Overview – developed by Dharker Studios and published by Gamuzumi, Highschool Romance is an unconventional romance visual novel set in an all-girls boarding school. There are multiple choices to make, potential romances to pursue and several possible endings to unlock. This title is available on Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4 and PlayStation 5, links to each version of the game will be at the bottom of this review.
Disclaimer: before I get into the review, I would like to thank Gamuzumi for providing the copy of Highschool Romance that was used for this piece. The provision of this software has not influenced the contents of this review, all thoughts and opinions contained within are my own.
Content Warning: due to the content and themes present in this release, this title may not be appropriate for all audiences and young children. Highschool Romance contains sexual themes and sexually suggestive imagery that may not be suitable for all audiences, discretion is advised when proceeding.
Now with the introductions out of the way, let’s get into the review, starting with the story of Highschool Romance.
Story – it is the start of the final year of high school for Shoji, a boy who has been moving between schools for most of his life. However, due to a mix-up by his parents, he has been accepted to an all-girls boarding school. Fortunately, the principal has a solution to this strange crisis, but what would have become a dream come true to many is actually a lot more complicated. Now in this unusual situation, can Shoji survive, make friends or even find love?
Gameplay – Highschool Romance follows the traditional formula that most Visual Novels employ, with a story line that will change as the player makes choices at divergence points. The outcome of each choice that the player makes has the potential to change the story in either a positive or negative way, possibly altering the way that the characters react to the main character.
Like many other Visual Novels, the choices that the player makes can also cause special CG art scenes to appear or be skipped, meaning that important parts of the plot for a specific route can be skipped. The dialogue options that are selected can heavily impact the route that takes place, including romance scenes and some suggestive CG scenes happening during a story route.
With the potential for multiple story outcomes, art scenes and endings encourages players to explore different choices to see what can happen with each of the character plotlines. The chance to see new CG art, uncover different outcomes, character scenes and possible romances makes this a rewarding experience that has just the right amount of length to the narrative.
Presentation – the art style for this release is pleasing, using a hybrid cartoon/manga style which allows this title to have its own unique presence. The character designs and reactions, CG scenes and backgrounds are drawn fantastically, with a traditional Japanese aesthetic being used for certain locations and scenes.
There are occasional typos and errors that occur during the course of the game, but it is not a big deal and doesn’t affect the experience. The soundtrack is pleasant to listen to with a mix of musical styles that work well for their scenes. The only negative is the lack of voice acting, but it doesn’t detract from the quality of the overall narrative, but does weaken the impact of some more intimate scenes.
Final Thoughts – I enjoyed the story and presentation of Highschool Romance. The characters are well fleshed out with their own unique personalities, character traits and plotlines to explore. The quality of the story pulled me in and made me want to explore the different plot threads available, trying out each of the options to see what happens in the end.
While there are some very minor mistakes with spelling and grammar, the only significant issue that I had with the way that the story is told is that internal dialogue for the protag is lacking a distinction from external dialogue. However, I can still recommend this release as it is a charming story, with many twists, turns and even comedy to the unconventional setting and themes in this title.
In the end, I give Highschool Romance a final score of 4/5. This is an excellent visual novel with a unique setting, a cast of charming characters that stand out on their own and multiple endings that encourage going through the story more than once. If you want to check this game out for yourself, links to each version of the game are below.
Link to Nintendo Switch version (HERE)
Link to PlayStation version (HERE)