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Visual Novel / Everlasting Summer

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From left to right: Alisa, Slavya, Ulyana, Miku and Lena

Everlasting Summer (Бесконечное лето) is a Russian-language Bishoujo Game / Dating Sim Visual Novel developed by Soviet Games, which is also available and translated into English. It is an eroge, although there is an option to disable adult content, and some distribution outlets have removed the adult content scenes altogether.

The player takes on the role of Semyon, an ordinary young man with thousands, even hundreds of thousands of those like him in every ordinary city. But one day something completely unusual happens to him: he falls asleep in a bus in winter and wakes up... in the middle of a hot summer. In front of him is "Sovyonok" - a Young Pioneer camp, behind him is his former life. To understand what happened to him, Semyon will have to get to know the local inhabitants (and maybe even find love), find his way in the complex labyrinth of human relationships and his own problems and solve the camp's mysteries. And answer the main question - how to come back? Should he come back?

The game, built using the Ren'Py Visual Novel Engine, was developed by the users of Russian-language Image Board The game was originally conceived as an eroge where players will get to "romance" with the moe anthropomorphised mascots of Russian imageboards―the main female characters of Everlasting Summer are all based on Russian imageboard mascots (e.g.: Alisa Dvachevskaya is based on a mascot of Russian imageboard, Dvach-chan). The game as a whole is deeply steeped in Russian internet subculture, and many in-jokes will likely be lost to non-Russian internet users.

The game had a rather shaky development with numerous staff shifts and dramas. It was first released as a Russian-language demo (consisting of the first two in-game days) on New Year's Day in 2010. The full Russian-language version of the game finally received a freeware release in December of 2013. An English version became available in November of 2014, still distributed for free, via Steam. Many people were quite surprised that the Steam release retained the game's eroge elements. Alas, this was to be a short lived surprise when, a few days after release, Steam released an update which removed all of these elements from the game. Fortunately, it did not take players upset at this long to discover a way around it. The uncensored version could be played for free on Nutaku from August of 2015 up until the removal of support for Flash at the end of 2020, with the game being de-listed from the site on December 30 of that year. A port on Android and iOS was eventually released.

See also Katawa Shoujo, another Visual Novel project by an otaku imageboard. More information on the game's development can be found on the Russian-language wikis and Lurkmore.

Everlasting Summer provides examples of:

  • Adults Are Useless: Olga Dmitrievna is almost never portrayed as a competent authority figure, and at one point in his narration, Semyon makes it clear that he doesn't hold her in high regard precisely because of this.
  • All Just a Dream: The game begins with Semyon falling asleep in one place and waking up in another. That he is just dreaming is one of Semyon's suspicions. In most of the endings, this is seemingly played straight when Semyon wakes up.
  • Alternate Universe: The explanation for all iterations of Semyon's story all being "true". Yes, even the Miku route.
  • And I'm the Queen of Sheba: A really silly one.
    Semyon: Oh, yeah, and I'm Optimus Prime, born nine million years ago in the Highlands of Scotland.
  • Animesque: Although set in Russia and originally released in the Russian language, the gameplay and visual design of the characters clearly take influence from Japanese visual novels.
  • Art Shift: The animesque and colorful artstyle is not used in the background CGs of the bad endings in order to portray horrific and depressing scenes. Instead, the artstyle uses a lot of washed-out or "dirty" colors, generally looking like something out of the horror visual novels out there.
  • Attack Backfire: Ulyana's unsanctioned rule change during the card game actually makes it infinitely easier to win her round compared to the rest, despite her demanding a rematch.
  • Big Damn Kiss:
    • Semyon and Alisa kiss in the latter's ending during the modern era's winter season.
    • Happens in the good ending of Miku's route, with Semyon pulling her in for a surprise kiss. Naturally, Miku is initially shocked at this, but lets it slide as she also developed romantic feelings for him.
  • Bishie Sparkle: During Elektronik's Shirtless Scene.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Many of the Multiple Endings are this in some shape or form.
