We will be up front about Surviving High School: It’s a game directed at a certain demographic of casual gamers, and the majority of the hardcore crowd or heavy action fans will yawn at this. If you fit into one of the latter groups, this game is not for you. However, choose your own adventure fans are in for one big treat.
EA’s latest effort is much more ambitious than it appears on the surface. The game comes loaded with an 8-week story where you create your own character. He is the new kid on the block and your goal is to form relationships with other students through a text-driven story.
Jumping the charq.
Minigames and optional after-school activities, like watching TV to make conversation with the ladies or working out to polish your guns for your next big football game, will boost different aspects of your physical, social, or mental state. While there are no stats on which to base your success and failure, and no way to know how events will turn out in the future, this adds to the slight realism and surprise that makes Surviving High School stand out.
Once you complete this episode of life at Centerscore High, you can go back and play differently to discover new outcomes (of which there are several) or move on to additional episodes. Each week a new episode is ‘aired’, meaning you can play it as much as you want for the week’s duration. Each of these is shorter than the pilot that comes packed with the game and is centered around pre-made characters, but half the fun is stepping into the shoes of other students and seeing how each of the groups intertwine. Like the pilot, each episode has multiple outcomes as well as secret scenes that can be viewed by playing the ‘perfect game’ (making the right choices for the path you choose).
Exchange witty remarks with animated characters.
There is a catch with the extra episodes, though. If you ever want to go back and revisit old episodes from past weeks, you must purchase them in two-episode bundles for $0.99. While the asking price is not high, this can really rack up over time. There are some DLC-only episode bundles, though, that we thought put the feature to better use.
Our other gripe with Surviving High School is that many times the minigames seem out of context. A good 70 percent of the time the minigame is a word finder where you drag your finger over each word you can find relating to a given topic. This quickly grows old, especially when you are tasked with this for athletic and other irrelevant activities. Also, this tends to be very easy, with the target score reachable in seconds.
The low level of difficulty, high school theme, and overall casual appeal of Surviving High School is not for the hardcore crowd, but if you’re not in that demographic then we recommend giving this game a shot.