Eman Looc’s Possession Scroll – Student Transfer Scenario Review

The longest scenario deserves the longest review…

Student Transfer Scenario Review:
Eman Looc’s Possession Scroll by Darknost
Build Released: 3/11/2023
Length: 42 Hours (Closer to 60 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.


Eman Looc’s Possession Scroll… I initially reviewed this scenario as part of the final ‘part’ scenario review. But now that two years have passed and Student Transfer scenario releases have slowed down, I decided to give this scenario another go… while being more than a bit intimidated to do so. ELPS is a downright behemoth of a scenario, being easily the longest in the entirety of Student Transfer‘s history, and being such an extensive work that it feels wrong to call this just a scenario. Because at this scale, it’s a darn expansion pack.

Despite saying the length is about 42 hours, this is actually closer to 60 hours long. It has over 50 endings. Introduces oodles of new new characters and assets. It comes with its own submenu, complete with optional ‘add-ons’ you can ‘install’— making this an expansion pack with its own DLC, I guess. Multiple narrators to add commentary to the story. And last but not least, this scenario also has its own Xbox 360 style achievements.

It is dense, robust, and warrants the longest Student Transfer scenario review I have ever written. So let’s just get right the heck on with this!

Introduction and Initial Praise

As should be obvious, Eman Looc’s Possession Scroll centers around a powerful parchment created by some dude with a cool name. The scroll is cast out into the streets of Lauqe, which both does and doesn’t equal San Fransokyo, where it lands on the living room table of one of three two people. The hyperactive and cheery Zoey, or the hardass and chronically ill principal of Tina Koya, Abby Luten. From this initial starting point, the game expands into 6 main routes, home to 13 branches, and a downright intimidating amount of routes, branches, and paths!

…All of which have a rather narrow range of subject matter, as the scenario only features possession, body swapping by way of possession, and memory/identity shenanigans related to possession. Also, the overwhelming (about 90%) of TF content is female-to-female. So, TSF purists, you might want to look elsewhere for a good fix. For everyone else, you’re in for something special.

I don’t like to say things like ‘best’ or ‘most’ because brain is hamburger and memory is pickles, but to say that ELPS is impressive is an understatement. What Darknost has done here is downright dazzling, an astounding display of effort from an enthusiast, and so voluminous that even after playing it, I struggle to recognize that it is actually real. Because it does so much, has so many ideas, and absolutely zero dead end paths. That’s… like against the law for Student Transfer scenarios!

You have custom expressions galore, custom sprites aplenty, new characters by the dozen, custom assets by the hundreds, and so many downright sick visual effects that it is hard to keep track of them. The animated intro, the flourishes on the character select menu, the simple yet incredibly effective red line effect whenever a character reaches a revelation, the animations applied to every variety of teleportation. If you want a resource on how to make a visual novel look dope using simple yet incredibly effective tricks, dig around the code for this and take some darn notes!

However, like half of all ST scenario creators, Darknost is not a native English speaker. Grammatical errors, improper capitalization, awkward phrasing, and general mistakes are all common, though they are naturally more common within older content. If you want to find things to scrutinize, you can probably find an error on every 1 in 20 screens of this game. I would criticize this, but everything is still intelligible, I rarely ever had to re-read things, and as someone who has read a lot of scenarios from ESL writers, it never really bothered me.

…Well, except for systematic errors, namely uncapitalized onomatopoeia at the start of sentences. (If you know what you’re looking for, it will take less than 10 minutes to fix with a find/replace function.) And the fact that so many lines contain just a few words, or are broken up into segments.

As for the actual content of the routes themselves… it honestly runs the gamut, but most fall into one of two buckets. The good/great bucket for routes and branches that I think really deliver on something impressive and excellently execute upon an idea. And the boring bucket of routes that just did not click with me.

So, without further pedantic preamble or bothersome brain bramble, let’s dive in!

Family Route

…Why am I starting with this one? Because you always choose the topmost choice when going through an interactive story, or else you’ll get lost! That’s been the law since the Writing.com days! However, this is admittedly a bad starting point, as this route is currently pending a rewrite and expansion, as it does not represent the author’s current quality standards. But as a reviewer, I like to cover all facets of a game, so I checked it out regardless, and… I can see why a rewrite is pending.

The route follows Zoey on her quest to become more mature and responsible using the possession scroll, which, in her sweet little mind, means possessing someone mature and responsible. Like a teacher! Or more specifically, “one of the best” teachers at Tina Koya, Sandra Davis. Thanks to the power of the possession scroll, Zoey could just read Sandra’s memories, go about her life as she would, and learn how to be responsible first-hand. But Zoey is forever a child at heart, and even with the power to act like an adult, she still engages in the usual deluge of ‘child in an adult’s body activities.’

Not taking her job seriously, or doing things in an usual or unorthodox way— even though Sandra is on thin ice with Principal Luten. Spending money frivolously, because Zoey does not understand what it is like to have bills or a mortgage. Using her newfound power to perform favors for those she likes, even when the person she’s possessing simply wouldn’t do that. Not respecting the existing relationships and just sort of fumbling through them, because most people don’t think ‘a possessor is afoot’ when a person starts acting funky. Playing dress up with more mature clothing. And trying to be a ‘cool mom.’

Much of the appeal comes from Zoey doing these things while being… Zoey. She is a hyperactive little nugget of joy and energy regardless of her body, and there is always a certain novelty in seeing a little chicklet like this pilot a mama bear. Though, I have to say its structure as a route is a bit… unusual.

The route is a simple three choice variable juggle, but bizarrely the bad end comes into play if the player chooses to lean into their role as Sandra too much. A bad end where nothing is really resolved, Zoey winds up getting Sandra fired, and learns no lessons about being more mature or responsible. Well, beyond the fact that having spending money is fun (it is) and having boobs is cool (it probably is).

While the good end comes from Zoey teaching the class however she wants it to be, and rather than concluding with a moral or more mature Zoey, it instead ends with a tease. A tease for a possess ’em up body hopping adventure with Zoey and her Tina Koya homies that… honestly sounds way more fun than the route that preceded it. And, seeing as how that premise was done elsewhere in this scenario, I can actually say it was.

There isn’t much structurally wrong with the Sandra route, but it also feels like a rather blasé rendition of the concept, without much unique flair in the proceedings, or a truly satisfying conclusion. It’s also easily the worst route from a writing standpoint, being home to the most ‘ESL-isms’ out of the whole batch.

Jealousy Route – Main Branch

The Connie route, or rather Jealousy route, sees Zoey possess Connie Williams, the coolest teacher at Tina Koya, in hopes of learning how to be cool and responsible. But shortly after she settled into her form, she realizes that Connie has a resistance to possession, allowing herself to retain control even when someone is possessing her. This throws a wrench in Zoey’s ‘joyride of learning how to adult good-er’ and changes the focus of the route considerably. With the center of the conflict being none other than Connie herself.

Darknost reinterprets Connie as a woman past the prime of her youth, well into adulthood, who finds longing for what she lost over the past decade or so. She spends all her free time drinking, has no friends, lacks a passion for teaching she hoped to develop, and wants a way out of her current life. An opportunity to start anew as someone younger… such as the teenager who seems so interested in her body.

Once she gets privy to what Zoey is doing, Connie decides to steal Zoey’s body for herself and do whatever she wants. Party with friends, string boys around, get drunk, and overall have a blast. While Zoey is miserable as Connie, as she has no one to help Connie out of the mess she’s in and, despite technically being 18, she acts and thinks like she’s 12.

From here, things splinter off into… 16 unique endings across three dedicated branches. So, needless to say, Darknost has ample room to explore the relationship of these two, and things go in a variety of different directions.

In the main route however, things are kept fairly vanilla with the type of conflicts explored and their conclusions. Zoey tries to reel Connie in, and things either end well or poorly depending on the variables Zoey tallies up with her choices. Sometimes Connie learns the error of her ways and re-examines her life rather than pursuing the path of theft. Other times heated arguments and brash decisions make things worse for everyone.

It’s a nice spin on the greater theme of Zoey’s route— about her learning how to be more responsible. Instead of being the one who is taught a lesson, her childish optimism and determination help Connie mature and become more responsible. But if she fails in this pursuit, then Zoey gets her wish and starts living as an adult woman… full time!

There’s definitely a good deal to like about this scenario, between how it subverts the usual dynamic between a student/teacher swap and the adversarial dynamic the two adopt as their goals clash. However… It is a prime example of two larger problems I have with this scenario.

