Developed and published by NewWestGames, Sweet Volley High was released in October of 2016 on Steam, and two years later, the overall reviews on the store page show a Mixed preference for several users. Changing in visuals from their previous and first game; A Wild Catgirl Appears, which we reviewed HERE, Sweet Volley High still delivers a well placed storyline and appealing art design!
We play as Aya Mizuki, a young but saturn high school student that goes through life not living, but just conformly existing. Smart, but avoiding friendships and any form of social school activities, she eventually became a part of the Volleyball team. Although it’s actually not entirely correct, since she’s on the bench 99% of the time, but she still can say she’s part of something. That’s the life of Aya, who lives alone with her mother, and since she works at night, it’s up the senior student to cook and do most of the house chores. Not that she minds much, but her routine seems dull and her school life feels empty.
Some say one’s disgrace can be someone else’s opportunity, it’s rough to admit it, but for Aya-chan, her life changed completely when the volleyball team leader suffered an accident, and went into a coma, being hospitalized for the rest of the year. With no other option but for Aya to step onto the team, she is forced to become part of the group for real, and thus, changing her life forever.
To spice things up, Aya’s mother convinces her to visit her grandpa in the beautiful countryside of Japan. Aya finds out that her old grandpa has a very strange sense of humour, was once an Olympic champion and also that her grandmother was also really into volleyball. The young girl takes her time to watch old recorded matches, articles, and pictures, while her grandpa rises her interest in the sports. Step by step she becomes more connected with the idea of becoming part of the team, with honest dedication, and so it begins. Aya starts with a training routine, of unpractical exercises, that nonetheless improves her movement, increases her speed, and above all, makes her feel more confident!
Aya-chan’s closest friends consist of Yuka, a social butterfly that enjoys the city life more than volleyball, Nanami, an extremely talented player that wishes to become professional one day, and Eri, a young and sensitive girl that carries a burden nobody should at such tender age. Together, they’ll form a special bond with Aya making her change her habits, and possibly even to find love.
Sweet Volley High storyline consists of a lightwave romantic slice-of-life, involving a senior high school girl who goes through her final academic life, while changing her old routine, enduring her physical condition for the team, and to finally understand what friendship means. Above all else, love is there, as it couldn’t be in any other way, after all, this is a romantic visual novel.
The narrative evolves towards a more traditional side of relationships, even though the game is advertised as sexual-content oriented, the narrative dwells more into the romantic side of feelings, rather than physical attraction, even though it’s still there, reflected on each character’s intimacy. It’s definitely not the motivation behind the game! The storyline follows daily events, in order to recreate a reality that might be closer to the player’s reality, reflecting conversations, or events that are ordinary to life itself. This routine manages to produce slight approaches between characters, to form friendships and relationships.
Sweet Volley High is a choice-based Visual Novel, but in a simple way, as decisions will affect the long run events, there isn’t any short occurrence that requires decisions or choices to be made frequently. They are directly associated with dates, and what character players might prefer to interact with, and eventually share feelings towards that route. Some appropriate and soft doses of humour are enjoyed across the game, with each character having a very distinct personality and its own background. They are well developed, and constructed.
NewWestGames is known for creating yuri games, and it’s worth mentioning as the story progress, there is a male character Aya can meet and relate to, as a romantic option. This has upset fans in the past, so It’s somehow relevant to mention. Such choice does not impact any of the other female dates, and can be completely ignored!
Visually, the game delivers an interesting mix of chibis and normal renders, with both anime and western traces. Renders are well designed, maintaining some minimal lines of traditional Japanese manga characters, but they do in the end, depict a western style, but still avoiding the cartoon look. During special scenes, characters have a surprisingly good quality, and in some rare instances, they appear in chibi, which always adds to the whole amusement. Again, these chibis are quite far from what we see in anime, but the intention is there.
There is an Adult Patch available HERE, which unlocks a few extra scenes per each dating option. These scenes are some of the best within the game. Full dedicated character designs, very detailed in a tremendous quality of structure and traces, and it’s definitely above everything presented throughout regular gameplay.
Backgrounds are an interesting mix of two styles. There’s the classic style with handmade features, in an almost beautiful painted rural Japan, and there’s a more virtual 3D rendered side, where locations still maintain the pretended looks, but are done in a completely different art style. This doesn’t affect the game obviously, but as a design choice, it’s always recommended to keep the same art direction throughout the entire game.
The soundtrack for Sweet Volley High is slightly above average, with some minimalist ambient sound, to acoustic guitar riffs and some light mix of drums, bass and guitar, in a slow but well paced jazz rhythm. Tracks repeat a considerable amount of time, but they are always welcome to stay accordingly to the mood. The soundtrack is diverse and even after a few hours, it’s still pleasant to listen to.
With solid 5 hours of length, and partially voiced-over, Sweet Volley High is a slow paced romance that flourishes among normal conventional elements of everyday life. This may be one of the reasons why some fans felt disconnected. However, for those looking for a solid and familiar yuri love story, with well placed feelings, this title will mostly please them.