Everlasting Summer looks like your usual Japan-inspired dating-sim visual novel but you know something odd is going on when the name of the company making it is "Soviet Games" and the title screen greets you with hammers, sickles and Lenin busts.
Don't get me wrong, this really is a Japan-inspired dating-sim visual novel, but it takes place and has been made in Russia so you should expect lots of quirky stuff even when they are just trying to fit a stereotype. The premise is that you are a twenty-something internet addict with no friends and passions, who get sucked in a 1980 Pioneer Camp, the Soviet version of boy/girl scouts, before the Berlin Wall collapse. Trying to understand what the hell happened to you and how to get out from the Past you got stuck into turns out to be only half of your quest, while the other half is, of course, getting acquainted with all the girls in the camp, have sex with them, and live amazing things you couldn't experience in your actual, dull, apathetic timeline. Over the course of 7 days you will make some sparse choices that will decide what ending you get access too. This is weird cause at first it totally looks like you couldn't choose much, but the game has 13 VERY different endings and I would say that this is where it shines.
I got undeniably hooked when I realized how different the story can get based on what "branch" you pick. The problem is that without a guide, and after your first clean playthrough, it isn't clear at all how to get into a different branch or what you could have done differently. But as soon as you try to get a little deeper into the mechanics you'll realize the amount of story(es), for a game of this kind, is quite huge. This doesn't change the fact that Everlasting Summer is definitely too long in some sections and the writing is uneven at best, which might have to do with a different cultural style from what I am used to, I'm not sure. The different endings though, including a few crazy ones, are interesting and while some interactions and dialogues are beyond childish, there are also times when you can appreciate the education background of the writers.
The characters get more interesting through replays, since the first trip through the 7 days don't leave much room for their personalities, but whenever you take a different branch you get to know them better. As I mentioned before, this is the strength of the game: the 13 endings paint a whole picture. I am not a completionist but this is one case where you can only really say you finished the game when you got all the endings since only then you will really know Sovionok Camp and the story of the guy who got trapped into it.
The character design is weird at first, as pretty much everything that wants to look Japanese but it's not Japanese, but you'll get used to it soon and will probably appreciate it after a while, and the background pictures/paintings are honestly beautiful. Finally, the 1980s Soviet Union setting is just unbeatable.
Don't forget to download the Hentai patch from the official website
, since the Steam version will just give you a black screen where you are supposed to see sex or breasts. It is not much at all, this is not a hentai game, but it's better to see all the stuff instead of censorship blankness.
Rating: It's 100% free, on Steam, so yes go ahead and buy it.