Eroge tend to find themselves in a difficult position, with their reputation of being “porn” being a largely contributing factor as to why they rarely get any mainstream recognition.
This is unfortunate, because as we’ve already seen with visual novels like Frontwing’s Grisaia series and the RPGs in AliceSoft’s Rance series, having 18+ content most certainly does not mean that a work has nothing to say.
On the contrary, the freedom to be as “adult” as you like brings with it the opportunity to explore interesting, mature and thought-provoking themes as well as just sexual content. And such is the case with Evenicle, one of AliceSoft’s strongest games to date, both from mechanical and story perspectives. Let’s take a closer look at its overall narrative.
As we’ve previously explored, a significant part of Evenicle’s setup is that sex is power. The full extent of how true this is becomes more and more clear the further you progress, but suffice to say that the game’s erotic content is not just for show: it’s an integral part of how the world works — and, perhaps more relevantly, how our protagonist Aster sees the world.
Aster grew up in an isolated environment: a small island called Fresh Fish Island. There, he lived by himself among a community of elderly people, attended to by the two girls he came to know as his “sisters”, despite them not being blood-related.
Over time, as Aster grew from boy to man, he grew in both physical strength and “masculinity”; perhaps most notably in this regard, he developed a particularly strong sex drive, and indeed as we join him at the start of the game, he is attempting to figure out exactly how he would be able to have sex with his “sisters” without breaking Mother Eve’s commandments for the world.
The idea of “desire” is a core theme of Evenicle’s narrative as a whole, and indeed for much of the game Aster appears to be the very personification of lustful desire. However, if we examine his behaviour a little more closely, it becomes apparent that, although sexuality is extremely important to him, his chief desire is, in fact, to understand the “rules” under which he is supposed to live — and to follow them to the letter.
This is true right from the outset of the game. Although we learn early on that an individual having more than one sexual partner leads to them losing the blessing of Mother Eve and becoming an Outlaw, the isolation of Fresh Fish Island from the rest of the world means that Aster could almost certainly have gotten intimate with his sisters, become an Outlaw and just lived out his days like that without the rest of the world caring. But Aster doesn’t want to do that; he wants to do things properly. He learns that becoming a Knight will afford him the opportunity to take more than one wife without losing the blessing or becoming an Outlaw, so his journey begins for no other reason than for him to attempt to fulfil what he sees by this point as an obligation to his doting sisters.
As the narrative progresses, we see further evidence of Aster being much more than simply lust incarnate — and, interestingly for fans of AliceSoft’s other work, a strong contrast to Rance. Aster doesn’t rape and he doesn’t take what he wants with no consideration for others; while he has a filthy mind and a dick that practically seems to have a mind of its own, at no point does he break the rules of the world.
This isn’t to say that he shies away from any opportunity for sexual activity, mind. We’ve already seen how he saves Ramius from being infected by Adan’s Blood by taking her as his first wife even before he becomes a Knight, and there are a number of situations throughout the game where we learn that there are certain “loopholes” to Mother Eve’s commandments that Aster is all too keen to take full advantage of.
But Aster primarily does what he does out of genuine attraction to and affection for his various partners. And once he commits to someone through marriage, that’s it, he’s committed — even once someone new comes along. By the conclusion of the game, he has a full ten wives, and yet there is no sense that he neglects or thinks any less of any of them; they are all his precious family.
That sense of commitment is what goes on to drive the majority of the adventure. Specifically, it’s his commitment to his second wife Riche that forms the backdrop to most of the narrative — and leads him on a journey around the world, meeting many strange and wonderful people in the process.
Riche is the second princess of the kingdom of Eden, the land in which Aster washes up having attempted to swim to the mainland from Fresh Fish Island at the outset of the adventure. Riche has an immediate connection with Aster because she’s the one who saves him from drowning — but it runs deeper than that.
“It was like the world hadn’t tainted you,” she explains to him. “So you were very real, so to speak. I instinctively fell in love with you… basically, it was love at first sight.”
For their first few meetings, Aster has no idea that Riche is a princess, though it’s easy enough for the player to deduce a few things for themselves considering how Ramius acts towards her. When Ramius explains the situation — that Riche is acting independently of her father in an attempt to track down and neutralise a dangerous organisation called Snake Crest — Aster wastes no time in jumping aboard to be part of the mission.
