Everlove: But I Wanted to Shag Them All! 2


This month is Romance Month! All of our arti­cles in April deal with romance or rela­tion­ships (or both!) in games. We are still accept­ing sub­mis­sions for guest arti­cles for a few days yet, so feel free to send drafts and/or pitch­es to Bill Coberly at editor@ontologicalgeek.com!

everlove

In the­o­ry, I am the per­fect can­di­date for Everlove: Rose. I have always enjoyed roman­tic movies and trashy (what my cousin calls “granny-porn”) nov­els; I can’t deny that I was tit­il­lat­ed by the prospect of a romance game, par­tic­u­lar­ly because I don’t real­ly have the patience for the long term RPGs of the world that pro­vide roman­tic arcs. I had seen my hus­band play through Mass Effect and Dragon Age, and I couldn’t help but find the love options, dia­logue, and encoun­ters shal­low at best. Perhaps, I thought, a game could dive more deeply into these areas and the result could be, if not a high artis­tic expe­ri­ence, at least more car­nal­ly sat­is­fy­ing.

If that desire is pos­si­ble to ful­fill, Everlove is not the game to do it. While there are many cri­tiques one could make of this game, I will cen­ter around one that I think is pret­ty impor­tant: the devel­op­ers for­got what would make it fun.

Never has the Mary Sue trope been so per­fect­ly encap­su­lat­ed in a game, but I am not sure that the devel­op­ers can be blamed on this score. Almost all romance media aimed at women has a gener­ic, slight­ly will­ful hero­ine you are expect­ed to replace with your­self. Half the fun is this sus­pen­sion of dis­be­lief, and the way that men throw them­selves at you like wild ani­mals in a Cabela’s hunt­ing game.  (Is it real­ly hunt­ing if they are so will­ing to be caught?) Clearly, this is part of the fan­ta­sy ele­ment that runs through all such media aimed at women—beautiful men dying to com­mit to you.

The story is bland. Modern-day Rose is see­ing a life-regression ther­a­pist who wants to help her under­stand some dreams she has been hav­ing about a beast. Of course, the only way help Rose is to go back in time to one par­tic­u­lar life and try to get laid by four equal­ly gor­geous men. I warned you.  Now, don’t let me fool you, it is a tried and true method to set sala­cious sex in the past. Fine. I get it—corsets and knights and jousts seem to be the only way we can sus­pend dis­be­lief enough to believe in all-consuming love. But why limit your­self to one time peri­od, par­tic­u­lar­ly when you have gone to the trou­ble of intro­duc­ing past-life regres­sion ther­a­py? Instead of some strange and ves­ti­gial mumbo jumbo about a beast (a story as bor­ing as it was unfleshed out), I couldn’t help but won­der why we didn’t fol­low Rose and these men through sev­er­al lives of con­flict­ing loves. The story should have been hon­est about being a tur­bu­lent romance, and romance should have been more cen­tral­ly the cat­a­lyst of the regres­sion ther­a­py. It would have been great to see the love inter­ests evolve over mul­ti­ple lives, to watch as the king’s main heal­er in the medieval era changes to a medic in the first World War, to a hot­shot plas­tic sur­geon in New York. Such a pro­gres­sion (or one like it with more inter­est­ing specifics), would have made the time trav­el (which is usu­al­ly a nar­ra­tive crutch) more for­giv­able because it would have been fun.

The weak­ness of the con­ceit might be for­giv­able if the moment-to-moment game­play was enjoy­able, but the Silicon Sisters made a num­ber of key mis­takes. First, and per­haps most unfor­giv­ably, it forced me to focus on one man very early on in the game, and yet still makes me go through the exact same inter­ac­tions later on, even if I picked some­one else! Such a flat choice so early on, cou­pled with the exact same encoun­ters with the romance paths shaved off, proves that the devel­op­ers don’t know what makes tele­vi­sion shows like The Bachelor, The Bachelorette, and even America’s Next Top Model and Chopped so enjoy­able. The point isn’t to clear the road quick­ly, the point is to enjoy and to draw out the selec­tion process. No one would watch the The Bachelorette pick her love after four episodes and then have her first year of mar­riage for the next 18.

With that in mind, let’s meet the love inter­ests of Everlove:

  1. Prince Warrick is a cute, tow-headed lad who loves to make bold pro­nounce­ments and to thwart his par­ents. He is a real (Prince Charming.)
  2. If brood­ing men are more your style, look no fur­ther than the brother-cuckolding yet law­ful good Lord Blaxton. Don’t let his incred­i­bly hor­ri­ble actions while in charge of the realm fool you, his feel­ings are very ten­der.
  3. Thorodan is going places. A heal­er who had a very close rela­tion­ship with your deceased father, Thorodan is seri­ous about remov­ing both curs­es and your clothes.
  4. Finally, there is the rogue, Garrett. He likes his women spicy and sex in the for­est. ‘nough said.

