Hikaru is just another normal highschool student, who goes through his life with a positive attitude, but repetitive routine and tiresome days start to affect his mood, leading him to be more and more lethargic day by day. One of the reasons he gets up everyday to endure it, are his two idols; Akiko and Kasumi. Akiko is an extremely beautiful and intelligent blonde who’s friendship is important to Hikaru, but he can’t resist her up spirit charm and elegance. Kasumi is the other, also pretty and smart, but also a sportswoman, as she’s part of the school’s swimming team. To Hikaru, both girls are lovely in their own way, and in his personal opinion, they would never date someone like him who is introverted and somehow shy. But what if, things changed? What if Hikaru could be in the life of each girl for a few days? Not with them, but within them. Inside their bodies, and their minds. What would change?!
Highschool Possession is another game developed and published by Dharker Studio, their fifth game released on Steam, and this time with a little twist, surrounding eroticism and psychological drama. In such case, those looking for a considerable erotic dating simulation are in for a surprise, as this title portrays the life of Hikaru, who, after a traditional day, returns home with a headache, and decides to sleep it off, only to find his whole life upside down. When he wakes up, he senses something strange, and assumes it’s all a dream, but it’s way too vivid to be an illusion… Hikaru is trapped in the body of one of his idols, Akiko, and afterwards, the same happens, but within Kasumi’s body.
We’ve had our fair share of movies and TV-Shows where someone at some point trades bodies with the opposite sex, or with someone with different ages, but in this case, it’s actually worth a second look. Highschool Possession is split into two constant sides, the sexual and the drama. Hikaru sees himself in the body of two girls he loves deeply, so he’s obviously curious about their bodies. This is interesting and not as exploiting as one expected, since he learns more about the female body, in a close but emotional way. The drama starts when living the lives of these girls reveal their secrets and deep hidden fears. Their lives aren’t as easy as Hikaru though they were. Akiko suffers from severe depression, and Kasumi is being bullied to a point of exhaustion. It’s up to the player to control the protagonist steps and fix what can still salvage from these girls lives, and hopefully save them from something terrifying, while trying to understand what happened to the existence of his own body and life.
Clearly not the lightheaded dating simulator one expects from a popular publisher such as Dharker Studios, but gaming comes in many forms and emotions, and this is a fantastic example of diversity and mixing emotions through characters. At its core, Highschool Possession is still a based choice game with crucial and important decisions to be made, but due to its somehow short length, players may feel its choices shorter than in other titles. One hour and half hours is still guaranteed, and quantity doesn’t mean quality, nonetheless it’s the shortest Visual Novel published by Dharker Studios, but also one of the most intense and vivid experiences. A fair trade? Maybe, it’s up to personal preference in the end of the day!
As gameplay goes, it’s a traditional non-voiced Visual Novel, with choices such as mentioned above, and crucial results even if only four endings are available. In-game menus are simplistic, with player options on a left column, and text menus almost transparent, with a colored shadow effect representing each character text. It’s a nice feature, but making the text slightly difficult to read for those who enjoy a fast paced read. This is more noticeable for those playing at upscale resolutions, in this case, anything above 1280x720. Nothing that will interrupt the experience. The narrative is very fluid and provides an enjoyable reading throughout the game, with simple text and very well directed dialogues.
Visually, Highschool Possession presents backgrounds worthy of praise, but at the same time, others are very simplistic compared to other previously released games. Indoor locals are, the less detailed ones, but at the same, others are impressively detailed and atmospheric. We take the assumption the art team decided to focus more where the players would invest more time, leaving certain areas with an unfinished feeling, such as the lunch scene with Akiko. Other backgrounds, such as Hikaru’s house is comparable to many anime TV Shows. There’s clearly a variety in style and ambiance, but they are suitable and pleasant to watch.
Characters have the inevitable, and at this point great, artistic directions Dharker Studios already has us used to. Western design with adult features, but somehow cartoonish looks. They are still exceptionally well drawn and appealing. Shadows and light works are great as always, creating a depth effect in all 2D models and their clothes. The characters are all new although one resembles another character from Dharker Studio's previous titles. In this game, particularly, special attention to the eyes were given, with girls having big and shiny eyes.
An adult patch is available for free through Dharker Studios official website, that further extends the storyline with a few extra lines of text and new visuals. They are, however, extreme sexual, as it’s part of the story to understand the characters endeavours. Some of these scenes include sexual intercourse and nudity, and it’s definitely the correct way to play Highschool Possession, as it adds relevant information regarding Akiko, and also later, for the Epilogues. New backgrounds can be unlocked on the in-game gallery if the adult patch is present, and some are really sexy, so that’s a major plus for fans!
Soundtrack for Highschool Possession is simple, but good. Since it’s a relatively short experience, only a few tracks made it into the game, running for specific scenes and characters. The soundtrack is not available to purchase as DLC, but regarding the game, it’s great at creating the necessary atmosphere, but far from memorable. With classic tunes from neo-classical smooth pop, to piano melodies.
Highschool Possession is a very special adventure, one that turns things around in a curious way. It’s no surprise it’s been one of the top-sellers for Dharker Studios, as it demonstrate a fantastic new concept in an already seen scenario. It’s definitely an adventure to remember through its erotic side and dramatic storyline.