He states numerous times throughout the adventure that he does what he does not out of any grandiose desire to be a hero or even save the world — he just doesn’t want cute girls to suffer. It just so happens that he also has the strength and willpower to be able to do a great deal of good as a fortunate side-effect of his own personal motivation.
“Y’know, actually, have I ever done anything that wasn’t about getting with cute girls?” he reflects to his wives late in the adventure as things are escalating to a head.
“When you’re just trying to get girls and save the world on the side,” replies Riche, “I think that’s perfect for you.”
From the second chapter of the game onwards, Evenicle focuses its attention on a distinct region of the world and a particular issue it is having at the time Aster reaches it. As we progress, it becomes increasingly apparent that each of these episodes is tied both to that core narrative theme of desire — and some interesting truths about the World of Eve and its history.
One of the most interesting recurring narrative threads is the exodus of the legendary hero Arthur from his original home of Central to the rest of the world. The result of that exodus was the development of a number of distinct cultures around the world, each with their own specialisms and “personality”; not everyone made it to Arthur’s final destination, and as such the various people who left behind developed in their own way according to the environment in which they decided to lay down some roots.
In the second chapter, we encounter the land of Lancelot, which is the closest surviving kingdom to where Arthur eventually ended up. Five years prior to the beginning of the game, an incident called the “Arthur Tragedy” laid waste to Arthur’s promised land, leaving it an uninhabited ruin. Had Lancelot not broken off from Arthur’s entourage as part of that initial exodus, it would have doubtless been caught up in the tragedy itself.
Lancelot is an unusual locale in the World of Eve in that it is a democracy; most other regions have some form of hereditary rulership, be it the kingdoms of Eden, El Quixote and Humpty, the theocracy of Hamlet or the empire of Central. Unfortunately, it’s this method of government that is causing the problems in the region when Aster arrives; drawing things back to that core concept of “desire”, a democracy provides an ideal opportunity for one consumed by the desire of envy to try and seize power for themselves, and indeed that’s exactly what we see happen, as an already corrupt president is manipulated from behind the scenes by an agent of Snake Crest whose envy has very much got the better of them.
Gurigura, the wife Aster meets as part of his adventures in Lancelot, ties in with this concept of envy, too. Our first encounter with her is as a young girl who appears to be living on the streets, but Ramius notes that she “had the scent of blood on her”. It becomes clear as the chapter progresses that there is a lot more to Gurigura than meets the eye — and that she, too, is being manipulated by the agent of Snake Crest. Using her desire for a normal, comfortable life against her — her envy for those who already have this — she is forced to do evil things, and she is ultimately betrayed by the one she trusted, leaving her utterly distraught and borderline suicidal.
“Everyone else has a mom and dad, but I don’t,” she says tearfully to Aster as she and the party find themselves in a seemingly inescapable situation. “And I even lost my place to sleep. I thought if I became a Knight and worked hard, somebody’d give me a place to belong… but nobody wanted me after all.”
But Aster is having none of this. Having already taken a liking to Gurigura before he and the party found out the truth about her, he accepts her unconditionally.
“Just pick your own place to belong,” he says. “It can be anywhere you want it to be. And if you can’t find one… you can be my girl.”
Once the party free themselves from peril by working together, Gurigura is welcomed into the family, not just by Aster, but by Riche and Ramius too. And from this point on, Gurigura never shows any sign of envy ever again; she finally has that which she always dreamed of, and sees no reason for any further bitterness, even when she has to “share” Aster with his other wives.
The third chapter of the game moves on to the jungle kingdom of El Quixote, and the desire that forms the backdrop to this part of the narrative is that of greed. We start to learn that one of Snake Crest’s objectives appears to be to start a war — an event which, we discovered in the previous chapter, has never actually happened in the World of Eve, but which has been discussed in stories. Greed, regrettably, goes hand in hand with the idea of war; the villain of the piece this time around is primarily interested in the business opportunities that war would bring — drawing some distressingly relatable parallels to how our own world works.
There are other, more complex issues at play here, too. The El Quixote region also plays host to the all-female elfin kalar race, whose relationship with humans has varied somewhat over time. At the time of Aster’s visit, they have something of an uneasy alliance based on the exchange of “goods” — an important ingredient for El Quixote’s national product of plastic grows in the kalars’ forest, and as an all-female race they naturally need males to breed with in order to see the survival of their kind. Naturally, the human males of El Quixote are only too happy to provide — though this, of course, brings with it its own concerns over desires such as lust, greed and even envy.