One, most of the paths feel like they end right as they start getting really interesting, not helped by the collection of brief epilogue scenes that staple on a cliffhanger. Two, it feels like things are spread out across too many samey branches with conclusions that blend in together, to the point where I had to review my screenshots to remember which ending was which. I’m not sure what the best solution to this is, but I know I can’t be the only person who found it hard to remember which one was “Try Again” and which one was “Unfair Exchange.”

Overall, I thought the main route was a bit repetitive, but had a solid base with the character dynamics, while the other branches are… more complicated.

Jealousy Route – Somewhere Land Branch

The Somewhere Land branch follows Connie after she deals with powers beyond her comprehension and gets sent to the next dimension! But more than that, Zoey gets plopped into the body of a teenage Connie, while Connie is in the body of an adult Zoey. In these new bodies and stranded in this world, without the precious possession scroll, the two are left to re-establish themselves, and maybe look for a way back.

In theory, this should be one of the coolest routes in this scenario. One that takes the familiar cast of Student Transfer, remixes their personalities, cliques, and lives in order to create an alternate universe. And for the first day or so, with the route just bombarding the player with new bits of information, reimagined characters, and sprite edits, it’s a blast. It is easy to become as infatuated with the changes as Zoey, and with such a grand premise, the scenario could do pretty much anything from this starting point. …Which is why I was so disappointed by how it was structured.

The Somewhere Land branch is one that has more than a scattering of good moments and when the story sets its sights on something, it hits hard, packing in a lot of emotional highs in its five endings. …But it is also far too detailed and low energy for its own good.

While I admire the level of detail that is afforded to the new characters, most of them just feel superfluous, and do not add much to this story. Alternate Kiyoshi, Katrina, Maria, and Setsuna all feel like they could be condensed into one character without losing anything. While the only new character who really matters is the alternate dimension Sayaka, whose reclusive and timid persona wonderfully contrasts and compliments Zoey.

Even though this new school is, at the very least, a refreshing change of scenery, the route gets far too lost in the idea of Zoey doing stuff at this new school. Trying out for a sports team. Trying out for a drama club. Learning how to become a math wiz. Or throwing herself at even more potential friends. I understand the thought process behind these decisions, but in the moment, this feels like slow-paced filler content that does not need to be there, and with way too many alternate permutations.

Now, it would be one thing if any of this was relevant to the endings… but pretty much none of it is. The only important characters in this story are Zoey, Connie, and Alternate Sayaka, and every ending is about them finding their place in an altered world. …Well, okay, four out of five endings go that way. The only exception is Too Dangerous To Exist. That one introduces a series of basically new characters, throws a proper villain into the mix, and feels like an idea that Darknost really wanted to put in here, even though it didn’t really fit. Every other ending is either romantic, despairful, or involves a personal revelation and… I don’t think anyone actually learned anything in Too Dangerous To Exist. Other than sending your enemies to the next dimension is rad as heck!

However, the process of getting all of these endings was honestly the lowest point in my entire playthrough. There are so many alternate scenes and similar ideas that say basically the same thing, that I had to set the game to auto-play and set the playback speed at my top VN reading speed.(Here’s an example I recorded)

How would I suggest improving it? Honestly, branching the route into several smaller routes, with mostly original content, and cutting out a good 20% of what’s here— including at least one ending. This branch is not bereft of good moments, but it is so bloated with boring filler that I would not recommend it, period.

Jealousy Route – Attached to Ya Branch

As an evil offshoot of the Jealousy route, the Attached to Ya branch follows Connie after she gets drunk off of the power of the possession scroll and… Well, it only takes her ten minutes to become a first degree sex offender according to California law. (Which isn’t fully relevant, as I don’t know what country Lauqe is in, but I did the research, damn it!)

Connie gets bored of being Zoey, steals Maria’s body, has sex with her boyfriends, and then spends the first half of school doing quickies in the sports shed. So, yeah, she’s a serial sex offender to boot! But in her frivolous indulgences, she possesses Vanessa, who, unknown to her, has a poisonous resistance. Meaning that not only will Connie eventually become trapped in her form, but she will slowly lose her sense of identity and become Vanessa in both spirit and mind.

Being blissfully ignorant of the danger she is in, Connie immediately takes to the idea of being a hot redhead teenage girl. She rebrands herself as the “New Vanessa” and starts up a romantic relationship with a new male student character called Jayden. Using him to have fun, to screw with Zoey, and eventually shove him into her sexy mature body, because she’s also a narcissist down for some self-cest funsies. Things gradually complicate as Connie starts getting deeper into Tori’s gang, which is an actual gang in this universe, Jayden starts posing as Connie full time, and they begin making plans to take the scroll for themselves.

It is a rock solid story of a deplorable person sinking deeper into their worst impulses, not caring about who they hurt or steal from in the process. Connie feels no remorse for sexually abusing children. Forces Jayden into her body and feminizes him because she thinks it’s hot (it is). And views herself as entitled to Zoey’s scroll, and anything else she wants. She is reckless, cruel, and an… inglorious self-styled diehard bitch! Which is why it’s so fun to watch her gradually lose her sense of self, her spirit being erased and gaps appearing in her mind as she struggles to remember who she and Jayden are.

This culminates in a series of endings that depict her downfall in a spectrum of ways. Sometimes she struggles in vain to escape, desperately clinging onto her sense of self even when her fate has already been sealed. Others, she loses who she is in a flash, offering no resistance to the erasure of Connie Williams, because she stopped trying long ago. Or she makes a desperate plea to become someone else… only to find herself fighting with time so limited she cannot even apologize for her mistakes. Resulting in a death that is neither dramatic nor meaningful before she is erased from this world, truly and fully, leaving nothing behind.

…All of which is before considering this is a parallel story for Jayden, a rich kid who wanted to succeed in the flashy junkyard underworld. A world that he was rejected from as a man, but as Connie, he is welcomed into it. He was given a place that he belongs, but only by discarding his identity and embracing this new face. An embrace that could either position him as a leader in this underworld he so admired… or in a jail cell.

It is a concept so good and so cool that I want to steal it for myself! It is a great use of the transformation tools outlined in this world. The dark subject matter works extremely well with a multiple ending structure. And when it goes hard, IT GOES HARD!!!

…So, are there any problems with this route? Um… it has way too much variation between seven endings, and what I just described is only half of the route. The good half of the route!

Rather than switch over to a new protagonist, roughly 50% of this route follows Zoey as she and Maria enter a romantic relationship. The stories intersect at points, some scenes play out simultaneously (albeit poorly due to their length and lack of similarities), and while I 100% get what Darknost was going for here… it doesn’t work. Parallel storytelling is a great narrative tool that can spice up a story, add levity, and create for a more engaging story than one that only follows a single perspective. But in order to make that work, you need to make sure that both stories are engaging, and Zoey and Maria’s story is just cutesy sapphic teenage tomfoolery.

They have sleepovers where they watch a sappy romantic drama. They go out to a maid café where they possess maids and also have kitchen shenanigans. They possess friends for lighthearted funsies. And their already strong bonds crystalize as they make use of their shared magical power. Nothing about it is bad, there are no shortage of cute and fun moments throughout the story, and when it tries, it can be tender and sweet. However… I just found it hard to care about this. Partially because this is a pretty plain sapphic romance without any tension between the parties. Partially because there is a lot of fluff in these scenes, and the variations just feel like alternate ideas the writer couldn’t decide between. But mostly because it’s boring next to the Connie stuff.

Now, these branches can collide in some wonderful ways, such as the Together at Last and Where Art Ye? endings. Which sees Connie and Tori’s gang triumph in a truly crushing way, while featuring some particularly inspired visuals. They are simple from a programming standpoint, but hit like an elbow to the gut.

It all really makes me wish that this was split into sister routes that happened simultaneously, but the player only sees one at the time. It would have avoided this problem, while offering a far greater level of focus. …But it also has too many gosh darn endings, and I had to spend 20 minutes trying to remember what happened in each of them.

Maid Up Route – On The Side Branch

The Maid Up route is one I distinctly remember not being a fan of in my initial review, but since then it has been expanded extensively, with nine new endings and two new major divergent points. …But let’s go over the ‘main’ stuff first. The route follows Zoey as stumbles upon the Diolacov (Vocaloid) Manor, home to this scenario’s version of Cassie and Elizabeth. In the “On The Side” branch, Zoey screws up, possesses Elizabeth, realizes she is in deep trouble as she, and proceeds to scurry back home to undo her mistake. Except it turns out Elizabeth has a resistance to being possessed and remembers everything that happened.