    • The Good Endings for the four main girls. For Slavya, Ulyana and Alisa, Semyon returns to the real world without them, but takes the lessons he learned from them (respectively, appreciating life and the people in it, taking joy in the world and following his passions, and that music is a passion worth pursuing) to heart and makes something of himself (is a happier and nicer person who gets out more, goes back to university and studies a topic he loves, learns to play the guitar again and founds his own band, eventually having their first big concert), eventually meeting the girls in the real world. For Lena, Semyon stays in the dream world to be with her, where he initially has a rough time out of it but learns to adapt, eventually marrying and raising a family with her.
    • Yulya's route. Either you sacrifice everyone in Sovyonok for what turns out to be a chance to bring her into the real world, or you leave her behind in the dream world to unlock the Harem Ending.
  • Black Blood: Happens in Lena's bad ending wherein you get to discover her corpse after she committed suicide. There's a depressing Art Shift all around, then the camera zooms out to reveal a bright yellow crack on her arm where she slit herself, with a glowing yellow liquid in place for a blood.
  • Blatant Lies: A disclaimer at the beginning states that all of the heroines in the game are at least 18 years of age. Even though they are all members of the Young Pioneers youth group. Even, apparently, Ulyana, whose underage status becomes a plot point. By the end of the game, this does become true of all of them, but that is rather splitting hairs.
  • Bookworm: Zhenya, the Pioneer who's generally in charge of the library.
  • Bowdlerise: The Steam version used to contain the adult content scenes at launch, but an official patch replaced them with black screens. It doesn't stop the players from patching the uncensored artworks though.
  • Cat Girl: Yulya, who's the primary heroine of sorts in the game's final storyline branch.
  • Cerebus Syndrome:
    • Lena's route starts out seeming fairly innocent and as light as many of the others. But by the end it can get quite serious, and, especially if you get the bad end, rather depressing.
    • Likewise, the Miku/Masha route takes a rather dark turn.
    • Yulya's route, the path to the True Ending, reveals a lot of information about what's really happening in the story. Besides, a Cat Girl is already a weird instance compared to the "normal" situations beforehand, and things go even weirder from there.
  • Childhood Marriage Promise: It stretches "childhood" a bit far, but at the end of Ulyana's good route she makes Semyon promise to marry her when she grows up.
  • Cicadian Rhythm: Used as a blatant Higurashi: When They Cry reference, along with mishearing one of the characters' name foreshadowing the Miku/Masha ending, where it gets turned up to eleven.
  • The Ditz:
    • Miku, much to the frustration of Masha, who has to play her role.
    • Similarly, Sasha, the girl who plays the role of Slavya in the Miku route. Masha thinks their roles should have been swapped.
  • Downer Ending: Lena's bad ending. She commits suicide because she fears Semyon doesn't love her, dying in his arms. Semyom returns to the real world, but is too emotionally crushed to recover from what happened and ends up committing suicide himself.
  • Downloadable Content: The "A Lone Pioneer's Story" plotline was added post-launch, and it reveals more about Zhenya's time in the camp.
  • Dream Weaver: Towards the end of Yulya's route, Semyon is told that she is his own consciousness given form. Yet after waking, he is able to choose to make any of the girls he dreamed about appear before him, including her!
  • Dream Within a Dream: The Miku route, which starts out innocent enough but quickly spirals into a Nightmare Sequence.
  • Early-Bird Cameo: If you try to exit the game, on the screen asking if you are sure you want to quit is an image of Yulya. Unless you marathon through at least five playthroughs and have made a start on your sixth, all without quitting, her appearance on this screen will be long before you encounter her in game.
  • Earn Your Happy Ending: The entire cast can get one in the good endings, but especially Red Pioneer in the DLC.
  • Expy: Most of the female cast are based on memetic mascots from Russian internet culture, and Electronik and Shurik are both anime-style versions of actual Soviet-era live-action TV characters. Miku being the most recognisable.
