Review of Edelweiss
|By||Vote: 5vitasalesman on 2020-10-15 last updated on 2020-10-16|
|Review||Mediocrity in Paradise|
Edelweiss is a comedy visual novel with an identity crisis. It is unable to fully commit to its comedic tone once the routes actually start and because of this took a massive risk that didn't pay off. Its character routes are (for the most part) very weak because the game incorporated nakige elements into them without the means in which to write for them with as much care as the comedy. Because of this they feel very forced and uneven in quality, especially since the writing for the depressing setpieces are blander than a bowl of rice on its own. It does the job on a technical level (filling you up), but it's going to be flavorless and lacking of any substance. If I were to pinpoint the primary issue as to why Edelweiss specifically suffers once it takes a detour into its character routes, it boils down to two factors. The main character only works within the context of his friend group (the three stooges) and not much time in common was dedicated to fleshing out the female heroines. The reason the main character didn't pose much of a problem early on is because he's a straight man within a group of absurdly stupid/funny characters. He balances out their humor and because of that has a functional purpose, however; once the routes start he is unable to say anything beyond
Damn that shit sucks :/
to every obstacle that comes his way. Because of this he feels like a self-insert. I never learn anything about him as a person through these situations because he is unable to articulate himself in a way that makes me feel any connection towards him besides
Wow this guy has it kinda rough I guess...
He makes the most surface level observations possible towards every situation that arises. This is why the game's writing could never be elevated beyond its concept on paper, it has no support to do so (because of a weak MC). Because believe me, Edelweiss has many cool ideas for setpieces and some unconventional aspects to it that genuinely interest me. There's just nothing that can be gained when the narrator can't form a reason for me (the reader) to care about his tribulations.
The other issue this game has is that its common was fantastic. That may sound weird, but it's actually that it's fantastic without a functional purpose to support the routes that come after it. The common spent the majority of it times developing the male cast (friend group and MC) through comedic sequences involving their many attempts to woo the female residents of the island. Because of that many of the heroines do not get any spotlight at all besides the occasional one liner or moment between these sex-driven escapades. The friend group rarely get any moments beyond their adventures in common, so in the end of the day the common route accomplished nothing. It focused on an aspect that the game had no intention on following through with. I know it's uncommon for galge's of this era to have male routes, but this is a case where the game would have benefited immensely from it.
The production value of Edelweiss is not very strong. It's very outdated for a VN made in 2006, which does make sense when I consider it's the first VN that Overdrive produced. The easiest thing to point out is that Edelweiss does not offer many CG's at all. They do the bare minimum here, and this isn't a case where I can excuse it because my
My mind can create a more intense picture than what they could present...
Because if anything, Edelweiss is incredibly underwritten and very limited in its vocabulary. So it is incapable of describing something more intense than what can be shown to me in-game. It's literally that the game just feels very lazy in this department, with many of the CG's lacking any impact at all. Along with this, I do not find the artistic direction of Edelweiss to be very pretty compared to its competitors at the time, so it makes this glaring flaw even more apparent to me. The music in Edelweiss is good, nothing mind-blowing but I never felt a track lacked at all or that something was being overplayed. If I were to praise a specific theme, I really enjoyed the musical box they used for Natsume. Made her character have an otherworldly aura to her that which fit the themes of her route.
Common Route is great. It does have a specific brand of humor that won't appeal to everyone (juvenile potty jokes), but it has a load of charm that makes it hard to dislike (inside a vacuum). It's fully committed to just being non-stop sexually charged fart jokes and I cannot fault it since it's done in a way that appeals to me. The jokes aren't as constructed or as chaotic/varied as something like Majikoi (another comedy VN), but the simplicity of Edelweiss humor does give it a vibe that I find endearing. I never feel like the game is trying to be subversive or intelligent, so it doesn't fail at all in this department. Although I do have issues with it (as I stated previously), my only other critiques with it outside of this is that the humor can become repetitive very easily and the "arcs" for Pierre and Daigo are very rushed. The common takes up about slightly less than half the game, so it's sizable and my primary motivation as to why I don't rate Edelweiss anything lower than a 5.