Rather than letting Zoey go, or stealing her scroll, Elizabeth decides to instead recruit Zoey as a maid, forcing her to perform services for a month. Partially out of anger, but mostly out of pity for the sloppy and unskilled speedster. Through the span of two days, the duo form a strong connection to one another. Elizabeth takes the time to temper and train Zoey, Zoey enthusiastically rushes into everything in her own messy way, and the pair even attend school for a day to let their relationship flourish. But as time goes on, Zoey also becomes keen on what is really going on in the manor.

In short, the manor is bound by a strongly traditional arrangement between families, and Cassandra Wright is currently serving as the sole leader of this manor. Possessing all of its wealth, dictating what all other subjects do, and so forth. Except unlike the base game’s version of Cassie— an all-American ojou-sama whose biggest flaw is the fact she isn’t a huge boat, plane, and train nerd— this Cassie freaking sucks. She’s a full-on tyrant with a bird’s nest wedged right up her anus who at least acts like laws aren’t real, and neither are guns.

Needless to say, both of the endings of the main route see Cassie go mad with power. The first sees her lash out against Elizabeth and spur… well, you can just look at the ending name to get the idea. It works, but pales in comparison to the endings of the other branches. While the latter is a hectic possession-fueled romp that makes an interesting use of the limitations of the scroll, its ultimate conclusion still strikes me as… bizarre. It both feels far too brief and eager to move onto its conclusion, and is bizarrely dark for a path whose climax is a chase scene through a cheery high school.

The underwhelming endings aside, I still found the route to shine thanks to the contrast between Zoey’s bubbly yet ignorant persona and the experience and discipline of Elizabeth (who’s 43 in this scenario). They make for a great duo, and Cassie’s reinterpretation as a pompous villainous rich girl makes her a damn good villain. Someone who believes in her right to power as a matter of fact, and who feels no remorse for flaunting it. She is not flagrantly evil, but she does act like the world revolves around her, and gets off on insulting others. Which is to say, this scenario gets a point for a realistic portrayal of rich people right there.

However, I’m not fond of the whole background and lore behind the manor, as I think it’s kind of messy, and doesn’t get better in other branches. The inclusion of ten families makes for a very large support cast for this scenario, and half of whom feel kind of disposable. The history of the Diolavoc manor does not make sense unless there’s some House in Fata Morgana shenanigans going on. The 50 year transfer of title is way, way too long, especially hailing from an era where people often died before hitting 40. While the fact that only one member from each family lives in the manor at the time is… profoundly wasteful for such a large building. I admire the gusto for making big lore… but this ain’t good lore. It’s got too many triangles and trapezoids, not enough circles and cubes.

All in all, the main branch is a bit weak in my opinion, and I wound up speed reading it after a point. (I can read at 350 wpm if I try hard enough.) …But then we get to the side branches, which are dope!

Maid Up Route – On The Top Branch

The “On The Top” branch sees Zoey duck into Cassie’s body and enjoy her position of power by… being the kid she truly is. She causes hubbub and confusion across the manor, and makes the staff think that their cruel taskmaster has changed. But before such lollygagging can grow tiresome, the route splits into three. Darknost calls these the Deadlocked and Friendship paths, but I like to call them the Trials, Ghost Heck, and Three Stories paths.

The Trials path sees Zoey have a member of the manor lock up the possession scroll in the royal safe, with much of the route following her quest to get the code by participating in an elaborate three-part trial. She is aided in these trials by Elizabeth, who just wants to free her Lady from being possessed by some kid. With a mutual goal, they must race against the dastardly duo who make their true introduction in this path. Beatrice and Nora!

They’re a pair of fellow rich ladies who serve as Cassie’s ‘friends’ but are not-so-secretly plotting her downfall, despite having neither the skill nor tact to do that. They’re more comic relief than they are true villains, interjecting an appreciated amount of levity and mischief into the story, but the part that makes them work is, of course, their duo dynamic. They bicker and mock each other incessantly, with each trying to prove themselves as the leader, but it’s clear that they’re ultimately each other’s best friend, and rely on one another. They’re straight out of an 80s/90s sitcom— or an 80s/90s kids anime, they’re basically the same thing— and my eyes perked wide open whenever they were on screen.

Honestly, I love pretty much everything about this path. Beatrice and Nora possessing two of Zoey’s school chums make for a rousing B-plot as they balance their new lives with their scatterbrained quest for the scroll. The route flips the usual power dynamics of Elizabeth and Zoey by making Zoey the boss, and forcing Elizabeth to be patient and considerate with her, rather than authoritative. And the trials themselves are rousing little diversions with their own little gimmick. You start with a basic word and trivia game. Move onto a… gosh darn Ace Attorney parody, complete with lip flaps and custom camera angles. And end with an introspection into Zoey’s failures to change and how she has only caused trouble for those she holds dear.

The Trials path is great from start to finish, with no significant lulls or boring stretches, and is just… so stupidly ambitious. Darknost added in a gosh darn scroll button— that does nothing, but it’s the thought that counts— a secret password that you can enter ahead of time— like this is Virtue’s Last Reward. And the sheer number of custom assets on display here is staggering. It even offers a wide spectrum of endings that do not detract from the story as the only changes are the outcome and when things end. You have dark endings where misery triumphs and the incompetent duo fumbles to victory, and if you are playing the game like a sane person, you are supposed to get them first. Which just makes it all the more fulfilling when getting into the alternative endings, where the protagonists make their counterattacks by being super extra prepared!

The Ghost Heck route is a fun one, as it sees Zoey wrap her school buddies into the possession funsies, which leads to a wide variety of shenanigans. It is all fun and good, broken up into small snippets that follow each character. Yet after going on a possess ’em up world tour across the manor, they awaken a group of spirits sealed in ‘vases.’ Spirits who proceed to snag up the vacant bodies of Zoey’s friends and have the ability to consume their souls in order to be whole within their new bodies. This puts Zoey and friends on the defensive, forces them to act craftily, to manipulate these centuries-old threats, and reclaim their bodies. It’s high stakes stuff, involves a large cast of characters, and covers a lot of ground as the spirits settle into their new lives and heroes use the bodies of their peers to spy on them. …And while what’s there is good, the path stumbles on two brambles.

One, the reawakened spirits’ personalities are a bit too similar to existing characters for them to feel like they are wholly new people changing the lives of the bodies they inhabit. The boy crazy one possesses Maria, the reserved one possesses Riley, the nutty one possesses Emily, and the driven one goes for Mel. As such, it does not feel like they are new people possessing these established characters, as much as mutations of existing characters.

And two, the ending shapes up to be a dark one where the heroes lose. This ancient evil is reawakened, and the heroes’ reckless use of great power bites them in the keister. It is definitely appropriate for the type of story being told… but then the conflict is resolved with a flagrant deus ex miko at the last minute. I appreciate an optional good ending triggered by a choice earlier in the route, but it reads more like an editorial mandate to cut a bad ending. Which does not make sense in an independent work like this.

Then we get to the Three Stories path, which… is gosh darn amazing! True to its name, the path is about three parallel stories. The first is about how Cassie became such a tyrant, delving into her relationship with Holly, and their feelings for each other as they are forced to confront each other in a locked room. (A sitcom staple.) It is a sweet story that does a lot to humanize this version of Cassie, make her feel like a realized person, and gives Holly a level of characterization and agency she still lacks in the base game.

The second is about Anuja as she discovers the possession scroll and… completely breaks. Whatever boundaries and restraints that kept her in place are shattered, and she goes on what I can only describe as a rape-athon. Possessing body after body, going into a manic heat lust— with a nosebleed and everything. Women, men, it does not matter— none are safe— and once she is in their body, you can tell. Her words are slow and heavy, her breathing is intense, her laughter is eerie, and she is completely devoid of restraint. She is not a hentai protagonist, she is something beyond that, and I freaking love it. …But I don’t love how the only dark-skinned character in this entire scenario is the bestial pervert. Using Anuja is a subversion of expectations, but… Darknost is Brazilian and should’ve been more conscious of this stuff.

And last but certainly not least is Emily’s story in all of this. Oh my gush, Emily! Emily is one of Zoey’s friends, and in most of this scenario, she just exists to be the weirdo who says very little and runs off a bunch. But here, she is given a main role, lets her personality shine, and it is utterly brilliant. Zoey reaches out to her after Anuja snags the scroll, and not only can Emily see ghost Zoey, she pretty much immediately can tell what is going on in the other two storylines. But rather than approach things in a sensible way, she decides to solve problems while filming a TV show on her magical camera. She pretends she is talking to a studio audience, and even offers her own cheers and applause, makes corny fake sponsor plugs, and even asks questions just for the sake of flavor text.