  • Eyes Out of Sight: Semyon (and his clones) has his eyes covered by his bangs.
  • Foreshadowing:
    • When you first meet Shurik and Electronik in the Robotics Club, they are trying to build a robotic Cat Girl. And if you're wondering why the quit menu shows an image of a cat girl, she's actually Yulya, someone who plays an important role in the story, or at least the final playthrough. She's also related to Semyon in one way or another.
    • Semyon has a brief mental image of Lena as Rena from Higurashi: When They Cry, hinting at Lena's yandere traits in certain bad endings involving her.
  • Full-Name Basis: Olga Dmitrievna. Neither any of the characters, the narration, or even the display of the name of which character is speaking, ever calls her by anything other than both her names — which is exactly how students always refer to their teachers in Russia. Excessive familiarity and fraternising between students and teachers is strongly discouraged in Russian educational system.
  • Game Mod: Players can create, share, and download custom stories via the Steam Workshop.
  • Glorious Mother Russia: Downplayed. It is all set in a Soviet-era Young Pioneer camp, but the communist regime is only given a few references, and the weather is warm (as is true in much of Russia in the summer).
  • Guide Dang It!:
    • Typical for a visual novel, your dialogue tree options determine which of the girls' route(s) you are currently getting to, and you won't know which option leads you to whom on the first try.
    • One of the first triggers for Yulya's route involve you navigating through a maze that can only be traversed by selecting Left or Right in the dialogue options. With no in-game map or clues it's very hard to find your way without a walkthrough.
  • Hates Being Nicknamed: Alisa. Don't you dare refer to her as "Dva-cheh".
  • I Choose to Stay: Lena's Good Ending route, in which Semyon inexplicably stays in the dream world to be with her, soldiers through the predictably rough hand the world deals him and ends up marrying and having two children with her.
  • Improbable Age: All of the characters who are members of the Young Pioneers, with the exception of Ulyana. They are presented as if they are older teenagers, certainly old enough that the Older Than He Looks Semyon is not conflicted, at least for age-related reasons, to have sex with them during their routes. However, the upper age limit for Young Pioneers is 15, after which they could join the Komsomol. (In fact, near the end of Slavya's route, when Olga Dmitrievna is upset with Semyon's actions she threatens to withhold recommending his joining the Komsomol.) Despite this, a disclaimer at the beginning claims all the girls in the game are at least 18 years of age. Except Ulyana, who is obviously younger than the rest, but has no sex scenes (but does have spots of fanservice.)
  • Improbably Female Cast: There are 3 named male camp residents, including Semyon himself, in comparison with 8 female ones. Lampshaded by Semyon when he meets Electronic for the first time, comparing the camp with the kingdom of Amazons.
  • Inexplicably Awesome: The world of Sovyonok. Semyon is unable to get consistent answers for why he can't leave the place, several odd occurrences take place only to be shrugged off by the inhabitants as no biggie once the fuss has died down and any search for the truth is usually stone-walled in some fashion until Semyon gives up out of frustration. Even the plot reveals that Sovyonok is the setting of a multiverse in which multiple versions of different people exist and so on barely offer much more in the way of a solid explanation for everything that happens.
  • Iyashikei: The majority of the game's plot revolves around teenagers in a youth camp, interacting or playing with one another and developing friendly (and romantic) relationships. It isn't always like this though, as bad endings exist and the path to the True Ending can be dark.
  • Lap Pillow: Happens in Yulya's ending with Semyon. Mind you, this is not the typical example of the trope, as it's the girl who's resting her head on the boy's lap.
  • The Law of Conservation of Detail: When you've finished the pre-requisite requirements for triggering the flags to Yulya's route, you start a new playthrough as usual, but new details, dialogue tree options, or objects will be added that would change the narrative to point to the said character's route, such as a green apple appearing in the clinic when the previous playthroughs didn't show it.
