Under Control – Student Transfer Scenario Review

Morality is yours to make and mine to break!

Student Transfer Scenario Review:
Under Control by Smurfik
Build Released: 3/03/2023
Length: 2.4 Hours
Played using Student Transfer Version 7.1
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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.

Under Control belongs to that genre of Student Transfer scenarios that don’t necessarily set out to do something completely new, but rather remix existing ideas. The story picks up the morning after John got abducted by aliens, but rather than treating this as the opening to a sprawling web of choices, this scenario treats this as a proper revelation. One that leaves John’s mind buzzing with questions as he ponders how and if such a thing could be real, over-analyzing how to best use it, and worrying about it being taken or abused by authorities. The sort of things that are usually given lip service in stories like this, but are on full display here, and are kind of the point of this scenario.

Under Control is designed to be a slower-paced and more introspective analysis of what it would be like for someone to gain something as powerful as the alien remote. One where John is far less sure on how to properly use this device, and spends roughly the first hour of this scenario building up to the first proper transformation. Here, John gets extra ambitious with the device, switches bodies with Yui, and uses a combination of mental commands and memory copying to impersonate her to a satisfactory level. Thereby allowing him to experience what it is like to be someone else, while a mind controlled Yui pulls off a flawless impression of John. A fairly familiar, if not basic, super-TF-doohickey story concept, where the most compelling part is the little details and clear effort put into it.

You have neat little tangents such as Yui using her Harold Planter fanfic to vent with the frustration she builds up by being such a hardass all the time. Or the flashback where John is trying to pull Holly away from schoolwork to play video games with her. A lot of introspective monologuing that makes you feel like you’re hitching a ride inside of the protagonist’s head, which I always appreciate. And the scenario has a generally ambitious approach to its presentation, regularly finding ways to surprise me. 

A lot of them seem basic, like zooming in on a character sprite during a particularly introspective scene. Making use of custom visual assets, such as outfits or transitions to help build things organically. Or using two ghost Johns to represent the angel and devil on his shoulder as he fiddles with a divine doohickey. But they add visual variety, look nice, and showcase a level of dedication.

As for what the story does with all this stuff, it only covers John’s first day with the device, and despite being over two hours long, not a lot happens. John gets the device, switches with Yui for a school day, switches back to normal, leaves Yui with a hole-infested memory, and then reveals the device to a friend. Nothing especially compelling or all that creative in and of itself, and at most, a solid foundation.

…But in saying that, I am ignoring the ‘real’ plot of this scenario, which is revealed at the 50% mark of the current build. 

So, you know that ominous line from the start of the alien route about how “[t]he mistakes from the first attempt have all been accounted for.” Well, that was originally related to the Murder route, which was closed off with the release of version 4.0, where it was revealed that Jack Mallory had access to his own alien device. (Side note, someone probably should just turn the Murder route into a scenario. The devs might not like it, but it’s still in the game.)

Well, Smurfik had a different idea and decided that the person with the original device should be a dejected and seasoned body jacking serial killer. Which… holy crap dude, if you want to write a story like that, trunk this crap and get on it! Because not only is there no better premise for a body swap story other than ‘body stealing serial killer,’ but this psycho goes HARD! 

They copy a body outta nowhere, then get the first two dudes they see to beat the original to death with rocks, before shoving it into a trash bag and burying it in the next town over. And you know what this master-class mastermind does while their boys do the slave work? They hit up the konbini, nom some chocolate, and mind control some nosy cops like it ain’t no thang. ‘Cos it ain’t! ‘Cos this person is a pro, or at least does a really good job acting like it!

You cannot push out the napkin sketch tone test for one of the coolest body swap stories right in the middle of an introspective story and expect anyone to not immediately lose interest. That’s like putting the penultimate fight of a Kamen Rider series in the middle of a slow police procedural. 

This all makes me reach the conclusion that Smurfik is a creator with potential to make something great, but isn’t quite sure how to best channel or refine their creative energy. They think they want to make something more somber, but there’s a wolf-coat-factory-owner in their head, shouting at them to do something else. And I don’t know if that wolf-coat-factory-owner is to be trusted, but at the very least, they’ve got some BIG charisma. 

Now that I’ve confused everybody with that nonsense analogy for dream people, let’s talk about the writing. Smurfik is one of the many ESL writers who make Student Transfer scenarios, and despite clearly trying, their script is laced with a lot of errors. At first, it seemed like a lot of ‘first draft’ mistakes. Then I noticed that characters kept saying “A!” instead of “Ah!” And then it started getting hard to decipher what certain lines were even trying to convey. In the end, I wound up ‘reading the vibes’ more than the text because of this, which also makes this a somewhat tricky scenario to recommend.

Under Control is a more analytical and slow-paced take on a familiar premise that is grappling to find its point or allure. To the point where the most compelling part of the story at all is effectively a non sequitur disconnected from the protagonist. I can definitely see some creative aspirations and intent here, but it also lacks the length and proper progression to feel like a satisfying experience in its current form. I’d say that with enough focus and a clearer vision, this could be something worthwhile… but I also think the creator’s calling might be in something more eccentric.

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This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. andcatu

    hello! i want to ask some questions to u. thanks !
    1.Why is Allison’s name highlighted in red,What does this mean?
    2.That’s how her story ends?(version7.1)

    1. Natalie Neumann

      Um, Allison’s name is not highlighted in red in this scenario or review, so I’m not sure what you are talking about.
      Allison’s route in Version 7.0 and 7.1 is currently incomplete, and I do not remember the details well enough to recite them for you.