All of Emily’s portion is done earnestly and honestly, like the creator is indulging in a part of themself, and while it could come off as flat and tryhard, it is instead downright hilarious. …But also so darn surreal. Emily has access to magical powers that are never explored or explained elsewhere, and while I could write her off as a magical being… she is also deeply humanized by one scene with her parents. She is a mystery wrapped in an enigma and everything about her, from the way she looks into the camera filter to the fact that she has a gosh darn voice, left me hungry for more Emily content.

I love the Three Stories path… which makes its ending sting all the harder. Rather than bringing all three of these stories to a close, Darknost made the boneheaded decision to wrap things up almost immediately after the climax of the first story, closing off the latter two off-screen or in the epilogue section. Which is… no. I’m sorry, but that is not an acceptable ending. If your path is about three stories, you cannot end one and call it a day. Get back in there, ya darn cube, and try again! Make something beautiful, like I know you could! Otherwise, I’m gonna need to do my own spin on this coolness with TSF Series #0XX: Possession Girl & Peatrice the Electric Devil in… The Sexual Ravishing of Eucalyptus, Idaho.

Maid Up Route – Moon Against the Sun Path

Now this is what you call a path! The Moon Against the Sun path centers around one of Cassie’s nine servants— a maid by the name of Moon— as she gains knowledge of the scroll and snags it along with Zoey’s body. Her master plan? Domination! Immediately after discovering this scroll, she brings it to the Order. A loosely explained cabal of shadowy figures who are defined as enemies of the Diolacov manor and wish to claim its riches for themselves. …That’s pretty much all there is to them, and that’s cool, sometimes you only need a sentence of lore to make the story go vroom!

With the scroll in enemy hands and Zoey left stranded in Moon’s body, she and Elizebeth must make a crucial decision that will seal their fate in one of three variants… All of which are freaking DOPE!

The Insane One variant is an exploration of a vastly unexplored element of transformation fiction. It is a power fantasy turned horror, features Cassie in her prime element, being just a rambunctious dastard, and puts the protagonists on the defensive in a way they simply have not been in other routes. The build up is excellent all around, and right when you think it is about to reach the next stage, right when you start to think that the warnings were hyperbolic… The game pops off and delivers an ending that dazzles in every way.

The visual presentation, the auditory atmosphere, and the sheer abrasive dread of the whole experience. It is my favorite ending and favorite part in this scenario, and if the entire scenario managed to hold this level of quality… I would say it would easily warrant a Natalie.TF Certified DOPE Award… but that’s not true. It would warrant that, and it would straight up be the best TF visual novel.

The Takeover, or rather ‘Take Over’ variant is effectively the despair variant. After forgoing to solve the billowing conflict properly, Moon launches her attack and executes it about as well as one could. The Diolacov Manor is taken over by The Order, and Moon uses this opportunity to torment Zoey (in Moon’s body) like the malicious self-hating dastard she is. It is a route positively rich with a sense of hopelessness, where the protagonist is faced with resistance at every turn, has everything she knows stolen from her, and is left with no one to aid her.

It’s a good way to end the story, one that really showcases the power of possession and the damage that one can do when seizing the lives of others. However, this route highlights an issue I have with the whole Diolacov manor arrangement. Zoey could always leave the manor, steal some money, dye her hair, and run away. Or she could fulfill The Adolescent Fantasy and kill her oppressors in their sleep by applying a kitchen knife to the throat. Now, I know why she doesn’t do that, and why the story doesn’t do this. Because that’d completely change the type of story being told, and hopelessness is the point. However, I’ve got enough narrative brain poisoning that I couldn’t help but think about this.

Then we get to the Triple Trouble ending and… this is such a marvelous way to end not only this route, but the Zoey portion of the game as a whole. The previously referenced Secret Forces are summoned to combat the Order, and their leader easily lives up to whatever expectations I could have had. Beatrice and Nora are brought back into the forefront, snag the scroll for themselves, and get up to some positively stellar shenanigans.

The back half of the variant is pretty much just an action movie visual novel, where three factions all vie to get their hands on the scroll. You have set piece scenes in new locations, paparazzi dodging, stealth sections, chase sequences, memes, secret lairs, a three way final battle sequence, and even a final confrontation on a tower!

It does have some logical weirdness, such as how the scroll keeps moving so quickly you’d think it’s being transported by a private courier as a top priority. Even though… there’s no good reason why the scroll should be moved in the first place. But it makes the plot go vroom, that’s the most important thing! Darknost knew exactly what they were doing with this path, and the end result is a triumph on all fronts.

Memories Route

The Memories Route sees Tina Koya principal Abby Luten possess student council president Yui. Who, as you might remember from the base game, has a resistance to possession. One that keeps her cognisant of what her possessor is doing, while not being able to do anything but observe her possessor. This is carried over into ELPS… but the actual characters of Abby and Yui are considerably different.

Rather than being a copy of her counterpart from the base game, this version of Abby takes more cues from the rendition found in the scenario Never by C.R.E.A.M. She is a woman defined by her ruthlessly bitter disposition, a body that is afflicted by a chronic pain that can only be dulled, and a history of abusing her daughter (who, in this scenario, is Kyoko). She is exactly the sort of person who could get up to some grade-A vindictive chaos, and one of the last people who should be given something as powerful as the possession scroll. Which makes her pretty much the ideal character for a scenario like this. Intelligent and resourceful, but also prideful and rigid in her thinking, giving her the confidence to present as someone else, but not the patience to behave like them.

As for Yui, Darknost retained her rule-abiding nature and organizational skills. But instead of being an authoritarian force who wishes to control others, she is the sort of person who always reports to their superior whenever a single bean is miscounted. So, less like a cop, and more like a mall cop. It might seem like making her a less engaging or proactive character, but it makes her a more compelling foil to this scenario’s version of Abby. Yui is Abby’s biggest fan, so dependent and reverent of her that she cannot accept she might be a bad person. While Abby is someone who has a level of respect for Yui, but views her as wasted potential. Someone not living their life with the respect it deserves.

As such, there is a different impression when Abby possesses Yui. In a sense, she is taking control of her underling and making her a better version of the woman she tried to be. Which is reflected in how Abby behaves throughout the route, not tossing out Yui’s life entirely, but doing everything better. Being a better student, better student council member, and better wielder of authority.

The superiority of Abby Luten is made clear from the outset, but it is not as simple as taking Yui’s life and going on her way, as she is abandoning her daughter Kyoko in the process. A slight caricature version of her rendition from the base game— she makes robots that explode— who still loves Abby dearly despite the years of abuse, and is devastated by her hospitalization. Because that’s what happens to vacant bodies in possession stories.

Choosing to care for or abandon Kyoko is the backbone of this route’s structure, where Abby has the opportunity to be a remotely decent mother, or cast her daughter aside. These decisions only represent minor divergences in the story, but eventually see it split into one of five different endings. …Though, they are more akin to a good and bad end, with some alternate versions sprinkled in.

The good ending is about what one would expect from this sort of story, with lessons learned, resolutions made, and priorities reestablished. There is enough build-up behind the scenes required to unlock it that it feels honest and warranted, as Abby does undergo a transformation— just not the sort she expected. While the bad ending is… two flavors of absolutely delectable malice that show just how awful of a person this version of Abby is. The build up is hectic and sees a nice blend of uncertainty from Yui and cunning from Abby. And the payoff for the one branch is one of the brutal ends to a TF story that I can think of.

It is also an excellent culmination of two of my favorite parts about this route. The first being the fact that players can go through this route, and most other routes, with Yui as the narrator. This is usually just a bit of flavor text, but here… let’s just say Darknost makes the most of this feature. While the second ties back to this route’s namesake. Memories.

Throughout this route, Abby semi-regularly experiences flashbacks to certain points in her life, but also Yui’s life. They range from encounters that defined her adult life and shaped her into the woman she is, to smaller events that are given weight not only by their relevance to current events, but their presentation. Rather than just go back in time, the reality around Abby mutates. People appear from the ether, Abby finds herself, in Yui’s body, behaving as she did years ago, and the imaginary dream people have the ability to react differently than they did in her memories. It’s a unique way to interject flashbacks into a work, while also filling the reader with a certain level of mystery. Especially if they are used to how possession typically works, and this is their first route in the Abby half of the game.

It’s a very strong route on its own, and I also have to commend Darknost for going back and revising this route over the past few years. I could spot parts that were similar to the version I played in 2021, but there is enough new stuff here that it felt fresh.

