Evenicle (18+) Review – An Eroge disguised as JRPG?
Platform: PC (reviewed)
Release: 28th June 2018
Price: 44.95 (Mangagamer Store)
Rance, a name many may associate the giant Eroge franchise with and others might not even know this one. However, even though there are a few titles already available in English, this time I´m going to talk about something new from Alicesoft: Evenicle. A JRPG and Eroge at the same time, just like their giant Rance franchise and infused with art from the Senran Kagura artist, this can´t be bad right? Right!
One day mother Eve created the world and bestowed it with her eternal blessing. However, in exchange for eternal holiness, you have to respect two rules: Don´t kill another human and … only fuck one woman. If not obeyed, one will become an outlaw, effectively banished from everyday life, forced to steal and rape everything he can in order to survive. Though what if you have two hot sisters who both want sex with you? Easy, become a knight and fuck as many women as you can as your reward for your skills! That´s exactly what Asterisk plans, after all, why not take as many women as you can? So he travels to the big mainland, ready to take on any obstacle between him and his desired knight status.
In a typical Alicesoft style, our main protagonist isn´t ashamed of his desires though, openly proclaiming he wants to fuck tons of women at the earliest convenience. Naturally, most of the women he meets aren´t entirely shocked as well, often even happy about his open intentions and interest in their womanhood. As a result, Evenicle´s dialogues and “love stories” can initially be described only as light-hearted parodies of your typical Eroge. The game knows exactly why characters are designed in such a sexual way, why you´re probably playing it and happily joins in on the fun. From the hardened female knight, the beautiful princess to the loli street girl, they´re all here and super fun.
While the writing always aims for a joky, carefree Eroge atmosphere, where characters are often nothing more than living clichés, there´s actually a surprising amount of depth to find here. Naturally, every female we encounter practically begins to fall in love with our “sex”-screaming main hero at minute one but nothing of it feels offensive. Where other, more generic titles, tend to tell the exact same, Alicesoft manages to craft such a unique atmosphere, where I actually forgive the clichés, as intentional as they may be. One big factor is the fact pretty much all of them are likeable, hell, even the damn male side characters can impress with some nice lines. Not to mention the heroines are simply super nice, cute girls, surpassing their initial impression through slowly developed traits. Evenicle doesn´t just ride on clichés the whole play time, instead, it uses them as a quirky foundation to actually create a very unique time.
Luckily, it´s not completely about a fun journey to become a knight and have a lot of sex! Well, okay, it is but there´s still more! In the early chapters, the game often hints at darker themes, like the outlaws who decided to abandon mother Eve and live on their own. Hell, the first big quest given to Asterisk involves one of his early aquantices getting raped by multiple men. Such unexpectedly dark moments are sprinkled throughout the early hours until around the middle, where the overspanning plot is revealed. Without spoiling too much, it actually is much better than you would expect. Given, it too has a giant amount of clichés woven into it but like the Rance series can capitalize in whole new ways off of it. Especially the contrast between this actually really dark tale about human desires and the fundamental problem of the world presented to us, to the super light-hearted sex-venture wasn´t only surprising but simply worked. Later on, the game also has some interesting twists.
Yet, one very subjective thing got on my nerve throughout the whole game: Asterisk, for two reasons. On the one hand, his almost parodic personality tends to be a bit much. I get Evenicle clearly doesn´t care or even makes fun of generic Eroges … I mean which girl would fall in love with someone because they proclaim how much they wanna fuck them? Early on, in particular, his personality consists of basically nothing else, before he gets at least a little bit more depth. Where the heroines actually have some interesting character arcs, he doesn´t. Now, most of the times, his humour is just on point, to distract me and even make me laugh, so it´s more of a situational problem of mine. What´s not as easy to accept is his design in combination with personality: He looks like a young boy, making his whole manly sex-talk somehow even more amusing … or annoying when it gets too much. I don´t hate his design or anything about him but never fell in love as well … somewhat of a weird relationship, I still couldn´t wrap my head around.
