Esper - Make You Live Again is a kinetic Visual Novel published by Stoigames early this year, but the development has started back in 2015, and it’s clearly a work of passion.
Espers are people with special abilities, capable of establishing emotional links with individuals on the edge of rapture. Those feeling depressed, suicidal or in a tremendous sadness turmoil, if lucky, can be approached by an Esper, which will do everything to help. This order is well established among society, with schools that train and develop Espers, from a very early age. All of this running in the underground of the world as we known it.
We play as Ryo Masaki, a young man who is finally face to face with his final exam, the one that will determine if he is a proper Esper, or a failure. Those who succeed, travel over the world while helping those in need, which is Ryo’s biggest dream and desire.
This is the plot for Esper - Make You Live Again, that’s clearly well developed and with quite the effort put into it. The storyline feels somehow overly extended, paving the way to what it feels like a bombastic plot… But in the end, there’s barely a plot twist to go with. Imagine the slow and pace building of a bomb, only in the end to find out, that there’s no final bang. The whole story was wrapped up so good, that it’s impossible not to feel disappointed when there aren’t any massive conclusions to it.
There is a tremendous passion in the writing, but at the same time, I felt the developer was afraid players didn’t quite understood things, so he went repetitive in some sectors of the script, in special when Ryo is thinking or theorizing things. There’s an uncontrollable feeling of explaining the same things twice, which just becomes tiresome.
This doesn’t mean the story is not good or interesting, the fact is, it is well explored, and since the world of Espers has been so well thought of, and extremely well built, it could easily be a huge title. Unfortunately the story drags a little over some issues. The characters are well built and nicely fabricated consonant of the main story!
The visuals are pretty good considering this is an indie Visual Novel with a small budget. Renders are simple, but they do have some interesting minor facial expressions. Backgrounds follow the same art direction with a very nice mix of bland indoor choices, with extremely cool outdoor scenarios. The amount and diversity of these completely save the art direction!
Curiously enough, the developer decided to use a Chromium based engine. Why he would use this is still a mystery to me, since the game does not do anything special that couldn’t be done on a proper VN engine. The reason why I’m mentioning this, is due to a couple of bugs I came across.
The first forces me to restart the game as I can’t pass the first screen. The second one cut off my access to all the menus and options, including access to the save-game screen. Fortunately, an auto-save feature is included, and I have to wonder if that’s the reason why…
Esper - Make You Live Again may not be fully voiced-over, but that doesn’t mean there can’t be any soundworks, and yet again, I face two different aspects. One is the superb inclusion of special sound effects, and it’s definitely some of the best I’ve heard in a Visual Novel. Scenes where players face themselves downtown, will generate background noises such as people talking, and all that buzz going.
On the other hand, the soundtrack itself is extremely boring and repetitive. There are far more interesting and better choices out there for free commercial songs to pick from. In some rare moments, the music is actually pleasant, particularly in special scenes or very unique scenarios. But when having scenes, extended for an hour, while listening to the same track, it quickly becomes boring.
The game has included some extras such as Galleries, and other cool features that may interest players. It’s nice to see these details included once in a while, rather than being sold as a DLC. Developer commentary and notes are probably the most useful things, as they reveal quite a lot about the game.
In the end, I still recommend Esper - Make You Live Again, since it’s a well developed and written Visual Novel. It might not be your cup of tea, but if you’re not expecting much, I can see people enjoying the story and more particularly, its world. With well produced characters and around 10 hours of gameplay, it’s worth trying.