[VN] Hikari no Umi no Apeiria

景の海のアペイリア

A thrilling visual novel that somehow seamlessly combines time travel, hard quantum mechanics, and a guy who literally fights enemies with his dick into a fantastic ride of scientific mystery and adventure.

Release: 2017 (Silky’s Plus Dolce)
Writers: Hanno Shuusei (Ano Harewataru Sora yori Takaku)
Japanese difficulty: Hard
English: None
Ratings: VNDB (7.91); EGS (8.21)

Visual Novel

I’ve never read any works of Hanno Shuusei, though I was aware of him due to his first work, Harewataru, ranking #2 on egs in 2014.

Well, now I’m definitely marking him down as an author to keep an eye on, as Apeiria might as well turn out to be my GOTY of 2017.

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The plot follows a guy who works on developing artificial intelligence in relatively near future. One day lightning strikes his genomic computer and his AI program suddenly seems to develop self-awareness and subjective emotions.

He uses her to create a virtual reality game where he could meet her in the flesh, and then… the usual ensues, it bugs out, people get stuck inside, and start dying in the real life.

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So far, other than the AI, the game sounds like a SAO rip-off (shudder), but this is only where things are just getting started. All sorts of weird shit follow suit with very time falling apart and getting stuck into a loop it all actually makes sense once it’s explained with university level lectures on quantum mechanics.

Anyway, once that happens, the protagonist sets out an a quest to solve just what the hell is happening with the world by investigating weird phenomena, turning his dick and libido into lethal weapons in virtual reality, and playing thrilling mind games with a shady guy with a mask that seems to have his own plans for the AI network that fucked up the world.

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The protagonist is absolutely amazing. The virtual reality he’s stuck in allows people to channel their passions into special powers, and so he uses his unhinged sex drive to achieve all sorts of insane feats.

Most other characters would come off as creeps doing as much perverted stuff as he does, but his extremely sharp wit and the fact he always treats himself with utmost seriousness makes him come off like some sort of perverted version of Lelouch from Code Geass.

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It’s beyond ridiculous, but the fights in this game both fire and crack you up. Sometimes it’s hard to tell if you should be letting out warcries or rolling on the floor laughing, but it somehow never seems to clash in a negative way.

It’s been a while since I enjoyed battle scenes in a visual novel so much, and they’re not even the focus of Apeiria experience.

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It’s definitely the hard sci-fi mystery and protagonist’s mind games with Thinker that take the cake. I don’t think I was bored even for a minute from the beginning to the end, and I simply couldn’t put the VN down until I finally figured everything out.

In fact, the romantic parts of the heroine routes felt like a distraction, nearly making me skim through them despite the fact I actually liked the girls quite a bit.

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Apeiria of the Twilight Sea is a must-read for anyone who enjoys a good mystery. It may not be the most profound visual novel around, but it certainly takes you on one hell of a wild ride.

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Oh yeah, and this seems to be one of the very few eroge that actually knows how to pace its ero scenes. It never felt like there were too many just next to each other, and you start getting them almost right from the start. I haven’t been this satisfied with a game on that point since Evenicle.

Positive:
Negative:
Attractive character designs, especially in CGs
Character sprites somehow look worse than their CG counterparts
A good selection of tense, mysterious and driven action music
Heroine routes and romance feel like a frustrating distraction from the mystery
Interesting, relatively near-future setting that focuses on AIs and virtual reality
The ending feels a bit half-baked, as though an epilogue was missing or something
Likable characters
Doesn’t attempt doing anything particularly profound or thought-provoking
Awesome protagonist
Awesome villain
Enthralling plot full of mind-blowing twists
Genuinely funny comedy
Relatively good pacing (except the heroine routes)
A very well thought-out mystery that comes together perfectly in the end
Immersing and absolutely hilarious fighting scenes
Lots of involving, tense, and smart mind games
Grounded in legitimate science (quantum mechanics)
The ero scenes are paced extremely well
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