When putting together a game about high school students, it can be difficult to get the tone right. With games like Final Fantasy VIII and Persona 3, we have a cast of characters that are all in high school, but often behave as they’re much older. The conversations they have aren’t exactly typical of kids that age. Characters in games like Yo-kai Watch are on the verge of becoming teenagers, but can behave as though they’re much younger. Galanti’s Kokurase, an episodic adventure game made with RPG Maker, manages to actually capture the right atmosphere, attitude and emotion in such a way that its characters and subject matter feel authentic.
Kokurase follows a group known as Kokurase. They’re a group of four students working at Hanesato High School. Their goal? To help their classmates find love. Players follow their current client and members of the team, manually switching between them at different segments and employing Key Phrases and abilities to learn more about the situation, advance the story and hopefully reach a happy ending.
The entirety of Kokurase takes place at Hanesato High School. While it isn’t very detailed, due to the limitations of RPGMaker, the setting feels right. The campus is about the right size for such an area. More importantly, the character art and event scenes pop. They’re stylish, bright and colorful. When you head to the menu screen, your active character is surrounded by the sort of notes you’d expect a teenager to jot down about someone in a notebook. It has a peppy sort of personality, while still exaggerating important events.
Each Kokurase character’s attitude fits within the realm of expectations for high school students. The people you meet will all be very nosy; they make a big deal over the smallest bits of information. The group Kokurase is basically a bunch of busybodies, albeit ones with their hearts in the right place. Characters like Kanta and Riho obsess over certain elements, in the same way highschoolers fanboy and fangirl over their passions. Everyone is in each others’ business, displaying the sort of energy only the young have for such minor events.
This ties well into teenagers’ emotional exploits. Our high school crushes can feel like the most important love affairs of our lives. We prioritize our first few flings, not realizing how low the odds of the first person we ever love being the one we love forever are. These high schoolers’ love affairs are very important business to the characters in Kokurase. The game does a good job of handling this in a way that’s appropriate, but not ridiculous. They’re passionate about their affairs, but not in a laughable way. It’s touching, but not melodramatic.
Kokurase’s first episode offers a taste of something that rings true. As we follow around these incredibly invested teenagers, we can’t help but get caught up in their adventures too. While each of the main club members aren’t completely realized yet, due to this being only the initial adventure, they make a good first impression. The concept resonates well, making an investment in these affairs feel worthwhile.