ENIGMA: is a beautiful and tragic mystery visual novel that focuses heavily on human bonds and the importance of life. The visual novel was created by Japanese indie developer Uzumeya, the developer primarily focuses on a female audience but their games tend to have very little if any otome or BL elements. The original Japanese version of the game was released Mid-March 2015 as a Windows PC exclusive title, it was later announced that the game would receive an English translation with Fruitbat Factory as the publisher. The English version of the game was published Mid-November 2016 for Windows PC via Steam and can be purchased from Fruitbat Factory’s official store page or the game’s Steam store page. The game includes a set of Steam trading cards and 22 Steam achievements.
The game takes place in a beautiful and mysterious fantasy world afflicted by a deadly disease known as Enigma. A young man named Chester has become afflicted with the disease and has at best a month to live. Chester journeys out to sea in his boat but he is thrown off and washes ashore on a small island secluded from the rest of the world. A girl named Colette nurses him back to health with help from her brother and an herbalist named Greta. After waking up he is greeted by Colette and Greta but he soon finds out that many of the island’s other inhabitants are not welcoming to outsiders. The island has long been closed off from the rest of the world and it holds many dark secrets. One of the island’s biggest mysteries is a strange white forest which shares the same name as the disease that is slowly consuming Chester’s body. He must make the most of his remaining time while also uncovering the mysteries of the forest and his condition. Chester will forever change the lives of everyone he encounters on the island and create a path to a new future for the world. With a total of nineteen possible endings you can determine which characters Chester bonds with and how he affects their futures. Each of the endings contribute pieces to the mysteries of the world and to the epilogue.
Th gameplay mechanics and menus are basic for the visual novel genre but they do their job of making the game functional and easy to navigate. The skipping options can be changed from the Configuration menu to either skip all text or only read text. The skip text comes in handy if you replay the game for another ending if you want to skip the text you read through in a previous play through of the game. It is best not to focus too much on saving your progress for the sake of using a previous save to gain the other endings since many endings require you to start a new game. You can only unlock endings for the characters Ignis and Envirio by getting some of the endings for the character Lauro. You can find a list of endings you have already reached in the gallery on the start up menu, you can also receive hints for a new ending if you ask the man at the beginning of the game to guide you after your first play through. While the game has many choices it also gives plenty of hints on how to reach some of the endings, Some of the hints are hidden in the game itself as you play through but may not be obvious your first time playing it. Despite lacking any noticeable amount of complexity the game has everything it needs to make the experience enjoyable.
The game features a large number of beautiful illustrations and emotional tracks that bring the tragedy stricken fantasy world to life. There are over seventy colorful illustrations to unlock as you play through each route in the game. The characters and backgrounds fit together in a way that allows the characters to stand out without compromising the quality of the backgrounds or the artistic consistency. The artist did a good job of creating powerful facial expressions that do an amazing job of conveying each character’s emotions as the story progresses. The soundtrack does a great job of conveying the many emotions of the story and each of the tracks are easy to listen to for hours. The opening and ending themes are beautifully composed and the vocals are absolutely stunning. The art and soundtrack are both very powerful in adding a greater level of depth to an already deep and intriguing world.
ENIGMA: is an intriguing and thought provoking visual novel that features an interesting cast of characters, an enchanting story, and many unique endings to unlock. With so many paths to take and so many decisions to make the game is worth playing through multiple times to unlock the epilogue. I highly recommend the game to those who enjoy fantasy and mystery visual novels. I also recommend the game to those who are new to the visual novel genre since the game does a good job of guiding the player. I do not recommend the game to anyone who is easily bothered by dark themes or to those who are hoping for the game to be a dating sim of any sort.
PROS (+): Intriguing Story, Enchanting World, Many Endings
CONS (-): Many Unanswered Questions
This review is based on a digital copy of ENIGMA: on Steam provided by Fruitbat Factory.