I plan to do a real review/write-up of this once I'm satisfied and feel I've completed it, but this game is much better than I ever thought it would be. I saw some footage of another Overflow game (the company that made it) and the animation was really poor quality and mostly non-existent. Every scene dragged on forever and it didn't really seem like something I'd actually play. However, I love School Days so when I saw the premium edition on sale for $50, I picked it up. This is probably my favorite game of the year behind Mass Effect 3
Quick cool things about it:
- It's broken up into 6 episodes that are about 20-45 minutes each and these actually feel like you're watching an anime episode. To the point that every now and then I miss a story/dialog choice because I forget it even is a game. You're making about 3-10 choices per episode and each choice has to be made within 5 seconds or else your choice is indecision and the characters react accordingly. Much of the time with this is spent watching it like an anime.
- It feels like School Days. The characters are important and most of the screentime is devoted to developing them and their relationships.
- The animation is actually on par with medium quality tv anime. This is the second most surprising thing. I assumed it would be pretty terrible but it's actually on par with a mid quality anime series, which makes it very watchable and enjoyable. I often forget that I'm even playing a game due to this (as well as most of it being passive)
- It's not identical to the show, so it feels fresh.
- It has graphic porn scenes but it doesn't feel like the game is straight up porn and while some of it is gratuitous, the setups for it make sense. There are scenes where characters have sex but the sex is never shown, so there is some understanding by the devs that games is about more than just onscreen penetration and there is some degree of moderation.
- The first two episodes play out the same, but depending on your choices, things get radically different. I don't mean some Mass Effect type of thing where the changes don't really matter, character get replaced with generic versions that fulfill the same role, etc. The story radically alters to the point where FMA vs FMA Brotherhood is about the only real comparison that adequately captures how different things can get.
I've said this here before, but it's really hard for me to rewatch or reread content that I've consumed unless it's spectacle based (which eliminated books). Discovering how the story plays out is a major draw and once I know that, it's impossible to recapture that enjoyment. For tv series, I can maybe rewatch one or two episodes before I feel like I'm wasting my time because I know exactly how this plays out and where it's going. What's awesome about School Days HQ is that it feels like a 6 episode anime series that I can watch over and over and the story is extremely different each time.
I'm loving it right now and it's a real eye opener for me. I call it a game but it really feels like an anime series. The level of interactivity built into DVD menus is enough to play this (although you'd need BD to be able to save progress if you ever wanted to quit and come back) so the gameplay is uber minimal. The flow is basically you make a dialog choice (indecision is also a valid option) and then you watch like 5-10 minutes of anime episode. Sometimes you might have to make like 3 choices within a two minute span, but usually it's a very passive tv-like experience, which makes the wildly divergent scenes even better.
The biggest thing I can say is that playing this makes me look at my anime collection and wish that more series had interactive experiences like this. I think this level of interactivity could be applied to practically any genre.