The AAA gaming season might be wrapping up, but Visual Novel Season never ends! We’ve got new ones coming in left and right, so I’ve been reading through quite a few different stories lately. This also means that I’ve been taking a look at some of the available VNs I might not otherwise consider for myself, such as otome titles Amnesia: Memories or Code: Realize – Guardian of Rebirth; we’ve got another one of those today in crossdressing fantasy Highschool Romance.
Highschool Romance is the story of Shoji, a guy who ends up at an all-girls school. It’s still an all-girls school, technically, since Shoji needs to dress up as a girl to try and pass under the radar. It doesn’t take long before the sort of hijinks you’d expect from this situation begin, though it’s noteworthy that Shoji is much better at concealing his, er, identity than the typical protagonist in this situation, so it doesn’t really come up as often as you’d think.
This is a full on VN instead of a kinetic novel, so long story short, Shoji can end up with either or both of two classmates – bubbly blonde Selina or nerdy Hoshi – as well as Principal Lea Rowen herself. These are also really the only characters who show up or do much during the plot. I ended up preferring Selina’s path as she was a little more interesting than the others; Lea’s, meanwhile, was a bit more explicit which felt a tad awkward in a game that’s not sold as that sort of thing.
Highschool Romance is pretty clearly attempting to appeal to a particular fandom, and in that sense it’s a successful VN. Generally speaking, though, it doesn’t really stand out if you don’t really want to read something about crossdressers. The art style is a little odd, as it’s a sort of anime-but-not-anime deal that doesn’t feel entirely cohesive. Characters’ noses and mouths in particular tend to flirt a bit with the Uncanny Valley, and Shoji himself never looks quite right…which I guess is kind of the point. The writing fares better and I didn’t encounter anything that read especially poorly, though the game is clearly written toward its intended audience. There also isn’t any voice acting to speak of, but that’s not especially unusual for the genre.
As a player who isn’t quite in the target demographic here, it’s a little difficult to speak to whether or not Highschool Romance is a successful story. It’s fairly short at around an hour and a half and never felt especially boring, but you’ll certainly get more out of it if you’re interested in this particular kink. As such, it’s an easy recommendation – I can’t be down on a game that knows what it wants to do, then goes and does it.