When it comes to games with LGBTQ themes they can be good or they can be horrible. I’ve seen both sides of the coin and the worse the experience the more cringeworthy it becomes. In the case of Highschool Romance, formerly My Highschool Crossdressing Romance, it lies somewhere along that spectrum but bordering on nearly unplayable to someone that takes these themes seriously. That said, it’s not entirely asking for a trip to the landfill. Just go in with very low expectations. And I mean as low as you can go towards a visual novel.
All right, so let’s get the biggest controversy towards Highschool Romance out of the way first. Those who have been following my coverage of AJ Tilley’s crowdfunding career should know that I was thoroughly unimpressed by the pitch towards the game and the fact that he canceled the project within a couple days citing “this was just a test to know who my true fans are” did nothing to garner any positivity towards both the person and the project. The fact that there was a very short lived Patreon for the game (since taken down) didn’t help.
Usual controversies aside, what about Highschool Romance as a game itself? For starters, I went in with as low of an expectation of the game being playable as I can while still trying to be objective. It’s about usual fare for those who have played any of AJ Tilley/Dharker Studios’ previous outings so basically it’s nothing to write home about. That said, it’s still passable to a point. You play as a guy who’s been admitted to an all-girls school and in order to stay there he has to pretend to be a girl throughout the remaining school year. It’s not a unique premise, and I’ve enjoyed other similar tales, so I figured it was worth checking out just to be proven wrong.
My time playing Highschool Romance was a combination of short chuckles and cringing through the dialogue. There are some genuinely funny and romantic moments but unfortunately they are too far between the bad jokes. However, the writing isn’t the worst part about the game. Aside from finding little about the plot believable the artwork just did not work for me. It didn’t during the short lived campaign and it didn’t while playing. However, that’s much more subjective and open to interpretation. Take that for what you will.
After playing through all three good endings and romancing all three girls (one of which was the principal) I’m honestly not sure if I can recommend Highschool Roomance or not to fans of visual novels or crossdressing stories. I can certainly say without hesitating that I wouldn’t pick this one up for full price. If you can get it for like 80% off or something and are interested then go for it. Despite my nitpicking of several areas of the game it does barely get a passing grade. But just barely.