Once again I am diving head first into another period drama BL visual novel. I loved Ertal Games’s debut title A Hand in the Darkness, so I was excited to discover that another developer, Studio Pieplus had released a similar title back in 2017. Beyond Eden was just what I needed. The game trades in the posh private school setting for an out of the way country estate of Ashgrove, home to the Baron William Edenic and his sons. But, behind closed doors, the Edenic family is hiding dark secrets that could prove detrimental to the Baron and his family if the public were to learn of their past misdeeds. Alex Wake, the former ward of the Edenic family has been biding his time and amassing wealth of his own and now he is on his way back to Ashgrove in order to exact revenge against the Baron and his family! He has been holding a grudge for 10 long years and he won’t be satisfied until all the Edenics are brought to their knees.
*Moderate NSFW images*
There are some similarities between A Hand in the Darkness and Beyond Eden; they’re both set in the Victorian era and and funnily enough, both games have a protagonist named Alex… coincidence? However, that’s where the similarities end, Beyond Eden is a wholly different experience that is quite unlike any other game I have played before. Most games will have you step into the shoes of the hero of the story, every now and again they’ll spice things up with an anti-hero or two, but in Beyond Eden, Alex Wake is most definitely the villain of the story. His arrival at Ashgrove isn’t a pleasant visit, he is on a mission to tear down every member of the Edenic family by any means necessary… and since this is a BL game you can imagine just how far Alex is willing to go to reach his goal. This is a story of revenge, so if you are looking for a sugary sweet rose colored romance, Beyond Eden is not the game for you.
Alex may be the “bad guy” in all of this, but the game does a great job of making him a sympathetic character overall by delving into the events that fuel his rage towards the Edenics. In fact, it’s safe to say that everyone in Beyond Eden fits into this nebulous middle ground, where no one is completely to blame for the events of the past nor are they completely blameless. When everything about the past is laid bare, and all is said and done, it is difficult to determine whether the Edenics really deserve to be punished for their mistakes. On the other side of things, we have Alex committing a series of deplorable acts in the name of his justice, but it is clear that his hatred for the Edenics is burden that is slowly consuming him. Even when he does manage to get his revenge, it’s not viewed as a victory, because it is clear that Alex has no purpose or direction after he completes his mission, which ultimately makes him the most tragic character in the game. Haunted by his past, consumed with rage, and unable to move on from the past, Alex is meant to be pitied and that gives many of the routes a bittersweet twinge to them.
There are six routes total, five “romance” routes and one friendship route. Each one offers a different take on Alex’s revenge plot while also uncovering a new aspect of Alex’s past with the Edenics. Studio Pieplus masterfully weaves together each perspective to ultimately reveal the larger story of each character and their role in the events of the past. Since this is a BL game, there is some sexual content and forewarning most if not all of the sexual encounters between Alex and the various “love interests” are non consensual. Four of the “romance” routes (Oscar, Joshua, Morris, and Theodore) depict scenes of rape or forced sexual content. Whereas, Laurence’s route has one consensual sex scene towards the end, and thankfully there is no sexual contact between Jeremy and Alex in his route, since he is a child. Yaoi and BL media is known for it’s dubious consent when it comes to sex, and I want to stress that it is by no means meant to be a “good” thing in Beyond Eden. The earlier sexual encounters are particularly unsettling since they involve Alex forcing himself on or manipulating one of the Edenic sons into sleeping with him. The most cringeworthy one occurs in Joshua’s route, since he is crippled, he is essentially helpless to fight off Alex’s advances. Though as the routes progress the nature of the sexual encounters transform from an act of violence to something that is supposed to be viewed as mildly romantic.
The writing is phenomenal, Beyond Eden is an intriguing story full of drama, revenge, romance (though YMMV), intrigue, and even suspense. Studio Pieplus does a phenomenal job at bringing together the plot points in each route to create this beautifully crafted story that stays with you long after the credits roll. Each route has “Good” Endings, Bad Enings, and some even have Neutral Endings; and each one feels like a fitting conclusion to Alex’s journey. Whether he chooses to exact his revenge or not, none of the 17 endings feels out of place for the characters or the story Studio Pieplus is trying to tell. As an extension of that each of the characters are written to be fully fleshed out individuals that don’t always fit into one specific trope.
