Tuition Academia – Visual Novel Review

Having this game pop up in my Steam feed was a surreal experience all on its own. Let’s not dance around the bush here: Tuition Academia is blatantly a My Hero Academia rip-off. An eroge sold for real money on a real digital storefront, that just has copyrighted characters in it. It looked beyond stupid, but I had to buy it. Even if it were just to create proof that this thing really existed, in case it ends up legally purged.

PHOTO: An intro to the game in front of Hero Academy.

The similarities with MHA go beyond character designs and the title alone. Tuition Academia puts you in the role of a teenage girl with superpowers—the ability to make things float upon touch—who has just been accepted in the #1 school for educating young heroes. During the entrance exam she was saved by a green-haired boy with amazing strength, sparking a crush between them. What luck then that the two would end up in the same class together.

Unfortunately, the girl’s dream of becoming a hero would soon turn into a nightmare. Studying at this prestigious academy puts you 72,000 dollars in debt. They charge you 9,000 a year alone for a 1-room apartment. Where are you going to get that kind of money from???

PHOTO: Player character being complimented on her outfit by her crush.

Tuition Academia is formatted like one of those old dating sims you’d used to find on Flash sites. Each day you have two timeslots to do activities in, which affect your stats and relationships with the characters. In this case, you need to acquire money to pay off your debt (or buy goodies) and increase your “smarts” to pass tests. Additionally, there is “Shame” and “Sexual Desire”. Respectively, these measure your daringness to do outrageous things and receptiveness to (extreme) sexual activities.

Prior to starting the game, you can set a personality and background for your character. I went with the “Smooth Operator” personality, which lets you steal from places and increases income from working jobs. It also reduces your shame, which drops even further with each attempt to shoplift or pickpocket. Other backgrounds can help you with starting cash, more sex drive, or even let you start the game pregnant.

PHOTO: Player character in the studio office, complimenting the niceness of the couch.

Setting out on your debt-clearing adventure, you’ll have a chance to meet with many familiar-looking characters. Several of the girls from Hero Academia hang out around the city, where you can befriend and eventually romance them. Though little effort was made to legally-distinguish their appearances, their personalities are often rewritten entirely. Frog girl Tsuyu wants nothing more than to pick up hunks, Toru is an exhibitionist, Momo a pushy lesbian, and Kyouka operates a BDSM dungeon.

You can choose to study hard, tutor or waitress on the side, and gradually deepen your relationship with your crush. Or perhaps pursue a different romance entirely. However, it soon becomes apparent that settling your debts isn’t going to work if you keep making chump change. What few honest jobs you can take on are barely worth the time slot you sacrifice to do them. As more of the city opens up to you, so too do opportunities that pay much more lucratively… If you’re shameless enough to accept them.

PHOTO: Taking some entry level pictures for Onlyfans.

If you go that route, you can slide off into a world of perversion. Sell pictures of yourself online and gradually dominate the e-girl market as you get bolder with each photoset sold. Work in shady clubs where you take liberties with regulations to increase your payout. Seduce guys at the club, take them home with you, then reveal it was a paid service. Hell, you can prostitute yourself on the streets, get pregnant, then pin that baby on your boyfriend. He’s too clueless to ever find out the truth.

The game has a large variety of sex scenes. Some of them are tied to specific partners, others to specific jobs or special events. These quickly go from slightly lewd to absolutely indulgent. Early on you might have a study session turn a bit intimate. An hour later, you might already be having your first experiments with anal, inflation, or even drugs. Those who prefer dating sims that have you build up a relationship over time will likely find it shallow. Tuition Academia appeals more to those looking for a game that delivers quickly and lets you effortlessly bounce from one thing to the next.

PHOTO: The player characeter mimicking Jack-O' Valentine's iconic pose from Guilty Gear.

A downside is that some of the sex scenes get tactically re-used. Some storylines in entirely different places use identical sex scenes and several events repeat without variation. You get molested every time you go on public transport, every visit to the onsen has the same guy ogling at you, and the same fan harasses you every Friday. On the other hand, it is cool that every scene accounts for details like what you’re wearing and whether your character is pregnant or not.

I was disappointed that the photos you can make of your characters aren’t static. If you look back on them, all of them are changed to fit the current look of your heroine. These could be a fun timelapse of how your character changed, but none of it gets saved properly.

The art itself is fairly poor, even for a budget title. It’s clear who the characters are meant to represent, but their proportions and faces look off in a way that feels uncanny. The character design also has inconsistencies, mostly in how breasts change size from scene to scene. It has an off-brand feel, like seeing unlicensed Pokémon minis in a foreign toy store.

The interface also has a slapdash feel to it. Inconsistent icons, UI elements that overlap or get blocked off, and little thought being put into their placement. Like you enter your bedroom and a bunch stats just get pasted in the middle of the screen, of which 1 is a link that opens up an entirely different stat screen.

PHOTO: The bedroom menu from which you decide what to do with your timeslot.

I had inspiration for different kind of characters I’d like to try out, but the sad truth is that the game isn’t build to be replayed. There are numerous different endings to shoot for, many of which are very easy to get. My first romance I maxed out so soon that I mistakenly thought I needed better stats for the next developments. Turns out that the 3 scenes I’d gotten were all there was and I could now click a button to see the ending for that route. 10 minutes later I’d maxed out the criteria for a different ending.

There is little depth to these storylines, which would make the game incredibly short and unfulfilling if you made a new character for each one. Most locations, jobs, or relationships have at most 4 scenes to them before they’re concluded, at which point you can only repeat old events or trigger the ending for that path. The only exception here is the Onlyfans route, which had significantly more work put into it.

PHOTO: Meeting fellow students while working at the bar.

You’re really incentivized to just do everything in one run. Something you may as well do if you’re actually going to raise those 72,000 dollars. Once your shame plummets and sexual desire goes off the charts, you can take on pretty much anything regardless of what kind of character you started out as. As it turns out… this is by design. When the game notices you doing this, it begins to pull 4th-wall breaking jokes on you. Some plot developments become unsettling, even mean-spirited, and your character may begin to voice depressive thoughts.

This piqued my curiosity. Especially in one scene where I wanted to do a double-take on what just happened, only to find the scene changed when I scrolled back. My character even going so far as to ask what was wrong. Such moments were few and far between, which only drove me to deeper depths of depravity to see if the game would react.

Unfortunately, the game’s kleptomanic approach to storytelling does rear its head again here. One of the darker endings is a straight copy of Metamorphosis and much of the 4th-wall breaking elements are lifted straight from Doki Doki Literature Club. I wouldn’t be shocked if someone dissected Tuition Academia and found code lifted straight from DDLC, considering how identical some scenes were. Furthermore, if you want a pay off to all this, you need to get the True Ending. Without using cheats, this is a tedious grind even with the best money-making strategies available.

PHOTO: The player character questioning her morals.

I did feel it was worth it, though. The secret ending opens up a whole extra side of the game that adds hours of new content to it. Content with a distinctly different feel than the indulgent sexfest that preceded it. You can still load a save and play more of that, then click back when you want to explore the meta story some more. It’s pretty cool.

Tuition Academia is a decent eroge dating sim for an affordable price. It’s a raunchy game with a liberal approach to copyright, that has more to offer for those who dig a little deeper. In doing so, it’s interesting both to MHA fans that want interactive hentai of their series, as well as visual novel fans looking for a curiosity. Just don’t go into it expecting stellar writing.

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