Ever 17 is a fantastic visual novel written by Kotaro Uchikoshi and Takumi Nakazawa. While Uchikoshi and his Zero Escape series has been getting a lot of attention, the directer and other writer for ever 17, Takumi Nakazawa’s stuff has been getting absolutely no attention at all at least in the west, with I/O and his other games being almost completely unknown. I’m here to try change that. This is my review of I/O, one of the most interesting visual novels i’ve ever played. Also, this review exists for several reasons, but the most important reason is to say thanks. Lemnisca translations, headed by GundamAce and Blink Winkel are translating some of the most unique visual novels out there. If you are a fan of the Infinity series, you owe it to yourself to check out their work and what they are going to do in the future.
Note: Gutted the review because it was brought to my attention (and I noticed) this review has massive spoilers! if things don’t make sense, that’s why.
I/O is a mystery cyberpunk game set in 2036. The world isn’t much different than ours, except everything revolves around the net. It’s a world where reality and virtual reality collide, and I love how believable it is. I remember a few years ago, I tried to write a story with a very similar setting. I never got around to that, but this world in I/O is essentially everything I dreamed of from that. The setting and premise is amazing, with conspiracies abound, futuristic tech, and something that’s actually believable.
The writing and tone of this game is like a mixture of Ever 17 and Remember 11. It’s mysterious and serious like Remember 11 was, but the insane amount of detail, character interaction and pacing is more akin to Ever 17. It’s great, as it absorbs you into this world and it keeps you interested with a fantastic mystery and solid writing. If you are like me and are a big fan of those games, this one will be right up your alley, absorbing you into this world and getting you interested in all that it has to offer. It was fantastic.
“A total lunar eclipse occurs for the first time in 3 years. Even though it’s supposed to be a simple astronomical phenomenon, it soon sets off a series of unexpected events. Unexplainable mysteries, terrorist incidents, and network crime surge as if in unison. The truth mixes with lies, as if the world is awake but still sleeping. Something has begun. Somewhere no one can see. Something no one knows about.”
While I/O is written in a nonlinear fashion, the routes are very similar and have a lot in common with each other. While the first 2 routes are pretty normal, after that, this game is essentially a big mindscrew. This game likes to play many tricks on you, and has the typical from the Ever 17 writers, so if you played that you know what you’re getting yourself into, but with it turned up to 11.
Other than the mindscrew, there are few minor things in the writing I had issues with. The first thing I didn’t care for is the plot structure which makes parts of the game feel unnecessary, and I/O was way longer than expected with my playthrough clocking about 55 hours.
To me, I/O is a good story, abit flawed. It was too much mindscrew for my mind, and I couldn’t handle it. If you can get through the mindscrew, you might have the perfect story in your hands.... but if you can’t, it’ll be a good story with a major flaw.
The characters…. There’s too many to go over, but they were solid overall and are the reason why you play through the game. The game doesn’t have a protagonist, instead it has an ensemble cast, where every character is fully fleshed out, with well stated motivations, great personalities, interesting backstories and interesting relationships. The characters were spot on, and are absolutely fantastic.
Average, for the most part. You read, and make decisions, and that’s the jest of it. What I/O does differently is that it has this annoying yet interesting Defrag system, where after you finish some routes, it unlocks parts of other routes, and you need to essentially play parts of the game twice to get the true ending. Trying to figure out what routes is the main issue, as the completion thing they show at the end of every route is near useless at telling things. In this Defrag system, there’s 3 types of routes: Login, Defrag, and Logout. Login is the start and has 4 routes that you have to completely finish (requires backtracking), Defrag, which is the mindfuckery section, and Logout, which is an epilogue of sorts, but they have their own climaxes and feel like a waste of time, even if they do wrap up the story. Other than that though, it’s quite normal, and as such, it gets a normal grade.
The visuals in I/O are average at best. There’s a lot here, so that’s no problem, but the quality of the art itself could be better in my opinion. The character art is jarring, especially at the beginning, but you’ll get used to it. I think there’s a lot of missed potential here, they could have built a beautiful sci-fi looking world, but it looks very modest. Some things look dated, like the cell phone calls, the 4:3 monitors everywhere, and the typography. Visually, it’s kinda dated.
You might have noticed that I implemented a polarization thing in the overall score. That’s what I think the difference of opinion will be, and it can go up to 2-3 points. I kinda snagged the idea while reading up reviews. Now that i’m finally done with that, onto Muv-Luv!
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