On top of this, the modern conveniences that El Quixote’s industrialised technology brings has led to a rise in the nation’s overall level of sloth, with the national marriage and birth rate in particular taking a significant hit as a result of the kalars’ “transactions”, the spread of luxury items and the ready access to employment ensuring that everyone in the kingdom has a good income and a good standard of living.
The idea of complacency and sloth being things that are dangerous when taken to excess is a concept that Evenicle returns to in greater detail in its later hours, but we see hints of it throughout the El Quixote chapter. In particular, we see how dangerous it can be to rely purely on how the media frames things; a significant conflict towards the end of the chapter is sparked by the villain of the piece manipulating events (and the depiction thereof) in his favour and taking full advantage of the situation.
We also get further evidence of the importance of Mother Eve’s blessing to the overall stability of the world. Early in the game, we learned that people go to church in order to pray, and in doing so they “purge” themselves of their desires, which release as a visible cloud of smoke. Aster, being full to the brim with lust at all times, is pretty much always able to fill a church with pink smoke any time he prays, but this just goes to highlight that prayer is something that actually works in the World of Eve, and has a purpose.
Throughout the El Quixote chapter, we learn that the luxuries of modern life have caused a significant downturn in church attendance, and this, in turn, means that people are not releasing their desires in the same way. The kalars’ insatiable appetite for human semen has helped to a certain degree, but as Gurigura points out in one scene, “people who don’t pray to Mother Eve don’t get any relief, so they’re prone to violence.” Getting your rocks off only helps with lust, after all, and as we’ve already seen, that is far from the only desire that afflicts the people of El Quixote.
We keep coming back to greed, though, and that is ultimately what lays low the villain of this part of the story: his assumption that money will solve all his problems.
“With money, you can even buy life,” explains the villain of the piece prior to a monstrous transformation triggered by his unfettered desire. “When the debt collectors came after me, I saved my own life by hiring Outlaws to kill them all. Life can’t match the value of money! Money, money, my everything, my life, nobody can have it!”
“That release of desire is the true essence of Snake Crest,” muses a mysterious figure known as the Black Knight who has put in a few appearances prior to this point. “The potential of humanity.” The true meaning of his words doesn’t become completely apparent until much later.
The fourth chapter of the game unfolds in the distinctly Alice in Wonderland-esque land of Humpty, a land of plenty where giant fruits grow out in the open. The people here have developed an obsession with food to a fault; their addiction to the mysterious “sugarcube” plant and how it exquisitely enhances pretty much any dish leads them to live something of a life of both greed and sloth. And, as you might expect by this point, an agent of Snake Crest is all too willing to take full advantage of the situation.
We come back to the idea of war in this chapter, and how it can have an impact on the whole world. Humpty is clearly regarded as the “breadbasket” of the World of Eve, but this chapter’s villain demonstrates quite how easy it is to contaminate supply lines when there’s a single “source” that everyone relies upon. Indeed, his contamination of the sugarcubes through some utterly horrifying atrocities allows him to pretty much take control of the region from behind the scenes with relative ease. Tactician Kathryn, who became Aster’s wife during the El Quixote chapter, notes that this isn’t the only reason things might be unfolding the way they are.
“By increasing food exports now and making other countries more reliant on Humpty, they can cut the supply off later and cause total chaos,” she notes. It also becomes clear that the pursuit of cuisine in Humpty is pulling families apart as everyone chases after their own personal preferences rather than sitting down for a meal together — in the process making themselves more vulnerable.
What this chapter’s villain doesn’t count on is the intervention of an outsider in the form of Aster and his party — and how that outsider’s inclusive nature ultimately brings them far more power than that obtained through despicable means.
Part of the Humpty chapter concerns a race of gnome-like people known as Poppins. Poppins have the best technology in the world — completely mechanical rather than powered by magic as in most other places — but have a bit of a collective personality flaw in that they are absolutely, insatiably horny. As such, the vast majority of their technology tends to end up going towards more sexual applications — but the fact they have been somewhat ostracised by some of the humans of the region (for reasons other than their perpetual arousal, as it happens) leaves them with frustratingly few outlets for their overflowing lust.
