It’s a funny old world. I still remember when dating sims were for the absolute weebos hidden on the most obscure message boards and yet now they’re strugling to stay up to date and meet demand. Dating sim on a space ship, we’ve got it. Dating sim in a law firm we’ve got it, heck dating sim with flying rodents in a highschool, we’ve got it. And that bring me to todays title, a title that’s technically unique because while nobody has done it before it is at the end of the day just Harry Potter the dating sim.
Well maybe dating sim is too simple a classification because just like Sunrider mixed cyoa, dating sim and tactical rpg this goes for life sim, first person rpg, cyoa and dating sim and spoiler it actually works. Yes unlike Sunrider which cut between the two and then linked them together with chewing gum and string afterward making it seem like you were just clicking through the cut scene with the option to alter the dialogue somewhat this actually melds them together into one almost fully functioning whole.
But I’m getting ahead of myself. You are a new girl starting at the prestigious Iris Academy: magical school of witchcraft and wizardry for gifted youngsters. While Harry discovered he was magic by growing hair and talking with snakes you started with leaping tall buildings in a single bound and went from there. Which means it was probably somewhat of a disappointment when you just got an invitation to a school instead of coming home to find Samuel L Jackson sat in the shadows and wanting to talk about ‘The Avengers Initiative’.
Now the school itself has houses much like Harry Potter though unlike Harry Potter it opts to have three for girls and three for boys. Yes they don’t like them mixing which is kind of odd considering how this could be the most ‘progressive’ school I’ve ever encountered. The game makes a point of not judging, welcoming any relationship status and writing their own gender system to avoid offending.
You got sorted into Horses, which is basically Gryfindor. There are snakes and frogs as well I think for girls but you’re a horse whether you want to be or not and you will thus be rooming with Ellen and Virginia for the year. Two of you are mudbloods, uh I mean “wildseeds” and the other is from a long line of magical siblings who have all gone or are going here now. There is a grumpy, long haired, moody Professor who takes a dislike to you straight away and a nice Headmaster who keeps an eye out for you. Though unlike Hogwarts ‘Iris’ has had some major cutbacks and so only seems to have these two teachers.
They will be teaching you all of the branches of magic via lessons you select at the start of the week with each corresponding to a certain type of activity. For instance white is the ability to see things that aren’t there and green is healing and buffing the party members you don’t have because this isn’t actually an rpg. Black is the ability to move small rocks without getting your hands dirty, blue the ability to transform and red is Tyrannosaurus. It’s nothing revolutionary but every few months you will have a test where the teachers chuck you in a dungeon, often with a monster and see if you make it out. It’s a unique grading system but it seems to work. Thus if you focus on one branch you might be ill equipped for next months dungeon and if you spread yourself too thin you might not have got a high enough level spell that would allow you to beat it.
The rest of the game is your “social life”, aka ‘who you gonna bang?’ This is where the game got interesting for me. See I started the game and you’re chucked into the bishie demon guy and soon meet the trouble maker in detention and I kind of figured that was it, but unlike a straight forward cyoa game where you just pick the choice on screen and follow that path a lot of your story will be based around things you might not expect. Do poorly in school and you get demerits, not to worry that just means that if you get too many you’ll be kicked out of school, aka game over, right? Wrong too many demerits and you can’t run for treasurer and there goes one option right there. You also might only get one choice for the rebellious snowman builder extraordinaire so if you want to see more of him make sure you get into those Saturday detentions. Don’t attend the right class on a certain day and not only will you not raise that stat but you might miss out on meeting a new plot line, I mean character or dealing with a problem from a completely separate plot line in another way.
The game is a life sim more than anything else but the other components fit in quite nicely.
Now the game will set you back eleven quid on steam and I’d say it’s worth it for what you get, so long as you enjoy all those parts but I can’t help but feel this is a beta more than anything else. A complete and fully working beta but a beta none the less. You get your house assigned and end at year one and I managed to finish by making out with a random fairy I’d never actually met who promised to catch up next year as though that would the sequel hook I was after and not the promise of bigger and better magic systems and more dungeons to explore. It’s good and you might not realise quite how big or adaptable it is until your second or third run through which is nice considering a single run through will only set you back about three hours.
Just like Sunrider didn’t get a sequel it just expanded I think this could do with doing the same for a possibly slightly inflated price.