Haruka is an average route. The main issue this route stumbles into is that her relationship with Kazushi is very weak. They make a beeline towards the conflict as soon as possible and because of that the gravity of the situation cannot be fully absorbed. Lacking any emotional impact that it could have had. I do respect what the route was attempting by having a heroine die and exploring the mental anguish a situation like this can cause someone. But I honestly feel that there's no substance to most of it because the base it has (relationship) is flimsy at best, which is insane considering the subject matter. Goes to show that putting your characters in a shitty situation doesn't make for great character writing. I will praise how the principal was utilized in this route, she's easily the best aspect to it because her conflict has thematic relevance to the situation the MC finds himself in, though it's not explored far enough for me to say it's fantastic. Just something that stopped this route from being below average.
Mizuki is the route with the highest potential amongst the 5 heroines. The conflict it has is probably my favorite on paper. The reason it lacks is due to a similar issue that Haruka's route stumbles upon which is that the relationship between Mizuki and Kazushi is average at best. Along with this, the actual execution of these concepts do not go beyond serviceable due to the bland writing style of this game. This had all the makings of a good route, but the lack of commitment this game has to slow burns really cripples the routes full potential. Many of the setpieces do resonate with me on a surface level, but once you realize that it's a depressing situation without substance. You realize that there's nothing that's going to keep you there beyond the situation that it presents. The ending also felt very anticlimactic despite being very sweet on paper. This to me is the biggest shame of Edelweiss due to knowing that if a different writer had this script, it would be far better.
Ran is the worst route by miles. It may be the worst route I've read in 2020.
What went wrong?
Simply put, Ran is an unlikable heroine. I find many of her actions detestable throughout and this route feels like it was written by a 3rd grader due to how little care was put into creating any meaningful conflict between her selfish ways and relationship with Kazushi. This route is almost comedic with how predictable and straight up garbage its writing is. A prime example is the home cooking scene which is easily one of the worst things I've read in a long time. I seriously thought I was reading a completely different game when I read those lines. Along with this, this route doesn't fall-in-line with the themes of the previous routes, it feels like it was slapped on here to fit a quota. Which really shows when the conflict is the least conceptual and most derivative of its routes. The moral lesson of this route is very off as well, does not feel earned in the slightest with how many opportunities Ran had to prove herself prior. I also really dislike how much h-scenes this route had, I felt like I was reading a nukige which would have been fine if they were entertaining, but the game couldn't even give me that. Just a horrendous route.
Mei is another example of this games lack of ability to elevate its material beyond average. The conflict in this route is fantastic and I love many of the setpieces (like Mizuki), but this game is incapable of pulling a single emotion out of me besides disappointment. To describe Mei would be akin to describing Haruka or Mizuki's route. It lacks substance. Though with this route I find Kazushi's relationship with Mei far more memorable and endearing/earned when compared to those other 2 heroines. This felt like the longest route in a way because it does have a larger emphasis on Kazushi earning Mei's love. Which is a plus for me, where this route does lack though is that I find the ending very anticlimactic (though I do appreciate what it's going for). This is another example of the games simple writing style not allowing for a bigger magnifying glass to be applied to its conflicts. Because of that they don't feel like they have any gravity to them. Which is a shame since this is a decent route overall, I just know it could be stronger in many areas.
Natsume is a very good route. It's the only time I felt Edelweiss was able to execute a concept well enough for me to not come out with a negative taste in my mouth. Natsume and Kazushi have a very cute relationship with many ups and downs, along with this, the route develops the cast a lot relative to the other one's. It felt like I was reading a slightly more serious version of common for at least half this route with how much time was spent with the gang. I find the conflict in this route to be the most conceptual and abstract, though in a way where it does actually fulfill its potential and doesn't feel untapped. I never felt emotional which is more of the fault of how shoddy the writing is overall, though it is something that keeps this route from "saving" Edelweiss. Since a lot of this route does feel like it's trying to elicit a sad reaction from its reader with its depressing elements towards the end, though it did not take away from the experience. Lacking mostly in insightful narration/introspection, but otherwise the route is well executed.
Overall I find Edelweiss to be a mixed bag. It shows high potential with the concepts presented within its routes, but cannot follow through with most of them due to the lack of maturity the writers have when it comes to creating a conflict and going above and beyond with it. The game is the definition of complacency. I really wish the game had just stuck with its comedic tone and explored the male characters further rather than shoehorn in some substandard nakige stuff for its routes. Because although it does have minor successes (Natsume and Mei), for the most part it's just not well executed. I really hope the other Overdrive works are better, because I do plan to read the rest of their stuff. I also have taken into account that the translation quality of Edelweiss may have been shoddy. So I'm referring to the version I read in this review. Thank you for taking the time to read this and see you guys later!
...And yes. Panchu was underutilized.