As you might expect, Aster finds something of a kindred spirit in the little people, particularly a half-Poppin girl named Erimo who he meets in the human town of Humpty. Aster’s willing acceptance of Erimo — both because he respects her up-front nature and gleeful admission that she’s a “huge perv” — ultimately helps to patch things up with the poppins, and in doing so, an unexpectedly powerful alliance is formed.
“There’s definitely humans that are deviants,” says Erimo, “but they wear that fact with pride. Some assholes might insult them, but it doesn’t matter. What’s important is that they do what they like doing.”
This is a message frequently returned to throughout Evenicle’s narrative, and it is most obviously seen in Aster. Not only do people tend to accept Aster for who he is thanks to his extremely open, honest nature, but he also accepts pretty much everyone unconditionally — especially if they’re a cute girl. That level of acceptance is ultimately a much greater source of power than underhanded means of dominating a population; it’s genuine respect and affection — the mark of a good leader. It’s kind of ironic that Aster steadfastly refuses to be considered a “leader” or “hero” throughout the narrative as a whole, even when things escalate to the point where he and his party are literally saving the world, but through this we can be sure that he never falls victim to the desire of pride.
It’s around this point in the narrative that we start learning a little more about Mother Eve and how the world came to be the way it is. We learn of her travels around the world, and of her love for the man who became known as “The First Ancestor”; between them, they ultimately gave birth to humanity. We also learn that Riche’s sister Croix is regarded practically as a reincarnation of Mother Eve, and the church reveals that by completing “rituals” — actually re-enacting things Mother Eve once did in the past — various miracles can be brought about.
This is all written in the Evenicle, a partially translated text of mysterious origin that appears to chronicle the entire story of Mother Eve and the First Ancestor — and the church’s holy book that they live by, at least so far as they have managed to translate it.
“When someone with power similar to Mother Eve’s takes the same actions she did at the time, the world attempts to return to the state it was in when she was around,” explains Croix.
“As the Evenicle’s translation proceeds, we may eventually uncover a ritual that could alter the entire world,” adds her father. I’m sure you see where this is going.
Up until this point, we’ve heard that Croix is set to marry a prince from Central, and that as part of their wedding preparations they will be enacting part of the Evenicle as a ritual. Parallel to this, Aster and his companions have discovered on several occasions by this point that Mother Eve perhaps wasn’t quite as squeaky-clean as everyone initially anticipated, since a significant number of the rituals they found themselves performing to overcome obstacles were extremely sexual in nature. This naturally leads to many questions over exactly who or what Mother Eve really was — not to mention where her “rules” came from and why they are so strictly enforced.
To cut a long story short, the wedding ceremony is interrupted by Snake Crest’s dramatic intervention, and the revelation that they are keen to make use of Croix’s power to turn her into an imitation Mother Eve. The first thing the villains do upon taking control of Croix is undo Mother Eve’s blessing, causing everyone’s rings to shatter, regardless of whether they were gold rings to signify marriage, or black rings to signify Outlaws.
This naturally puts the world in a difficult situation. Whereas once humanity had happily lived under Eve’s rules — “in Eve’s twisted, suffocating diorama,” as the main villain of the piece puts it — now people had no easy means of telling whether the people around them were “good” or “bad”.
“Mother Eve,” explains Snake Crest’s Supreme Commander. “In reality, she is no more than an avaricious, calculating, egocentric, shallow woman who eliminates all who don’t match her ideals. It was all to stop man from defying Eve. Yes, humanity simply lived under her restrictions.”
Herein lies the core of the main villain’s motivations: the idea that, without Mother Eve’s “restrictions”, people are free to act as they see fit, and be true to their desires. “That is humanity’s true power,” claims the Supreme Commander.
This concept goes somewhat further than simply the freedom to “break the rules”: part of Snake Crest’s philosophy is that humanity is only able to advance and evolve when faced with this sort of dog-eat-dog situation.
“If you want wealth, steal it,” says the villain. “If you like a woman, rape her. If you hate someone, kill them. And if you don’t want to be robbed, raped or murdered… just get strong enough to fight back.”
