By Steve Baltimore / December 7th, 2018
|Title||Yumina the Ethereal|
|Release Date||August 30th, 2013|
|Genre||Visual Novel / Dungeon Crawler|
I recently had a chance to check out one of JAST USA’s classic offerings, Yumina the Ethereal from developer Eternal. I didn’t really know what to expect when I went into this. All I knew was this was a very long visual novel with some dungeon crawling elements. I’m always down for a good story with lots of character, so let’s see if that’s what I got here.
The story follows a young man named Akashima Ayumu. His father trained him in martial arts to protect people. He was sent to attend school at Jinbu Academy, and given a task as well. His father told him to protect a girl named Midorishita Yumina. Her fate would be vital to the universe, he was told. She’s a pretty violent girl that does very poorly in school. She honestly reminds me of Aqua from Konosuba, but slightly more useful.
Yumina finds herself in quite a situation as some unforeseen events cause her to miss out on a make up test. This was her last chance to get a passing grade and avoid being held back a year. She pleads with her teacher for mercy, but he basically tells her rules are rules. She then approaches the principal in much the same fashion. He doesn’t budge on the rules either, but hints there is a way for her to change the rules. Ayumu and Yumina soon encounter a third year student named Kurokawa Kirara. She informs the two she knows a way Yumina can avoid repeating the school year. In order to do this, she must become Student Council President by winning the election war! She decides to take Kirara up on this and joins the debate club, but this wild ride is just beginning!
I have to say I really enjoyed the story of this game. I loved all of the characters, and it gave me nostalgia for writing found in early 2000’s anime. The characters are all very quirky and likable to a fault. Yumina is that wild girl that always gets you into a ton of trouble, but you cannot help but love her on some level. Maino is that adorable bookworm that everyone loves. A very earnest girl, but you just want to hug her instantly. My favorite by far was Kirara. She’s probably a sadist when you get right down to it. She loves putting Ayumu and Yumina through the ringer on their way to winning the Student Council Wars, but for some reason I really liked her. She’s never 100% forthcoming about anything going on which gives her a bit of mystery. The fact she is kinda short and adorable was also a great bonus!
The art style here is certainly dated a bit, but I honestly feel it has aged very well. I really love all of the character designs, from Yumina’s crazy facial expressions to Maino’s adorable glasses, everyone looks great and you can tell care was put into their looks. The backgrounds look great as well, and there are a bunch of them in the game. There’s always little details you’ll notice in each one if you look closely enough. This is something I feel like a lot of modern visual novels skimp on.
The chibi characters seen during dungeon exploration and combat are amazing as well. The little animations that go while you’re dungeon crawling had me laughing out loud. I mean, they do get a bit repetitive, but its much better than looking at a still picture. The enemy designs are nothing to write home about, but they got the job done as well.
The basic setup here is kind of like what you will find in a modern Persona game. Each day you will be able to choose up to two activities. These will consist of character events to build the story, debate battles with other clubs, or dungeon crawling when it unlocks in chapter 2. You will have to balance your time between building up your characters for combat and experiencing the characters greatness in all their glory. Needless to say, this game will require a few playthroughs to see all of it. There are multiple endings and a ton of secrets hidden along the way as well. I’ve put a good 40 hours in and I still haven’t seen everything.
Combat in the game will not only occur in dungeons. You will also have to fend off the rival clubs in order lead Yumina to victory in the Student Council Wars. The combat system here is turn-based. At the start of each round you can choose your formation. Depending on where characters are, they will have access to different skills. The character in the front will have melee attacks and those in the back will have support and ranged attacks.
These skills will use up one of the four different colors on the bar at the top of the screen. These colors represent a character and these points are what they use to pull off skills. Each skill will show how many points of a color it will cost and which colors it will add to when being performed. If you are low on points, sometimes your character will fumble their skill and you will miss that turn. This usually occurs when an enemy does an interrupt skill that takes too many points out of one of the color pools. This is why the game lets you set your formation at the beginning of each round. This way if one character is out of points, this will allow you to move another one up. It will cost you two AP and this will cut down the amount of actions you can take that turn, but it’s a necessary evil.
Characters will level up from combat in the dungeon or during debates and there is a skill tree for each character that you use to upgrade and give them new abilities. There are even some hidden abilities in each chapter you can find by viewing certain story events. You will gain items from exploring the dungeon and these can be sold for cash in the very odd school store. You can purchase lots of wonderful upgrades and items here. This will make your life much easier combating the other clubs and taking down some of the more pesky monsters in the dungeon.
Yumina the Ethereal is most certainly an eroge title and the sex scenes in the game are very well done and actually fit into the story quite well, for the most part. The CGs are very nicely done and there are no mosaics to take away from their glory. I will say there is a lot more gameplay and story here than porn which is not a bad thing. I think for the story, they were trying to tell this worked out really well and this should be shown off to folks that think just because a visual novel has porn, it must have a story ripped out of the cheesiest 70’s porno flick on Earth. That is most certainly not the case here at all.
I have to say I really had a blast with Yumina the Ethereal. The story was very entertaining with some fun characters and plenty of great plot twists. The combat is a little slow, but very enjoyable and I feel like at the $34.99 price tag you get plenty of bang for your buck here. It may not look as pretty or be as fancy as some modern visual novels, but it has it where it counts. If you’ve never experienced this one, give it chance. I think you’ll be very glad that you did.
Game provided by the publisher for review purposes.
Adult Visual NovelDungeon CrawlerJAST USAYumina the Ethereal