Gaokao.Love.100Days, Reverse Visual Novel

Navigating school life

Japanese visual novels are such a unique genre of games that it’s even difficult to write coherent texts about them. You spend hours scrolling through text, only to eventually get under the skirt of some two-dimensional beauty. With pictures. In reality, playing visual novels is like playing a guessing game, and usually a crippled and incomprehensible one at that. It’s not really appealing to delve into discussions about how well a heroine is depicted or why.


Among these novels, there are examples with actual gameplay. Sometimes, the game wants you to become a Man first. You learn there, go to the gym, earn money, and gain life wisdom. Strangely enough, there is a certain charm in these work calendar simulators; again, you can admire, um, remarkable artwork while virtually self-improving.

When the head of the team strongly recommended buying Gaokao.Love.100Days and writing something about the game, the first serious question was, “But why?” It turned out that the boss really wanted to have one of the local emojis, a recolored clone of Doge, in their Steam account. The initial decisive refusal was never voiced; on one hand, the title included “100 days,” which likely meant that these hypothetical days would not be spent simply flipping through graphomania, but actually doing something in the game. On the other hand, oh, it’s been a while since I played such games, maybe they’ve come up with something new and interesting. Plus,


Suddenly, the game turned out to be not Japanese at all, but very much Chinese. Perhaps, one should have guessed it again by the title (and, if you will, by the repainted Doge), but your humble servant did not know what Chinese university entrance exams are called until the very last moment.

In Chinese visual novels, everything is the opposite.

We already have a girl at the start. Objections like “But we haven’t even properly met yet!” are not accepted, because the real challenge of Gaokao.Love.100Days is not to build love for yourself, but to pass the gaokao well. And the girl here – well, at least the one that is given by default – will only get in the way.

The novel turned out to be not about school love, but about school stress. While Japanese two-dimensional teenagers worry about romance and attend classes in the background, Chinese two-dimensional students argue with their parents over pre-university preparation flyers and question whether they need all these hormonal passions right now.

Surprisingly, the journey into the Looking Glass of visual novels inexplicably awakens the excitement. You want to play out this upside-down joke to the end – to ditch the wayward girlfriend and get into somewhere more prestigious.

I guessed right with the schedule simulator, only “Go to the park,” “Exercise,” and “Call your loved one” are not the main options nowadays. The main ones are “Learn Chinese,” “Learn English,” “Learn math,” “Learn everything else,” and “Get a good night’s sleep.” Now that’s what I call the path to success.

Challenges and choices

But, of course, it is unlikely that the developers were aiming for exactly that effect. Love is also present in the game. Over the infamous one hundred days, the main character will need to either prove to himself that he chose The One, or find a replacement for her (two classmates are offered as options). Or get carried away with an MMO and fail both the lady and the exams.

In total, Gaokao.Love.100Days has several dozen endings. Some of them are about how our protagonist is a superhero – he didn’t lose/find love and passed the exams properly. Champion finishes are unlocked through grinding, tedious text scrolling, and playthroughs with inexplicably carried over inventory perks from session to session.

Which brings us back to the question: “But why?”


I would recommend Gaokao.Love.100Days only to genre enthusiasts, as a meta-joke. You really had to make a visual novel about breaking up with a girl for the sake of studying! It’s not a big deal to pay $5 for that.

Fans of such games, however, are usually open-minded and can easily appreciate the original project’s grandeur.

If you’re just drawn to something subtly exotic (preferably with girls), then it’s better to look at other visual novel games on Steam.

Or search for classics of the genre on torrent trackers, but I didn’t tell you that.

P.S. The English translation of Gaokao.Love.100Days is mediocre. Not that I’m an expert in translating from Chinese to English, but our characters sometimes speak in a strange way. Like in amateur translations of the series “Breaking Bad,” where Jesse first addressed his partner-mentor as “Mr. White” and then immediately switched to “you.” Every now and then, the thought slips in that the characters are struggling with mental disorders.

PC, Switch
Visual Novel
Release Date:
Editor's rating:
Is it worth playing? (If the score is more than 70%)



More Reviews