purchase them from a shop. However, those other ways of gaining them will drop +1 and +2 (and so on) versions of that item you are already equipped with. A rather strange, and a bit overpowered, consequence of this style is that even the weakest enemies in the game can drop an upgrade to the strongest weapons and armor as long as you have them equipped. Likewise with fishing, so if you are struggling with a particular boss or Mega-Boss, just grind up some +10 or even +30 weapons and armor for your characters. Cheap, but effective.
Pages: 1 218+AlicesoftBeat Blades HarukaerogeEvenicleJRPGMangaGamerRance VIvisual novel