The Muv-Luv Alternative Total Eclipse anime series that debuted in 2012 was the first exposure to the Muv-Luv series for many Western fans, but finally the visual novel was released in English.
It’s worth noting that this isn’t the usual scenario with the visual novel spawning the anime series, which is usually summed up and oversimplified. Things are a bit more complex and you can read all about it in our recent interview with the creators.
That being said, the visual novel offers a much deeper and broader view of the story compared to the anime, which ends pretty much halfway through the story. With this game you finally get the big picture.
I should say the whole thing “almost” because this English language Steam release doesn’t include the Burning of the Imperial Capital bonus prologue that was added to the Japanese PC version after launch on consoles.
So a common piece of advice you’ll hear from many Muv-Luv veterans is to watch the first two episodes of the anime before playing this visual novel, and that’s very good advice.
The more relevant question is, of course, “Should you play the original trilogy before playing Total Eclipse?”
While one could say that TE is, at least in principle, designed to be enjoyed independently, I would argue that starting with the original three games (available on Steam as Muv-Luv, which includes the first two chapters, and Muv -Luv alternative) is still the recommended way. It offers a narrower and more focused and personal approach to this fantastical sci-fi world, and it makes a lot more sense to me to start narrow to broaden your lens afterwards.
Table of Contents
Muv-Luv Alternative Total Eclipse : Story
The story takes place in a similar time frame to Muv-Luv Alternative Total Eclipse, in an alternate version of Earth where humanity has been pushed to the brink of annihilation by the invasion of ruthless aliens known as BETA. The vast majority of Europe and Asia, along with most of their populations, have been lost to the invaders.
Nevertheless, thanks to the creation of “Tactical Surface Fighters” (or “TSF” for short), humanity is holding on to mechas born from the need to fight the BETA on the surface, since the extreme anti-aircraft capabilities of the aliens have made aviation an instrument of attack completely outdated.
In this regard, the United Nations is organizing Project Prominence at Yukon Base, Alaska, with the aim of testing and further developing a variety of TSF and technologies built by different nations and finding the best suitability for the war against the BETA determine.
The hero, Yuuya Bridges, is a veteran Japanese-American test pilot assigned to the XFJ program, a joint initiative between the two countries to develop the XFJ-01 Shiranui Second TSF.
This is pretty much the perfect setting to expand the player’s perspective on the world of the Muv-Luv alternative, considering the original trilogy is set entirely in Japan and is mostly made up of Japan.
This new story demonstrates the fact that the Beta invasion is a global tragedy and the international occupation brings to the table the point of view of many nations with vastly different situations and interests.
For example, the hero grew up in the United States, which has remained relatively peaceful. While he often faces prejudice based on his ethnicity, this pales in comparison to the situation of many of his comrades, who hail from nations that no longer exist, whose populations have been almost completely wiped out. Other characters, like those from the Soviet Union (yes, this is an alternate universe, after all), have seen their land pushed back to the Pacific Ocean and forced to lease part of Alaska to house the remaining population.
This is one of Muv-Luv Alternative Total Eclipse’s strongest points, and one of the reasons why it’s better played after the trilogy. The transition from the narrow lens of Japan to the wider lens that sheds light on the situation around the world feels very natural and helps the player appreciate the depth and breadth of the Muv-Luv setting, which I personally consider to be one of the best scientific fi settings ever.
That’s not to say the story isn’t great on its own, because it definitely is. It comes with lots of drama, intrigue, politics, comedy, romance and much more. Like all the best muv luv visual novels, Total Eclipse is very rich with a variety of extremely serious themes alternating with brighter moments and has the power to emotionally involve the player on a very deep level.
While it didn’t emotionally devastate me like Muv-Luv Alternative, it certainly made me cry on more than one occasion.
The diverse cast of characters is really great, and you’ll likely find yourself developing a strong emotional connection with some of them, maybe even unexpected ones.
If you’ve already watched the anime series I won’t blame you if you found it a little superficial, but luckily this is one of those (very common) cases where the visual novella is radically more interesting and complex. while the characters are far more likable and multi-faceted.
It is certainly worth mentioning that the story goes much further than the anime series, which pretty much ends halfway. While we don’t have multiple routes, this is still a fairly large visual novel with plenty of content to enjoy.
While the story is as great as you’d expect from a Muv-Luv title, you probably shouldn’t go into the experience with any expectations of the gameplay, even compared to most visual novels. There are three choices throughout the whole thing, and they change very little.
The new interface added with the updated engine is functional and effective with your auto-read and skip options at the bottom of the screen, log on the left, and main menu on the right.
I still wish the developers added full rewind functionality to the log (including visuals), but that’s not available here. There is also a small issue with the full screen option not persisting when you Alt-Tab. These are elements that I hope the developers will take into account for the further development of the engine.
Another great aspect of the game is the music, which proves worthy of the Muv Luv legacy with plenty of memorable tunes that basically fit the story well at all times.
Speaking of the audio, we can’t talk about the voice acting, which is only in Japanese and features many star-level actors. As a result, the voice track is absolutely top-notch from start to finish. While I know not everyone shares this opinion, I haven’t regretted the lack of an English track in the entire story for a single second.
I’ve also noticed that the localization is generally of a higher quality compared to previous Muv-Luv games, certainly more faithful to the original without losing elegance. There are some decisions I don’t entirely agree with, but considering that localization is often more of an art than an exact science, it never will be.
Art is another strong point of Muv-Luv Alternative Total Eclipse. Character design is much more mature and solid compared to the original trilogy (not surprising given the time gap between their productions), and the characters feel lively, dynamic, and well-animated.
It’s in battles that the engine really shines, with very dynamic depictions of mecha combat (at least by the standards one would expect from a visual novel), often augmented with small anime-style clips.
This is topped off with one of the best mecha designs in gaming. It certainly goes to show that one of Total Eclipse’s original goals was to sell mecha figures and model kits. Commercial purposes are not always negative in art production.
Inspired by real-life fighter planes, the Tactical Surface Fighters remain at the absolute pinnacle of mecha design standards and the central Muv-Luv philosophy of bringing cool mechas to every country, whether piloted by hero characters, antagonists, or even simple ones Extras definitely pay off.
Ultimately, the visual novel is by far the best way to experience the story of Muv-Luv Alternative Total Eclipse and leave the anime far behind.
It’s also a real treat for fans of the Muv-Luv series who want to explore a broader glimpse into the world of this fantastic sci-fi visual novel franchise with a strong story topped with great audio and solid graphics .
That being said, I would definitely advise playing the original trilogy before moving on to Total Eclipse.
Muv-Luv Alternative Total Eclipse: advantages
- A great story that offers a broader look into the world of Muv-Luv Alternative and shows the potential for further expansion.
- A strong and diverse cast of likeable characters.
- Nice art, especially on the mecha design side.
- The voice acting is top notch.
Muv-Luv Alternative Total Eclipse: Disadvantages
- No routes or real turnoffs in the story.
- The full screen option is fiddly.
- The Burning Imperial Capital bonus prologue is not included.
Muv-Luv Alternative Total Eclipse: release date
July 21, 2022
Muv-Luv Alternative Total Eclipse: developer
Muv-Luv Alternative Total Eclipse: publisher
consoles Muv-Luv Alternative Total Eclipse Available on