We see an unfortunate representation of what this all means in the form of a recurring side character named Yarase, whom Aster first met upon his arrival at the mainland, and was initially presented as a wide-eyed, optimistic adventurer. Each time we encounter Yarase as part of the main story, however, he’s sunk a little lower, until by this point in the narrative, Aster and the party come across him raping a young woman purely because he felt she “deserved punishment” for being a noble who once looked down on him. There’s more than a touch of Rance about this scene, and it’s a potent reminder that Aster is absolutely not the brutal antihero from AliceSoft’s most well-known series.
“I should’ve been a hero, but I couldn’t, because of all those restrictions!” cries Yarase. “Instead, what were we supposed to do in that stupid world? Just give up on a hot girl because someone else took her first? Not kill someone even if they’re a shithead? Hah, could it be any more fucked up? You’ll never get a hero in that environment.”
Of course, Aster is proof positive that you most certainly can get a hero in that environment, even if he would never admit such things himself, preferring instead to remain both humble and true to his life’s mission of “getting with cute girls”.
However, not everyone is as proactive as Aster is; not many people in the world have a desire that spurs them onwards to self-improvement rather than trampling or hurting others. The world has been so reliant on Mother Eve by this point that they simply don’t quite know how to take this turn of events — and it’s this confusion that Snake Crest takes full advantage of by broadcasting video footage of Croix, who the world has pretty much been treating as the second coming of Mother Eve up until now, being brutally raped by monsters: physical manifestations of humanity’s desire.
That latter point is important; it becomes apparent over the course of the narrative’s latter hours that monsters are born from that pent-up human desire; that same “smoke” that is released when someone prays in church. In the age of Mother Eve, it was the man who became known as Archfiend Adan — actually one and the same as The First Ancestor — who took it upon himself to absorb humanity’s desire and “save them from themselves”, as it were. In fact, it was Adan who held back Eve from simply wiping out humanity altogether, so disappointed was she in how her creation had turned out. Unsurprisingly, this burden proved too much for one man to handle, even one with such a connection to seeming divinity as Adan.
Adan’s body expanded, saturated with the human desires, and exploded with such ferocity that the world was rent asunder into a number of different fragments — only one of which was the world we know as the World of Eve. But despite becoming known as the Archfiend through legends distorted and mistranslated over the years, it’s clear that Adan truly loved humanity and wanted the people of the world to prosper. Mourning both the loss of her partner and her own recklessness, Mother Eve set up her blessing as a means of helping to control human desire, with part of that blessing being the means of turning those harmful desires into a physical manifestation: monsters.
“If everyone stopped praying,” muses Kathryn, “there’d be no more monsters… but instead we’d all be fighting each other.”
“Humans had become weak without their desire,” explains the Pope of the Church of Mother Eve. “So much so that the monsters drove them off to the northern continent. That’s when Mother Eve created Knights to carry out Adan’s will.”
And of course, all this comes back around to Arthur, too, whose legend infuses every part of the World of Eve, since he was both blessed and cursed with the desire of “hope” — “the sin of pursuing dreams too grand for humans”. Unfortunately, hope can have just as much a cost of human life as a desire that is more obviously “sinful” — and, indeed, many people lost their lives during Arthur’s exodus.
Ultimately, the villain’s motivations weren’t necessarily bad, but his execution was very far off the mark, harming and killing a great many people. As Aster’s sister Kinou points out towards the end of the story, “an unchanging world will slowly die” — but that doesn’t mean you should rush in change for the sake of change, particularly if a sign of that change is enforced violence and conflict. It doesn’t have to be that way.
“Maybe Adan didn’t break the world by accident,” muses Kathryn after the dust has settled from the group’s climactic battles. “It could’ve been to split up all the humans and stop them from fighting.”
“When you bring people of all cultures and ideologies together, that does lead to a lot more disagreements,” responds Tio, another of Aster’s wives.
“With however many worlds there are out there, some of them have to have pretty different ideas,” adds Kathryn. “It’s safe to assume there’ll be some conflict.”
“But if we hear about all those different ideas and cultures, I think it’ll help humanity grow,” notes Riche.
“By learning from others, we can improve ourselves,” adds Ramius.
Not a bad message to take away from a “porn game”, huh?
More about Evenicle
MangaGamer generously provided a copy of Evenicle for the purposes of these articles.
If you enjoyed this article and want to see more like it, please consider showing your social support with likes, shares and comments, or become a Patron. You can also buy me a coffee if you want to show some one-time support. Thank you!