Palladium Version 0.0.4 Review

“Luck helps sometimes, hard work always. Think about it.”

Palladium is a TSF/TG/Gender Bender visual novel that I previously covered in April 2021 and June 2022, and… I guess it’s now one of those titles that I’m going to cover every time it see a major release. Or, I guess two months after its release…

The title is developed by C.R.E.A.M., a French writer who fans of Student Transfer scenarios might be familiar with as the developer behind Expect the Unexpected, Never, and Empyrée. I previously covered his work in Parts 3, 6, and 7 of my Student Transfer scenario reviews, where he quickly became one of my favorite scenario writers for his ambition, creativity, and passion. 

Version 0.0.4 expands the previously introduced Wendy and Mass Swap routes, and starts the Uma route, making it more of a modest update. So this review is going to reflect this by basically being an updated and rearranged version of what I wrote in 2022, as my thoughts on the game didn’t change that much over the past year.

With that taken care of, let’s sit back, chill, and vibe with some Palladium

Palladium Version 0.0.4 Review
Platform: PC
Developer/Publisher: C.R.E.A.M.
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Palladium follows Vince Haskins, a teenager who enjoys spending time with his friends, mother, and little sis, while trying to lead a life with minimal fuss or frustration. However, right as he eases into his final year of high school, he happens across a shiny doodad in some rubbish by the local cat café. A device known as the STX, which has the ability to transform people, switch bodies, possess people, issue mental commands, and also tap into parallel worlds in order to rewrite reality. All of which are pretty standard fare… except for that last one, which is just the power to become a GOD.

From this initial starting point, Palladium takes the form of a mostly linear route-driven affair, and since its first release in 2021, the game has grown into something fairly robust. Per my best estimate, it features just under 250,000 words of story, or over 20 hours of content, spread across five routes. It’s a fair bit, but still manageable for a single review, so I’m going to give each route its own mini review, starting with the new stuff, before offering more general thoughts on the title at the end.

Uma Route

The Uma route sees Vince happen across Uma Lovelace, the school’s resonant aspiring actress who, following a pleasant conversation, inspires Vince to test her skills using the STX. Specifically by having her possess the principal of Naya Walker. Uma immediately slips into the role, makes Vince think he might have accidentally mind murked someone, and after a day of dread and unwanted confrontations, Vince realizes he got duped by an acting pro. 

Afterwards, the story progresses about how you would expect. Uma is eager to make use of the STX, wants to switch bodies with Vince, and test her skills by switching from a prestigious and glamorous girl to a rough around the edges young man. It’s a familiar, but good, set up that offers prime opportunities for insights and potential for escalation. Unfortunately, just as this chapter begins, it comes screeching to a halt. Yeah, it’s one of those routes. I swear, if I had a dollar for every time this happened to me, I’d be able to buy a new PC… Or at least more storage than I would ever need.

Wendy Route

The Wendy route sees Vince suddenly planted into the heels of his school’s vice principal and English teacher, Wendy Miles. With no remote or any idea who is responsible for what appears to be a possession, Vince has little choice but to start impersonating his teacher… which is a lot easier said than done. 

Much of the first part of the route depicts Vince trying to adapt to his new role and everything that comes with it. How to teach a class. How to handle administrative duties. How to present as an authoritative woman. How to run a home and care for a little sister. And how to handle social situations when people expect him to be a stickler for authority. It’s nothing too unfamiliar for the ‘student trapped in an adult body’ subgenre,’ but it’s done well, paced well, and does a lot to show the strengths of Vince as a character. 

Despite looking and sometimes acting like a short-tempered musclebound hothead, this route paints Vince as a versatile and adaptable individual. Someone capable of quickly picking up new skills, and improvising his way out of awkward social situations. He never seems especially ‘gifted,’ as he makes a lot of tiny mistakes, but he always tries to find a way to work his way around or out of a nasty situation. His dedication does a lot to endear a reader to his plight, keeps them engaged, and once this chaos becomes ‘semi-managed,’ the story starts shifting its focus to the person behind this.

A currently unrevealed interloper who stole the STX from Vince and is using him as the centerpiece for a twisted social experiment. They make for a foreboding antagonist for Vince to fight against, while doubling as a fascinating character in their own right. They aren’t merely a misanthrope or true sociopath, clearly having some desire to better others, and actively want Vince to succeed in their game. It’s a solid dynamic, but one that is sadly a fair bit away from seeing a conclusion, with the story only being about 60% done by my estimation.

All in all, it’s a good example of the strengths of this particular subgenre, a novel character study for its protagonist, and an appreciated deep dive into the life of another character. However, I do have two criticisms. The route has a bit too much going on with variable management for its own good (just look at my flowchart). And I think the story lost something when it removed the dream visions between Vince and Wendy, which ended after the third night. They were great opportunities to show off Wendy’s true personality, the ways she and Vince differed, and saw the start of a relationship arc between the two. I know I would have loved to see her reaction to Vince’s encounter with the mastermind at the very least…

Mass Swap Route

The Mass Swap route sees the STX stolen by the student council president, Elise, who decides to use this device to impose several changes (meaning body swaps) across the school. She tries to spin this off as a means of correcting students and teaching them… something, but it’s pretty clear she has less than altruistic goals in mind. While Vince is more than aware enough to see this, and even kicks off a shaky relationship with the girl in Elise’s body, Cassidy, he has no recourse against her, and pretty quickly falls victim to her whims. Which just so happens to involve a body swap with the school’s resident fat girl, Berry.

