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Shanghai Summer Review

Shanghai Summer Review

Shanghai Summer is described as a story-rich adventure on Steam, and as a fan of visual novels, I knew I had to check it out. Developed by the Chinese game developer FUTU Studio, the game takes place in the same city where the studio is located.

Buaichan and the Black Cat

Tu Buaichan is our protagonist, and throughout the novel, he experiences some strange anomalies over twelve days. The first of which is the appearance of a bizarre talking black cat. Immediately, the cat gave me strong Persona vibes, especially as the characters have a very similar anime art style. However, I could see that Persona wasn’t the only influence.

Buaichan experiences these strange experiences that all tie into lost memories of his childhood ex-girlfriend, Quiyu. For some reason, Buaichan is the only one who can’t remember her, while even his childhood friend, Fengyi, also remembers their experiences in high school. To make sense of everything, Buaichan needs to consult his journal and also the journal of Quiyu that comes into his possession.

For the first time in years, Qiuyu has come back to Shanghai and hopes to meet up with Buaichan, and it’s around this time that strange events occur. He remembers that she went abroad after they graduated, but he is uncertain if there was an accident that he blamed himself for. To find out, he needs to travel parallel worlds with the help of the mysterious black cat, while also moving on from the past with the help of the friends he has now.

Buaichan and Qiuyu

Shanghai Summer progresses over twelve days, and like most visual novels, the main focus of Buaichan is the relationships he has with others. While you may believe this is a story about reconnecting with his ex, it’s a lot more than that. In a way, the theme of moving on from the past is similar to a personal favourite anime of mine: Erased. None of Buaichan’s friends know what’s going on, and all they can see is how he’s grown as a person.

However, what sets this apart from other visual novels I’ve played is the ability for me to walk around. It wasn’t even just Buaichan, whom I could move around as, but Jingxian, a young woman whose father runs the bookshop that our protagonist has been minding, and Qiuyu herself. As Quiyu, I found myself curious about her parallel timeline, and the fact that she was trying to communicate with Buaichan gave me some strong Your Name vibes.

Qiuyu and the Black Cat

The fact that it reminded me of some of my favourite films has been a source of joy for me in the hours I spent playing this. I would say that it only took me five hours to complete, and it helped that there were set story nodes that allowed the player to go to set periods in time. It allowed me to find different endings and understand where I could take a branching path. What I found particularly amusing was how the happy endings were not necessarily the ones that you had to get, and it was different from what I would normally expect.

To keep track of your relationships with other characters, you had access to the character log in Buaichan’s journal. Here, you could also check the album (which occasionally contained a duplicate photo), and you could see the cards you collected. Truthfully, I didn’t understand why the cards were there — they didn’t reward you anything. All you got were some cards to look around for. They didn’t lead to any secret ending or prevent you from finishing the game; they were just… there.

Character Relationships in Shanghai Summer

While the story was enjoyable, I did get a little confused at times due to the fact that this was translated and then not proofread. Grammatically, there were some sentences that bemused me and typos that could have easily been avoided by just reading through the script one more time. The fact that this was a recurring theme was a little disappointing. The art itself was nice, and the graphics were mostly good. I would say that the only issues I found were considerably minor.

There was a moment when Buaichan sat opposite Fengyi, and for some reason, Buaichan looked so much bigger when I knew they were the same height. Likewise, there was a cat in the café that was resting there but also clashed with the art style of the black cat, who looked far more cartoonish than the background one. On another note, while the soundtrack was lovely, there were some moments where the loop was clearly distinct, and it sucked me out of the game a little bit when that happened.

Overall, I don’t think Shanghai Summer was a bad game. In terms of story, I enjoyed the characters, but I just think it could have been a little more polished. While the issues I found were minor, I think that it just needed one more quality control check, and it would have been fine.

6.50/10 6½

Shanghai Summer (Reviewed on Nintendo Switch)

Game is enjoyable, outweighing the issues there may be.

Shanghai Summer has an enjoyable story that kept me intrigued and will be a sure hit for fans of Erased or Your Name. However, there are some minor issues that may detract some players, such as grammar and some minor graphical issues.

This game was supplied by the publisher or relevant PR company for the purposes of review
Bex Prouse

Bex Prouse

Staff Writer

Writing about all sorts like a liquorice allsort

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