Considering C’s Ware’s visual novel EVE: Burst Error was originally released in 1995, it seemed an unlikely target for MangaGamer to translate in 2012. Well, for those of you who enjoy adventure games or visual novels, you should be jumping for joy that they did! Despite ghastly controls, EVE: Burst Error presents a compelling story worth experiencing.
The plot follows two separate investigations with two separate protagonists. Kojiroh is a private investigator down on his luck, tasked with recovering a piece of art, while beautiful intelligence agent Marina must protect the daughter of a Japanese embassy official. These two stories initially appear quite disparate, but slowly merge to piece together a dark and enigmatic thriller. The story is exciting, well-paced and keeps you guessing until the end. The twists and turns put me on the edge of my seat right until the finale.
Pushing the story forward is a cast of intriguing and appealing characters, aided by a strong vocal cast. Vulgar but likeable Kojiroh and headstrong Marina are the highlight of the show (as they should be), but even secondary characters are equally fascinating. The strange, but adorable, ‘Puddin is a puzzle from the start, and the relationship between Kojiroh and ex-girlfriend/co-worker Yayoi is substantial and realistic. There are new characters introduced frequently throughout the game, and each is just as interesting as the last. If you’re looking for an intense and exciting story with believable characters, then EVE: Burst Error is the game for you.
Upon starting the game for the first time, I expected a typical text-heavy visual novel that required little interaction. Instead, I found an adventure/novel hybrid with true exploration. For most of the game, you’re still reading text, but in-between you can pick where to go next, who to talk to, or what to examine/interact with in the environment around you. Though Kojiroh’s and Marina’s separate stories share some locations, there are still a couple of dozen unique locales to explore. Just like a point and click adventure, it’s up to you, the player, to determine where to go next and how to put the pieces of the mystery together.
Considering how excited I was by the gameplay, it’s a true shame the controls drastically marred the experience. You can read text by left-clicking or pressing Enter, but they are often fiddly and unresponsive. Additionally, skipping voiced text is rather difficult for fast readers, and can only be done by an awkward simultaneous left and right mouse click. Saving is just as problematic and, at one point, I accidently erased Kojiroh’s game while trying to save Marina’s. Yes, it was partly my fault, but the game never explains how to save each story in the same file. Even a simple help text box (or manual) could have remedied the confusion. Likewise, if you save in the middle of a scene, loading the game then puts you back at the start of that scene without warning.
The actual gameplay is not without issues either. A good portion of the game is simply trial and error as you wander around from place to place, trying to determine how to progress the story. To acquire all the information needed from a character, or to fully examine an object, you may need to click the same text option up to five times. Not clicking on that shrubbery one final time may completely halt your progress. Often I became completely stumped, only to revisit an area I had been a moment ago and, inexplicably, something new then happened. In the same way, it’s difficult to know when to switch between Kojiroh’s and Marina’s stories in order to progress the other. In fact, the game never even indicates that such a strategy is possible. In short, searching for that next clue can be incredibly frustrating, and the game never provides advice on how to proceed.
A quick look at the screenshots to the right clearly show the game has not aged well visually. Background art and scenery is still good quality, but character design looks ugly and archaic compared to newer titles. Fortunately, you adjust to the older style as you play, in part due to the pleasantly surprising animated CGs. A handful of images throughout the game actually play on a loop like an animated sequence. This is not often seen in visual novels, even modern ones, and I found that it truly immersed me in a scene, aided further by the game’s first-person perspective.
Formerly an adults-only game, EVE: Burst Error has been cut in its English release to be an all-ages version. Honestly, this didn’t bother me at any point, and I felt it actually supported the story by eliminating potentially slower scenes. I do use the term ‘all-ages’ loosely, however, as there is frequent strong foul language and many scenes contain near-full nudity. Much of this could have been omitted without affecting the game. There’s no way to turn if off though, so if you’re easily offended, then beware.
Considering it’s around 17 years old, EVE: Burst Error still holds up well today as an exciting and entertaining adventure game. Though the art may have aged and the controls may frustrate, underneath lies a great adventure with an edge-of-your-seat story. At around ten hours long, and with multiple endings, EVE: Burst Error has plenty to offer. If you enjoy visual novels or point and click adventures, then this purchase should be a no-brainer.