Vince then realizes the magnitude of crap he’s in, tries to get on Elise’s good side, and is left to search for an opportunity to undo this fine mess while coming to terms with his new identity and stature. It is a solid, if kind of standard, way to start a story like this, however, it suffers from a major focus problem.

You have the parallel stories of Berry fulfilling a lifelong dream of being fit and conventionally attractive, and Vince coming to like Berry’s more plump form. You have the story of Cassidy trying to get her sexy bad girl body back after being thrown into Elise’s petite body. You have the story of Sonya and Roxanne coming to terms with their former rivalry as they are placed into a position where they must appear to be close companions. You have the story of Chiara and Willow as they are both given their dream bodies and reinvent the lives of their classmates to something more… agreeable. And even more stories that are hinted at but not fully shown.

Now, this level of complexity is part of the appeal of a mass body swap story like this, and it is a concept that C.R.E.A.M. has ample experience with. Namely through the doll route in Never and the group 2 swap in Empyrée, both of which were great. However, there are three core differences between those routes and the Mass Swap route. The Mass Swap route acts as the first true introduction to many of these characters, rather than relying on established characters, making it harder to grasp who is who on several levels. It lacks a clear objective other than ‘wait and ride the waves,’ as this isn’t some structured experiment or exploitable demon’s ploy. And, due in part to these two problems, the route feels pretty slow-paced.

The Mass Swap route is far from bad, as there are plenty of fun character interactions, interesting swap choices, and flickers of relationship development between Vince and other central characters. However, it lacks the same level of… chaos that I prefer with this concept, and does not seem to have a clear vision for what it is going to be, other than… everything.

Camelia Route

This route sees Vince present the STX to the timid, introverted, and adorable experiment-loving girl, Camelia D’Amarante. After some standard reservations about using it, the two, naturally, decide to test the device by swapping bodies for a day. A day that, thanks in part to some mental transfers, inevitably brings these two closer, causing them to grow from strangers to friends, and eventually lovers. 

There are some minor quarrels. A few misunderstandings. A predictably lovey-dovey conclusion. The type of shenanigans that are only possible if you have a bathtub made for adults. Along with a few miscellaneous transformations to break things up and add a bit of extra flavor to the affair. The two leads nicely contract and gel together, and while it’s nothing too unfamiliar, being a pretty vanilla body swap story at the end of the day, it’s still a good heartfelt route.

Eva Route

The Eva Flores route begins with Vince transforming himself into his newly hired science teacher in order to teach a class on her behalf. After some minor crisis averting, Vince transforms back to normal and is inclined to move past this good deed, while Eva insists that she do something for Vince. Thus leading him to body swap Eva and his gifted yet disillusioned little sister, Paige. A sensible swap that, as demonstrated throughout the day, pleases both parties… but perhaps a bit too much.

As Vince tries to undo the swap and urges Paige to return to her old life, she decides to use the STX against him by swapping him into the body of her demure best friend, Juno. Doing so reunites Eva and Vince as they go about their lives as middle school lolis, furthering their relationship, albeit in an unexpected way, while seeking out a way to get out of this mess… or not.

The middle section of the Eva route is peppered with choices where the player determines how much Vince fancies his life as a 14-year-old girl, giving way to three unique branches. A fairly straightforward concept… or at least it would be if not for how the game expects the player to understand the nuance between “…” and “..!” But I guess that’s what flowchart makers like me are for.

The max acceptance, or “acceptation,” branch sees Vince eagerly embrace his newfound femininity and the quartet of swapped persons deciding that they are, ultimately, happier this way. While simple conceptually, it is a sweet story that presents body swapping as a source of good and joy, in addition to being an unconventional, yet cute, conclusion to the romance between Vince and Eva. I could comment on how this seems a bit out of character for Vince, but we don’t know what mental commands Paige placed on him, and mind control is the easiest excuse for someone acting out of character.

The middle branch sees Vince not fully embrace or reject his newly assigned life until, in an accident meant to help quell his unease, things take a turn that I would rather not spoil. Though, I will say that it nicely handles the subject of mental alterations, and shows both perspectives of the loss that comes with reckless use of reality-altering devices. I also appreciate the more ambiguous yet happy ending here as, when dealing with something like the STX, identity tends to become a messy thing as bodies are shuffled and minds are blended.

