Another day, another yuri Kinetic Novel to review, which is never a bad thing for a yuri fan who loves them. This time it is about two young ladies in college brought together by happenstance and one awakening feelings she was aware of but not certain of the inner truth. Question is whether it is worth joining the duo and their journey? Let us find out as we take a look at First Snow, developed by Salty Salty Studios and published by Studio Élan subdivision Bellhouse.
Note: First Snow is a prequel spinoff of the visual novel Twofold, focused on Allison and Eileen’s first months in community college in the leadup to Christmas, and the many varied people who surround them.
Genres: College, Romance, Yuri
Length: 6-8 hours (Depends on reading speed)
Plot Summary: Having moved away from her friends and family to attend community college, Allison Merlo is a fresh student struggling with the day to day challenges of life.
Faced not only with living independently for the first time, but also having to get past her nerves to find new friends in an unfamiliar environment, she finds herself falling in with a group of eccentric writers and artists.
As she pushes through this new stage in her life, the art of the cold and enigmatic Eileen Turner takes her attention, setting her on a course she never expected.
Let us first go over what stood out the most at first glance, the presentation. In the product page one of the features mentions the game having a “papercraft” style, which to Nintendo fans means “Paper Mario” and others means “the characters are well drawn paper cutouts that are flat when they move, hop and especially turn around. The characters are all very well drawn from Allison and Eileen to their friends and family who appear on screen. The backgrounds all look like masterful drawings. This is emphasized by the fantastic screen transitions that can be best described as “drawings come to life at super speed”. It puts on a smile on my face every time I saw it. So good. The CGs are well done also, again looking like masterful drawings. Besides the screen transitions the pop ups are pretty cool too, such as the phones, “drawings within drawings” and closeups of certain moments. The soundtrack is super chill. It is like being in a coffee shop and listening to chill tunes yo. Again good stuff.
Back to the story. The main themes in First Snow are college life, family and adulthood. All of them tied together in the stories of our main heroines who cope with their newfound, sort of, independence in their own ways. Basically their first taste of life outside their family. In Allison’s case she has a difficult time adapting because she lived with her family for so long and had an enjoyable childhood that being apart from them was harder than she thought. Were it not for the people she meets who knows how she would cope. Then there is Eileen who looked like she prepared herself a long time for the day she moved out of her family home. Once the two become accustomed to their new social lives, after meeting each other of course, their more uplifting traits slowly come to light…along with their not-so likable parts, especially in Eileen’s case. Without giving much away Eileen’s personal life plays a big role in the story and the couples’ development.
Like many romance stories First Snow has a three act structure, figuratively and literally, the latter referring to the story literally split into three Acts not counting the prologue and special post-credit scene. Yup. they pulled a “Mahvel”. That is all I will say about that.
As I “plread” (play-read) the story I had a feeling I saw Allison and Eileen’s duo dynamic somewhere before.
Then I remembered the manga “Tsuki no Suppin”, about an energetic girl and her not-as-energetic but caring girlfriend. Similar to the Genki X Grouch/Tsundere couple but not identical. As Allison and Eileen grow closer their dynamic become similar to that of the leads in TnS. Once out of her lonely slump (though temporary) Allison is optimistic, full of energy and wants to get to know Eileen as much as possible whereas Eileen has a droopy look on her face most of the time, a snarky and sarcastic tone but deep down cares for the people she gets along with. Plus she is more subtle when showing interest despite her bluntness, if you know what I am referring to. In a classic “opposites attract” relationship this is one of several aspects that attracted Allison to her.
The side-characters, friends and relatives, are all pretty cool cats including the genki Caprice, Allison’s voluptuous roommate Rose to a certain adorable relative.
Allison and Eileen’s relationship obviously being the main focus I loved every second of it. Their ups and downs and all around, yes. Cliched as it may sound it was a roller coaster of feelz that by the end I was close to soaking the sheet. Despite the grounded setting my heart “pitter patted” at the right moments.
Overall First Snow is a relaxed and wonderful time. The cast are excellent, the presentation a masterful drawing with chill coffee shop tunes and the relationship development quite lovely. Recommended to most yuri fans in the mood for a relaxed yet still riveting romance.
Visit the First Snow homepage HERE for download links, including the 18+ Patch for the Steam version. Reminder, the game is FREE to download.