Capsule Review: don't take it personally, babe, it just ain't your story

A visual novel in which you are a high school teacher in a not-too-far future where your students have never known a world without social networks. There’s a lot of reading as you spend most of your time talking to your students or snooping on their online conversations, though unlike some of Christine Love’s other work every character has portraits accompanying their dialog so it’s easy to keep them straight.

As is typical for a visual novel, the reading is periodically broken up by decisions. These tie in to the events in your students' lives, and generally you must choose how much to meddle based on information you learned from reading their private messages - an ability you have been told not to reveal to them. These choices have some impact on how the students' arcs play out and what ending you get, but the story doesn’t feel incomplete after a single playthrough.

The kids' stories deal with themes of privacy and budding sexuality in a world where private experiences are often shared online for public consumption. It’s a meditation on the implications of the internet and social networks to adolescent social development, filtered through the very real-feeling worries and challenges experienced by the very well-written students. It’s very easy to get drawn in and care about them as people, and be torn between wanting to help them and wanting to respect their privacy and self-determination. And it’ll be interesting to see how the game ages - as I write this, we are getting close to the point where high school students were born after Facebook opened its doors to everyone with an email address.

I Stopped Playing When: I played through the story once. I wanted to spend more time with the characters, so I started a second playthrough where I planned to make different choices and see a different ending - but I stopped immediately because it felt wrong. I couldn’t bear to turn the characters from people I liked into flags to manipulate.

Docprof's Rating:

Four Stars: Great. Not only did I finish the game, I probably played through the whole thing again and/or completed any optional objectives. It's an easy recommendation for any genre fan.

You can get it or learn more here.