Friends Route

The Friends route sees Abby set her sights on a different student who could really ‘benefit’ from being the ‘vessel for a superior mental entity.’ Namely Allison Stein who, prior to the Magic Allie route, the fandom largely considered to be a childish airhead who lived with Irene, and that’s precisely the case here. Abby steals her body in hopes of becoming Allison 2.0: The Better Version, but from a single choice at the start of the route, things veer into three directions. The ‘main’ path, the Sherlock Sato path, and the Road Trip path.

The main path is… pretty underwhelming. It sees Abby choose to either put up enough of a veneer to fool Allison’s friends into thinking that Allison just turned over a new leaf, or let her colder side show, drawing suspicion from the popular clique. The former does not have much to do or say beyond humanizing the popular clique and showing Abby treat her newfound friends as… friends, before deciding this life is a lot of fun. While the latter sees someone grow suspicious of their vastly different friend, steal the scroll, do some basic math, and attempt to fight the dragon with only a stick.

There is nothing wrong with either of these storylines, they are fully functional and have some good moments, but they lack the personality and creativity found in other routes. I’d say they feel like remnants of an earlier version of this game… because they are.

The Sherlock Sato path is an alternate spinoff of the ‘bad end’ for the main path, triggered by enabling Sayaka as the narrator. Which, for the record, I found to be pretty tiresome. She sounds like she doesn’t really want to be narrating and says the word ‘bitch’ so much that it loses all meaning. However, the route itself… has one of my favorite premises of this entire package. This version of Sayaka is a professional level gossiper. Spreading rumors, collecting info about everyone at the school, and maintaining an uncanny fixation on the going-ons. Because ELPS‘s version of Maria lacks that character trait and it had to go somewhere.

However, this path really delves into the more analytical end of this Sayaka by making her play detective as she investigates the… abstruse adjustment of Allison. That alone is a great idea for a path, and right out the gate, it dazzles players with its presentation, adopting a black and white visual style, dramatic music, and campy costumes for characters. This, combined with developer commentary saying this was some people’s favorite route, got me very excited… but then I realized this route does not follow through with this aesthetic.

Rather than be a black and white detective movie parody, complete with over the top dialogue and unreliable narration, this is only the game’s presentation sometimes. And just as the player gets into the groove, it stops, only to come back a few minutes later. This stop and go approach, combined with how neither Sayaka or her assistant Rita lean into the campy elements does a lot to make this path feel like it’s not doing everything it should. Let alone could.

I would be willing to accept this though if the story was up to par and told a captivating caper… but it’s kind of all over the place. Transformations that are barely explored before they are undone. There is a hospital encounter that… is barely justified in the moment, and is just there for a requisite mirror scene. And the entire thing is capped off with a solution that wasn’t mentioned elsewhere in this path. It all feels like a first/rough draft of a storyline that needs some workshopping and revisions. Not bad per se, but weirdly unfocused in a manner that made it hard for me to get invested.

Friends Route – Road Trip Branch

Fortunately, the Friends route gets far better when getting into the Road Trip branch. A concept that… honestly, makes a lot of sense for a body swap story involving a large cast. Road trips as a genre are all about divorcing characters from their familiar home and sending them on a journey where they learn more about themselves and form bonds with their travel partners. And that’s basically what a body swap, or transformation story in general, is all about.

The first portion of the route is spent establishing the main characters. How Sayaka, Irene, Cornelia, and Rita of this scenario function as a group. The aggressive relationship between Rita and her non-canonical mother, Misao. The sense of dread and frustration Abby feels after she completely loses control of this situation. And showing how the group reacts to the concept of a possession-powered body swap.

The characters go through one set of swaps, spend the night together, and get through their initial wow factor of the concept, while flaunting another side of their persona. But right after fumbling into their second set of swaps, Rita’s anger gets the better of her, and they wind up imposing a challenge. Thereby locking themselves in these bodies until they can reach the far away city of… Raf Yawa. Huh. I think I’m sensing a pattern with these names.

As an introduction, it can seem aimless, as it does not immediately relate to the road trip premise. However, it is necessary in order to help the reader resonate with these characters, and add some weight behind these swaps. Every swap has a purpose, ties back to how a character operates, and helps push them along an arc. Rita and Misao swapping forces them to confront their dormant issues. Cornelia in Irene is given the opportunity to come out of her shell as a chronically shy tagalong. Sayaka is taken down a peg and forced to reassess who she is. And Irene… is well-rounded enough that she doesn’t need an arc, but helps others trek along. …Well, you do need someone like that in stories like this.

The road trip itself is broken up into four destinations, all of which serve as great opportunities for the aforementioned character development. Performing tasks that force the characters to recognize their parallel flaws. Getting sidetracked and encountering a hermit lady who clearly knows what’s up, and abstractly guides them along their development. Because that’s the number one hobby for most magical woodsfolk. Reconnecting with a nostalgic location in order to come to terms with how much time has passed and how much the characters have grown. All before reaching the ultimate destination, where a single choice brings this adventure down one of three paths.

Building up to this conclusion, this route has been great all around. Darknost’s interpretations of these characters are strong, seeing them bicker was consistently entertaining, and there is enough tension to make this long car ride feel like a genuine adventure.

However, the endings all feel a bit too brief for their own good, and gloss over what I found to be an important element of the story being told here. Whether it be the shattering of a relationship, a spontaneous willingness to go back to normal, or the fact that Abby just gets away with everything after the fireworks. …Which I think is meant to be read as a metaphor for teenagers having sex in the woods.

Despite this, Road Trip is still another particularly strong branch. Despite the large cast, Abby is still at the forefront, and plays the role of the wise yet bitter parent incredibly well, while also undergoing her own breed of development. It’s home to some of the best moments in the entire scenario. And its core idea is so good, such a wonderful match for the body swap genre, that it should be imitated. …Perhaps by someone like me.

Troubles Route – Main Branch

The Troubles route sees Abby possess the boxing twintail hothead Rita Piper, but shortly after she settles into her strong cute frame, she discovers this body has a resistance. The You Will resistance that causes her to lose control of herself in certain instances, forcing her to follow Rita’s impulses. As an additional layer to possession, I think it is a great penalty that emphasizes the idea of being someone else. And as a storytelling tool, it is great because it’s an excuse for a smart character to do stupid things. …Like challenging the three toughest teens in town to a drag-out no holds barred junkyard brawl.

Combined with the honor system of the scroll, this forces Abby to win this wildly unfair competition unless she wants the scroll to destroy itself. Now, that might seem like a minor issue, as Abby has access to Rita’s boxer’s body, but Abby has neither the skills nor strength needed to win a brawl like this, so she seeks out a trainer. This leads her to the number one Miko of San Fransokyo Lauqe, Setsuna, who train her mind and spirit for this encounter, which is where the core of the main branch takes place.

Abby does her best to put school, social, and family matters aside as she embarks on a vignette/montage driven training arc. Learning skills and lessons to aid her in the brawl, before she can prove herself in the brawl. The actual decision-making behind these sequences is… disconnected, but it is set up that sees Abby gradually grow stronger, form a bond with Setsuna, and harden her resolve before the actual fight… which is glorious!

This is a section where Darknost goes completely wild with the presentation, adding in a moving background, hit sparks, voice clips, a bumping soundtrack, and myriad tiny visual flourishes. It makes the fight feel like a truly important showdown, a climax of destiny, and that is reflected with the writing. You have brief flashbacks that show Rita applying what she learned. Optional commentary from Kyoko who narrates this like it’s an esport. And colorful commentary from all in attendance, along with Abby’s ruthlessly determined thought process.

It all makes it feel so deserved when she finally succeeds, and so crushing when she fails, as you simultaneously want her to learn something… and have her hard work pay off. A sentiment that is similarly carried over in the alternative endings. Where Abby aims to seek out what she wants through other means, and is rewarded with a level of power beyond her imagination, or is rendered a vigilante with no cash and no plans.

This was my favorite route when I played through the scenario two years ago, and I still think it’s dope. It’s focused, it’s brief, it has one hell of a climax, It’s an excellent implementation of the rules of the possession scroll, and I think all four endings are fulfilling in their own right.

Troubles Route – Somewhere Land Branch

The Somewhereland Branch takes place a good click of the way through the main Troubles branch, and sees Abby, Setsuna, and Rita get flung into the next dimension, in scrambled bodies. Unlike the Zoey variant, both affected characters recognize this pretty quickly and set forth a plan to escape. Which… in turn kind of undermines the whole idea of an alternate dimension.