Oscar is the heir to the Edenic family title and spends most of his time cleaning up the messes of his family members (usually Edward). Joshua has spent years being neglected by his father and desperately wants to earn his affections. Edward, while not romanceable, is impulsive and prone to making bad decisions. Morris is a long time friend of the Baron and the family’s personal physician and while he is kindhearted, he turns a blind eye to the misdeeds of the family. Theodore is the family’s butler and while he is a “friend” to Alex, his allegiance to Edenics is problematic. The youngest son Jeremy is this little ray of sunshine beloved by all and adored by his father. And lastly, the Baron… he’s almost like a specter that haunts the house, his appearances vary from route to route, but he vacillates between being a malevolent figure to one that is just as sympathetic as the rest of the cast…The characters are really where Beyond Eden shines, as each relationship adds depth to the story, not to mention the great chemistry.
Like I mentioned earlier, none of the characters is completely innocent nor are they guilty for the events of the past. Everyone has made mistakes, it’s up to us to determine whether or not their “sins” are worthy of Alex’s punishments. There are even times where Alex admits that Morris, the family doctor, and Theodore, the butler have never done anything personally harmful to him and yet he later decides to punish them anyway. Jeremy the youngest Edenic child is continually offered up as this cherubic figure in the game and in his own route, Alex even has trouble doing anything explicitly evil to the boy. In Oscar’s route, Alex’s grudge is based solely on their actions when they were children and in Joshua’s route he straight up states that he always liked Joshua and is only “punishing him” because he is a member of the Edenic family. My favorite endings were the ones where Alex does get his revenge but ultimately discovers that doing so is empty and unfulfilling. But, really each ending has its own merits, so I highly recommend playing them all to get a better feel for the characters and the story.
The art is absolutely stunning, there is a refreshingly refined feel to the character designs that does a great job at reflecting the Victorian setting of the game. The men are all dressed in fancy coats and ties, and I really like how there is a differentiation between the colder characters and the younger ones. As the oldest son, Oscar’s attire is much more elaborate and eye catching, similar to that of the Baron. Whereas the younger boys have less adornments on their clothing and more boyish ties. Alex who isn’t as affluent as the Edenics has a much more simplistic outfit, however it is still elegant. Surprisingly for a BL game, there are female characters and their designs are just as lavish, with their flowing dresses and air of refinement. The backgrounds capture the picturesque aesthetics of the Victorian countryside, from the lush forests and gardens to the richly adorned halls of Ashgrove. The CGs are all gorgeous and for an added bonus, players can explore some of them with a neat Interactive element that unlocks certain dialogues and details about the scene they depict. There are even some that are reminiscent of point and click investigative games, which give players the chance to uncover clues. The game is censored, however, the angles of some of the CGs kind of naturally hide all of the naughty bits. There was only one blowjob CG in Theodore’s where I could clearly see that the naughty bits were pixelated.
Beyond Eden is fully voiced in Korean and the voice cast is absolutely perfect and they do a phenomenal job of bringing these character to life! The intimate scenes are also voiced, so you may wanna play with headphones or keep the volume low if you’re around people. However, there was one teeny tiny thing I noticed… Beyond Eden is a Korean game that was translated into English, and while the translation is pretty clean, I did notice a few grammatical errors and typos. They weren’t enough to take away from my enjoyment of the game, but they are noticeably worse the further you get in some routes…
I really enjoyed Pieplus’s Beyond Eden. It has an engaging story with enough twists and turns to keep you captivated for hours on end and a cast of characters that are as intriguing as they are nuanced. Alex and particular is a multifaceted character with dubious intent, but he isn’t wholly unlikeable. There is something captivating about a protagonist with less than savory intentions that I kind of wish more games would take this approach. The love interests (and I use that term lightly) are all equally unique, both on their own and as players in the overarching story.
Of course, Beyond Eden is not without it’s shortcomings, however it is easy to over look those in favor of everything else the game does right. Though, the non consensual sexual encounters may be triggering for some people. But, if you’re okay with a bit of non-con, the story is definitely worth picking up! I LOVED THIS GAME!!
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