Move over Lord Byron, and welcome the darkly moody men in our Virche Evermore -ErroR: Salvation- review.
When I saw some of the key art of Virche: Evermore for Nintendo Switch, I was sold 100%. We have A). A mysterious man in a mask in Victorian getup B). The protagonist is bridal carried by said mysterious man C). Gorgeous, detailed art
So, yes, I gravitated harder to this title than the Earth orbits around the sun.
It was developed by Otomate, and released for Nintendo Switch, developed by Idea Factory, and published by Aksys in English on the 9th of November. It is a visual novel with some narrative choices, so the way I like to explain an otome game is to imagine yourself curled around by a fire with your choose-your-own-adventure book, essentially.
Virche Evermore -ErroR: Salvation- Review – Story
A basic plot summary:
“…Arpéchéle is a small island country surrounded by the sea and black flowers of misfortune called lycoris noirges. The people of this country are born with a curse that leads to death at the age of 23. They lament and oppose their short-lived fates. After many years of research, a “memory download” system has been created: once the body dies, its memories may live on in a clone known as a “Reliver” who continue to resist their fate for another 23 years.
Virche: Evermore follows a girl, Ceres, also known as “Death,” as everyone she is involved with dies before the curse can consume them. Just as she is about to end her own life in regret, a mysterious man who calls himself the “Watchman of Death” appears before her. Under the watchman’s guidance, the girl will approach the truth of the various mysteries of death that haunts this country, whether she likes it or not, and without knowing that despair is the fate that awaits those who are loved by Death.”
This game has a rating of MA 15+, and yes, I, too, initially had high hopes that meant there might have been sex scenes on the more graphic side of a bedpost, but the rating really only applies to the sheer amount of gore and violence packed into this game.
Right out the gate (as per the summary above) we have our heroine Ceres on her knees, a dagger pointed at her heart, suiciding because of the utter despair she feels – because of the deaths she causes around her, and the isolation from human decency that comes from being an outcast. This story isn’t light or fluffy, so keep that in mind.
The blend of European fantasy/science fiction is something I always love to see. You get some scenes in dimly lit cobblestone alleys, as well as futuristic science labs, and that merge of genres just works here. The atmosphere is dripping with Victorian gothic tension, and it’s terribly engrossing. I couldn’t take my eyes from the screen.
I felt so much sympathy for Ceres, and to see her open up to the suitors/friends was heartwarming. Now, I will say, Ceres is a more passive main character, who tends toward a loving support for the men around her, rather than an active driver of the plot, like you might see in a lot of fantasy/romance stories aimed at women.
There are moments of levity here, I swear guys. Ceres and her friends enjoying themselves over dinner.
She may seem a bit retrograde to some readers, as she likes to clean and is on the demure, gentle side. Despite that, I really loved her character. To go from the utter despair and wretchedness of suicide, to become a pillar of strength to some truly tortured souls shows a strength, that while not founded in quick wit or physical prowess, is still strength.
But as a counterpoint, I will say that it does veer heavily into the trope of ‘a woman’s soothing love can save a man’, which I adore, but can still be seen as agency-stripping and harmful in real life.
Ah, yes, Adolphe, hold me in your big, strong arms while we’re splattered in gore.
She chases a string of gruesome murders with her menfolk and works to uncover the true reason behind her curse, as well as the reason why every citizen’s life is so short on Arpéchéle. As mentioned previously, this game is heavy on plot and lighter on romance. It actually has some incredibly robust world-building done.
While some of the ‘science’ in its science-fiction certainly raised my eyebrows at times (and this is coming from someone who nearly flunked year ten science class), it still really hammers down the plot’s lore and sprawling storyline.
It has a long playtime, so you really get your money’s worth here. We get to see some truly wacky science fiction shenanigans going on, lots of ideas tossed around on morals and ethics, how to live a good life on borrowed time, especially religion, sin and redemption. Arpéchéle feels like a living, breathing continent, and the side characters are well-fleshed out.
Virche Evermore -ErroR: Salvation- Review – Love Interests
We have six love interests to pursue, and as mentioned before, the carnal side of physical attraction is lessened here to focus more on the purity of Cere’s love for these men as an almost redemptive force, and each route endears you to its tortured suitor.
While the game can feel utterly sadistic at times, you get moments of loving connection, forged in fire – connection between lost, lonely individuals. These include:
- Yves, a man who runs a local handyman shop, but wears a mask to hide scarred burns on his face.
- Lucas Proust, a preacher and teacher to children at orphanages.
- Mathis Claude, a shy, sheltered young boy who searches for the killer of his older brother.
- Scien Brofiise, a talented but sadistically cold scientist who created the Reliver technology. And finally,
- Adolphe, hunky leader of the Corps (a vigilant brigade) who is brusque but kind.
I found Adolphe and Scien to be the most interesting, as they were painted as the elder, more dominant personalities. I also really loved Nadia, Lucas’s adorable little sister, and Salome, Cere’s adoptive mother.
However, this game does get incredibly heavy-handed on the angst and brutality. It feels at times like a Tradegy Train™ but also incredibly sincere with it’s more sensitive moments. It’s themes surrounding domestic abuse, psychological torture, suicide, self-harm, the whole nine yards. It’s distressing and disgusting, and beautiful.
Virche Evermore -ErroR: Salvation- Review – Visuals and Audio
The art is done by Yomi, who also illustrated Ken ga Kimi, (a popular otome title yet to be released in English), and as shown above, looks nothing short of stellar.
Some of the in-game tracks I found myself putting on repeat just to enjoy while doing other household activities. We get a variety of tunes from wub wub techno, chilling violins, Latin choirs, to gentle piano melodies. I do wish there had been a couple more tracks for such a meaty game though. You can hear a bit of the opening here in this teaser:
If you’re a fan of dark, Byronic romance and a branching murder to solve all packaged in absolutely stunning Gothic art, please give Virche a shot. It’s one of my favourite games of the year.
So, why should you play Virche Evermore: Error Salvation?
- Themes of religion, sin and salvation in a Gothic murder mystery appeal to you
- You like reading meaty gothic horror novels
But why shouldn’t you play Virche Evermore: Error Salvation?
- The game is something of a Tragedy Train (™), so if you’re averse to violence, gore, depictions of abuse and other distressing content, it would be best to give this title a miss
- The romance is not the main focus
- No gameplay. Nada. Nope.
A review code was kindly provided by the publisher for the purpose of our Virche Evermore -ErroR: Salvation- review. If you enjoyed this, be sure to check out more of our visual novel reviews and join the Qualbert Discord to chat with us about the latest releases!