Eden* PLUS+MOSAIC is a visual novel recently released by MangaGamer and developed by Minori. Minori are the developers of the popular visual novel, ef~ a fairy tale of the two
, which we have reviewed the anime series adaptation of. Eden* is the visual novel story that follows the military officer Ryou and his romance with a 100 year old Felix named Sion in a lite sci-fi story about the end of the world. PLUS+MOSAIC can be considered a kind of expansion pack to the Eden* storyline, containing adult elements not found in the main story.
The story of Eden* begins with Ryou digging a hole in a farmland garden alongside the playful Sion. The opening scene itself is filled with all kinds of different imagery, like a bloodied up hand which implies that Ryou had been working hard, or as the saying goes, "until his fingers bleed". Even more, there is a lot of idyllic imagery, like wide-open meadows and bright blue skies which gives you a sense that the two of them are living peaceably in this life of theirs.
At the start of the story, we don't learn too much about the main characters directly, instead we have to kind of guess at their backgrounds through the games dialogue. For instance, in the opening chapter, we learn that Ryou has some-kind of military history and that he has next to no medical expertise. We also learn that Sion has some kind of background in Engineering, and that she is also likely to be a sickly character, with Ryou having to maintain her health in a few scenes.
After the brief introduction chapter of the story, the game takes a small backtrack into the life of Ryou, it is in this backtrack where the story actually begins. The story starts with Ryou on helicopter ride into a mysterious island mansion where he is briefed on his new job in the military. He is told by Warrant Officer Lavinia, or Lavie for short, that he would be tasked with guarding the most important person in the world, the felix, Sion.
While in the mansion, we're introduced to the major characters that will participate in this portion of the story. Ryou is greeted by the maid, Elica, upon his arrival and is taken to meet with Major Inaba. Inaba is an interesting character that appears to share some bad blood, of sorts, with Ryou from an encounter in their collective past. Later on in the story, Sion is actually introduced, but the majority of this particular arc of the story involved Ryou, Inaba, Elica and Lavinia.
What I found interesting about the story in the Eden* was the whole background story happening to the Earth. This story is set a few hundered years into Earths future where a red star has appeared in space. This red star has had a negative effect on the Earth which has caused humanity to quickly need to research and build ships to take them into space within 100 or so years. To do this, humanity has engineered beings known as 'felixes'. A felix is an engineered human capable of achieving higher levels of intelligence and have life-spans of around 100 years. We also learn that Sion is the most important felix on the Earth, and the leading engineer on the project to get humanity into the stars. However, Sion is not the only felix at the mansion, Research Facility 703. She is accompanied by her maid, Elica, who is also one.
The story was pretty engaging for the most part, however, there were a few points that were a tad strange. For example, the game has an opening theme animation, much like an anime series would have, however, it didn't appear until a few hours of playing. It kind of came out of nowhere, which I thought was odd. Even more, there's a point in the story where Ryou has to escort Sion out of the mansion and his personality almost changes to be opposite of his established personality. This includes going against the military, which he has before and after that point, maintained and built himself around. It makes sense when you take into consideration the events leading immediately up to that point, but I think that it could have been handled a bit differently.
To be honest, if the story of Eden* ended right after Ryou and Sion escape the research facility, it would have been pretty good. This is because we've already caught a glimpse of their life outside of the facility and showing how they got to that point would take the story full-circle into completion. However, interestingly enough, Minori have continued the story past the point in the opening chapter. You could almost think of this part of the story as an entirely new story with how different the tone and scenery is in comparison to the mansion. This is actually pretty much where the bulk of the story will take place. and it doesn't stop being interesting.
One of my biggest complaints about the story after the mansion arc is that it seems like it is a bunch of smaller stories stuck together, rather than being at the most interesting point for the two characters. What gives this feeling is that there'll be a small story where Ryou and Sion will do something in their day-to-day life and build their relationship and then a white screen will fade in / fade out and lead us to another interesting point. It felt a bit haphazard at times, and a lot of these chapters seemed to be a bit redundant.
However, I did enjoy it a lot when the two characters' mundane life took a turn for the interesting with the introduction of a new character. Maya Tono is a journalist character that arrives on Sion and Ryou's property while trying to get a scoop into Sion's work. This character is notable for being interesting in that she shakes up the core foundation and relationship of Sion and Ryou. She adds this level of interest to the equation that changes the two, and seems to have a lasting effect on the story.
