Acting Lessons is a finished game that I played on Steam. I use Windows, but the game is also available for players who use Mac OS X or SteamOS + Linux.
The game is a story-based visual novel that uses the Ren’py engine. The first game update was released in May of 2018 and development finished in December of 2018.
The protagonist of the game is a man who’s got enough money to retire much sooner than people usually do. Despite his financial security, his life is empty, and memories of a breakup still torment him in an unhealthy way. Our protagonist does not follow his own path in this game. He’s more like a person who drifts into the events and lives of others, but he can be a man of action, so he is not passive. Interesting that we can’t see his face most of the time. This is a tool for players to identify more with the protagonist. The prologue of the game is a slow-paced session with a feel-good vibe but suddenly something shocking happens and we will be connected for a character called Megan.
Our sympathy and attraction towards Megan can have a powerful impact on the gaming experience as the story of the game builds heavily on her.
Acting is an important part of the story but I wouldn’t say Acting Lessons is about acting. It is more like the main motive of the game. Acting scenes usually happen with Megan who wants to be an actress. She is a “too pure to be true” type of girl; mostly kind and innocent and sometimes a little naïve. Personally, Megan is a neutral character for me. I understand she is important for the story but sometimes she’s maybe too focused especially at the beginning of the story. We meet Melissa soon after who is Megan’s best friend. Romantic scenes usually happen with Megan. Melissa is a different kind of fun but definitely more trouble. If something violent happens Melissa is often involved. She is a wild and loose chick who has a hard time expressing her emotions and has a hard time coping with relationships. I saw her much more than an average teasing and free mouth chick character. She also tries to show herself as loose and happy but quite a difficult fate lurks in the background. We can see Megan and Melissa as a package; you can love both of them or either of them but it is unlikely that you will not love any of them. We have another actress in the story called Rena who is only moderately successful in acting which leads to jealousy and immoral life choices but she is good deep in her heart and wants to change. She can be a loveable character too at the end of the story. There are some side girls too like the party college girls Angela and Hedwig, a nurse called Leah and Ana who is the ex-girlfriend of the protagonist.
We’ve talked about the girls but Liam definitely stole the show from them. He was the most memorable character for me. The connection between Liam and the protagonist is special. It is a heterosexual friendship. This kind of special bromance is rare in adult visual novels. Humor is subjective but Acting Lessons is outstanding to me in this field. I remembered that I laughed so much and so loud during the time I played but when I read my notes before writing this review I found a whole page about Liam’s funny moments. It is mostly manly humor but I would take a bet it will be a hit with most of the new players. Characters are well written, they are loveable or interesting, and character development is really shown in different routes.
After the slow-paced prologue, the story felt more and more eventful and engaging. Acting Lessons tells the story a different way than usual. It may seem that the story does not really have a plot from time to time because the complexities are hidden in the background but always happening something shocking or interesting which interrupts the slice of life parts. These turning points in the story include real drama. Good writing is not only how you create the text, it’s about your story you want to tell if it is emotional and has soul like Acting Lessons then it will touch the audience. This is also a point that I see as outstanding in Acting Lessons creating believable drama is hard. The mix of quality conversations, narration, pictures, and music lead scenes which are a kind of cinematic experience. I have to warn you that Acting Lessons can be emotionally stressful if you are sensitive to such things.
Sounds in Acting Lessons are mostly at the level of an average visual novel. It is not a studio-quality thing but functional they are not spoiling the gameplay. These are simple sound effects like applause, water sounds, shower sounds, car wheel squeaking. Sometimes there are a few exceptions like the chirping of birds and forest sounds during the lake house conversation with Liam at dawn. My first impression about the music of Acting Lessons was positive it gives a player a feel-good vibe for the start. Most of the tracks sound like stock kinds of music but mostly the better one of them. During the prologue, I had a problem with the variety of the tracks but it is not typical for the whole game. I can see a lot of improvement in the music of the game as we progress with the story. Different music styles follow the mood of the scenes. For example, if there is an action scene then we will hear something rock-themed and during slice-of-life moments we will hear chill music. Also has a few places with their own music like a disco and rock concert. Music in these places is very well-chosen you can imagine yourself there. I have to mention a scene where we can choose between rock and EDM at a party and both are cool. This is a little thing but players can feel the interactivity and it is matters. If I have to highlight a song then I would say the song at the epilogue during the flashback. That’s a beautiful song and the best fit for the scene.
Visualization of Acting Lessons is nice. Lightning is good which is maybe the most important. The game was definitely nicer for the eyes of a sexual adult game player in 2018 but absolutely not aged wrong. Character models are looking good and well-posed. There are a few still picture kiss scenes where girls open their mouths giantly like they want to eat you alive but it is more like funny than a serious huge mistake. Also, have a few time with real-life picture background which are not fitting with 3D characters but this is only 4% of the game. The other 96% is well rendered nice and clean.
I found the quality of sex scenes and lewd scene animations kind of mixed in Acting Lessons. In the first part of the game, it is rare if an animation is very arousing. These are mostly short loops but there are a few exceptions. If you see a cake logo with + and – signals in the lower right corner of the screen during sex scenes you can control the speed of the scene and sexual act. Personally, I found the motion of the middle level the most smooth and natural in the first half of the game but in the second half, the fast level seemed more natural. In the middle of the game quality of the animations is still mixed but at this point, there are more arousal and nice ones than not so. I have to highlight the kiss animations which are fantastic. The amount of motion is kind of perfect not too much not too little just like people kissing passionately. In the last part of Acting Lessons animations are stepped forward one or more like two levels. Comparing the first few animations to the last ones the improvement is enormous. It is hard to put on the scales which is the result of the amount and impact of not-so-good and good animations for me but I would say in the end the better ones left a bigger mark.
In the game, you can collect love and friend points for different characters due to your choices. In the prologue of the game, you have to choose a trait. There are three options: Athletic trait, Wel read trait, and Charismatic trait. You can reach different dialogues and extra scenes or have extra points due to your trait choice and dialogue choices. Acting Lessons has personalized parts where you can decide who you want to spend time with based on your points and personal character preferences. Your choices not only influence your fate and love life but others too. Technically there are 22 endings but mostly these are different variations of details due to your personal choices. I would say there are three main endings for each main love interest girl. My one route playtime was 15 hours but I played another 7 hours to see every content so my total playtime with Acting Lessons is 22 hours.
Acting Lessons is a classic in the adult visual novel genre because tells a beautiful moving, emotional story about friendship, love, and life.
The game has a few little flaws but the story will compensate in a meaningful way. It has humorous moments and really touching ones lead to meaningful endings. If you get on this emotional roller coaster, there is no going back.