Preview: Summer Lesson – Summer Lovin’ is Awkward as Hell
From Tekken to teasing, Katsuhiro Harada’s PlayStation VR exclusive is decidedly creepy.
The physical media PlayStation VR version of the highly anticipated Summer Lesson is quickly approaching. The recent confirmation of a release date and the revelation that certain editions of the videogame will be made available with English language subtitles has the western world in a spin, as Summer Lesson – despite the suggestion that there may be a chance international localisation – is not the kind of videogame we can typically expect to see a western release.
And for good reason. While Summer Lesson appeals to eastern ‘otaku’ culture, in the west the premise will undoubtedly be seen as creepy by many. The player acts as a tutor to a series of girls attempting to learn a foreign language, but invariably becomes a bit too close for comfort. As a videogame that fits most comfortably in the dating sim genre, Summer Lesson is a videogame which doesn’t hold back from teasing the sexuality of attractive girls without pretending there’s any deeper context than titillation.
In VRFocus’ hands-on time with Summer Lesson we met with a blonde American trying to learn Japanese. However, there was little in the way of tutoring as the young lady began telling the story of her reasons behind the decision to learn a new language, her part-time job and her other studies. She also appeared to be very easily distracted, asking the player about their favourite flowers, pastimes and more. Indeed, there was even a moment in which she insisted on grabbing her guitar and performing a gentler acoustic song while frequently making eye contact.
The player’s input consists solely of nods and headshakes for agreement and disagreement, and gaze-control for multiple-answer questions. Depending on the responses given the in-game character will react in a different way. However, whatever reactions you choose to give it seems almost impossible that she won’t grow to ‘like’ you, and as such moments where she feels comfortable enough to stretch out across your lap and touch your face are inevitable.
Summer Lesson is officially billed as ‘VR Character Communication’, however in practice it’s much more of an experience designed solely for titillation. This isn’t relationship building nor is it an exercise for developing social skills; Summer Lesson is a fantasy. It’s an opportunity to exercise your suspension-of-disbelief to achieve a goal that you may not otherwise be able to. It’s a cynical piece of software targeting a stereotype, but for those in the western world it’s also a chance to experience a small piece of alternative culture from an alien custom.
Set for release on physical media next month, Summer Lesson will be available in a region-free edition with English subtitles. VRFocus will be bringing you more details on the release of Summer Lesson in due course.