Lessons In Love

Lessons in Love is a 2020 episodic visual novel developed by American indie developer Selebus, a.k.a DJNOSTYLE.

Image often used to promote the game, featuring the first twelve Main Cast members and Sensei

The game was initially distributed via itch.io, Selebus' own Patreon page, and Gamejolt[1]; Both the Gamejolt[2] and the Patreon[3] mirrors were eventually dropped, with the latter being swapped out for Subscribestar. The story follows the perspective of an, initially, unknown person who finds himself pushed into the role of a man named Sensei, a teacher in an all-girls high school located within a town known as Kumon-mi. Some unstated time before the beginning of the game, the entire city was surrounded by walls, and the Japanese government declared war on some unidentified entity in space - As such, Kumon-mi is nearly devoid of adult men, with no way for its residents to leave. The game presents itself as a mix of sandbox dating simulator and psychological horror, regularly switching between the two. Lessons in Love often has many stories developing concurrently, with individual character stories overlapping, and big, cast-wide events often ending or beginning character arcs.

The game is currently in active development, with its initial release being on March 17th, 2020[4], and an estimated ten-year development cycle. The game was released to a positive reception from various communities in the English-speaking visual novel community, accruing 30,000 views within the first three days. A modified version of the game, named The Legend of the Huggy Boy, was developed concurrently from December 22nd, 2021 until March 19th, 2022.

The game's creator regularly updates the game with new content which furthers the story of the game's various characters as well as an overarching narrative. These updates were initially monthly but following the game's continued success, the schedule was changed to bi-weekly releases in September of 2020[5]. The game was moved back to a monthly release schedule in March of 2023[6].

Story

The story of Lessons in Love takes place across a never-ending school year, mostly contained to the year 2020, only occasionally crossing over into 2021. After a certain amount of time has passed, an event frequently referred to as the “Apocalypse”, “End of the World” or, more generally, “Resets” occurs. During said Resets, all of time stops flowing, with every sign of life being wiped out except for a few key people, such as Sensei or Maya. It’s up to these key people to initiate the Reset properly by praying, which will bring everyone in Kumon-mi back but throw them all back in time an unspecified amount.

Lessons in Love often has many stories developing concurrently, with individual character stories overlapping, and big, cast-wide events that often end or begin character arcs. Additionally, it is incredibly long, making a full story synopsis difficult to write in an intelligible manner. As such, below is a recap of the introduction:

Lessons in Love begins at some unspecified time, with some unnamed narrator speaking to an unnamed listener about the illusions light can create. Before the narrator can bore the listener for long, they join them outside under a blue sky, apparently standing up somewhere high. The narrator advises the listener that nothing they see will be real, before urging them to “jump” and welcoming them home.

Slowly, the protagonist is awakened by an unknown girl sitting in front of him, quickly realizing he has no idea where he is, who he is, and why he’s here at all. He quickly concludes that he must’ve been reincarnated into another world for some strange reasons, and attempts to blend in by pretending to be the person whose body he’s wound up in – That being a middle-aged high school teacher only referred to as Sensei. The girl, quickly introducing herself as “his” niece Ami Arakawa, becomes incredibly worried upon hearing that Sensei has no clue who he is, but steadily guides him home through an introduction to the town of Kumon-mi. From there, he quickly becomes “re-acquainted” with Ami’s friends, Maya Makinami, and Ayane Amamiya, and the rest of his class of students – Them being, Chika Chosokabe, Yumi Yamaguchi, Sana Sakakibara, Makoto Miyamura, Miku Maruyama, Rin Rokuhara, and Futaba Fukuyama. Upon settling into his new role as a high school teacher, “Sensei” begins the process of learning more about his students while idly attempting to understand why he’s been sent to Kumon-mi.

Gameplay

Lessons in Love is, in many ways, a traditional Visual Novel. It requires minimal input from the player for the most part, only needing the player to read the dialogue and text displayed on the lower half of the screen. Additionally, throughout the story, various choices present themselves which can potentially guide the narrative in different directions or result in the player missing certain content, requiring them to reload to a previous save or begin another playthrough.

Where the gameplay deviates from most Visual Novels is the inclusion of a sandbox-like gameplay loop, letting the player build up “Affection Points” or “Lust Points” with a desired character through repeating Generic Events. With enough points gathered, or various other Requirements met, proper Events can be initiated by reaching the proper time and day, or by visiting characters, calling them on Sensei’s phone, and inviting them over to Sensei’s place.

Characters

Not counting the Others category, Lessons in Love features 36 characters including the protagonist, Sensei. These characters are divided into 20 Main Cast members, and 15 Side Cast, each with their own specific Events the player can view.

Additionally, there are 10 extra characters who make sporadic appearances, primarily in Happy Events plus a much larger list of minor characters who make one-off appearances.

Development

Lessons in Love was initially released on March 17th, 2020. Following widespread positive reception, the developer, Selebus, continued development alongside another project, Nothing is Beautiful. A tertiary project, named Grow Old. Then Die. was later announced[7].

Over the months following Lessons in Love’s release, the game received more and more attention, bringing in more regular subscribers to Selebus’ Patreon. This allowed him to shift more and more time to the project, eventually dedicating himself full time to its creation and promising various additions and upgrades to the game, such as the introduction of Chinami Chosokabe[8], the creation of ten additional main members to the cast, a “Headpat system”, and various other tongue-in-cheek rewards[9].

As Lessons in Love is in active development, various elements of the game are being updated or added over time, such as the GUI, Menu features, music, character designs, and additional content.

Gallery

Main Menu

The main menu of Lessons in Love has changed many times and, starting with v0.24.0, has changed every update. Below is a gallery of them all.

Lessons in Love Wiki

This wiki was created in an effort to both keep track of the state of the game and provide a guide to players. It is run by various volunteers.

References

  1. Selebus. "The public release for LIL 0.3.0 will go live on itchio, gamejolt, and F95 this Friday (5/15) at 12:00AM EST!" Discord, 12 May 2020
  2. Selebus. "The public version of 0.11.0 is now live for everyone! It is the largest update so far and brings a load of new UI and gameplay improvements to the table! A full changelog and download are available of on both Patreon and Itchio. (The game will no longer be hosted on Gamejolt as it is now too large to be on the site.)" Discord, 31 December 2020
  3. Selebus "...I am hereby calling on all patrons to switch over their subscriptions to SubscribeStar because I have absolutely no idea what else to do at the moment." Discord, 29 March 2022
  4. Selebus. "...On March 17, 2020, Lessons in Love Version 0.1.0 launched with around 55k words and a total of 25 events. Today, the game is over 10 times that size and is still barely getting started." Discord, 17 March 2021
  5. Selebus "...I put in my final notice at my job today, but I'll still be working there until 8/15. I'll be starting LiL development full-time on that same date, but of course that means that bi-weekly updates won't be starting until September." Discord, 10 July 2020
  6. Selebus "However, there is one notable change that needs to happen in order for this to be a reality. Simply put, bi-weekly updates just aren't sustainable anymore now..." Discord, 11 March 2023
  7. Selebus "Want a first look at the character profiles for a side-project I'm working on?..." Discord, 17 July 2020
  8. Selebus "100 PATRONS/$500 GOAL ANNOUNCEMENT" Discord, 17 May 2020
  9. Selebus "...So, now that we're at $5k, what happens next? Yes, the head-pat mechanic will be added and yes, there will be plenty of other updates and QOL improvements as well, but what about the 8 new main girls that were promised? Do they even exist yet? The answer is yes!" Discord 18 October 2020