  • Leitmotif: Each of the girls have their own specific tracks that play mostly when you interact with them or proceed through their own routes:
    • Slavya - "Forest Maiden"
    • Lena - "Let's Be Friends"
    • Ulyana - "I Want To Play"
    • Alisa - "That's Our Madhouse"
    • Miku - "So Good To Be Careless"
    • Yulya - "Mystery Girl"
  • Love Triangle: Semyon has absolutely no clue he has fallen into one of these with Lena and Alisa. Either you choose one or neither ... until you unlock the Harem Ending.
  • Marry Them All: Given that they mention the "other" endings as having already happened, there is a high probability this is actually the "canon" ending. Well done, Semyon.
  • Male Gaze: Some of the background CGs with the girls focus on their specific body parts for fanservice reasons common in an eroge like this game.
  • The Multiverse: Camp Sovyonok seems to serve as the center of a web of different universes simultaneously, in each of which Semyon makes different decisions and leads to different outcomes. The Harem Ending seems to imply that Semyon is able to collapse the alternate realities, as he retains his memories of all his other lives — and so do the girls, all of whom have gathered to see him again in the real world. But this turns out to not be the case in the Zhenya DLC, where the Red Pioneer is still trapped, and Semyon returns to Sovyonok one more time to help him escape into his own universe with Zhenya.
  • Off the Rails: Yulya's route centres on this. The world Semyon is in has begun to abandon the script it runs on, starting with his new-found ability to talk to her when he never could before, a mysterious city appears in the distance, and when you seem to be approaching the city, going back to the camp upon hearing of an impending disaster leads Semyon to find Sovyonok a Ghost Town and all its inhabitants vanished, yet ignoring their cries for help will lead to them showing up later on the bus, completely fine and unharmed.
  • Old School Building: Even though Camp Sovyonok isn't a school, the old campsite is functionally identical to the Old School Buildings used in other visual novels by being an abandoned location filled with lots of mysteries.
  • Or Was It a Dream?: In all of the good endings, Semyon is able to meet the girl he romanced along that route. In some of them, she even mentions that he seems familiar, as if she dreamed about him. And finally, in the "Harem Ending", Semyon, after waking, meets all of the girls, at the same time, after they all came looking for him as the guy from the dreams they all had. Mighty suspicious. Especially as he and Lena manage to spend a good portion of their lives married, until they wake up one day. With all the others they wake up right after the camp ends.
  • Pair the Spares: In the DLC "One Pioneer's Story", the Red Pioneer and Zhenya
  • Really 700 Years Old: The Red Pioneer, due to "Groundhog Day" Loop
  • Real-Place Background: Sovyonok's layout and locations are largely based on SOL "Volga", a real-life recreation camp.
  • Ripple-Effect-Proof Memory:
    • Red Pioneer has a bad case of this which leads to a severe case of Sanity Slippage.
    • Also, all "real" iterations of the girls, as well as the original Semyon, remember bits of what happened during the camp days in the Harem Ending.
  • Scenery Porn: Big time, the backgrounds and settings are all gorgeously-drawn, especially with pleasing vibrant color choices.
  • Schrödinger's Gun: There are some events and their corresponding background CGs that change depending on who accompanies Semyon at that point. While the overall plot for those events generally stay the same, the dialogue varies depending on the character:
    • When inspecting the abandoned building, Semyon can go alone or with any of the girls.
    • Semyon could dance with either Lena or Slavya as his dancing partner.
    • The Good Ending wherein the girl who sleeps in Semyon's bed when he wakes up in the real world depends on who the player chooses to be with.
  • Screw Yourself: Given eventual revelations as to who or what Yulya is, the fact that Semyon has sex with her becomes this. Or perhaps it can just be seen as taking Mind Screw a little too literally? Although it becomes a more traditional form of Mind Screw when, in her ending, you can choose to end up with her back in the real world.
  • Send in the Clones: All those creepy faceless Pioneers from Yulya's path? All iterations of Semyon who never escaped from the dream world.
