Be Careful When Choosing Condiments For Lunch [Student Union Demo Game Review]

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(Demo available to play on Itch.io and Steam)

Lane is in trouble and needs work, ASAP. At the kick-off of his final year of high school, he turns to asking the faculty for help. The assistant principal Mr. Underwood recommends a unique solution: form and lead a student organization dedicated to the support and maintenance of the institution. However, Lane must convince at least four other students to join the group before the end of the week.

Underneath this pretext he quickly learns the school administration is more sinister than it seems, that great danger lies within the school walls, and that the group he’s forming may be more necessary than he realized. (Steam Summary)

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Hello everyone, Gray here, and in today’s blog I’m going to be talking about Student Union created by Visual Novel Village. I had this game on my radar, the game’s art immediately jumps out at you from the itchi.io and steam intro page. The game isn’t voiced but the incredible page-turning, story-rich gameplay keeps you hanging on until the last body falls (dark foreshadowing). If you’re into games that are similar to Higurashi When They Cry and Umineko When They Cry then look no further than this VN for continuing mystery, thrills, and murder…

So get your detective hats on, magnifying glass, maybe a baseball bat (bad Higurashi joke XD), and get ready to swing as we dive into Student Union!

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THE CAST OF STUDENT UNION

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Our main protagonist, he seems to have many things on his mind when we first meet him. While not everything is stated, it makes me wonder about what exactly is going on with him… and if he is a credible narrator. You’d have to play the game to understand why I’m suspicious of him in the first place, as you progress through the story, you aren’t really sure if he’s mentally stable or not. This is just my own opinion.

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Meet the bad girl of the group, and when I mean bad, I mean the classic type who smokes in the girl’s bathroom and tries to manipulate her way out of things. Ros is actually an interesting character as she reminds me of Winona Ryder from Heathers, except without the miniskirts and stuff LMAO. Ros may have the appearance of the bad girl vibe, but she definitely has her moments of being nice.

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Cain is a short-tempered full-blooded teen who seems to pretend he doesn’t have anger issues that is possibly related to his home life. When we first meet him, he gives our MC a concussion, when our MC asked a question in innocence. Cain is hot and cold, but mostly hot and unable to control his rage to the point that his issues seem like a ‘cry of passion’ type of deal.

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If you loved Holo from Spice & Wolf, then you’ll love Holly as she is a unique character and I can’t hate her Himedere/Kamidere persona. She may act very high and mighty, but she is sincerely a good hearted individual who seems to have empathic abilities. She is a refreshing character in the VN world, and I very much am glad to see a character like her in here. 

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Evan is such a cinnamon roll of a character, however, I do feel at times he seems like a pushover. Yet, I’m not sure if he’s genuinely a ‘pushover’ as people criticize him to be, with a cool facade and acting very submissive in front of others. Evan seems like the kid you should actually be wary of, as it’s usually the quiet ones that are the more terrifying subjects. However, I’ll give him a Hall Pass AT THIS TIME,as he’s adorable AF LOL.

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Alice is the go-getter and complete … I can’t even formulate words to express what I think of her as the most manipulative, self-centered, bully, and egotistic of the bunch? Her attitude and overall speech gets under the MC’s skin and also my own, she reminded me of a bully from the past, and while I did try to find what her deal is–We won’t find out until the full release of the game. Until then… She’s on my ‘rejection’ list.

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Principal Decker seems to be another quiet character you MUST be careful of, as when you first bump into her, she already gave off a strange vibe. While she is buxom and sweet looking, looks are always deceiving and she plays a very big part in bodies dropping in the game. 

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Mr. Turner is introduced to us early on in the game, and he comes off as the no-nonsense type of person. He comes to you with the opportunity to create a Student Union in the school to assist the school due to budget cuts… But is that really all that it is for?

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Samantha is an amazing art teacher you happen to meet on the first day of the game play, while she speaks harshly at times she means well. She seems to have some suspcions about Mr. Turner but keeps it underwraps as she helps you out with driving you home and also to the hospital…

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Nat is one of my favorite characters of this game, her cool and aloof nature is refreshing and she loves basketball. Girl is ripped btw… She is thoughtful and caring, and while she doesn’t speak to others as much, I believe it is because of the language barrier… perhaps? As she is an exchange student from Russia, and there are certain nuances in her speech that made me wonder if she doesn’t speak to many people because of her accent.

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GAMEPLAY

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Like traditional ‘pick your own adventure‘ VNs, Student Union adapts the point and click aspect along with what seems to be a point system in the game. Depending on what answers you choose, it will either increase, decrease, or keep your point status neutral. Playing as a male character, this reminds me more of the similar concepts produced for Bishōjos, which are ‘pretty girl’ games that are geared for a male intended audience.

In this game, you have the option of also getting closer to the characters around you and possibly romancing them. I always love having the romance element in games, but of course, it has to be organic, and not rushed. However, because this is only a demo, we only get one romantic scene which is between the MC and Holly.

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While there was another scene that could be considered romantic with Nat, I don’t think it would qualify since Nat was holding Lane’s hand just because she thought he might go off on his own again. LMAO.

Another interesting element to the gameplay is the use of cellphones that I haven’t seen since playing Amnesia Memories for Idea Factory. I like it when games add these kinds of touches into their gameplay as it brings about different types of engagement between the players and the game. Adding real-life elements into a game is an intriguing and sometimes a very well done concept, just as long as the cell phone doesn’t keep bringing while I’m in class–It should be good!

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Do I Want Mustard or Ketchup?

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Going into this game with no real information about it except for the game summary, I was completely blown away by how the game sucks you in into believing that you’re just playing ‘another teen VN.’ You’re drawn immediately into a situation in the beginning that makes you question what exactly is going on, but I also feel it hints to something even darker than what it appears. I’m glad to see a protagonist who is driven to survive and makes it known to the reader that his amicable attitude is just one part of how he really thinks and feels.

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While the mission in the beginning part of the game is straightforward, there are questions that did come to mind as I played through. However, because Turner mentioned that this was more like a test-run ordeal of the program, there wasn’t much to build on. To us, as the readers basically had to wing it with Lane about what might have to be or may not be for the rules and regulations of the Student Union.

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Because this is a visual novel, I don’t want to give too many spoilers out, as there’s a lot of things that occur and I don’t want to spoil it. What I do understand from the gist of things that are happening, Lane has money issues, and his parents aren’t available… Which… I’m suspicious of. Our MC seems to be hiding a few more things from us as the reader, which is why I mentioned he may not be as reliable as we hope, especially after he gets a head injury.

Note, when we first start the game we have graciously rewarded an image of a bloody hand and that Lane’s head hurts. Which I felt may mean something as we progress through the game, as there are plenty of times Lane seems to be fading in and out of reality. Hence… I’m unsure if he realizes that concussion of his might be doing something to his overall judgment and possibly his ability to recognize between reality and delusions.

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GRAY’S CORNER

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I really enjoyed this game demo, and I am amazed by all the elements that have been added to it. All the characters created are engaging, and memorable, even the ones I don’t like at this current moment. There’s a lot that needs to be explained and resolved with what’s happening, including the fact about the midnight rendevous that occur at the library.

I have wishlisted this game for the future and will be keeping an eye on the updates. If you’re interested in playing the game demo, please check out their Itch.io, Kickstarter, or visit Steam! For future updates on the content and if you want to interact with the creators and cheer them on, follow them here on Twitter!

As always, thanks for reading, and see you on the gaming side~!

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