Let’s face it, summer is over. It’s September, and we’re slowly entering the first week of October, where Autumn will deliver us strong winds and twice the cloths, but that doesn’t mean we can’t enjoy a Summer Fling, especially since the end of Summer felt just like yesterday. Released in the Summer of 2016, Summer Fling was Dharker Studio’s summertime hit, giving the fans a serious reason to keep playing games during vacations.
In Summer Fling, players will take the role of Kasumi, a high school senior student on his last day of classes before hitting the big and deserved resting vacations. Joining a cram school is still a possibility, but he also wants to stop at his parents' lake house for a weekend rest. While thinking of all the possibilities, he stumbles across two of his friends; Yuuki and Saeki. Yuuki is clearly more shy, reserved and easier to blush, then plenty other girls, it’s been part of her charm for a long time. Her blue eyes mixed with her light-brown hair makes her look like a rare sight among all craziness of school life. Saeki is the opposite, she’s extroverted, upfront, and always ready with a joke on the tip of her tongue, making it hard to know when to take her words seriously. Her blue eyes and almost red, brownish hair give her a wild outlook.
Kasumi decides to invite both friends to spend the weekend at the lake house, hoping to have a good time at the lake, and at the same time, enjoying the company of his two good friends after college separates them. Although clumsy, he does manage to meet the girls at the train station, and travel to the small town, to have what was set to be, without any doubt, the best summer of his life.
Summer Fling is an erotic visual novel that heavenly emphasizes on romance, as players can choose what type of approach to use; a more straightforward, or an emotional one, with baby steps. Narrative is fluid and enjoyable in a smooth and simple pace. There’s no complex plot, or anything to over-complicate the basics, it’s dating one-on-one, between two beautiful girls, each with a distinct personality that reflects on their dialogues and attitude towards you. Once again humour is a strong element in this game, as it is in previous titles, without being repetitive or absurd. Text quality is about what one would expect from the studio, knowing their good quality proofreading their titles.
Visually, Summer Fling brings Summer at its core with bright colors, cold drinks and tasty ice creams, but what about the characters? Well, is it too far by saying they are some of the best Dharker Studio did up to this specific point in time? There are some things to be considered though. The first is how it’s just two characters, so it’s roughly understandable they have slightly more detail, but the best feature is how well they upscale to higher resolutions, even at 1440p! The second most visible change is softer, but noticeable adjustments in rendering designs, making girls looking more towards the usual anime figurine, ending up in a pretty mix. Renders still portray the usual western approach, but much more linear and a lot more was left for players suggestion. Body traces are quite amazing, and face expressions are outstanding. Yuuki blushes often, while Saeki sticks her tongue out as in a joke, which adds an overall cuteness overload, but we can handle it, right boys?
Backgrounds are short, but considering the length of the game, it’s to no surprise only a dozen of them are displayed, nonetheless it’s no short amount for sure. Interior backgrounds are very detailed, like the restaurant, or the clothing shop, with objects being extremely detailed, such as the ice creams, or the bikinis at the exposition. They reflect perfectly the summer vibe and what means to have a relaxing time. The weakest link is definitely the lake scenes, where some significant extras could have been added such as one or two backgrounds while both Yuuki and Saeki were on the water. Special scenes cover that, but not on the basis, and there is a lot of cool events happening on the lake. And mentioning special scenes, they are indeed present, portraying frisky moments with each of the girls.
Although simple, Summer Fling is still a choice-based Visual Novel with repercussions if one doesn’t choose the correct answer, or decision. It’s possible to choose the protagonist's name, meaning players can feel a closer perspective when playing. It’s tough to be divided between such nice girls, but one must win your heart by the end of the weekend. That’s right, the game lets you play throughout the weekend with different activities. Eating out, or checking out the girls as they try different bikinis are some of the things to savor. But a few other optional routes do exist if one dares to risk it, such as sneak upon one of them, in a lovely way of course. Each route can take up to one hour, and once players gain the heart of both girls, a new route is available, for a three-way-love, making it three different routes at the end.
As many fas are used by now, a free Director’s Cut Adult Patch is available for free through Dharker Studio official website. This uncensored mode adds nudity and sexual content, as Kasumi can interact sexually with the girls, if all the right choices were made of course. The patch adds relatively new content, but it's mostly visuals, since the routes and plot remain. It still should be played in its full original form though.
Sam L. Jones is back as the sole composer for the soundtrack, which is available for purchase as DLC, at a considerable price. 20 music tracks build up the original soundtrack, in an outstanding MP3-320kpbs, which should be the standard for soundtracks, but not everyone follows the good examples of Dharker Studio unfortunately. Tunes follow the summer beats in short melodies and smooth approaches, not as memorable as in other games like Beach Bounce or Club Life, but still remaining true to the great quality we’re used by the artist. The fusion between classic tunes and modern synths end up suiting perfectly well within the game, and giving the romance a whole new atmosphere.
Summer Fling is a fantastic medium-length Visual Novel, with a lovely romantic scenario players can easily relate to. A far from pretentious game, delivering what promises, a casual and polished experience for Visual Novel fans, or anyone looking for a flirtatious weekend, with two beautiful girls.