A “great” advantage of the dark setting is the fact Evenicle has an excuse to implement more hardcore sex scenes as well. In particular, the early hours are quite full of vanilla scenes, I would say around a third or more of the whole thing are pretty much classic vanilla with heavier stuff appearing more frequently later on. So for people looking for a more brutal Eroge and are fed up with vanilla, prepare for some hours of build-up. Yet, rest assured, there will be a sufficient amount fo tentacles, rape, monster sex and everything you would expect from an open fantasy setting full of monsters and cute girls. Though even then, at no point do the Eroge parts really feel as hardcore as in other titles like Kuroinu, simply because the whole atmosphere before and after them never establishes a huge sense of threat.
Nevertheless, the sheer quality of the game pretty much overshadows all that, making even the most vanilla scenes worthwhile. As previously mentioned, the Senran Kagura artist Nan Yaegashi was at work here and the characters look simply amazing in consequence. I love the design, their proportions (a detail often not made right in cheaper titles) and everything else about the characters. There´s a reason why he can be called the “boob magician”, his stunning ability to draw boobs as captivating as no other. Either in clothes or naked, at no point wasn´t I impressed by the artwork. Sadly, they´re not animated, which would´ve been the icing on the cake but nonetheless, definitely one of the highest quality Eroge considering its giant length.
Any normal Eroge review would probably end here … not an Alicesoft one. While the Eroge parts are a big chunk of the game, a way bigger one will be spent with its JRPG parts, yes, Evenicle is actually more of a JRPG. Instead of dungeon crawling, it focuses on a very classic 2D perspective with turn-based fights. However, it´s not a super complex one either, I would go as far and even call it the Cat Quest of JRPG, since so much is streamlined. Every character has a weapon, armour and one accessory, all with pretty straightforward attributes, clear improvement curve etc. The skill system is a bit more interesting as it gives every party member a set amount of skill points for levelling-up and every selected skill will cost a fixed amount of those points. So you have to decide between the heavy slash and ditch the healing or equip the weaker one but a healing spell in exchange, which is pretty neat but simple at the same time.
Naturally, most of the time is spent running around the world, doing the main quest or occasional side stuff. Those are commonly interrupted by wild monsters attacking you, either in the overworld or dungeons. Quickly you will notice a meter in the top corner, filling itself with every step you do, before automatically triggering a battle. See a possible problem? Yes, the meter fills too fast, resulting in almost minutely encounters without any chance of escape. Combined with the rather generic battle system, the game gets pretty tiresome after 20 or so hours, even for JRPG fans, additionally to making map exploring more of a pain in the ass than necessary. Here I often thought about Cat Quest or other JRPGs, that visibly placed the enemies on the world map, in order to give you the choice: Fight or avoid. Evenicle doesn´t. Okay, it forces you to gain XP everytime you head out, making the grindy passages less painful than in other games but that´s about the only advantage.
A shame considering how well-done the rest of its elements are. I like the monster design, ranging from half-naked bunny women, slimes to ogres and what-not. All of them look great and are fun to battle, due to their animations, silliness and other factors. It even has optional, unique bosses scattered around the map and side collectables to fill the world more than any Eroge would deem necessary. Then you can also create super unique battle strategies because Evenicle doesn´t have any sort of visible class limitation, except a few unique skills here and there, enabling for some neat party dynamic with your waifus. The JRPG segment just hits this perfect sweet-spot between simplicity and complexity, to motivate you caring about the whole thing in-between the Eroge parts. The graphics are pretty solid as well, especially for a title of this genre!
I like Evenicle … I like it a whole lot. Despite my subjective problems with Asterisk and the quite annoying “monster timer”, there´s just so much to love here. From the amazing artwork, diverse (though vanilla-focused) sex scenes and sheer production quality. The story is finally something super fun on its own, able to deliver more than simple cliché riding and offers some of the most compelling JRPG elements in Eroges! Fun, quirky, unique and super entertaining, all that is Evenicle on top of being a great entrance into the genre for beginners, please, don´t miss it out.
[A Review Code was provided by Mangagamer]