PEGBRJE: Highway Blossoms: Remastered
This was going to be two games. It turned into 1 game.
Highway Blossoms: Remastered is a visual novel done by Studio Élan, who have an extensive history of yuri light novel game creation. You watch the story of Amber, a girl travelling west through the deserts of New Mexico, who stumbles across a stranded girl on the side of the road while mulling over her journey. Stopping for her, Amber is introduced to Marina and the two begin an unlikely journey to locate a hidden gold treasure that is scattered throughout New Mexico. The two meet with other treasure hunters and slowly develop a bond together before it culminates in me not spoiling the story.
If it isn’t obvious, this is a game about gals being pals, a full on yuri experience. If that ain’t for you, then this overview is over right now and you can skip down below to the next title. There’s no shame in not liking it, but I’m not sure how one could expect anything else from a studio that explicitly has a history of making games for girls being gay with girls. Another disclaimer is that this is the remastered version of the original, which did not come with the bundle as far as I am aware. I never played the original, so I made sure to know which parts of this game should be praised due to its remaster, or if they were in the base. With that all out of the way, let me bring you to the first reason why this game had me hooked: the characters.
Outside of ‘cute girls doing road trip things’, Highway Blossoms has some fantastically written characters that suck you in to their stories and struggles from the start. Amber is a no-nonsense, down to earth kind of person that is trying to deal with some pretty heavy stuff happening in her life, and is contrasted by Marina’s over the top exuberant attitude towards everything. It’s a tried and tested dynamic, and these two are no exception: Marina’s bumbling yet excited attitude towards everything only for Amber to shut her down is comedy gold, and they play off of each other extremely well. The highway driving feels so uncomfortably real as time passes and nobody really talks, only for Amber to attempt to start the music and Marina to immediately bring up a topic that goes nowhere, only for it to repeat again moments later. They’re both trying to deal with the events as they unfold in their own way, and stay true to their personalities set out from the beginning. I’d be lying to you if I didn’t mention that the voice acting introduced in the remaster for these two is absolutely fantastic, with Katie Dagnen and Jill Harris doing an amazing job bringing them to life.
If the writing wasn’t enough, Highway Blossoms also includes some fantastic accessibility features to give their readers every opportunity to enjoy their story. In text options alone, there are options for the font colour, size and spacing for legibility and the font text itself can be changed to something that suits your needs, such as Open Dyslexic and Martel. The textboxes themselves have different themes and an opacity slider for more legibility. There are a few sound options such as music or sound cues to display the names of the songs and sound effects for hearing impairments. For those that wish to play that cannot see all that well, or are having trouble reading even with the text alterations, text to speech has been implemented as well. This doesn’t even scratch the submenu which goes into more detail of the scaling sliders for text and line spacing — Studio Élan wants you to play their adorable adventure, and gives you the tools to do so no matter your current limitations.
Highway Blossoms is a cute adventure of two girls bonding over a shared experience in hunting for treasure and driving across a bunch of desert. It’s a perfect novel to read during a rainy day or a casual afternoon where you just wish to fall in love with a duo as they fall in love. There is also, for you that wish for some more… adult themes, an 18+ patch that accompanies the game on their itch.io page. From what I have heard it only alters bits of the ending, so it does not impact much of the game at all. However, if that is your ‘jam’ so to speak, then it is also available. There is also a ‘programmer dub’ version of the game included in the remaster where the programmer wrote parts of the script instead, which is a lovely little easter egg for anyone looking at how a developer might see their own game.
Overall, Highway Blossoms: Remastered is a touching tale of girls driving across a desert and having an adventure doing so. It’ll make you feel a lot of things, trust me.
PS. Please make Tess happy, just let her play with her mobiles. It’s all I can ask.