"While it certainly finds some convenient methods to disrobe the four romantic prospects, the story surrounding the romance provides the most intrigue."
On its surface, Everlove: Rose, a visual novel geared toward romance novel enthusiasts, seems like a game looking for any excuse to take off handsome men's shirts. While it certainly finds some convenient methods to disrobe the four romantic prospects, the story surrounding the romance provides the most intrigue. So while I have undoubtedly learned to love a man, it's the kingdom I was truly drawn into.
You take on the titular role of Rose, a modern day woman whose recurring nightmares of a vicious beast drive her to seek therapy. Through some kind of hypnotic trance therapy, Rose is able to relive her past life for answers to this "beast," and it's this far-flung past where the vast majority of this game takes place. As utterly absurd as this premise seems, it is actually interesting despite enjoying a cliché or two. Rose herself is a thoroughly modern woman, and a more appealing protagonist for it. Despite being in times long ago, she's not afraid to make the first moves on the men of this world. She is an active participant rather than a reactive force in the game, and that makes a big difference for fans of this genre. If you can look past the occasional bad joke, you will come to care about Rose and want to see her resolve her issues.
In Rose's past life, a rebellion is afoot, a king is in trouble, and a beast roams the wilds. There is nothing particularly shocking here, plot-wise, but the characters' clearly defined motivations maintain your interest. Everyone from the unsure prince to the dashing rogue must come face to face with the consequences of their actions. Depending on whom you romance and the dialogue choices you pick, the story can actually play out differently. You may learn to sympathize with the seemingly constrictive empire; or damn the terrible actions of a character you once thought noble. The four paths the story can follow are much more than merely bedding different men; they reveal insight into the goings on of the realm.
Everlove never tries to be anything more than the visual novel it is. Despite some brief traipses into item hunting and jigsaw-style puzzles, the game is all about clicking through the story. Changing your choices is as easy as tapping the rewind button at the top of the screen. This can truly be useful when looking for maximum romance points, but it feels very much at odds with a tale of dire consequences. Even if you make a mistake in getting the ending you want, the game will notify you with a broken heart icon so you know you're off the ideal path. Going through each of the four story paths and achieving all the good endings unlocks a final conclusion. This final conclusion does reveal the nature of the beast, but by then you'll likely have figured it out on your own.
The game features a hand-drawn look to it and generally looks sharp because of it. A couple of characters have some awkward posing, but it's nothing that distracts for long. The game features no voice actors which, while disappointing, isn't something to dwell on either. The music, however, is nothing short of annoying. It's certainly fantasy, but it is some of the most generic romance or fantasy music I've ever heard. It's repetitive, dull, and lacks any originality or creative effort. It was so grating during play that I turned it off just so I could enjoy the story.
It should be noted that the version handed to me for review had an irritating amount of bugs. A couple of levels wouldn't count my romances as advancing, even though I did everything as romantically as possible. I also once lost my save for no discernible reason. The oddest glitch was when I spontaneously transformed into a bear not once, but two separate times. Clearly the bear was a placeholder model used during development. I'm not sure why this happened at all, but you would think people would look at Rose funny as she roars and growls at the burly men in her company... and not the sexy kind of growling either.
Everlove: Rose may have its issues, but my time with it left positive thoughts. It doesn't do anything clever or groundbreaking with the visual novel formula or its own storyline and lore, but I enjoyed my time with it. The different ways the story plays out held my interest as I explored the possibilities, and that is worthy praise as for any choice-driven visual novel.