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Review of Lessons in Love

SubjectLessons in Love
ByHelpfulness: 3
Vote: 7
htc89234 on 2022-06-21
ReviewThe introduction of random psychological existential dread could be done sensibly, but it is not. Every time something of the kind happens, it's mostly just several flashes of very quick frames of characters contorted strangely, weird drawings, and random ramblings about God. Then we're back to normal. The VN tries to make you feel bad for the characters - or for maybe yourself, for playing a porn game with incest? - but sadly, it feels like the VN itself is scared of doing that, for it always backs down and tries to play it off cheekily with lines such as "It's okay! I love being alive! Yay! Just be happy!". They're also thrust upon you without much regard for what you're doing, and tend to show up in a way that genuinely feels almost random and entirely unwarranted, apart from a scant few times where it actually felt genuinely well placed - I can count perhaps 2 off the top of my head, and one of them is right at the start of the game; and of the 2, despite the timing being fair, the writing is not.

That aside, the game characters do tend to be interesting. Not all characters have these absurd showings, so some of them are more tolerable than others. Some, understandably, have it, but it is well-tied to their background to the point that it feels okay. And some just have it because why the heck not.

To its credit, the writing isn't bad, and for an indie VN, it's definitely in the upper bounds of writing quality (though when it is bad, it is bad). This is sadly mitigated by the fact that the start of the game tends to be a bit of a grindy mess, and the events themselves are a bit hard to achieve all of them. Paired with the fact events can be missed, it becomes slightly annoying to play through, especially if you - like me - don't really like missing events, for replaying a few days feels like a true waste of your time.

The only reasonable way I could sum up this VN is that it feels pretentious.

I can only come out of this VN feeling as if I read a very grindy koikatsu H-game that tried to be philosophical but was unable to ever make me fully feel that it was either relevant or adding anything to the game, and instead simply turned me off from what it was because I couldn't handle how annoying the religious, insane ramblings ever got. Perhaps I'd like it more if the writing had a more consistent quality to it. Perhaps I'd like it more if the writing believed in itself more to lean into these things more heavily. Perhaps I'd like it more if the game didn't jump into the existential dread in such weird, upfront ways, with little to no meaningful buildup, and only brings it back whenever it deems appropriate, even if for the reader it is entirely random. Lessons in Love is, despite me disliking it, close to being something I could actually enjoy. And honestly, there is some charm to the design and to the writing, to the point I would not feel fair to unjustly give it a low grade.

If you're the type of person who likes to read the quasi-psychological bullshit that the game relentlessly throws at you for little to no reason whatsoever, and moreso if you're the type of person who easily gets attached to characters, this VN should be right up your alley despite my misgivings about it. If you need more time and buildup to ease into these metafiction, 4th wall breaks kinds of things, this game may not be for you.
3 points