Today I’m reaching out to give you all a recommendation for a visual novel. The title is difficult to google because it’s a popular name for songs, bands, etc. It’s not even the only game on steam with this title, so to save you some trouble, the game is here.
ENIGMA: is about a man who washes to shore on an isolated island. His name is Chester, and Chester is going to die. He’s terminal with an illness called Enigma, and there’s nothing left for him except to enjoy what time he has remaining. He settles in on the island to spend his final days in peace, meeting a few new people and trying to let go.
The story reads like BL, with many of Chester’s meaningful relationships forming around other men. However, nothing seems to last long enough to become romantic, thanks to the limited time he has remaining.
If you want a lovely little story that will make you cry, check out ENIGMA:. If you’re not yet sold, feel free to continue reading.
The following steps a bit into spoiler territory, so read on at your own risk.
ENIGMA: is a light fantasy story that meditates on tragedy. It’s about losses that bring people down, and losses that inspire people forward.
The VN opens on a children’s storybook depicting a typical RPG party, where Chester says he once dreamed about being a fairy tale hero, and decided he wasn’t up to the task. Much of the narrative involves Chester talking about heroes, and how in giving up on his own heroism, he’s looking for one that he can follow.
As you peel away the layers of the story, you learn about an event that happened on the island in the past. Once upon a time, a fantasy RPG party went to the island to destroy an ancient evil and save the day — but they failed. Their shortcomings led to a stall, where the evil still exists and nothing is being done. Chester comes in to the story as a tragic example of what people are suffering thanks to that failure.
ENIGMA: is an interesting meditation on a part of a story that we never see. It’s not about the origin story about how the evil dark powers came to be. It’s not about the heroes who came to save the day. It’s a quiet daily life of someone who stumbled into the middle of that. It’s an exploration of the moment when things changed, and the people involved became ready to try again. At the end of the epilogue, the real hero arrives: the one who will lead them and truly save the world in a game that has a different story, and one that is a different genre altogether.
ENIGMA: is a puzzle piece that bridges two different stories together, attaching the long ago legend to the revolutionary future to come. The story is small and modest (probably being lost under the shadow of those two other events in any other circumstance) but is significant to the characters involved. Off-duty heroes also have to eat, after all. They fish, do laundry, gather herbs in the woods, share their lives and fall in love. And that’s what ENIGMA: is.
It’s not a perfect game, or a perfect story even. It might not be for you. But it is a good one goddamn it and it makes me excited about these little unexplored moments of a story where fanfiction usually lives.