There's much more to school life than academics. Students have to balance their social life with school work and home life while also battling through intense emotions and discovering who they are as an individual. And they have to battle monsters, too.
Okay, that part is only for students in video games, but it just means they have even more to deal with than an average student! Living the life of a student is something everyone can relate to, and that's probably why one of the most popular settings for a game is a school.
Updated May 4th, 2022, by Michael Llewellyn: School life is a unique setting for a video game, yet it's broadly universal in its appeal. It's relatable to a younger audience because they are experiencing school life in real-time, while for adults it creates a sense of nostalgia and an opportunity to do things differently from their real-life experiences. One can play the role of the popular kid, or the one that fights back against bullies. The beauty of gaming is it allows us the opportunity to play a role of our choosing. With this in mind, this list has been updated with more games that use a school as its main backdrop.
13 Fire Emblem: Three Houses
- Released: 2019
- Developer: Intelligent Systems
- Platform: Switch
Fire Emblem is a popular tactical RPG series from Intelligent Systems. The series has always put an emphasis on relationship mechanics and bonds. However, Fire Emblem: Three Houses takes these mechanics further by implementing a school setting akin to Harry Potter's Hogwarts.
One will need to choose a House to represent, and they will remain with that school for the remainder of the game. This creates new relationship opportunities by making new friends, acquaintances, and enemies. Moreover, the school's lessons focus on teaching the characters new abilities to utilize on the battlefield.
12 Blue Reflection
- Released: 2017
- Developer: Gust
- Platforms: PC, PS4, and PS Vita
Developed by the same studio that created the Atelier series, Blue Reflection is a JRPG. You take on the role of a high school student named Hinako Shirai, and the game takes place in a modern-day Japanese high school. You're tasked with balancing school life and doing battle in the Other World, as a magical being called a Reflector.
Blue Reflection takes a lot of inspiration from the Persona series. It isn't quite as polished as Atlus' work, but the story is a heartfelt one that will resonate with fans of coming-of-age stories. The school/life balance is well implemented, and the relationship mechanics provide the game with depth and scope.
11 Lost Judgment
- Released: 2021
- Developer: Ryu Ga Gotaku Studio
- Platforms: PS4, PS5, Xbox One, and Xbox Series X/S
A direct sequel to the Yakuza spin-off and detective drama Judgment, you will once again play the role of a former lawyer-turned private detective. The game is filled with content and mysteries to solve, but the best of them takes place in the high school.
The "School Stories" aspect of Lost Judgment packs an emotional punch, and delivers a surprisingly profound and heartfelt narrative. There are tons of activities to do, such as joining dance clubs, boxing clubs, and robot building. Lost Judgment is the closest one can get to a video game interpretation of 21 Jump Street — it seems to take elements from the serious 80s version starring Johnny Depp, and the hilarious Channing Tatum and Jonah Hill remake.
10 Lollipop Chainsaw
- Released: 2012
- Developer: Grasshopper Manufacture
- Platforms: PS3 and Xbox 360
Lollipop Chainsaw is a hack and slash game about a high school zombie hunter Juliet Starling, who gives off some Buffy Summers vibes from Buffy the Vampire Slayer. On her 18th birthday, while heading out to meet with her boyfriend, she finds her school overrun with zombies and her poor boyfriend, Nick, surrounded by them!
Players control Juliet as she battles through the horde of zombies with her adorably deadly chainsaw, and can rack up points to purchase items, new outfits, and even cheerleading-based moves to help Juliet kick zombies undead butt. An interesting fact about Lollipop Chainsaw is that its script was written by The Guardians of the Galaxy and The Suicide Squad writer/director James Gunn. In an interview with Collider, Gunn stated that the Harley Quinn fight scene that replaced blood with flowers and birds was inspired by his work on Lollipop Chainsaw.
9 White Day: A Labyrinth Named School
- Released: 2016
- Developer: ROI Games
- Platforms: Android, iOS, PC, and PS4
For some, high school was a nightmare, and that is this title's literal setting. White Day: A Labyrinth Named School is a remake of a Korean survival horror game. Players control Lee Hui-min, who sneaks into his school at night to leave his crush a gift and return her diary.
