Price: $14.99 for 1 story or $29.99 for both (PC, Mac, Linux) $6.99 (iOS)
System(s): PC, Linux, Mac, iOS, Android
Release Date: March 7, 2014
Publisher (Developer): Winter Wolves (Winter Wolves)
ESRB Rating: N/A (I recommend a Teen rating for some sexual content, language and alcohol)
Ah, the college years, where young adults figure out who they really are. They learn their preferences, as well as the career path they will walk into the final years before graduating. Or, they could “Eddie Murphy” their way through college and party until the tuition money runs out. In Roommates, Winter Wolves gives players the opportunity to shape a young man or woman’s first year of college life in the way the player wants to have it all play out.
Six strangers picked to live in a house…
The story in Roommates revolves around the first year of college with Max or Anne, depending on if you bought both stories or just one. Max is the typical slacker that just wants to have his band become bigger than life one day. Going to college is something Max doesn’t seem to be all too concerned about, but does so in order to get out from under his parents. Anne loves to spend all day in her lovely books and is sharp as a tack. Anne hopes that her first year of college is when she’ll finally discover her wild side. The plot is very thin, but since you are the one shaping the first year of college in either Max or Anne’s life, the story is what you want it to be.
I chose Max as the person I wanted to guide through his first year at college. Upon first getting to the his new home, the Latin House, the Resident Assistant Dominic greets Max at the door. Max being his arrogant self already starts to butt heads with him, when Isabella comes storming out the house. Max is immediately smitten by her. When Max finally makes his way into the house and settles in, he meets the rest of his roommates. Sally is a sweet, peaceful person that likes tranquility and is a vegan. Max can’t help but smile around her. Rakesh is a foreign art student who seems to have trouble adjusting to American culture. The most intriguing person Max meets in the Latin House is Anne. Her shyness is seen as a perfect opportunity for Max to break her out of that social shell she has created.
A year in the life…
Roommates players are going to spend a lot of time looking at the calendar hub. You use this to plan out Max’s entire month. Each day consists of a morning, afternoon and night periods, and players have to decide what Max will do during each time period. Activities range from going to work or classes, studying, rock climbing, drinking at the pub, or even sleeping all day. You have a lot of variety in how you want things to play out. Although you can change things from week to week, I kept the schedule for Max pretty much the same. Monday, Wednesday and Friday’s schedule was classes in the morning, work in the afternoon and going to bed early. Tuesday and Thursday ended up being classes in the morning, napping in the afternoon and drinking at the pub at night. Weekends consisted of sleeping in, rock climbing and napping.
As the days play out, you will get little quips in the bottom right corner from your character, as well as others. More often than not, an event will pop up and take you out of the simulation. These events are where you will interact with your other roommates, making decisions that will affect your relationships with whomever is in the event. Most of these events were quite brief, with only one choice to make. The rapid pace of how these events end can be a bit jarring, even if these events happen frequently. As time wears on, however, you’ll start to wish there was more to them besides a couple of paragraphs to read and a single decision to make.
Love is in the air
If you are interested in romancing any of the other characters in Roommates, you have to pay close attention to the stats in the calendar hub. Not meeting certain requirements will hurt you in the long run. I missed out, but in retrospect, I wouldn’t necessarily call it a mistake. I thought of Max as being the type of person pretended he didn’t care to keep up a bad boy image. Deep down though, he was caring and would help his friends when the time called for it. So that’s how I played him. Although, this did prevent me from getting the necessary stats to romance any of the characters, specifically Isabella. I came close, but we all know that close only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades.
Even though Roommates is a visual novel, I found myself wanting more interaction with each scene that passed. I understand that reading is the essential part of a visual novel after all, yet with the calender hub, I felt there was more potential for Winter Wolves to add much more interactive scenes. For example Max got invited to a costume party and, when he arrived, found it was a murder mystery party. Although the outcome didn’t matter, I felt more engaged as I tried to find out who the culprit was by questioning everyone at the party. Roommates could have used more of these situations.
Made the grade
What Winter Wolves crafts in Roommates is a great, if not entirely accurate, look into the first year of college life. Though, more interaction could have alleviated the long periods of time where the player has nothing to do but click for the next paragraph to read. Thankfully, the interesting calendar hub screen as well as some entertaining moments helps keep the momentum to see the end of the first year. I didn’t get to see any romantic scenes with anyone, but that’s the great thing about Roommates. I got to play Max the way I saw him in my mind and still have a great time, regardless of the outcome.