  • Ship Tease: It's a visual novel Dating Sim / Romance Game, so what do you expect? You build up relationship points by choosing answers that suit the girl's tastes, and the deeper your relationship goes with a girl, the more open or romantic the dialogue turns out.
    • You'd also get to unlock and view special CGs with the girls, depicting her and Semyon in romantic or flirty ways.
    • Out of all the common examples of the trope, and a subversion to how Relationship Values work in Dating Sim visual novels, Yulya's route doesn't have any "bad endings" per se, nor can you intentionally break her heart. Therefore, Yulya has a lot of ship teasing going on with Semyon. It quite helps that her route is the path to the True Ending, and that she's the manifestation of Semyon's consciousness, so it's natural that Yulya is friendly with him.
  • Shirtless Scene: At one point, Elektronik has one that's Played for Laughs.
  • Shrug of God: Seemingly invoked by the name of the achievement acquired upon finishing the Miku route: "What is this I don't even"
  • Sleep Cute: Semyon could do this with Lena in the latter's route, with both sleeping by resting their heads on each others' shoulders.
  • Spoiler Opening: Whenever the game is first opened, there is a screen containing disclaimers including, "The game doesn't contain any propaganda of voluntary (or not) ending one's life." It doesn't take a genius to figure out from that that at least one of the routes, before the end, will contain a character's suicide.
  • Those Two Guys: Aside from player-controlled Semyon himself and his alternate loop versions, the only two male characters who receive any focus are Elektronik and Shurik, the two members of the robotics club who often act as a pair.
  • Two-Person Pool Party: In Yulya's route, she and Semyon spend time bathing in the lake, with the girl seductively hugging him from behind. It's also at that time when there's nobody else in the entire camp except for these two.
  • Time Skip:
    • All Good Endings count, as Semyon wakes up in the present time, revealing that the events of the Soviet-era camp were All Just a Dream.
    • The "Harem Ending" is a more specific case of this among the good endings. The most obvious clue to this is that the five girls don't look like their appearances at the camp. Justified as the ending takes place several years after the All Just a Dream events in the game, and that the girls physically grew up obviously, including Ulyana! All of them in fact, have new hairstyles that are different than their younger selves.
  • Time Travel for Fun and Profit: In Lena's Good Ending, where Semyon stays in the past rather than return to his proper time, it dawns on Semyon that he can use his knowledge of the outcomes of certain sporting events to earn money from betting. Unfortunately, this fails, as the outcome of said events seem to 'swerve' away from how they 'really' happened the moment he tries to bet. Thankfully, he is able to pose as a relative of himself to make some career connections to support his family with Lena.
  • True Ending: Yulya's route serves as the path to this ending, because you have to get all the positive endings for the other characters first, including Miku's ending, before you could start a playthrough unlocking the flags for this route.
  • Unreliable Narrator: Semyon, oh Semyon. Especially Red Pioneer Semyon, whose utterly terrifying route you get to view Through the Eyes of Madness.
  • Waking Up Elsewhere:
    • How Semyon gets "transported" to the Russian youth camp in the intro, when he was just browsing the computer in his room a while ago. In most of the game's endings, he "returns" to the real world waking up in his bed.
    • In Yulya's route, she wakes you up as the both of you are riding the bus. Quite a bit of a Ship Tease moment here as well, since her face is almost close to Semyon's when our protagonist opens his eyes.
  • Wham Shot: The bad endings are rife of these obviously, as the build-up can be quite depressing and dramatic, just before they reveal a horrific scene as its background CG. The accompanying background music in these scenes are also dark as hell, evoking a horror movie.
  • Where the Hell Is Springfield?: Sovyonok's lack of an obvious location on the map or connection to the outside world is taken by Semyon as proof that something is wrong with the place. Lena's ending reveals it's somewhere in the south of the USSR, although given the sheer size of the place that isn't saying much.
  • Wild Wilderness: Sovyonok is apparently on the edge of this, to the point where going just 200 meters in might get you lost in the forest.