I have to say that story in Eden* concludes very satisfactorily and it made me feel things that I wasn't even sure that I could feel. Over the course of the 10 hour (clicking rapidly) adventure, you come to love and appreciate both Sion and Ryou in particular. When your journey with those two end, you can't help but feel at least something. Prepare tissues.
Something that you might need to prepare a lot of tissues for are the PLUS+MOSAIC side-stories. These side-stories are stories that seem like they could easily slide into the main arc of the Eden* story with no particular modifications to the original story. However, some of these do directly contradict each other, so we know that they're alternative reality stories.
Each side-story is an independent chapter selectable through the main menu and they take on a sexual encounter between Ryou and a different female side-character in each. The first is a pairing of Ryou and Sion, the second involves Ryou, Elica and Sion, the third involves Lavie and Ryou, and the last story involves Ryou and Maya. I have to mention that these are definitely lewd stories with lots of boobs and penetrative sex, so if these kinds of scenes do not interest you, buy the clean version of the game (or don't touch the PLUS+MOSAIC button in the menu).
I thought that the side-stories were pretty well written, considering that they are pretty much pornographic storylines involving the main cast. The main characters personalities didn't really change at all, with exception of suddenly wanting sex all of the sudden. They were also pretty lengthy stories, however, the story involving both Sion and Elica was clearly made to be a torturous test of endurance, with it easily having the longest amount of pornographic content in the package.
With Eden* PLUS+MOSAIC being a Japanese Visual Novel, the title doesn't really have too much of a gameplay element to it at all. In fact, for a Visual Novel, there is also a surprising lack of choice or branching paths included as a part of the story. What I mean by a lack, is that there is no choice or branching paths. The novel is a straightforward story that you can read through, or have read to you automatically. Officially the game is pegged at being 8-10 hours long. I find this number to be a bit low. For our playthrough(?), I had the game run on automatic so that I could enjoy it with full voice acting, as though it was some kind of motion comic or something. This playthrough went for a few days at about 4-6 hours per session. So the gameplay will be largely dependent on how you experience the story for yourself. I definitely recommend having the game be played automatically though.
As there isn't much in the way of interaction from the player/reader, the controls aren't particularly complicated to use. You can use the mouse to point and click on any menu and if you're reading the story and need to access the in-game menu, you can do so by hovering the mouse on the bottom-right corner of the text box. My favourite part of the controls is this thing called the 'Boss Key', which is assigned to the backspace button. What this Boss key does is it minimises the game to the tray and cuts the audio just in-case someone comes in. I like the excerpt of the feature from the manual:
Boss Key (Mama's coming in!)
Minimizes the game to the system tray and mutes sound. In order to restore, right click on the game icon and select "Restore Application".
The artwork in Eden* is of pretty high quality. It looks like a lot of effort went into designing the characters of the story, as well as into the background art. The game does have a digital art look and feel to it though, which is pretty common for visual novels in general. I really enjoyed that there was a small variety of character pictures that show them in a few different poses for different situations. Quite frequently the game will zoom in on a character for effect in some scenes.
Interestingly, it looks like a lot of effort, or some kind of technology, was used in synchronising the voice overs in the VN to the mouth flaps of a talking character. This made watching the game play itself through automatically pretty enjoyable, because you could tell that the characters were saying what was coming out of their mouth. The only complaint that I have with this feature is that characters mouths were a bit small. And by a bit, I mean that they were very small mouths.
The voice acting in Eden* was very well done. Unfortunately, there was only a Japanese dub available for the game. I'm not sure if it's normal for a VN to only include a Japanese dub, or if they usually come with English dubs as well. If this is your first VN, be prepared for Japanese audio. The background music in Eden* can get a bit repetetive at times though, with the soundtrack being pretty limited. But, it's a pretty well composed soundtrack on the whole.
Overall, Eden* PLUS+MOSAIC is a very interesting love story that will keep you engaged and interested throughout. While the sci-fi elements serve mainly as a backdrop, the story itself is full of interesting characters and situations. The audio and artwork are also pretty good. The adult scenes in PLUS+MOSAIC will be sure to leave you with an empty tissue-box.
Eden* PLUS+MOSAIC is released by MangaGamer and developed by Minori. This review is based on the standalone Adults Only release as supplied by MangaGamer for the purposes of review. However, there is an All-Ages version available on Steam. You can purchase the title on MangaGamer's website for $25 (but there's a sale on now reducing it to $18) or on Steam for the all-ages version for $20.