Sunday, August 19, 2012

Never 7: The End of Infinity Review

Never 7: The End of Infinity follows Ishihara Makoto, a college student who must attend "Seminar Camp" with three other students from his college.  For the Seminar, Makoto and fellow students Yuka, Haruka, and Okuhiko will take up residence in a lodge on a southern island for one week.
Unfortunately, not all is well.  On April 1st, before the Seminar begins, Makoto has a dream in which he is viewing a the corpse of an unknown female.  While this is initially unsettling but nonthreatening, A series of premonitions during the subsequent days make Makoto begin to wonder if it might be cause to worry: Could it be that his dream is a premonition that will come true on the morning of April 6th?  Can he find a way to prevent this future from occurring?


A few years ago, I was just getting into Visual Novels.  The fourth that I ever played was an rather interesting one, well known in English-speaking Visual Novel circles, "Ever 17: The Out of Infinity".  Made by Kindle Imagine Developers (KID) in 2002 and translated for English-speaking audiences by Hirameki International a few years later, Ever 17 managed to gain a strong western following, helped by the engaging plot, the lack of adult scenes, and the availability of a translation in a fledgeling fanbase where the pool of works that were in a language that the fans could understand was severely limited.

Though Ever 17 gained a good-sized fanbase, none of the other games in the Infinity series were ever translated, likely due to the collapse of both Hirameki and KID.  In summer 2010, however, a fan-produced translation patch was released for the third game in the series, "Remember 11: The Age of Infinity".  Now, in summer 2012, we of the English-language Visual Novel fanbase may once again experience Infinity with the release of GundamAce's translation for the first game in the series: "Never 7: The End of Infinity".

General Impressions

 Overall, I was pleasantly surprised with Never 7.  Going into it, I couldn't expect it to have a plot on the same level as Ever 17, which has continued to hold a place in my top visual novels due to that particular aspect.  Additionally, between Ever 17 and Remember 11 displayed a marked improvement in presentation, I felt it would be inevitable that Never 7 (which predates Ever 17) would end up being a game with a few interesting plot ideas with a presentation that was rough, but not enough to completely interfere with the ideas.  (This is not to say, of course, that I wasn't looking forward to the release of the translation.)  The anticipated roughness was there, but not nearly so much as I was expecting, and in a few ways I'd say that Never 7 may even have an upper hand against Ever 17.

Structure-wise, Never 7 is nothing more than a standard "Male character meets five female characters, decisions decide which girl's story is pursued" Visual Novel.  This was a bit of a disappointment to me, as Ever 17 started on that model before breaking out of it slightly (While each girl had a story, not all of them had a romance subplot), and Remember 11 ditched it entirely (One path, with events viewed first from the perspective of one character, which then unlocks the ability to view the same events from a different perspective).  I was also struck by fact that, having completed two paths as of this writing, there is a distinct lack of mysteries that would seem to belong to a overarching meta-plot.  (In contrast, Ever 17's path endings left more unanswered questions than they actually answered in preparation of the final path, and Remember 11's structure was basically "Raise questions on Kokoro's Chapter, Answer them on Satoru's)
I don't have much to say about the visuals, except for the statement that the art in Never 7 is a constant reminder of the era in which it was released.  Not necessarily a bad thing, but it may seem a little odd to those who are more used to the modern style of Visual Novel art.

In technical terms, there are a few things noticeably missing from Never 7 that have become standard in Visual Novels since then.  One such thing is that there is no menu option to make holding down the control key skip only the text that has already been read. (Indeed, other than a few options from a window that appears following a right-click, there's really no options menu at all).  The "Skip Read text" option can instead be achieved by pressing "F4".  There is no rollback to allow the player to read the last few lines of text (edit: it has since been pointed out to me that PgUp covers this function), nor an autosave function to return to the last option.  (Granted, the game gives you 100 save files, so this is not quite the major issue).

Music in Never 7 is atmospheric but not particularly memorable (This is more or less consistant with Abo Takeshi's work from later games in the series).  There may not be many drop-dead-awesome tracks that have yet been revealed to me, but Haruka's theme, Magic of True, and Despair are pretty decent.  Special mention goes to Once More, which marks the beginning of Abo's fine tradition of writing excellent Title Screen/Emotional Moment pieces.

(Note: These are only limited impressions of the paths.  I may write up more detailed responses to them later, but those might be a bit more spoilery and I don't want to put them in the main review)

Yuka's Route

I'm not sure whether or not I should count myself lucky or unlucky to have ended up with Yuka on my first playthrough.  Yuka's route explains a lot, which means that the player subsequently understands a lot.  This can either help the player to understand what's going on or kill suspense, and I'm not yet sure which one is fitting for this game.  (Though I think it may be at least a bit of the former: I'd have probably been taken completely off-guard by events in the middle of Kurumi's path had I not already experienced them with more detail in Yuka's.
 Yuka is the first girl the player encounters during Never 7.  She also seems to be the official love interest, given the events of her path and where she is placed on any menu with a picture featuring the female cast.  She's energetic and friendly, and called up memories of Coco from Ever 17 (This association of those two by me stopped when I met Kurumi, who is even more similar to Coco, but more on that later).  Despite her frequent displays of spontaneity and frivolity, Yuka has a good head in serious situations. The middle of Never 7 is characterized by a series of events in which the relationships between the cast begins to sour and break down, but throughout this Yuka never loses her temper or forgets about the others.  Indeed, it is with this hidden seriousness that Yuka's path lies: Behind her cheerful demeanor, Yuka is desperate to prevent misfortune from occurring to the cast.

Kurumi's Route

Kurumi's route gave me a load of trouble in regards to finding it, mainly due to one instance where one must spend time with her sister in order to have an important conversation.  This path wasn't quite as dark as Yuka's, but the ending also seems a bit more abrupt.  (It may also be confusing to those who haven't experienced Yuka's path already).
Rather than one of the college students, Morino Kurumi is the high-school-aged younger sister of the woman who works at a local restaurant.  In continuing (starting?) the grand tradion of Yagami Coco (A 14-year old girl from Ever 17 who looked like she was 10 and acted like she was 5), Kurumi is a 17-year old girl who looks like she's 14 and acts like she's 10.  Energetic, friendly, and carefree, but with a surprising lack of self-confidence that becomes more apparent as the story progresses.

This Review is not an End yet.  Because only you are in the infinity loop.


  1. >> There is no rollback to allow the player to read the last few lines of text.

    Press PageUp. You can scroll all the way to the beginning, if you're patient enough.

  2. this novel is just a huge dissapoitment for me...

    1. I agree. Other than the music which I loved, it was a big disappointment.