Jul 19, 2011

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School 26: Summer of Secrets Review

School 26: Summer of Secrets Review

Recently, I was able to review Silicon Sisters’ first title, School 26. It had me looking forward to seeing what the Canadian-based company could do with their sequel to the iOS title. School 26: Summer of Secrets follows Kate and her friends as they go about their days during the summer. Is Summer of Secrets just a rehash of a game designed for teenage girls or does it stand out on its own?

One thing that does stand out between both titles is how School 26 is more focused on the card portion of gameplay compared to its successor, School 26: Summer of Secrets. Yes, you have to use the cards in order to either make someone less down in the dumps or two people see eye-to-eye. Summer of Secrets seems to shift the focus from that towards knowing which person to share a secret with and matching the right emotions during a conversation. This isn’t really a strike against the game, I just felt that it could have used more of the card games in it.

Other than the decrease in the card games, Summer of Secrets does add onto its predecessor in the way of story. Regardless of your outcome in School 26, Kate gets to spend her summer with the same classmates she befriended in the first title. But the friendship levels are reset. All the characters from School 26 are present, and there is the addition of one new character who you just met (even though they go to your school). The cast is well rounded, and their personalities haven’t altered much between the two titles. Instead of trying to gain their friendship in order to stay at the school, this time Kate is a sort of guidance counselor for them. As the title suggests, this story relies on secrets to move it along. When in a conversation with someone, Kate has the chance to learn a secret that she can then share with someone else. You don’t get penalized for sharing these secrets (even though the characters will ask you to keep a tight lip) and you’ll know when you’ve sent the secret to the right person due to having their friendship meter increase.

The menu is easier to navigate in Summer of Secrets. Instead of using a blue locker, Kate gets to access all the information she needs right from a cell phone. This makes it less weird than a locker full of classmates’ dossiers and a crystal ball. It also keeps everything organized, though I would think that for a kid that grew up with nomad parents, organization might not be a staple. Then again, when you move often, it’s good to know where everything is.

The artwork is the same as the previous title. It’s cute and really appealing for the targeted audience. It has a cartoon feel but isn’t too “out there” in terms of proportions. While Summer of Secrets doesn’t have vocal tracks for the characters, the title song does feature vocals. I thought the song was upbeat and really catchy. A neat feature is the ability to purchase the song through the menu. It is also available for purchase on iTunes.

I managed to play through Summer of Secrets in roughly the same amount of time as I did with School 26, which was about three hours. The story is about the same length, but the game felt like it went by quicker due to the amount of puzzles. Replaying the game is only for those who wish to max out all their friends’ affection level.

School 26: Summer of Secrets is a fun title and one for those who enjoyed the prequel. I would have loved to have seen more puzzles in this installment, but the premise of “spilling secrets” does make up for it a little. If you are or have a teenage girl, I recommend giving this game a shot. Silicon Sisters have done a good job of not relying on glitter and make-up in creating another fun title for girls.

Game Title
Platform: iPhone (reviewed), iPad
Genre: RPG, Card
Release Date: 07/19/2011
Developer: Silicon Sisters Interactive
Publisher: Silicon Sisters Interactive
ESRB Rating: 12 +
MSRP: $2.99; HD: $4.99