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"The changeling looked at the foal much like a space explorer would look at an alien life form. He resisted the urge to prod it." - Flitter

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Random Game Review: Everlasting Summer · 10:36pm May 7th, 2016

I've reviewed Katawa Shoujo when I played that one, so it's only fair I do the same for what is, in spirit, its Russian counterpart. Like KS, it's completely free, though ES does require Steam (though their slightly older versions can still be found from the official torrent distributions if you look around a bit through some probably-Russian blogs of the creators)

The mentioned names are, in order: Slavya, Lena, Ulyana, Alisa, and Miku.

This trailer's music, which is both the intro video music and the credits music of the game, made me fall in love with its soundtrack immediately. In fact, I heard about the game because my brother was humming it and couldn't get it out of his head. Welp. Consider me infected!

Now, I mentioned Katawa Shoujo, and I mentioned this being "its Russian counterpart". Allow me to elaborate on that. Katawa Shoujo, in essence, started as some people on 4chan's anime & manga board getting the silly idea of "let's make an eroge visual novel about cripple girls!" Similarly, from what I've read, Everlasting Summer started when people on the Russian 2chan board decided "let's take all the mascots that frequent the memes on these boards, and make an eroge visual novel about them!"

In both cases the idea was juvenile and even crude, until the actual writing started. Katawa Shoujo blew me away in its sincerity... and I'm still lost in the abyss of amazing story depth of Everlasting Summer. To put it bluntly, this is a game pretending to be a classic "get the girl" eroge visual novel, until you scratch off that top layer, and get some chilling glimpses into what the heck the word "everlasting" is doing in the title.

First of all, the links. Here are the essentials:
* Everlasting Summer on Steam (free)
* The official site, which has the official "hentai patch" (really just a file which unlocks the stuff they locked out, presumably by Steam policy)

And some official extras:
* Alternate 'good' ending to the "Alisa" route. Obviously, don't play this until you got to that end. I actually liked this one better than the original ingame one.
* Winter Tale: a little (probably) non-canon Christmas present from the creators.
* Another extra, "One Pioneer's Tale", is automatically downloaded with the game; a (free, duh) DLC that looks on the events of the game from an interesting different perspective. It shouldn't be touched with a 10-foot pole until you unlocked all of the game, because it comes with a dose of mindfuck you'll undoubtedly overdose on unless you already built up some tolerance (and understanding) from getting through the main game. Once you have finished the game, though, it gives some amazing new depth to the whole thing.

These extras can be played by going into the game's settings, scrolling all the way down, and opening the "mods & user's scenarios"

And now, on to the story. A typical Russian 2chan anon named Semyon gets on a bus to a university reunion, which doesn't interest him too much (he dropped out, after all), but he figures it's something to get him some non-digital human contact. He waits in the snow, gets on good old Bus 410, and falls asleep.

When he wakes up, he's no longer on Bus 410. Instead he finds himself in a modern travel bus standing at the gates of a "Camp Sovyonok", a summer camp for soviet youth in the 80's communist Russia. He is greeted warmly by one of the "Pioneers", as they call the camp youth, and is helpfully led to the camp leader, who welcomes him to the camp and gives him a brief orientation.

Pretty much the only three letters going through the protagonists's head during all this are a repeating W, T and F. Eventually, he decides to try to find out what is going on here, how he got here, and how he can get out. Unfortunately, he is constantly caught up in the regular affairs of the camp life, sent on errands, and at one point even helps locating a missing pioneer. Overall, a lot of exciting things happen in the camp, but none of them seem especially weird or supernatural. So, maybe... there really is nothing to uncover? Maybe the best thing to do is to go with the flow, and maybe get to know these lovely local ladies?

And, if something does happen to bloom between him and one of these girls... would he still want to escape? Is there even anything to escape from? And is the sad shut-in life he had before really even worth escaping back to, anyway?

Or, y'know. Maybe, he's just getting distracted, and didn't dig deep enough.

Onwards to gameplay! The game has a very diverse cast of characters, which, as I mentioned before, are all (or, mostly) mascots of the 2chan board. Alisa, as far as I can tell, is 2chan itself; a rude tsundere with a lot of insecurities hidden under the surface. Ulyana, the hyperactive kid with very little sense of responsibility, is the USSR. Slavya, the kind blonde greeting you at the gates, seems to be some kind of personification of traditional Russian culture. Lena I found mentioned on some Russian 2chan wiki, and she seems to be some morose character that basically translates to "whiny-chan". Doesn't surprise me. Everything about that girl is odd. And finally there's Miku, who is quite simply an obvious copy of the vocaloid Hatsune Miku.

Well. Not entirely "finally". There's also these odd cat ears you get a small glimpse of in the intro. That character appears to be the real mystery to unravel, but that doesn't guarantee she (because, of course it's a she) actually knows all that much.