The idea of exploring an alternate dimension, one that remixes familiar elements, is a fascinating one, but one that I feel a lot of creators don’t really know how to use well. Most often, the characters are simply tasked with escaping this dimension and getting back to normal, or retrieving something that cannot be found in their dimension. To me, this turns these worlds into little more than a mixture of a dungeon and amusement park. A place to admire the spectacle, explore in search of something, and then leave them behind before returning home. …Which is pretty much the case with Abby in Somewhere Land.

Abby has a very simple set of goals and priorities. She wants to be a young, attractive, and assertive woman with no debilitating issues plaguing her new life. She wants to retain the power of the possession scroll, because it would be foolish to give up something like this. She wants to exact vengeance on those who wrong her. And she wants to try again at life, this time aiming to become the CEO of a large company, rather than a high school principal.

She, as a person, is not interested in new experiences, the joys of youth, or making friends. She is not a social person (barring a revelation), and has simple values when it comes to power: money, property, respect, and authority. She does not want to change, does not want to learn anything, and happily will use others to her own advantage. As such, she has no interest in the alternate dimension, or the very concept of other worlds. To her, this is all just an obstacle to be chopped away, and all differences she encounters are inconveniences.

There is little room to develop, establish, or explore the extensive remixed cast, and only about three of these new characters really ‘matter.’ Alternate Kyoko, Donna, and Michelle. Who serve the roles of bramble bush, second bramble bush, and self-described ‘normal girl’. They are not bad characters, but they are also not interesting, and their role as mere obstacles is transparent throughout the entire branch.

This could be a more minor note if the story delivers the goods, and… it kind of does with its endings. The two native endings to this branch mostly follow Rita as she adapts to this new world with no knowledge of how she got here, befriending Alt. Michelle, and trying to find a way back home. …Which she does. One that ends well for her and semi-bad for Abby. And another that ends badly for Rita but amazingly for Abby. The actual mechanics and execution of these endings are good and there is a compelling level of drama running throughout them.

…But the training arc, Setsuna shenanigans, and alternate universe are largely irrelevant next to what these endings actually build up to. Which is Abby fighting against the girl she possessed as the battle for power… and bodies. There is something to be built upon here… but it just doesn’t work as an offshoot of the Troubles route.

Those are both nestled under the New Place, Same Me path. While the Back to Basics? path see Abby return to the original dimension in Rita’s body. Which… honestly just feel like extra alternate endings to the main Troubles branch. The endings are all alternate versions of endings from that branch, a lot of content is recycled, and everything new just feels ancillary.

I like the ideas of Abby becoming an all powerful magical girl who takes on her rival from the next dimension as a disciple. The portrayal of Abby and Setsuna going on hunts for body snatching spirits is great fun. I love the concept of Abby meeting an alternate universe of her ex-husband, a man she utterly despises, and choosing to make his life as pain-riddled as hers was. And the scenes where Abby sends some fools to the next dimension left me cackling with glee. …But the fact that they are attached to the Troubles route, and need to end with a fight against Tori’s crew, just made it hard for me to really care about this new stuff.

Or, to wrap this up in one sentence: The Somewhere Land branch has a lot of good bits and concepts, but they aren’t distributed well. It’s good on a micro level, but bloated and overly complex on a macro level.

Troubles Route – Rough and Tough Branch

The Rough and Tough branch sees Abby gain the composure necessary to not enter into a duel with the delinquents, and instead try to grab the scroll while in Rita’s body. However, Sayaka is a super sleuth in this scenario and keeps tabs on her close friends— especially Rita— leading Sayaka to steal the suspicious scroll. And at this impasse, Abby has two options.

If she tries to lie her way into snagging the scroll, she is funneled into the A Corny Story path. Despite its name, it is another instance of dual storytelling. The first follows Cornelia as she takes refuge in Rita’s body, assuming it is empty, when Rita is actually snuggly tucked inside, influencing her to act like Rita. Much like in the Road Trip branch, Cornelia takes to this new body with a growing degree of bliss, happy to be so strong, tall, verbose, and worthy of attention. She is given something she wants on a deep level, but the presence of the scroll causes the trust between her and her friends to crumble.

Abby’s end of the story has her observing this conflict from afar, within the body of a student named Ran. This position puts Abby’s cunning on full display, sees her flex her authority around a well-intentioned grunt, while showing just how resourceful and malicious she can truly be. Which is where the core hook of the route comes into play. Seeing Abby use whatever tools at her disposal to get what she wants. A well-intentioned yet empty-headed boyfriend, the anonymity of being a relative stranger, and being the only child of a lax father who leaves cash lying around like an utter buffoon.

This culminates in two very different endings that are compelling in their own right, and that I would hesitantly describe as a more restrained version of something the Attached to Ya branch was attempting. It delivers on the despair and tension, while doing enough to feel distinct even in a scenario as jam-packed as this.

While the other half of this branch, the Talk to Convince path, sees Abby hire the delinquents to beat up the popular clique to steal the scroll. Only for the delinquents to take the scroll for themselves… and use it to get super revenge on the popular clique. Abby thinks quickly enough to dodge these criminal spirits, but needs to convince the delinquents that she is one of them.

This manifests in a linear point accumulating route that sees Abby and the delinquents go through the school, causing trouble, and making the most of their bodies. Using the veneer of cuteness to indulge in their darker impulses with no consequences. Take advantage of their clean records to fulfill dormant dreams. Get wet and wild in the water closet. And cause miscellaneous chaos.

All of this makes for some great fun. It focuses on the perverse joy of being another person, the thrill of destroying another’s reputation, and the power trip of controlling others. While concluding in a cluster of cunning and/or chaos that really captures the sheer power of the possession scroll, as Abby either uses it to achieve new heights of power, or has her left shredded into shambles. Also, this route gave me battle-damaged Sayaka, Allison, and Irene, which I think is just weirdly adorable. I’ve always wanted to see the Student Transfer cast all wound for… reasons.

Conclusion and Recommendations

Now, I want to be positively gushing about ELPS, going on about how it is this vast treasure trove of great storylines. But looking over every branch, I still consider it to be one of the most mixed scenarios I have ever played.

The visual presentation is excellent, in many ways more impressive than the base game. But the script would strongly benefit from another round of editing, and lacks the same… excess of personality that I have seen from certain other ELS writers. It has some truly great routes that left me wildly impressed by their construction, pacing, and overall creativity. However, it also has a lot of fluff, with certain branches (particularly in the Jealousy route) feeling like a chore to get through. The game is vastly developed, so much that it would easily warrant being a full game in and of itself. Yet, its unevenness makes it feel very much like a WIP from a developer who was figuring out stuff on the fly. Because that’s exactly what it is.

As such, I would strongly recommend playing ELPS… but not going through every route. There is so much similarity between the content, so many endings, and so much stuff to go through that I was left fatigued by the end of my attempted 100% run. I say attempted because I gave up trying to find the ‘secret endings.’ Instead, I would recommend going through the routes that interest you the most based on the summaries I provided earlier. Or if you want a full recommendation list, along with suggested play order…

  • One Playthrough of Jealousy – Attached to Ya
  • Maid Up – On The Top
  • Maid Up – Moon Against the Sun
  • Memories
  • Troubles – Rough and Tough
  • Troubles – Main
  • Friends – Road Trip

However, ELPS does not end here. Oh no. There are two spin-off scenarios that feature the same world and characters, but with different set-ups and more focused, faster-based stories. I originally threw them onto the outline for this review as extras (because ELPS wasn’t long enough.) But after playing them… they’re way better than the main scenario.

Bonus Review: Seeeeexy Spoooooky Version

Student Transfer Scenario Review:
Yrammus Dar’s Ghost Hunt by Darknost
Build Released: 10/25/2022
Length: An hour
Played using Student Transfer Version 7.1
WebsiteDiscordTFGS ThreadDownloadFlowchart

Something that I couldn’t help but want to see after going through ELPS was a storyline that saw Zoey and Abby as major characters. Darknost basically designed them as diametrically opposed characters, and it’s always great fun when those clash. Either by putting aside their differences and fighting a mutual enemy. Or going against each other. And that’s precisely what Yrammus Dar’s Ghost Hunt provides… in addition to a downright DOPE scenario.

It’s Halloween at Tina Koya, and the school is positively decked out for the holiday! Everybody has an elaborate costume, every background has been furnished with festive decorations, and the soundtrack has been replaced with one that ranges from spooky to funkalicious. Zoey and the happy gang are naturally amped for the festivities, and in the spirit of the season, Zoey investigates a rumored haunt, where she inadvertently frees two ghosts.