Instead of a sin­gle fork in the road, I pro­pose that three would have fixed many of the prob­lems I had with the game. As the pri­ma­ry plot in the fan­ta­sy world revolves around Rose’s sup­port or dis­trust of the Rebels, it would make sense if the first fork would cause you to move towards the rebel­lion or towards the law. I com­plete­ly agree with the cre­ators that you prob­a­bly can’t be both a sup­port­er of the rebel­lion and of the King’s Man’s harsh jus­tice. Also, each man enjoys dif­fer­ent per­son­al­i­ty traits and ban­ter, so it would seem that the stoic Blaxton would like respect­ful talk, while Garrett (the rebel leader) enjoys a girl with a will­ful streak and a robust sense of humor; the Prince is a wild roman­tic and with very frag­ile feel­ings, and I still don’t under­stand what makes the Potion Master tick (anoth­er prob­lem with romanc­ing him).  The sec­ond fork would bring it down to two men, and the final fork would allow you to final­ly select the man you want. This mechan­ic would make play­ing through all the sce­nar­ios worth your while because those men might still be in the mix.

Now, per­haps this sys­tem of mul­ti­ple forks might lead to more sex with mul­ti­ple men, but I fail to see how this is a bad thing.  Rose is a hip, mod­ern girl, and she should def­i­nite­ly try the waters to make sure she has made a good choice.  Also, the sin­gle sex scene is very, uhm, anti­cli­mac­tic story-wise.

This leads me to anoth­er large prob­lem with the game: if you play through the game mul­ti­ple times to try dif­fer­ent roman­tic part­ners, you real­ize that the puz­zles and nar­ra­tive inter­ac­tions are exact­ly the same. You will always find Thorodan’s potion and a let­ter about the prince’s true pater­ni­ty, and your aunt will always need the same potion to cure her hang­over. I was over­joyed when I found the “skip puz­zle” but­ton. On later playthroughts, I also start­ed ran­dom­ly hit­ting dia­log options dur­ing the scenes with the other men (which hap­pen no mat­ter who you are actu­al­ly court­ing), because I knew it wouldn’t affect my main rela­tion­ship.

My final cri­tique is that you couldn’t court your best friend Fendral. She has the most beau­ti­ful “come hith­er” eyes.  In many ways, Fendral is the best fit for Rose—she is funny, will­ful, rebel­lious, and truly cares about Rose as a per­son. Also, one of the scenes you have with your Aunt lets you know that your Aunt is a les­bian and that her part­ner is very impor­tant to her. Such an inter­ac­tion would make a les­bian rela­tion­ship seem more pos­si­ble and pos­i­tive, and would have been an excel­lent time for a 5th track to appear. I also would have enjoyed being able to romance Fendral while romanc­ing any of the other men; that would have been a bold sto­ry­telling choice, and would have helped to deli­cious­ly com­pli­cate the romance plot (which is always a nec­es­sary part of mak­ing the genre tit­il­lat­ing) .

In all, I feel that the fail­ure to prop­er­ly engage with the act of choos­ing as well as the sim­ple copy-paste of inter­ac­tions and puz­zles was depress­ing. This is par­tic­u­lar­ly true because play­ing through mul­ti­ple times should be half the fun of this sort of game.  Unfortunateley, Everlove won’t be replac­ing the tried-and-true romance novel for­mu­la or The Bachelorette any time soon.


Erin McNeil

About Erin McNeil

Erin McNeil is studying at the Savannah College of Art and Design where she has finished an M.F.A. in Photography and will finish her M.A. in Art History as soon as she fixes her footnotes. She enjoys dual-wielding terriers (Azathoth and Nyarlathotep) and letting her husband, Bill Coberly, talk her into playing games that take over all of her free time. She is a practicing artist, game designer, and freelance writer covering arts and culture in and around Savannah, GA.

  • There was a “skip puz­zle” Button?!??!?! Oh well…

  • illanm

    I enjoyed the game, but that’s main­ly because my first playthrough was with Garrett, who hit every sin­gle one of my trope kinks, and because all of the paths cost $4.99 unlike cer­tain other games that charge three bucks for mul­ti­ple chap­ters of just one char­ac­ter grrrrrr. Then when I start­ed play­ing the other paths, I start­ed encoun­ter­ing the prob­lems you’ve described — Thorodan is bor­ing, the plot is kinda silly, etc. For me, the main objec­tion was that, as attrac­tive as I found Lord Blaxton, I absolute­ly couldn’t com­plete his romance with­out betray­ing the peo­ple the game said were my friends. There was absolute­ly no way in the world I was going to turn on Fendrel, *even role-playing as a tra­di­tion­al con­ser­v­a­tive monar­chist* — I can role­play a polit­i­cal posi­tion I don’t hold myself, but to shaft my friends? Why set them up as my friends if you’re going to get me to betray them? If Fendrel had been intro­duced as a new per­son that I could make friends with (and I hon­est­ly thought she was going to be a romance path as well), I could decide “OK, as a monar­chist I’m not gonna be friends with this per­son”. At least I got to shag Blaxton before he threw me out of the palace.