Long time no see, huh? But who would have thought that I’d just have to come back to review this gem of a game. Well, while I’m quite literally on the brink of bursting with all I have to say about this visual novel, I will try to compose myself as much as possible and start out the regular way, so here we go.
A Summer’s End – Hong Kong 1986 is a visual novel set in the mentioned year and in the mentioned city. Big surprise, I know.
The story follows young woman Michelle, who, after her father’s death, is living alone with her mother and working as an assistant in an esteemed company. One day, as a result of a broken heel, she meets Sam, daughter of the cobbler she’s visiting, and spends some time with her while waiting for her shoe to get fixed.
Charmed by Sam’s open and outgoing personality, Michelle (who is quite the opposite) can’t help wanting to spend more time with Sam, and she tries to find her again the next day. Not knowing that this innocent interest would soon turn into more, Michelle is thrown into a rollercoaster ride of emotions, burdened to make some difficult decisions during the ride.
This story takes place in a time before I was even born but that I nevertheless have a big interest in. So while it was interesting to see how this visual novel presented this time period to us (and while, of course, missing some references to movies or music here and there), what struck me the most is how the modern and traditional way of life and thinking was portrayed, and of course, what this meant for the LGBTQ community.
While Sam is independent, open, and willing to take risks, Michelle is, in a way, held back by her upbringing and trying to live up to her mother’s more traditional goals that have been set for her. This basically means dedicating her life to studying, getting a high paying job, and eventually marrying a wealthy man, all while being monitored by her mother, leaving Michelle with little to no personal life. It’s an interesting mix, and one that’s set up for some drama.
In addition to the impeccable character choices, we also get visual glimpses of 1986’s Hong Kong, and I gotta say, I love this retro style. Everything about the neon lights at nighttime, their fashion, and of course, this fabulous retro soundtrack, made this an absolutely immersive experience and such a great setting for a yuri story.
The art and sound of this game in general stood out to me above all. You often see me drool over good art and music, but it’s hard to describe just how perfect these two elements complimented this story and how very much I was literally struck when one of the first event CG’s came up.
Not gonna lie, this left me with my mouth hanging open for the sheer beauty of it. Hands down, the artist, Tida K. (also known as lilac), did a perfect job with every last one of those pictures~
While the art might have been my personal highlight of this game, we can’t forget about story and writing itself, and oh boy, what a delight this was as well. The story moves on at a steady pace, alternating between the inner thoughts of Michelle (from whose point of view we usually see the story unfold), descriptions of the surroundings, and the dialogue between the characters. Of course, what I enjoyed the most is whenever Michelle and Sam spent time together, seeing their sometimes a little awkward but mostly sweet and funny, interactions. Those interactions mostly felt natural, and even if I’m not an expert on the topic, it made sense for the time this is supposed to take place in.
The one thing I do think could have been improved, however, is the length of the game.
I think that while the story left off at a good point, where we can guess that things will probably go into a positive direction for all of them, I still think that there simply could have been more. Seeing Michelle’s mother possibly coming to terms with her daughter’s relationship, or seeing Sam introduce Michelle as her girlfriend to her father or Cecilia would have been exciting as well. To add a bit more drama, Joey could have spotted Sam and Michelle kissing in front of the restaurant after their reunion. I think there are a lot of possibilities to get some more story in without dragging it out for too long. And, of course, to add some more sex scenes, because, well, do I need a reason for that? But in the end, I guess I just wish for more of what I like, and to say the least, I did like it a whole lot, and I will definitely replay this game at some point.
All in all, I’m still more than just happy with this game and simply so excited to see it receive so much positive feedback online. It really deserves it. It’s hard not to see just how much work went into creating this game, and it’s even harder to find reasons to dislike it, with such a great story, such beautiful fitting art, and such an awesome retro soundtrack. It just all makes for the perfect experience, and that is something I think we all need during these times right now.
So to all of you who haven’t played this game yet, I would suggest you put down your Animal Crossing for a bit and indulge yourself in some other game, and this one should be it. And no, I was not paid to say this. 😛
Total Enjoyment: 9/10