Can a romantic novel, a book that takes the reader through a series of emotions, translate into a fulfilling gameplay experience? Canadian studio Silicon Sisters, based in Vancouver, B.C., believes it can. With its interactive novel EverLove having launched just a few weeks ago, the statistics don’t lie— the answer to that question seems to be a resounding ‘yes’ for the studio’s audience as well.
The game puts you in the shoes of Rose, a young girl undergoing therapy in New York. Haunted by nightmares and seeking to put an end to them, Rose undergoes a form of hypnosis with the help of Dr. Alys, and is projected into the medieval-fantasy world of Heart’s Home (because home is where the heart is, right?). Rose remains in this new world but she is faced with political intrigue, as well as romantic suitors vying for her heart.
Although the game encourages you to indulge in your quest for love, the multiple choices you make in these conversations directly impact your relationships with these characters, and you’ll find that each of those striving for your attention have very distinct personalities and react in consequence to the traits that you, as a player, find most valuable in a person. Thinking critically may earn you points towards a specific companion, while a romantic response may win over a more delicate, aloof character.
The game is reminiscent of a choose-your-own-adventure book but skips out on the tedious death mechanic and even gives you the ability to rewind conversations if you find yourself unhappy with your choices. This gives you a fairly large amount of control over the direction you take the game, to the point of almost feeling like you’re cheating at times. Though this mechanic makes sense in terms of game design, it does take away some of the impact of making a bad decision. Interspersed in these delightful interactions is also a few hidden-object, point and click/touch games that have you hunting around for ingredients to craft potions, and finding crumpled scraps of paper to reconstruct later down the line. This provides a good break from the dialogue of the game and allows you to reflect a little bit on the previous scenes.
When interviewing the company’s CEO and project lead, Brenda Bailey Gershkovitch, she revealed that some of the difficulties during the development time had to do with the game’s writing.
“Romance is really tough,” she said. “It’s an established style, the voice is quite similar between novels. It’s highly descriptive, and quite verbose and it doesn’t translate into games.” The initial writing direction, where a romance writer was to be used, had to be scrapped in favour of a game-writer instead, a move that proved very successful despite the delays in development time.
Although the primary demographic isn’t aimed at students, EverLove provides the perfect blend between romantic literature and casual gaming. It bridges the age gap between those who primarily consume either medium, and creates an experience that is bound to be appealing. Even though the game may be marketed towards women, men who don’t mind playing the seduction game will still find an appealing experience. The involved dialogue is not necessarily gender-specific, and it’s easy to find yourself lost in the game’s beautiful, hand-drawn visuals.
The game can be completed in approximately two to three hours but perfectionists who want to explore every different path the game has to offer are looking at up to 10 hours of gameplay. You can download EverLove on the Android app store and Apple’s AppStore for $3.99. A PC release is coming soon, but no set date has been announced as of yet. You can check out more information about Brenda Bailey Gershkovitch and Silicon Sisters at siliconsisters.ca