“And after that, the class begins.”
Semester is a visual novel with a very dating sim-ish feel by Daggio, with artwork by Navetsea and script by Jovia. The plot is pretty typical…new kid (you get to name him) who’s new to the school. As this transfer student, you get to live dozens of repetitive days at school. And when I write repetitive, I mean repetitive. Seriously. The days repeat over and over again with the same choices…but I won’t get into that here, since this is only the introduction.
Once inside of the classroom, you get a chance to introduce yourself to the class. You’ve moved to this wonderful place because of your dad’s job. Wonderful… You’ve got to reach 160 unseen points with a particular character to reach a happy ending or whatever. The characters you’ve got to pick from are a guy named Roy, some girl named Maya, a student council member named Marina, and a quiet girl in the library. Exciting, huh?
It’s a school story. …Yeah. Um… Well… There are grammar mistakes here and there, mainly things missing “s”es or whatever. The tense gets a little off at times, as well, making several handfuls of sentences sound awkward. Also, there are sentences missing spaces where spaced should be, such as, “Together,we are going to the cafetaria.” Hm, there’s a spelling mistake, too. There’s nothing extremely apalling, though, so if you’re not a grammar/spelling nazi, you should get on just fine.
I think I already mentioned something about this game being on the repetitive side. Seriously. I believe the aim of this game is to emulate real school life. Problem is, everyday of a normal school kid’s life isn’t always the same. Things happen. In my playthrough of the game (well, my third-ish playthrough, since I played the game weeks ago), Roy kept asking me what I wanted to do today. He asked me that everyday and everyday I went to the cafeteria with him. Nothing changed…then, it did. Just a little.
It seems like more than half of the visual novel is spent holding down CTRL (otherwise known as the “skip” command). There’s a lot of repeated text that’s highly unnecessary. Instead of having the audience read the same sort of “I went to the library and studied with my friends” stuff happening over and over again, the VN could go right to the important story parts.
For example, have one day focusing on a conversation about the girls between you and Roy, and then the next, a study session with Roy and the girls. During the study session, there could be the awkwardness of Roy knowing who you like and him possibly teasing you about it throughout the session. Something like that. Snap shots of school life, so the mundane gets skipped over.
Yeah…the game would’ve been better like that. There’s also a TON of choices that lead to the same events. One game player, Ren, shares my sentiments when she writes: “…I felt there were too many choices. . . .Nothing happens during classes, it took me maybe 3 times or more in the library before Anita spoke to me and I had to do the very same thing all the time.”
That’s how it felt to me, too, even though I wasn’t focusing my attention on Anita or anything. It’s like, text then the same choices as last time…then more text, often times text you’ve read before. If Ren’Py didn’t have a skip feature, I probably would’ve turned off the game early on.
The characters didn’t leave much of an effect on me, either. I didn’t get much of a reason to care about Roy or anything. And, ergh… An error?!?! I was nearing the end of the game when my Roy-focused adventure came to an end. Great… We were about to go play basketball, too. Good thing Daggio has released the source code with the latest release of Semester.
One track repeating, composed by Daggio himself. It’s pleasant enough, but after hearing it for the one thousand and eleventh time, you might find yourself bashing your head against a wall. Not that it’s horrible. No, it isn’t. It’s just the only song. I had to turn it down after a while.
I liked the style to the character art a lot. I especially liked Marina’s different expressions. Yeah… I decided to play it again on Marina’s path. Heh. The art was cute. The backgrounds fit in for the most part, even though there might’ve been one or two photographs amongst the drawn BGs.Some of the backgrounds and art were easy to recognize from other games, so they might not seem as fresh if you’ve seen them before. Oh and to clear that up a bit, the art I’m talking about were the ones from a free-to-use pack of art. As far as I know, none of the art in this game was ripped.
For whatever reason, I keep getting ending number five out of five. Gekiganwing, someone who had played the game and got into the same situation, writes that, “the game seemed to be rewarding the protagonist for focusing his attention on only one character… but in the end, nothing but a bad ending.” Kind of upsetting, considering all the time I spent playing and reviewing.Other players have reported crashes and bugs all over the place, too.
A visual novel that has its flaws…but sweet artwork. There’s a version that has the source code, so you can fix the mistakes if you truly want to. Check it out here at its discussion thread. 😀
Game originally released Dec 21, 2007.