As We Know It is a diverse and character-focused visual novel that takes place post-apocalypse in which you move into a bunker, get a job, find romance, make friends, choose which side of the building unrest you’re on, and make decisions that will impact how things turn out.
When the world gets too hot, humanity finds sanctuary underground. After a long waiting list you finally score a spot in the local underground city of Camden, run by Mayor Rick Davidson. You and your mother move in and begin to acclimate to this wonderful new life. As time passes, however, things start to go wrong. Unravel what’s going on, and face some hard choices that will impact your relationships and fate.
Get a job, find romance, and meet the other residents of Camden- your new home.
– Customize your name and appearance (different skin tones and hair colors).
– 4 career options with independent story lines.
– 4 potential love interests.
– 3 potential friends and several people to interact with.
– Branching paths from day one, making each play through unique. Every path promises different sides of the story, encouraging replay!
– Spend time with any- and everyone, no matter who you romance, or which job you pick.
– Several endings.
This was a great visual novel!
It’s kind of “what you see on the store page is what you get” in terms of art (the same few locations, the same few characters, an outfit or two for each, no unlockables), but that’s because the real focus and strong point is the writing. (Though don’t get me wrong, I do like the art!)
My favorite thing was getting to know all the characters and their backstories more and more with different playthroughs. There was backstory for all the romance and friend options, even a bit for the side characters. It made the world feel filled out and real.
I also liked that you actually play through each day. It gave me a real sense of time actually passing, so relationships, friendships, and story progression felt realistic, never rushed. I could feel the romance and friendships developing.
Side note: My favorite romance was Jude, and my favorite friendship was Trevor. Both were prickly on the outside but soft on the inside once you got to know them. I said “Awwww, Jude,” while making real-life emoji heart eyes so many times during his route!
Speaking of the characters, I love how diverse the cast is. There are POC characters (two romance options are Black, one appears to be Asian, some friend/side characters are Black), LGBT+ characters (you play as female and can romance both male and female options, there’s a m/m side character relationship, at least one of the romance options is bi/pan), and characters with different body types. And I love that they all look really different and cute but normal, rather than all fitting into the same “ideal” look or being exaggeratedly sexy.
There’s also a whole storyline involving rebels who are unhappy with the way things are being done in the post-apocalyptic bunker you’re living in. Something I really liked in regards to that was seeing how differently each character reacted. It changed the experience, kinda made me think about things differently, rather than feeling repetitive for each character.
But despite all my talk of romancing characters, I wouldn’t necessarily call this a dating sim. It’s described as being a “visual novel with romance and drama,” and I think that’s accurate. The endings aren’t exactly HEAs. Some are better than others, but many are not happy, and even the best ones are very open-ended.
As for unlocking the different endings, it’s not as simple as make this choice, then make this choice. There are one or two key choices, but it also depends on your relationship with your chosen romance character, your standing in the community, and sometimes your friendship with other specific characters. And those things are built up progressively by lots of choices throughout the game. Which is cool! But it also means you basically have to start over from the beginning to get different endings. Luckily you can skip text you’ve already seen, there’s an endings guide available, and there’s a stats cheat you can turn on for extra help.
My first playthrough took me 7 hours, I think, plus another hour or two to replay and get the other endings for that character. In total, to play through all characters and endings, it took me about 22 hours. It may have taken me a bit longer than it will for other people because I used TTS for much of it (which for me is slower than reading with my eyes).
Overall, this was well-written, and I really enjoyed experiencing this story and getting to know these characters!
*This game is fully accessible for blind and visually impaired players (I checked on PC). Just press V once the game window has opened. Text will be read aloud, including menus and stats (which are based on a 50-point system), and you can play and navigate using the keyboard. There’s no notification on choice screens, but you can tell when you reach one because text will stop until you navigate to a choice.*
– Characters with depth and backstories you learn more about with each play
– Nice art, but no unlockables
– Romance and friendship that develop and progress realistically
– Diverse cast with POC and LGBT+ characters
– Interesting storyline that each character reacts to differently
– Open-ended endings, not all of which are happy
– Fully blind accessible
– Overall a great visual novel!