Izabel and Linda, a pair of half-ghosts who, after being sealed in a bathroom for a decade, want nothing more than to bust out and have some sexy fun! Possessing bodies, shuffling souls, eating souls, gobbling memories, all the cool shit! They are pure agents of sexual chaos with endearing as heck personalities and make for downright wonderful antagonists. The kind where you know they should be stopped, but also just want them to keep doling out the transformation funsies.

Naturally, Abby cannot let such promiscuous ne’er-do-wells muck about her school, and with the aid of titular… wizard(?) Yrammus Dar (Rad Summary), her and Zoey get magical wands that shoot DBZ laser beams. Which hurt anybody about as much as you would expect, but are super effective on half-ghosts.

From here, the route just… goes. You have Izabel and Linda causing all sorts of lewd mischief, Zoey trying to be a hero, but screwing up like Zoey does. It is all killer, no filler, and things move without a dull moment as more and more transformations are sprung on the reader with no explanation more complex than ‘they’re ghosts, stupid!’ And just when things sorta start to fall into a routine, the scenario splits into two and offers two endings, even though it really didn’t need to. One of which is a positively poignant encapsulation of the malice and despair found in the ‘bad ends’ of ELPS. The other one is sick anime shit. And both of them see a reprisal of Emily as a neurodivergent demigod with a camera that can do anything so long as she believes it’s possible! …Or something like that.It’s not explained, and it shouldn’t be!

Yrammus Dar’s Ghost Hunt is… honestly one of the best Student Transfer scenarios I have ever played. It is tight, it is focused, while also being jam-packed with dope ideas and creativity. It is the culmination of just about everything Darknost learned in creating ELPS, and it is only aided by its status as a standalone expansion pack… to an expansion pack. (PC games just sometimes be like that, yo.)

As such… screw it. The main scenario has too many lows for this, but YDGH? That deserves a Natalie.TF Certified DOPE Award!

Bonus Review: Cornbread Cupcake Version

Student Transfer Scenario Review:
Why Can’t I Be Sayaka? by Darknost
Build Released: 4/04/2023
Length: An hour
Played using Student Transfer Version 7.1
WebsiteDiscordTFGS ThreadDownloadFlowchart

Oh, but that’s not the only standalone expansion pack to this expansion pack!

While Why Can’t I Be Sayaka? takes place in the broader universe— or perhaps multiverse— or perhaps multi-dimensional wad file— of the cube-iverse, it focuses squarely on the popular group. Sayaka, Cornelia, Irene, Allison, and Rita. The chronically timid Cornelia’s birthday is tomorrow, and she is hoping that she will finally be noticed by her beloved Sayaka, or at least her friends. But after a day of eager anticipation, she learns that not only do they not remember her special day, Sayaka isn’t even inviting her to a party she planned the same day.

Wrapped with despair, Cornelia falls under the radar of the sexually eager half-ghost Daer Tfos (Soft Read) who grants her wish to be like Sayaka. …But that wish is a bit too vague, so instead of becoming Sayaka, she becomes Sayaka’s non-canon mother, Seika Sato. A full-time nurse and part-time model (who is constantly hounded by a trio of camera folk who… sell her photos to magazines and pitch stories for them to write about the Madam SS? It’s not directly explained all that clearly, but it doesn’t really matter. What does matter is that Cornelia will be stuck as Seika unless she can get her friends to remember that today is her birthday.

As a sorta sequel to YDGH, it captures a similar level of chaotic energy. It starts a bit slow, yet deliberately so, as it establishes Cornelia’s not-so-great existence as Sayaka’s accessory. But once Daer comes into play and the possession occurs, it just keeps throwing stuff at the wall with such vigor and veracity that it is hard to not get swept up in this delightful deluge of nonsense.

The constant befuddlement of Cornelia as she is thrown into this situation with no idea how to be who she appears to be, or what she is supposed to be. The absurdist energy added by the camera people who keep latching onto minor things that Coenrlia does before throwing a magazine cover mockup at the reader. The ongoing tension between Sayaka and her friend group as she tries to prepare for this party and assert control over the situation like the queen bee she be. And the fascinatingly flippant transformation funsies that Daer engages in for no greater reason than titillating her twisted ghost brain.

I don’t know why there is a C-plot pertaining to a clique of girls who want to usurp Sayaka from her throne as the most popular girl in school. I cannot highlight anything it adds to the storyline itself, and the cut-aways to Sapphire and Candela feel more like commercial breaks. But they act like they have purpose behind them, and are entertaining enough that they enhance the story in a way I’m not sure I can articulate. They are confident and earnest displays of a creator doing what they want, and if you have the necessary skills, that’s sometimes all you need to make something great.

Now, that’s not to say that this scenario is just a cavalcade of weird stuff happening, or bereft of serious moments. Those are sprinkled throughout to add a morsel of tension, and culminate in two endings. Both of which manage to be surprisingly sweet and tender as Cornelia makes her ultimate decision, and starts a new life better than the one she lived yesterday. No matter which one you pick, it’s a damn satisfying end to a positively euphoric ride.

A ride that, much like the main scenario and YDGH, continued to dazzle me with its presentation. I can tell that no single asset was that hard to make, but the eager, sometimes indulgent, use of them, along with a custom soundtrack, make this feel like a flex by someone who really knows his stuff. And I think that is the best way to describe Darknost’s little collection of scenarios. It is the work of someone who came into the scenario scene without developed skills, but kept doing more, aiming higher, and getting better, before ultimately reaching a level few others have reached.

True Conclusion: Update Unrelated To This Review

Well, that was a mammoth of a review, so I think now is a good time to offer an update regarding future Student Transfer scenario reviews.

…I’m going on another hiatus!

While smaller scenarios can be banged out in a free day, this one took me almost a month to get through. Meaning that I could have easily written 60,000 words of my next novel, but instead I played these scenarios. And you know what that is? Inefficient!

As such, I won’t be covering Student Transfer scenario reviews for a loooong while. With my estimated comeback date being… December 2024. Meaning 15 months from now. It will be a Christmas special! Because I love those!

Later bitches, I’ll see ya when I’m 30!

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  1. Darknost

    Hello, it’s me, the creator of that one very small scenario called “ELPS.”

    Man… I wasn’t expecting you to do a review of ELPS… at least not again… I know my scenario is enjoyed only by a type of people that is small in numbers here, and I’m perfectly fine with that! But because of that, and also because of the last review, I thought, “Okay, I’m thinking there won’t be an update, which is completely fine.”

    I also get super, super, super nervous when reading long reviews about ELPS, so I’m not gonna lie… That made me kinda hope you wouldn’t, I guess, lol. (This is also the reason I took a bit to read this and why some stuff I write here might sound awkward.)

    But anyway, here I am, ready to… say stuff, I guess? I’m not really sure what to do…

    I’m gonna write this as I’m reading your review, so there’s gonna be a lot of REACTION text. (Hey, maybe I should’ve recorded my reaction with a clickbait title like, “SHE SAID THIS???”)

    Well, I gotta start this by saying that this scenario is just a little fun I have on the side while I work and do stuff in my life. Because of that, I’m not too crazy about it being, like, super good, which sounds bad, but I’m not saying I purposely try to make things bad; I guess I just have a kind of limit of effort… I’m doing this for free, after all.

    Also, I don’t consider myself an actual writer? Maybe I can’t say that at this point…? Maybe I’m just not a good writer. Because of this, I will even admit that it’s hard for me to tell what you mean at some points when you praise a path/branch for its quality… But hey, I still smile about you liking it! And ponder when you dislike something.

    Now, to start reading!

    Reading the Introduction section:

    Yes, I do love making stuff look cool! I keep thinking like, “This is a visual novel, so that means I gotta make cool stuff on the screen every now and then, right?” Now, of course, the amount of cool stuff I do has to balance with something else… the “Am I too lazy to do that?” meter, but I guess that’s how it is with any hobby, right?

    Yes, there are a lot of grammar mistakes… This isn’t changing, sadly, because this is a free hobby, and I just can’t ask someone to go through this gigantic thing for free; it wouldn’t be right…

    I thought about paying someone, but I fear that would make things too… serious, if that makes any sense.

    Reading the Family Route section:

    Yeah… you know the Family route is bad when I’m saying I don’t get too serious with this stuff, and I still don’t like it…

    I’m glad and impressed you found things you liked, though!

    Reading the Jealousy Route section:

    The paths feeling too similar is something I try to avoid, though there are certain events that I like to include in multiple paths to make them feel more connected. It’s a bit of a struggle, but I’ll try to get better at that in the future, I guess.

