A 3 year hiatus is not death!
The following is a review of a fan-made scenario for the visual novel Student Transfer. For more information about Student Transfer, please consult my dedicated Student Transfer page or the official Student Transfer website.
Over the duration of my life, I have grown accustomed to creators starting projects and simply never finishing them. It’s something that I personally refuse to allow myself to do, even if it takes me a decade to actually finish it. However, I do not hold anybody to that same standard, and if a project/creator goes by without an update for a solid year, I mentally write it off as dead.
Remote Possibilities was a scenario I covered back in 2019 as Part 1 of my scenario reviews, before I gave each scenario its own post and go ham on the review length. My original review was pretty positive— aside from my nitpicks about typos— meaning I was interested in seeing what its creator, EvilBlender, could do with any sort of update. So let’s dive right in!
Positioned as a sort of continuation of the “Ordinary Life” ending from the base game, Remote Possibilities follows a timeline where John gets neither the spellbook or alien remote. Instead, the alien remote falls into the hands of an unknown individual. Someone who could both be or become anyone, and has a particular penchant for pandemonium.
It is a rock solid— and rather terrifying— premise for a body swap story. One that is peppered with all manner of swaps and mental alterations to inhibit John and his K-Buds as they use their collective cunning, and genre-savviness, to uncover this mischievous malcontent. Sadly, the core issue with this scenario is that, even after this latest update, it is still nowhere near reaching its conclusion. Which stings particularly hard considering the fact that it’s a mystery at the end of the day. Fortunately, there’s still over a novel’s worth of text here, meaning there is plenty to enjoy, and it’s pretty good.
Characterization is solid all across the board, with particular attention being paid to John and his K-Buds, who are given ample opportunities to flaunt their personalities and bounce off each other. Which is something that I always love to see. The dialogue is consistently entertaining, capturing a good balance of comedy, dread, and methodical planning, while rarely ever spending too much time on a scene. And there is a commitment to telling a story that is, in a sense, larger than any route the base game, but also one that adheres to the characters and world.
When hopping back into this scenario, I decided to start with the new additions first, the Sayaka and Cornelia routes, so let’s just knock those out first.
The Sayaka route sees John unknowingly undergo a personality change from the milquetoast potato VN protagonist he was born to be into the author’s interpretation of a
bitchy rich girl Sayaka. It is a subgenre previously seen in the Mistake and Popular Poss routes of the base game, along with most of the handful of scenarios that featured a John-to-Sayaka route.
Despite this concept’s prolific nature, I’m not really a fan of these stories, as they pretty much all turn out the same way. John is rude to people, alienates them, and starts growing closer to Sayaka’s clique in some manner. In this case, he recruits Cornelia as his lapdog friend. Compared to its peers, the key difference is a framing device, as John and his K-Buds are watching sci-fi movies while he’s being utterly insufferable. It does not really build too much or have much unique to show players. …Well, aside from one 10/10 transition near the end of one branch. That’s a fantastic example of a transition that you can make in 40 minutes that looks excellent.
The Cornelia route sadly has the same problem of feeling… blasé given how many other creators tried this concept. John is turned into a clone of Cornelia, is given mind control that makes him obedient to Sayaka, and is unable to defy her orders as she drags him to the mall and her home. Sayaka is a pompous bitch with a narrow imagination who gets off on petty tormentation. John does not acknowledge the centuries old rules that ‘the servile slave walks away with the fewest bruises’ and ‘sadists thrive on passion.’ And due to the narrow scope of this route, it feels like just another mind slave story with no novel bells or whistles.
Originally, I planned out a section for the rest of the routes/branches the scenario weaves, but going through the scenario again… they all cover pretty similar ground. John and the K-Buds rally together after school, have some variety of encounters with the enigmatic Swapper, and most often wind up bodily displaced in the process. Sometimes John is left to spend the night as someone else, sometimes extra characters are involved, and sometimes the reader is given clues that help them make decisions in other routes.
However, the branches always end with the conclusion of day 1, meaning there is not a lot of discovery or mystery unraveling being made. It sets up a lot of routes, but set up is cheap, and only works if you have sufficient follow through. So, in engaging with this scenario, I tried to appreciate what was there… and as I said before, there’s plenty of good stuff.
The ‘Katrina’s house’ branch neatly encapsulates the dread of needing to impersonate someone else while in their body as John needs to prepare boeuf bourguignon as Katrina. It would be a form of god fearing anxiety if John were on his own, but with Katrina in his body, the two wind up having a sweetly awkward cooking date as they rib each other and pretend that nothing’s wrong. In the story’s current form, it’s an inconsequential and disconnected aside, but sometimes things like this are just what you need to add more humanity and realism to a body swap story.
The decision to swap Katrina and Yui in another route forces two characters who rarely interact directly to put aside their differences and work together. It allows unexplored dynamics to be explored, personalities to clash, and I enjoyed the decision to showcase this relationship between two parallel routes. One where the two are more amicable, and where they are at each other’s throats. A factor determined almost entirely by the ebb and flow of a conversation. That might sound like an underwhelming divergence point, but sometimes conversations are just like that.
The ambush with the Swapper, accessed by just waiting around in one variation, leads to an excellent scene of chaotic cloning confusion as the main four try to determine which of them is the imposter. But just when it seems like they have an ironclad plan, things take a turn for the worst, and the story ends on a cliffhanger that’s almost strong enough to serve as a satisfying conclusion. Almost.
The Vanessa route is a curious offshoot that not only puts John in the body of Vanessa, but grants him her short-temper. Why this happened isn’t clear, but in practice it means that John cannot control his emotions and actions, and lacks the ability to understand mathematics as well as he did before. Which is saying a lot. This combination of a low temper and an inability to do things pushes John into acting like Vanessa without really trying, which I find to be a fascinating spin on a body swap.
It muddles up what traits come with a body, what are part of the mind, and raises questions about how the two intermingle. It is a level of exploration that you don’t often see with most body swaps, when I find the idea of becoming or being disposed to act like someone else to be as fascinating as it is horrifying. Actually, I’d go as far to say that it reminds me of the division of the mind, soul, and body from the OG MtF possession TF story 1910’s An Exchange of Souls, but that’s probably just a coincidence. (Side note, but if you are going to read that story, just read the synopsis and chapter 12. It’s a product of its time.)
Tidbits like these are what kept me engaged in the scenario throughout, but Remote Possibilities is still victim to many of the same issues I have with a lot of Student Transfer scenarios. The scenario has great ideas, good execution, ample potential, but instead of trying to tell one complete story, it focuses on variety and choices above all else. A story does not need to be complete to be fulfilling, enjoyable, or even good, but if you are going to put this much effort into a story, I think you should see it to the end. If only for your own sake. Or, at the very least, try to make a minimum viable product. Determine what needs to be done, then do it. Because when writing, you can always add stripes, horns, and doodads later.
As it is, I still like Remote Possibilities as a collection of lightly explored ideas and some great scenes. EvilBlender clearly has skills as a writer and storyteller (even if their programming is a bit unorthodox), and there is definitely a lot to enjoy if you enter with the right mindset. If you haven’t played it before, I’d give a recommendation with an asterisk attached. …But if you previously played the build from 2019, there really isn’t anything all too special in the latest update, I hate to say.