Everlasting Summer is a free-to-play Russian visual novel by Soviet Games released in 2014.
On a snowy winter day, the main character, Semyon, falls asleep as he takes a bus in his routine, ordinary and negative life. Semyon wakes up to a summer day and finds that the bus is empty, now parked in front of a young pioneer camp called Sovyonok.
The young pioneers was once a Vladimir Lenin organization for children to instill patriotism, Soviet ideals, and communist ideology to teach them political maturity. (Read more about it here.)
Though this would make a very cool historical fiction VN, it is more like a dating sim, with 5 girls to choose from (and a secret one, too!), one of them seemingly inspired by Vocaloid’s Hatsune Miku.
Aside from being a Ren’py type of visual novel that allows you to choose your own ending; on a specific path, the game creepily and subtly breaks the fourth wall by hinting at how Semyon repeats his days at summer camp and his awareness of alternate realities, quite like the movie Groundhog Day or Edge of Tomorrow. This happens if the choices you made in the game distance yourself from the other locals in camp.
Other than misspellings and some minimal dialogue left untranslated, the game’s story is interesting, though doesn’t quite explain what led to Semyon’s week of living in the past (though maybe that was left on purpose for the player’s imagination?). I also really appreciate some hints that explain a bit of Russian culture, as I’ve been recently studying the language.
As it is a visual novel, the game is text-heavy however the developers decided to add a couple of mini-games as well as spiced up how you can pick certain choices:
For a free game, I thought the card game tournament was a really good touch. It wasn’t difficult at all to figure out, although I have yet to see a scene where I actually lose the game (probably what I get for playing a lot of Gwent). After your first playthrough, it also allows you to skip through the tutorial and provides you the choice to win or lose whichever game you previously beat.
Everlasting Summer allows you to skip through already seen text, which saves you a lot of time if you choose to achieve all 13 endings, and if I roll the scroll wheel of my mouse upward, I get to backtrack and even change a choice (unless a chapter has passed) though (correct me if I’m wrong) I think that’s more of the Ren’py engine glitch.
I really enjoyed the music on this one. I played some scenes in the dead of night, and I got really creeped out and a little scared because of the music. The sound effects and other Foley attempts to give the game more ambiance and a cinematic feel. It has over 50 tracks that can be purchased from their website. I enjoy listening to some of them in the background (like right now). I’ve placed a few here for your own hearing pleasure.
Art is the second most important to me when it comes to playing visual novels. It was really confusing and slightly off-putting for me to see a Japanese art style / anime girls (especially
Hatsune Miku) in a game set in Russia however it’s not actually such a problem, and I later came to appreciate the art, until I found that not all of the art was consistent which really is my only frustration with the game. The background art is really beautiful and even the opening animated intro impressed me. I do appreciate other art styles but I crave consistency especially if it’s within the game, because it can mess with a lot of the game’s momentum and feel.
There’s a lot of minute details you don’t notice that are actually contradictory based on what they write, such as having everyone portrayed as though they are 18 years old, but you go back in time as a 17-year old with others in a youth camp, in a mostly eroge game. 🤦 (Historically, the oldest you can be in a pioneer camp is 15) And strangely enough Olga Dmitrievna (their facilitator) ends up acting like she isn’t an adult and doesn’t have much of an authoritative presence, if any at all.
I believe the reasons for these cons were to probably have more people try the game out since anime-style games in this genre generally have a lot of players. I played the Steam version, and felt very impressed to have played a free game with many features and a great soundtrack. Other than the minor details in the story and the character graphics, it’s quite a decent game. I honestly think you could do without the adult content, but a lot of others beg to differ. It’s your choice, my friend.
Rating: 8 / 10
*** This game is best suited for people aged 16 or older. The Steam version has no adult content, and if you have the version that does, it can be toggled on or off. Some scenes without adult content still show partial nudity.