From the title and cute picture alone, you’re probably thinking that this is some anime-styled dating simulator and are judging both me, and my life choices. Let me assure you, this game is literally not what you expect; if you choose to experience it, you’ll be in for a wild, freaky and mind-bending ride. First, let’s get two major points down. First of all, this game is short, it’ll only take you around four-five hours to complete; maybe three if you’re a fast reader. Second of all, this game is absolutely free. Yes, you read that right. The producer was well aware most people like yourself would probably dismiss a game that appears cute and innocent on the surface. Hence why he made this free to download from both steam and the game’s website. Hopefully these reasons are enough for you to at least begrudgingly install the game and see for yourself what it’s about.
Once you load up the game, you’re greeted to a content warning, advising you not to play if you’re below thirteen or are emotionally sensitive. Given the home screen and the charming music, this seems unusual and curious. You dismiss it for the time and start playing. For the first two hours or so, the game plays like a fairly light-hearted and joyful visual novel. You join a high school literature club and yes, you have the option of ‘dating’ some of the characters. For what it’s worth, this part of the game is sweet and charmful, making you let your guard down and get involved in the story and atmosphere.
Then, almost out of the blue, an event takes place which I guarantee will shock you. In fact, it startled everyone who has played this game. The game builds up to it really well, with foreboding dialogue and a slow drop in music intensity. It is honestly a very ‘What the F-’ moment, made brilliant by the fact that it just shows up when you’re not really expecting it.
After this point, the game shows its true colours and begins to take a more dark and trippy direction. The game does a great job showcasing its true nature with features like visual glitches, characters acting stranger and the music becoming distorted, all of which put you on the edge. At one point, you even lose control of the mouse and the game forces you towards a certain option. Things begin to go more and more out of control, literally and figuratively, with almost psychotropic plot developments which both haunt and intrigue you.
Another noteworthy thing is the clever way the game breaks the fourth wall at times. At various points, files show up in your game’s file directory which reference events that have happened or foreshadow developments to come. At a certain point, you actually have to delete a file in order to progress in the game. The story also develops in a way that you’ll need to reinstall it to play again.
This is a psychologically thrilling game that no one was expecting, but all its players enjoyed. It might be actual gameplay-lite but that only makes it more accessible to people and doesn’t take away from the experience in the slightest. I thoroughly recommend playing this game, especially if you like a unique story; just make sure you don’t do it on a bad day.
Studio: Team Salvato. Director: Dan Salvato. Genre: Visual-novel Platforms: Microsoft Windows, macOS, Linux