    I see you don’t like the slow-paced stuff much, heh. I am aware that I’m in the minority that enjoys it, so I do try to make things interesting in most paths/branches, but I also include some slower options.

    I have quite a few scrapped scenes where a character gets possessed, and then that’s it—nothing big happens, and it just follows their lives. I know this isn’t the most liked thing, so I keep most of those to myself.

    I like filler! Even in anime, and my friends already tell me I’m weird! Heh.

    I don’t feel bad at all about you liking some paths more than others. In fact, I love reading about both what you like and don’t like.

    I’m not trying to stick to just one way to progress a story, mostly because this is just a hobby. Some stories progress quickly, some go slower, and I love both. You know what, if anyone just likes one style, then I’m happy! Because liking something I did makes me smile and be the happiest cube ever.

    Man, you write these so well; it’s really cool. Had to stop and say this as I read it.

    The parallel of ZoeyXMaria and ConnieXJayden was also to make it more impactful when Connie eventually is fully gone. Like, you have Zoey and Maria happy on one side while Connie is suffering from the consequences of her life and actions.

    But I also get why you say this doesn’t work, even though I liked how it turned out.

    When I imagine people playing my scenario, I think of them doing it over a long period of time, not all as quickly as they can. (I also encourage people to take their time.)

    Reading the Maid Up Route section:

    I do have more plans to explain the whole thing in Diolavoc Manor, but I do see why it would be confusing…

    Yes, your description of Bea and Nora is pretty much perfect; they’re really fun to write!

    I hope when you say the scroll button does nothing, it’s because you didn’t feel like it had a use, because it is supposed to show the list for the code.

    “Deus Ex Miko” I like that, and yes, I could have done the ending a little better… I remember that at the time I was like “This isn’t an Evil Choice end, so I better change it…” So I made a reference to the Mikos early on and changed stuff for them to appear.

    Oh… I didn’t consider Anuja’s appearance as a reason for her personality… I’m sorry if I did something bad… I’m gonna give a spoiler for why she is like that, just to try and make this not as bad: Anuja is planned to actually be cursed and also be Circe, which is what I was told is who she is in the game she’s from, so I was planning to do this reference to it. I swear I had no idea this was a problem.

    I’m glad you liked three stories though, and I can see why you were a little frustrated to just see a resolution to Cassie and Holly. All I can say is that, hey, I’m gonna be here for a long time, and adding stuff is always an option, so maybe someday.

    Happy you liked Emily! Since she is in Zoey’s group and she doesn’t really appear in the main game (at the time I wrote it, I haven’t played the main ST in a bit), I tried to make her very unique.

    Reading the Memories Route section:

    Hey! You noticed that Abby is more based on Never! Actually, the reason I made this scenario was because of Never. I wanted more content from it, but CREAM had stopped making it, so at some point, I went like, “Fine, I’ll do it myself,” and then I made ELPS.
    The first version was 6 hours long!

    Fun fact, the resistance idea came from wanting to explain what happens to Yui.

    If I really don’t feel great about how something turned out, I will revise/rewrite it eventually. Currently, the Main branch of Friends and maybe Maid up are most likely gonna get that treatment… at some point.

    Reading the Friends Route section:

    Honestly, it’s fun to see someone actually not like the Sherlock Sato path as much! I don’t know if that makes sense… but it is fun.

    As you mentioned, I have been told by many that they love that path and some have it as their favorite.

    I can see what you mean with your criticism, and I think it’s fair. For the reason why the whole thing isn’t black and white and over the top, it’s because these parts are only in Sayaka’s imagination, and I wanted to show that better. But yes, there is a couple of things I could have done better.

    Oh yeah, Sayaka does sound like Maria a bit, funny. But actually, Sayaka is inspired by Doctor House from “House M.D.” I imagine her as a “bitchy” version of House.

    Pattern with names? Nah, I don’t know what you’re talking about. All the names take 500 hours to think of, and none of them would be like “just some random thing backward,” that would be as stupid as having the scenario’s title be “cool name” or something.

    Road trip was a lot of fun to make! It was an idea I had for a path on day 1 of making this scenario. But I didn’t really know how I would make it work… But after I developed more characters, I had a good idea of how to do it.

    Reading the Troubles Route section:

    There’s a lot of “I see what you mean” here, huh… But I’m gonna have to say that again for Somewhere Land.

    Having Somewhere Land on Troubles be one click away is something that does bother me a little… maybe that will be changed in the future.

    The Rough and Tough Branch is gonna get an update this month, and it’s not gonna change stuff too much in most of it, but “Corny’s story” is gonna be a lot different.

    That doesn’t mean I don’t care about what you wrote. I give it an “I see what you mean” seal of approval.

    Hey, if you like the wounded versions, I won’t judge.

    Reading the Halloween special section:

    Oh damn, you’re doing the specials too?? Wow!

    I knew you would like the specials, since you don’t like “fluff,” and the specials are made to be something I finish quickly, so I can’t even add “fluff,” heh.

    Yay! Dope award! That sounds cool!

    Reading the Corny Special section:

    Yes, the Sapphire and Candela bits don’t have a reason to be there.

    And that’s okay to me! Sometimes I just want to add fun stuff! Though I did make their little commercial breaks be quick.

    Thank yous and Final things to say:

    Yeah, this thing is really big… With the next update this month, the scenario is going to reach the 2-day reading time, which is insane, and I am clearly crazy, and I have to be stopped.

    Thank you for these awesome reviews you do. I’m sure that the people who don’t get super nervous love them a lot. (Not saying I didn’t love it, I did!) They’re really detailed, and I can feel the hard work!

    Some stuff I wanted to say before the end:

    – The Discord link doesn’t seem to be working.

    – It’s actually good that you didn’t do the secret ends because I was going to ask for those not to be in that flowchart you do… they’re secret!

    – I just bought bread, but they didn’t have the ones I wanted.

    – If you don’t feel like doing another update in the future, you don’t have to. I’m already pretty happy with the two you did, and thank you again for them.

    – Yes, stuff doesn’t look good here and there… The budget wasn’t great, and by budget, I mean me not being good at stuff but still wanting to do it.

    – The cube is not very smart…

    – I wish you said more about the music, but I get why you wouldn’t since I still use a bunch of main game music.

    Anyway, again, thank you so much for taking your time to do a review of my silly little but big scenario. I hope you have a great day and many more great reviews.”

    1. Natalie Neumann

      WOWZERS! I think you just hit the record for the longest comment in Natalie.TF history. …Which is strangely appropriate considering this review.
      I’m glad you were able to learn about this review, as I really don’t do any sort of promotion or plugging in the ST community these days (public places are scary).
      I deliberated whether or not I should to this review, as I did review it two years ago, but there was a bit of a drought in new Student Transfer scenario reviews, and from what I remembered about ELPS, I figured it had more than enough STUFF to warrant its own review. …And then I threw on two bonus reviews for good measure!

      Overall, there were some routes that I felt were a bit weak, but this scenario, and its expansions, were utterly wild rides, and I just want to thank you for making them. ^^
      You said you don’t consider yourself an ‘actual writer’ but I find that a bit hard to believe with the clear level of effort, planning, worldbuilding, and creativity on display here. This is hundreds, probably even thousands, of hours of work, and you should be proud of that, Mister Cube!

      Other Comments:
      Discussions of the music kind of got lost in the shuffle, and I felt the review was long enough. I appreciated the additions of a few custom tracks, but they largely gelled nicely with the existing ST soundtrack, so I didn’t have too much to say about them.
      I pulled the Discord link from your website which, upon clicking on it, reveals that it is an invalid link. I replaced the Discord links throughout the reviews.
      After going through ALL of this, I kind of don’t want to cover this scenario for a good five years. Like I said, this took me a WHILE to get through. So, yeah, don’t expect a re-re-review anytime soon. :P
      LIAR! The cube is smart! Animations like these take at least two apples of brain power!
      These reviews are largely just me going through a game, taking note of things I like, and then assembling them into a series of sentence-like structures filled with words I found in my backyard. (Realistically, I have been writing reviews for 11.5 years at this point, so things like this come as second nature to me at this point.)
      Thank you for your kind words! :D

      1. Darknost

        Gotta thank you too for the kind words. I was scared about something too harsh/mean on the review(because of some previous experiences I had), but that wasn’t the case, it was all nice, even the criticism.

        Wow that’s a long time doing reviews! Noice!

        Mister cube will try to improve!

        Thanks for the third or fourth time!