Princess Evangile for PC
“Never judge a book by its cover,” is probably one of the best cliches to apply to gaming. Even if they don’t have actual covers much anymore. But still, looking solely at a game’s featured images and pictures isn’t really a good way to decide if something’s worth playing.
To be fair, it must be done to a certain extent. If a game didn’t look good or at least enjoyable then they wouldn’t capture interest at all. But with regards to Princess Evangile, the latest visual novel to be published by Mangagamer, this messages cannot be any clearer: do not judge this one by its cover.
Princess Evangile is absolutely 100% a romance visual novel. It very casually features a straight male protagonist who (naturally) finds himself as the only male student in an all-girls academy. Classic. Someone call TvTropes ’cause there’s a new record for overuse of the classics.
…is what one would probably assume, given the game’s self-descriptor and imagery. However, if one scratches past that surface an incredibly deep narrative surely follows. And any Japanese game that quotes Charlie Chaplin deserves at least a little recognition; fortunately, Princess Evangile‘s worth is well-earned.
Though the game certainly starts off innocuously enough. Featuring the narrator and protagonist as Okonogi Masaya, the player mostly views the world through his lens while at times switching perspectives to the other characters. Masaya finds himself in a ton of debt with the local mafia and essentially homeless and orphaned. When of course his luck changes and he finds himself attending Vincennes Academy.
The tropes pile on from there. Character after “overused” character appears: the social and beautiful maiden, the childhood friend, the mysterious and mischievous beauty, and the ice queen. Though their designs are naturally gorgeous and their appeal blatant, the excellent writing only serves to show that Princess Evangile executes its tried and true modes of storytelling well.
But slowly, gradually, the game starts to show the player some ugliness in its characters. Apart from the fact that mobsters are mean and a horde of women forced to tolerate a boy in an all-girls school, the basest characteristics of humanity start to show. Characters that previously operated solely within their tropes start to break out. The narrative’s predictability is destroyed. And soon enough, a literally heart-pounding story develops.
Princess Evangile tells the story of a boy in an all-girls school. But that school is not performing well financially. Gender integration may be the only way to keep the institution from closing. But there are those traditionalists desperately vying to prevent this at all costs. Others have their own reasons for preventing it, and of course those for it are few in number but passionate.
Homosexuality. Sexual assault. Trauma. Stress. Sexism. This is not a game as fruity and filled with rainbows as its title image suggests. As with most things, reality paints a much harsher picture and Princess Evangile strives to stay true. Despite improbability of its scenario, the game never once strays from its path or represents anything unreasonably. And not once are any punches pulled.
While the narrative is definitely Princess Evangile‘s strongest point, the characters themselves are largely to blame. Though each rests a foundation in classic character archetypes, their execution is indeed flawless. Every character breaks through their own self-constructed cliche to shock and surprise, and the effect is pleasant and exciting. That their designs are uniformly pretty and flawless is a forgivable trait in light of their personality flaws.
If Princess Evangile does anything less than perfectly it would be in its pacing. The game takes place over the course of a Japanese school year. It also unnecessarily separates itself into chapters. Which end. Abruptly and. At the. Worst. Possible moments. This isn’t from a cliffhanger perspective either; any suspenseful and carefully built up atmosphere comes crashing down in the face of the horribly out-of-place and cheery transition music. Creating artificial and useless breaks in a story serves only to irritate a reader getting caught in the flow, and does the game a huge disservice.
Musically the game is also better than average but nothing to write home about. The background music fits the mood well, but the melodies won’t be too memorable. Fortunately, it does contribute well to the mood of each scene, and coupled with the fantastic and emotional voice acting (though it is in Japanese) the game sounds great.
Princess Evangile is exactly what the world of all ages visual novels. needs. Though adapted from an 18+ title, Princess Evangile tells a fantastic story with deep, rich characters. It keeps its themes mature while keeping a balancing act between suspense and comedy. And above all, it’s a story worth reading. Hopefully this will be a title that inspires newcomers to see what all the fuss is about in the world of visual novels.