EDEN.schemata(); PAX West Impression
The character work is fantastic with Cherry’s impatience amusing in a frustrating way, and the hand-drawn artwork on Eve does make it easy for players to want to save their newly found arcanoid friend.
Sometimes while sifting through the various ways stories can be told in games, I personally often forget about visual novels. As a fan of storytelling, this is a bit of a grevious oversight as they often get to go more in-depth to the inner workings of characters than a traditional RPGs. One title that drew my attention at PAX West is a collaboration from Playism, WSS Playground, and illuCalab titled EDEN.schemata();. It looks simple on the service but quickly builds to a deep, puzzling mystery thriller.
Players wake up in a lab with “arcanoid” Eve and administrator robot Cherry. Cherry, acting as quite a fun antagonist in the demo, notices that the professor of the lab is quite thoroughly dead on the ground and concludes that Eve must be at fault, especially as she has a video still that has someone looking a lot like Eve killing the professor. Eve doesn’t seem too disturbed by that, but brightens up a bit when the player says that they’ll find proof of their innocence.
Exonerating evidence is not easy to come by, but players are able to click around to a few different screens to get bits of new information to help solve the crime. These bits of information can be fed into the text bubbles to make additional commentary come up. However, this information isn’t provided to the player until after they’ve failed to save Eve once. Players wake up in the same situation as before and everything can be done again, and the player is able to utilise clues from their different loops, but doing so isn’t easy.
There’s a lot of possibilities for matching text with speech bubbles and also a time limit to do so. Only a few screens are able to be accessed before Cherry shouts that time’s up and kills Eve. This means players have to remember information from prior loops and make sure each click counts to solve this mystery. As players get further into the mystery, the UI evolves making things visually more elaborate. The character work is fantastic with Cherry’s impatience amusing in a frustrating way, and the hand-drawn artwork on Eve does make it easy for players to want to save their newly found arcanoid friend.
With the implication that the player character may be unreliable — combined with wordplay, steampunk hand-drawn visuals, and fun characters — there’s a lot to unpack in EDEN.schemata();. Saving Eve and finding out who killed the professor is an engaging mystery, especially with the promise it can be solved multiple times in various ways. For those wanting to dive into this mystery themselves, EDEN.schemata(); is due to release in 2024 on PC.