Anyway. Gameplay. One of the things that ended up bothering me about the game is that, well, I needed a guide to complete it. In Katawa Shoujo, you have choices setting you on a route, and then, completely different choices determining whether you fail or accomplish that route. Not so in this game; it works with a global score system, where a certain score threshold towards one character, combined with a specific choice action near the end, sets you on a specific path... but the score from the entire game counts when it comes to whether you get the "good" or "bad" end on that route. Meaning that where in Katawa Shoujou one save game after the route confirmation was enough to easily get both endings there, this isn't so straightforward in this game, and you usually need two whole playthroughs per route. Given the fact the game seems to constantly encourage you to explore and meet its very diverse cast (there's a bunch more than just "the route girls"), this is kind of contradictory.

However, this has its meta-reasons, which the full final ending of the game reveals. You are supposed to stumble around aimlessly until you find an answer, and not all answers, heck, not even all good endings, involve one of the girls. In fact, just diligently avoiding all distractions and going straight for your target of "trying to uncover what's going on" actually gives you a specific new route, generally called the "Semyon Route", and it ends up giving you a whole load of information on what is actually going on. And that's an interesting twist, in my opinion; a game of this type that rewards not going for the girls.

Slightly less meta, the overall mechanism of the game isn't about getting closer to girls. It's all about the socially-blunted Semyon opening up to them and actually daring to make the choice to do something. But even without the girls, the thing that decides whether you get the good or the bad endings is the conviction with which he goes for the choice he makes. If they're half-assed, you get bad endings. If they're absolute, he'll get good endings.

The endings themselves are incredibly diverse. The most classic bad ending has him waking up in his apartment, returning to his old shut-in life, and nothing changing, but I think that actually only happens in one or two routes, and even there, when at first I got a bad ending of that kind (on the Slavya route), I honestly didn't realize it was supposed to be "bad" until the achievement popup notified me. Because even there, the final conclusion of the story was really nice and deep. Mind you, others are completely messed up. As I said. Diverse.

Same goes for the good endings. Some of them have him returning to his apartment, deciding to give some direction to his life, and running into a rather familiar girl some time later. Others are totally different, with him somehow remaining in that 80s soviet world. And there are loads of variations on the concept beyond anything I ever expected; the most brilliant and beautiful one in my opinion is the one seen in the expansion story "One Pioneer's Tale", but sadly I can't expand on that without lifting quite a significant portion of the veil. But, trust me... it's beautiful.

In conclusion... this is a story well-worth playing through several times. As with Katawa Shoujo, the game has a fast-forward function that skips through all scenes until you either get a choice, or a scene you haven't seen yet (or haven't seen yet in the particular changed variety resulting from the choices you made), which helps to prevent replays from getting tedious. I advise playing through blind the very first time, just for the experience... but after that, you'll probably want/need a guide, so I'll just go right ahead and link to it:

Everlasting Summer. Walkthrough [ENG]

The guides per character don't really do the job well, so I advise going down to the bottom and using the image guide there; it actually shows all choices you can make in the game.

Oh, and, until you meet their unlock requirements, don't mind the Miku and Yulya routes. Because, respectively, "wtf I don't even", and "[River Song]Spoilers![/River Song]"

Comments ( 9 )

Tell me at least the story is interesting enough to bother with the game!

Wait, really? "I'm still lost in the abyss that is the depth of Everlasting Summer" wasn't enough to imply the story was interesting enough? :trixieshiftright:

Reviews tread the thin line between promotion and spoilers. I don't intend my reviews to be like modern movie trailers, spoiling 90% of the actual content.

but if you want real spoilers... time loops and alternate realities are involved. (More? Okay.) As in, every single playthrough, and every single possible choice in it, is an alternate reality, and can be considered 'real', and the fact you replay the game multiple times is a representation of the time loop Semyon is trapped in. I did say that part got pretty meta :twilightsmile:

I played through all of the vanilla endings and enjoyed it quite a bit. My only gripe was the lack of decisions, one wrong choice and you're locked out of your goal ending. It's why I had no problem using the walkthrough after I spectacularly failed my first run.

Not much of a game, but a pretty good story.

Watched some of it on yt. Why they're always dating sims though? There was a lot of possibilities for that as adventure novel.
Pioneer Miku is such great idea :rainbowlaugh:

3928239 I took that sentence as "I'm being dragged down into this murky shit, that is the stomach of Cthulhu" XD

Literal abyss, sheesh :facehoof:

Yeah, I did mention that; the global points system is a bit annoying, though in hindsight, given the full story, I do understand why they did it. More choices, and more potential failures, is more alternate realities / time loops. If you finished all endings including the Yulya ones, I do strongly suggest you to check out One Pioneer's Story; it actually goes into that specific aspect a lot more, since it shows the perspective of one version of Semyon who became aware of being stuck in a loop. It gives a lot of insights into the mechanics of the world they're stuck in, specifically, as was briefly mentioned in the 'harem' ending, the fact other real people are stuck in there.

after I spectacularly failed my first run.

Spectacularly, huh? What, you got the bad Lena ending? Certainly the most spectacular way to fail, that one :rainbowlaugh:
(She sure seems like the Fluttershy/Hanako of the group, doesn't she? :twilightoops:)

I got Slavya's "bad" ending at first, and I honestly didn't mind much. It was an interesting ending.

I think the original silly ideas both games originated from are to blame for that. They might've become something deeper than these original ideas, but well, that's what they started from, so it's not really something they wanted to throw out, I guess :rainbowwild:

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