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3: School Dreams Forever Reviews
What does AIF stand for? Adult Interactive Fiction.
If you likely to
be offended by games with sexual content, you are advised not
to open these files.
Reviewed by ExLibris (Inside
Erin: The AIF Community Newsletter Volume 5 Number 6 – June 2009)
Molly wants to lose her virginity on her birthday. Her brother Mike wants you to be her first (and himself her second). Your girlfriend Becky wants monogamy. What do you want?
SD3 begins a few weeks after the events of SD1. No matter who won or lost the bets in that game, the PC has somehow been saddled with the task of deflowering Molly (Mike's sister) while Mike watches. The
game covers four days, climaxing with the night of Molly's birthday party. There are a number of different possible endings, depending on the choices that the player makes.
There is no doubt that this game is going to be the standard by which all other AIF is measured for a long time to come. Thanks to the hundreds of images (a mixture of real pictures and 3D graphics) it is a 50 MB
monstrosity. But even without the pictures, it is still the largest TADS AIF ever. You can and will play it for hours, trying to find every last thing. There is just that much content.
Opinion will be divided on the 3D graphics. Personally, I felt that they were generally very good, although there were a few that didn't work (e.g. the cinema ticket girl, who looks like a refugee from IMVU). The
pictures do definitely add something to the game, especially as there is less unique text in some of the sex scenes than you might expect.
While the plot is a rehash of SD2, the thing that makes SD3 special is the unparalleled number of options that the player can choose from. Although there is an ostensible goal, the PC is under no real obligation to
pursue it and can instead follow any path the player wants. The game doesn't make any path more compelling than another (i.e. there is no 'true' path), although some paths are supported by more content
than others. The sacrifice inherent in having multiple paths is that none is going to be as well developed as a single-storyline game would be, but that's a small price to pay for the gameplay experience that SD3
SD3 doesn't have many puzzles in the traditional sense. What it does have are choices, some more significant that others. These can affect the PC's relationships with the other characters and can sometimes
lead to bonus content further into the game. Working out what choices to make to achieve the results you want is the real puzzle of SD3.
SD3 has a large number of sex scenes, some of them very hot indeed. Each of the three main female characters has three to six minor scenes that the PC can enjoy with them before the grand finale. These
scenes are quite small, but each is distinct and they serve to heighten the player's anticipation for what is to come.
Of the major scenes, two (Molly and Becky/Molly) are among the best ever written, and definitely the best illustrated. Each is almost a mini-storyline in itself, which I think makes them a lot more memorable and
interesting. The other major scenes (Becky, and especially Alison) are a little disappointing by comparison. While they are still enjoyable, they are noticeably smaller and lack the x-factor that makes the other two
scenes so special.
Apart from the three main female characters, the PC has five other potential playmates. However, only two have interactive scenes. The PC's encounters with the other three are simply narrated once they have been
triggered. There are also a number of opportunities for voyeurism to be found. However, some of the best sex that the PC can have occurs in his own head. There are nearly a hundred scripted daydreams, a majority
of which have pictures, plus an infinite number of randomly generated fantasies. On the minus side, finding all of these daydreams requires repeating the same command over and over, a tedious process that sucks
some of the enjoyment out of them.
For a Goblinboy game, SD3 is comparatively buggy. I noticed a half-dozen or so bugs and glitches during my playthroughs, although only one was really serious. It would be unrealistic to expect no bugs or glitches
in a game of this size and complexity, but I think SD3 would have benefited from even more playtesting than it received.
Less easy to be forgiving about are the large number of spelling mistakes and typos, but at least they are easier to fix (and might well have been by the time you read this).
SD3 was a game that I found easy to admire, but slightly more difficult to like. Although the characters were adequate, compared to the epic scale of the rest of the game they definitely felt like the weak point.
The minor characters were flat, which isn't necessarily a bad thing, but some bordered on caricature and none were particularly likeable. The main characters were more rounded, but failed to be very compelling.
The descriptions of the game world were also very sparse, the four houses that the PC visits being the worst offenders in this regard. There were one or two details that added some depth to the characters, but overall I
would consider it an opportunity lost.
More subjectively, the world of SD3 is basically a dystopia. The guys are misogynistic jerks and the girls are sluts (with a couple of exceptions). Love is the exception rather than the rule, absentee parenting is the
norm, and there is no place for empathy or altruism. The PC has the freedom to rape an unconscious girl, but not to stop someone else from raping her. The character of Alison shows that this kind of world has a
human cost, but that didn't make it any more palatable to me.
Objectively, this is the greatest AIF ever made. There are other games that are better in individual areas, but overall SD3 is the king of the mountain. Goblinboy deserves to be applauded for having completed such a
For me it lacked some of the sense of fun of comparable games, and I would also have preferred stronger and more likeable characters. Despite those gripes, I have to admit that I have spent an enormous amount of
time playing SD3, trying to discover every secret. It's a game that sucks you in and doesn't let go.
Is it the greatest AIF that will ever be made? I don't think so. After all, we still have GoP3 to look forward to ;)
The bugs and spelling mistakes, as well as all my other subjective quibbles, push SD3 very close to an A-. However, given that there is likely to be a bugfix release before too long, I think an A is appropriate.
Reviews should be considered copyrighted by their respective authors.
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