The zero acceptance branch, or the ‘true ending,’ sees Vince correct this bodily displacement after everyone enjoyed a nice little ‘holiday.’ Yet as he returns to his normal high school boy life, Vince cannot help but ruminate on his relationship with Eva. Prior to undoing this swap, Eva formed a strong relationship with Vince, confiding in him as she opened up her heart, sharing her traumatic past, and indirectly expressing her desire for affection. This makes it hard for them to maintain their distant professional relationship like before and, after several days of avoiding each other, Eva finally invites Vince to her apartment, where their relationship advances beyond that of just friends.

This could be seen as a problematic turn of events, given the student-teacher relationship of these two, but their interactions throughout this branch’s content do a great job of establishing them as… friends. They share common interests, their personalities mesh together well, and as they enjoy a night of beer, sushi, and the most amazing sounding monster movies, it’s hard to not want to see them get together. Which, as to be expected of C.R.E.A.M., a known romantic, is rendered in tender detail, going above and beyond the most natural endpoint in order to cement these two dorks as a couple.


By now, you have almost certainly noticed the… particular writing style of C.R.E.A.M. based on the images included in this review. C.R.E.A.M. is not a native English speaker, his grasp on the language is spotty, but after reading so much of his work, I have come to appreciate the nuances of a C.R.E.A.M. script. The vast majority of lines and interactions are understandable, the storylines are ultimately easy to follow, and I consider the script to be very… soulful.

Though C.R.E.A.M. might lack the technical skills, he still has a way with words, tries to make things sound poetic, and produces more than a handful of hard-hitting or emotionally rich lines. It’s definitely not for everyone, and would inarguably benefit from the insights of a native speaker or more sophisticated editing, but there is definitely something to love about his writing. Or if that’s not your cup of tea… the game’s also available in French, and that script is probably way better

As for the content as a whole, if I had to compare Palladium to C.R.E.A.M.’s earlier works, I would say that this is far more… restrained. Something that I particularly loved about Never and Empyrée was the sheer variety and diversity of the storylines that C.R.E.A.M. pursued. Between isekai routes, sudden protagonist switches, idyllic demonic mind prisons, and characters fusing together, there were a lot of eccentricities, a lot of weirdness, and a lot of things to love.

With Palladium, it feels more like C.R.E.A.M. is holding back and trying to ‘move past’ some of his impulses with a more restrained approach. Something more like the base game of Student Transfer and less like the Scenarios he made for the game. What’s here is a good exploration of TF themes and concepts, features a cast of solid likable characters, and an overall enjoyable experience. However, as a lover (and producer) of weird nonsense, I do wish that the game kicked it up a notch. 


Speaking of moving things up notches, let’s shift over to the presentation. Much like its contemporaries, Palladium lifts character sprites and backgrounds from other visual novels. This naturally leads to some dissonance between certain sprites as styles vary, but C.R.E.A.M. has put a good deal of work into making these sprites his own. Giving them matching uniforms, recoloring their hair, making extensive edits to Vince’s sprite, and bringing them to life through the magic of animation! 

Characters frequently flip between expressions, jitter about when the scene calls for grander movements, and ultimately try to be visually engaging as the story goes on. It is all several cuts above a more standard visual novel, but what really gives Palladium a visual energy all its own are the expression symbols. Little anime-esque visual cues that accentuate the already detailed expressions of the characters.

I actually find these to be a wild addition to a game like this, as C.R.E.A.M.’s implementation is very… non-programmer. Rather than create a ‘mapping system’ that assigns ‘symbol ranges’ relative to each character, he manually positioned thousands of symbols, so they look like they are appearing in the right place. It’s not a smart approach, and I don’t think his approach to language settings is either, but I’ve got to respect an effort like this when I see it.

There’s also this one repurposed CG for an interrogation scene in the Wendy route that is a great example of using the existing assets of a VN in a unique and compelling way. The exact details of the presentation are a bit slapdash, with a borderless picture and picture window, but things like this and the two custom chibi CGs really demonstrate C.R.E.A.M.’s passion for the more visual end of things.

…Sadly, he lacks the same passion when it comes to audio. I appreciate C.R.E.A.M.’s use of lo-fi hip-hop to establish mood and tone throughout his work, urging the reader to lean back and vibe with what this French fool is spittin’. However, the soundtrack only contains 50 minutes of music, and the game only regularly uses about half of that. While sound effects are limited to… six noises. School bell, door open, knocking, phone dialing, a fire alarm, and the clanging of glass.

Previously, I suggested substituting the soundtrack to alleviate these problems, ideally something within the spectrum of lo-fi beats to study and relax to and real hip-hop. But after going through other TF visual novels with a far more robust attention to audio design, the audio work here just feels half-assed. 


Palladium is a quality TSF visual novel written by someone well-versed in the subject matter, and is home to enough creativity and story for it to be an easy recommendation to TSF fans. 

As a release though, Version 0.0.4 did not really impress me due to its partial additions to existing routes, and the introduction of an all too familiar stub. If you have not played the game yet, I would still consider this a more than worthwhile title, but if you already played 0.0.3, I’d recommend waiting for the next release.

I also prepared a flowchart, which is filled with a bunch of variables that currently don’t do anything but alter certain bits of flavor text.

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