Developer: 0verflow, Sekai Project
Publisher: JAST USA
Release Date: June 28, 2012 (out now)
ESRB: N/A (18+ recommended)
School Days was considered pretty revolutionary at its time, and still could be considered so. It even went on to spawn other media releases like an anime and manga series. One of the reasons that the visual novel became so popular is that the whole game is completely animated. How often do you see that? That fact may lure many into checking the visual novel out, but you might still be skeptical about the other elements of School Days HQ. Does its story, characters, and so-forth meld together with its animation to make a worthwhile game?
School Days HQ is another one of those slice-of-life visual novels. Our protagonist is a second-year high school student named Makoto Ito, and his life gets incredibly dramatic when pinned between two girls. While Makoto has already had his eyes on one of the girls, Kotonoha Katsura, you can make the choice to go after the other girl, Sekai Saionji. At first, it might sound like a typical high school story, but School Days HQ has a bunch of paths and endings that will make your head spin with how crazy they are.
There are over twenty endings for School Days HQ. While some of them are tame, the ones that you“re really going to want to go after are the tragic and bad endings. They“re bloody, dark, intense, and well-worth going for. For those looking for the adult scenes, I“m happy to tell you there“s a boatload of them and they“re mostly unique for each path. The massive amount of endings and adult scenes that School Days HQ has will have you pouring in hours upon hours of gameplay time.
The girls, Kotonoha and Sekai, are great and believable characters. You“ll almost feel bad for going against and hurting either of them, depending on what decisions you make. Makoto, on the other hand, puts himself out as a dull and wishy-washy guy. Oftentimes, I would mentally yell at him for doing certain stupid things. It“s not that big of a deal, though.
The voice-acting for all of the characters is also done pretty well. Especially for Kotonoha and Sekai, as their voice actresses do an impeccable job to capture the emotion of the moment. However, with Makoto again, he is constantly mumbly and that doesn“t help his already boring demeanor. The music for School Days HQ is nothing too special, but I particularly enjoyed the songs that played during the endings for each chapter.
Now, School Days HQ feels more like an interactive movie than a visual novel, but that doesn“t mean it has minimal dialogue options. The game will give you choices very often, which will throw you down a bevy of different branching paths. When dialogue options do pop up, you have a time limit (that isn“t shown) to make a choice. You are not able to pause during this time. Even remaining silent and not choosing an option can sometimes count as making a specific choice. While it might be annoying for those who like to take the time to figure out what they want to do, it really makes you feel like you're in the moment and adds to the drama. In any case, you still have the ability to go backwards to the beginning of current part in case you mess up on a dialogue option. There are also different fast forwarding speeds and an auto-skip to go to the end of the current part that you“re on.
What about the animation that makes School Days HQ so unique? It definitely is something neat and different that enhances the experience and makes it feel like you“re actually watching an anime. However, the animation isn“t as high-quality as I“d personally like it to be. There are many still shots, close-ups of people“s faces, and repeated animations. So you“re mostly going to just be seeing people“s mouths moving. Good news to those buying the game for the adult scenes, however – they have an amped-up quality versus the rest of the game, at least (and they“re uncensored in this release of the game!).
School Days HQ is a pretty solid and worthwhile visual novel. The full animation and huge amount of paths and endings it offers will make for an entertaining experience with massive replayability to the seasoned visual novel enthusiast. Definitely pick it up if you can, then sit back and watch the fur fly with our dramatic little love triangle.
+ Over 20 endings and different adult scenes to get means a high amount of replayability
+ The game being fully animated makes for a unique experience as a visual novel
+ Incredibly dramatic story, and some of the endings are dark and bloody
- While the game being fully animated is nice, it“s not really high-quality and there is much repetition of shots
- Protagonist is a bit dull and might be unlikable to many
Overall: 8.5 (out of 10)
School Days HQ is an excellent visual novel experience with its many endings and full animation. Definitely a title those interested in the genre should check out.