It’s not often that there’s a yaoi protagonist that feels similar to a Shakespearean tragic hero. One has a character with lots of negative traits. He’s revenge-obsessed like Hamlet and an asshole, like Othello’s Iago. That man is Alex Wake, the antihero of the Korean BL visual novel, Beyond Eden. He might not be the murderous type, but he’ll do anything to bring the Edenic household to their knees and into the depths of despair.
Beyond Eden is a boys' love visual novel developed and published by Studio Pieplus. The game takes place in Victorian era England. You play as Alex Wake, a man who has spent 12 years planning his revenge against the Edenic family for the suicide of his older sister, or very distant cousin — Alex just calls her his sister. As you progress through the game, the choices you make will decide who you plan to take your revenge out on first. That will place you on that character’s route and lead to multiple endings.
Beyond Eden is well written when it comes to the story. Everything was planned carefully and, seeing how all the routes are connected together, you can see that a lot of thought was put into how the mysteries were revealed without feeling far-fetched. The story would point out hints earlier in the game and how they were relevant to the plot, and not just small talk used to show the relationships between characters. The story fits nicely. It’s lengthy and there’s at most 30 hours worth of gameplay if you complete all 17 endings. The beginning of the story starts off slow to introduce you to the characters and setting, but once Alex puts his revenge plans into motion, the plot escalates. Alex’s revenge and mental savagery are what truly drive this visual novel.
Alex is a very vengeful character with barely any redeeming qualities. He’s cunning, cruel, manipulative, and a horrible person. For some people, this could be a turnoff, but this is not your sweet and fluffy yaoi visual novel. It’s expected to be dark and tragic. Alex makes a great tragic hero and a lot of his statements can be delightfully cruel. He is not above kicking someone when they are down, or in this case, bent over with his dick penetrating their insides. One of the best examples is when Alex is about to rape Morris, the Edenic family doctor. Morris pleads with Alex, saying he has a wife. Knowing that Morris is in the middle of being divorced by his wife, Alex says “Not anymore,” before thrusting into him.
The other characters were well written too. They were understandable and the interactions between them and Alex showed what kind of relationship he might have had with them in the past. You could say it’s like meeting old friends that you haven’t spoken to in years. You compare their past self with this new one and see how much they changed. Slowly, the story reveals how the Edenics came to be the people they are today. It’s also enjoyable to compare Alex with these characters and see how two different personalities collide. I would say one of the best interactions with Alex were Jeremy and Laurence. Jeremy naive innocence is a nice counter to Alex’s corrupted personality and Laurence makes a great foil to Alex’s plans.
One of the key features Beyond Eden has is interactive mode. Interactive mode is an optional section where you are given a magnifying glass and you can move it around during a scene for more detail and dialogue. It’s more related to observations that Alex would make about what is happening. Move the magnifying glass over a character’s clothes and he would describe the person’s body or make a comment to that person. Move it over a pair of bound wrists and he would talk about how it feels to be tied up like that. Interactive mode just gives more fluff text and dialogue. It doesn’t take away from the visual novel, but it doesn’t add much either. It is nice to get a feel for how Alex observes everything and everyone, but it only served as a useful mechanic once or twice in the game.
A notable example is when Alex was trying to find out what was strange or suspicious about the room he was in. At that point, it felt more like interactive mode had a legitimate purpose in the game. It was used often for Alex’s observations, but it would have been nicer if there were more moments where you were searching for things and information in the game, as part of the plot revolves around what happened in the past and the mysteries surrounding the death of Alex’s sister. Those plot relevant interactive sections only happened close to the end of one of the routes, but it would have been fun to have more investigative moments.
There was some voice acting in Beyond Eden, but only in the important scenes. When I started playing the game, there was voice acting, but after a few scenes, it just stopped. I thought I had an audio problem or something was wrong with the settings. Turns out, that was just how the game was. When it comes to voice acting in a visual novel, I think you either have it for all the dialogue or have it in small sounds clips during the menial parts of the story and use full voice acting for the important parts of the plot or character development. While it is nice to have voice acting in a visual novel, it is jarring to have it suddenly turn off without warning and it can ruin the immersion.
Based on the voice acting it did have, I’d say everyone was well cast. They seemed believable and the voices complimented each character. Voice acting for the H-scenes were mostly good. Oscar was amazingly voiced and worked well as both the seme and uke. When Oscar was bottomed by Alex, his slutty moans were an amazing change of pace compared to Oscar’s usual serious, stern attitude. It was a joy to watch him break down into a horny mess. The voice actor definitely went all out in his role.
The music was good for the most part, but it could get annoying when the background music wouldn’t loop properly. Once it reached the end of the song, the music would fade until it was completely silent. After half a second the music would start up from the very beginning. The background music’s nice flow would just end and start back up again. Aside from that, the soundtrack was nice to listen to. I loved the music during the end credits the most. The vocals were nice, and I liked how a different song and credit video played depending on the type of ending. I definitely want to listen to those on the soundtrack.
The art for Beyond Eden is great. It matches the 19th century Victorian England theme and the art has a slight old-fashioned feel to it. One of the downsides regarding the art is that the H-scenes are done in a way that censors them. There are no black bars or mosaics, it’s just that you don’t see anything. A character would be giving a blowjob and the angle of the scene wouldn’t show the dick. I feel that this was done intentionally, but one expects to see sexual organs in an adult game. I believe that the artist could have drawn a penis, then censor it. At least put something there so it feels more like these guys are genuinely fucking each other. Besides that, the art is beautiful, and the way it's colored gives it a nice, painted look.
When you finish all the routes in Beyond Eden, bonus content is unlocked, such as CG galleries and re-playable scenes. There is even a bonus episode that you can play. Unlike most of the game, this episode is more lighthearted, comedic, and breaks the fourth wall a lot — similar to an omake or bonus that appears in manga or manhwa. It's fun to see the characters being over the top and making fun of themselves. The best joke would have to be how Edward Edenic, who had the biggest hard-on for Alex throughout the game and was practically throwing himself at him, complains about not getting a route at all. Every time he tries to get close and intimate with Alex, he gets cockblocked by events that happen in other routes.
All in all, I'd say that Beyond Eden is a pretty good visual novel with well-written story and lots of mysteries to solve. It's extremely engaging and leaves you thinking about how everything connects together. It's one of those visual novels where you have to play every route to understand all the mysteries surrounding Alex's sister and the Edenic household. The art is nice, but I would have preferred the H-scene CGs to be more graphic instead of articulately drawn so you know sex is happening but you don't get to see anything. One thing that I really want is to see a route with Edward. Based on the special episode, the developers are aware of this and might take it into consideration. I'll be crossing my fingers for more bonus content.
If you are interested in playing Beyond Eden, you can buy it on Steam for $34.99.