First, let me just say that I am not an avid gamer. I play exactly four games: Candy Crush (yeah, yeah, I know…), Words with Friends (I know…), Minecraft, and High School Story. With the exception of Minecraft, I play these games because they are quick and I can easily put them down when the little one needs me. I picked up High School Story a year ago with the hopes of it being simplistic and because it reminded me a little of my former fling with The Sims. I haven’t been disappointed.
The Sims meet Choose Your Own Adventure
High School Story tells the tale of a high school. You are a character in the game who has established a high school that is different from other schools: your school accepts everyone for who they are! Your classmates fall into different cliques such as band kids, preps, jocks, etc. You can get different clique members by throwing parties or you can purchase them with game currency in the form of coins, books, and class rings. I can almost hear you saying “But I don’t want to buy anything.” You don’t have to. Trust me.
High School Story is a “free” download for your smartphone or tablet. If you play any games at all, you know what free typically means. Free often means that you don’t have to pay to download the game, but you are going to have to pay for something in the game. In High School Story, you can progress through the game just fine without spending a cent of your real, hard-earned coins.
Coins, rings, and books can be earned for free by leveling your classmates and sending them on quests and by taking interest polls. You can spend coins, rings, and books to get buildings for your campus, clothes for your classmates, the option to go one special quests that expire, or to buy new classmates.
The quests are the heart of the game. Quests range from silly to serious. Currently, my classmates are on a quest to help out a friend whose home has been foreclosed and I just finished a quest related to the perils of a school play. Like a Choose Your Own Adventure book, many quests give you choices on how you want to deal with the situation, which can change the course of the story.
Quests do take real time to complete, ranging from an hour to nearly a full day. Of course, you can spend some precious rings if you want to finish sooner. After finishing a quest, you can earn any combination or rings, books, or coins and even experience points. After all, what good is a game if you can’t level up?
There is always something to do
I enjoy open-ended games. While High School Story provides a lot of guidance on what you need to do next, you have many ways to fill your time when you are waiting for the next quest. A quick internet search will show you players who meticulously decorate and organize their high school campus. If you’re really into fashion and hairstyles, you can spend time collecting outfits or changing your classmates’ looks. I enjoy making sure that I have one of each type of classmate, so I spend more time figuring out which student cliques I can send to a party to attract a new student. I play in short bursts, so I am often just content getting my next quest. In other words, there is always something to do.
Let’s Get Sappy
High School Story is almost worth playing just for the awe factor of how hard their staff at Pixelberry Studios must work. They are constantly updating the game to add quests, new classmate types, clothing, hairstyles, and seasons with very few technical glitches. Maybe I am naive to the intricacies of developing a game, but these folks seem to be on it.
High School Story is a game with a positive message about respecting each other without it being crammed down our throats. The only time I have spent money on this game was when they partnered with The CyberSmile Foundation to raise awareness of cyber bullying, which I think is a worthwhile endeavor to support.