Developed By: Shout! Design Works Co. Published By: Arc System Works Categories: Visual Novel, RPG, Dungeon Crawler Release Date: 02.04.21
It’s a visual novel, no it’s an RPG, no it’s a dungeon crawler! Actually, it’s all three. They all happen to blend it quite well together at that.
Kowloon Highschool Chronicle is actually a remaster or port rather of a unlocalized game on the PS2 from over a decade and a half ago. There’s something I always love when this becomes the case. Not sure if it’s because publishers nowadays just throw everything on Switch or if it’s due to digital storefronts in the modern age leaving less risk in bringing more niche titles over, but I’m loving it.
While a decent chunk of your time playing is with the more visual novel aspects in a highscool (stay with me here), you’re going to do a lot of dungeon exploring. Mostly for treasure. Why? Well, your character is a treasure hunter! A treasure hunter who’s recently been transferred to a high school (again, stay with me). You choose your name, what you head class is, extra curricular activity, and your personality. These all relate to what you stats will be, though leveling up can adjust any of that.
The school is where majority of the story takes place. You’ll meet the eccentric cast of characters, ranging from the quirky girl sidekick, the loaf about slacker who smokes lavender, to the rock crazed nerd who quite enjoys licking his findings. I love the entourage you seem to gather. Their design might not seem too interesting, but their personalities sure are.
Within conversations, you are often asked how you feel on certain things. This isn’t just a dialog choice or wheel. But instead you get a large choice of direct feelings. Cold, Love, Anger, Happy, even replying like a red blooded shonen protagonist. Relationships with certain characters, how they view you, it all depends on this. Sometimes it’s appropriate to be rude to someone, sometimes it’s not, even if you know something about them. While on a lunch break, you can go into the rooms around campus and examine them for potential items, talk with the people in the rooms, or even shop.
You’re getting out of school, it’s time to go treasure hunting. Usually related to the stories in the school. First, you’re in your room. You can save, play an actual videogame, supply yourself, online shop, and take quests. Finally, to leave and go into the tombs. Here comes my favorite part of the game. Why is there Egyptian tombs in Japan? Who cares. You have two modes in the dungeon crawling sections, attack and movement. With attack, you can have three weapons, which range from guns, to knives, to even normal objects like pens and chairs.
Everything has it’s own use, with knives and other blades being great for wide slashes to do damage to multiple enemies, but guns are super powerful and fast, though they do require ammo, which won’t be found underground. Every action in combat takes AP away. Healing, attacking, moving, and so on. Plan each turn accordingly for your and the enemies’ AP. If you can, make them waste it all just reaching you.
When not in combat, you’re probably going to get lost. Locked doors, riddles, a few platforming puzzles. The game isn’t too head scratching with what it expects from you at least, with a most of the riddles I ran into early on having everything you need handed to you or examining your surroundings can give you the answer. Even at that, there is enjoyment to be found in just going into these unknown locations and slowly figuring out the rooms.
Not sure if this is a deal breaker for anyone, but Kowloon High School Chronicle seems more like an enhanced port. There’s little upgrades like full voice acting and wide screen in certain areas, but a good hunk of the game is in good ol’ 4:3, including every visual novel segment. You’re playing a PS2 game ported, not a PS2 game remastered.
The premise of a person with a secret life being transferred to a school is kind of cliche, but Kowloon Highschool Chronicle rolls with it and you can just tell everyone anyway if you want. While I didn’t think the visual novel parts were bad or uninteresting, I was always craving going dungeon crawling just for how much I enjoyed those segments. Hybrid visual novels are always in my line of site, you can just switch genres whenever you get bored of one. If you like visual novels, you’ll get a good one. If you like dungeon crawlers, you’ll get a good one.