He finds himself trapped in the school, and discovers it haunted by deadly ghosts. Players have to guide Hui-min to safety while avoiding terrifying ghosts, a possessed homicidal janitor, and solve puzzles to save the other trapped students and discover the secret of the school.
8 Monster Prom
- Released: 2018
- Developer: Beautiful Glitch
- Platforms: Linux, macOS, OS X, PC, Switch, and Xbox One
What's one thing that high schoolers look the most forward to, other than Graduation? Prom of course! And it's the same for monsters. Monster Prom is a dating game where players try to woo their fellow students and claim their hearts before prom. The game is full of amazing and unique characters to fall in love with, tons of hilarious events and situations players can find themselves in with their beau of choice, and tons more.
It's also one of the only dating sims that's multiplayer, where one can fight for the affections of the same character. This mechanic creates gameplay variety and lots of replay value for fans.
7 Corpse Party
- Platforms: 3DS, Android, iOS, PC, PS4, PSP, PS Vita, and Xbox One
Corpse Party is one of the more well-known games created using RPG Maker. Originally made in 1996, the game has spawned several sequels and related games, as well as two remakes. It's an RPG about a group of students who find themselves transported to an alternate dimension after performing a friendship ritual.
They find themselves trapped in a dilapidated schoolhouse that's inhabited by the ghosts of those who have been trapped in the school. The students have to find a way out and avoid the dangers lurking about, including a mysterious young girl in a red dress.
- Released: 2017
- Developer: Con Man Games
- Platform: PC
If you think high school is rough, trying being in elementary school! Or at least being a student in this one. In Kindergarten you play a student in a strange school, with even stranger classmates and suspicious school faculty. It's a puzzle action-adventure game where every choice matters and shapes the way the school day ends.
There are different items to collect, an underlying mystery, and different endings that are unlocked with each item found. There's also a sequel to the game, bringing more puzzles and more fun!
- Released: 2017
- Developer: Red Candle Games
- Platforms: Android, Linux, macOS, PC, PS4, and Switch
Detention is a Taiwanese survival horror game, set in 1960s Taiwan and includes the culture and mythology of the country. Players control two high school students, Wei and Ray, as they find themselves trapped in their school at night, with an incoming typhoon.
The game begins in Wei's perspective and then shifts to Ray. The school transforms into a nightmare version of itself, filled with evil creatures called the "lingered." Players solve puzzles and slowly unravel the mysteries of the school to find out more about Ray and Wei.
- Released: 2010
- Developer: Spike Chunsoft
- Platforms: Android, iOS, Linux, PC, PS4, and Xbox One
"Truth Bullets", pink blood, psychotic bears… all things that describe the Dangonronpa series. The games follow a class of high schoolers as they find themselves forced to play a twisted game. The students are held captive and the only way to escape is to murder one another and not get caught by the others.
After each crime is committed, there is a trial to figure out the culprit. If the other students find the culprit, the culprit is punished. And if they guess wrong the culprit gets to leave, while the rest face a deadly punishment.
3 Life Is Strange
- Released: 2015
- Developer: Dontnod Entertainment
- Platforms: Android, iOS, Linux, OS X, PS3, PS4, PS5, Switch, Xbox One, and Xbox Series X/S
At one point, everyone wished that they could turn back time. Repeat a happy moment over again, make a different choice to change the present or even the future? In Life is Strange, Max Caulfield suddenly finds herself with that ability, after she foresees a storm that destroys her town. Players control Max and interact with the world around her, solving puzzles and unlocking different dialogue choices.
Max reconnects with her friend Chloe, and the two work together to figure out Max's powers, try to prevent the storm, and uncover a sinister secret.
2 Persona 5
- Released: 2016
- Developer: Atlus
- Platforms: PS3, and PS4
Each game in the Persona series features a group of high school students who can summon 'personas' and use them to fight against an evil force. Persona 5 is the newest game in the series and follows a transfer student as he and several other students gain the power to summon personas and become the group known as the Phantom Thieves.
When the Phantom Thieves aren't in the Metaverse they continue as normal teens, including going to school. Players participate in social interactions that happen in the school, and even take tests!
- Released: 2006
- Developer: Rockstar Games
- Platforms: Android, iOS, PC, Wii, and Xbox 360
Bully is a title from Rockstar Games where players control Jimmy, who finds himself enrolled at Bullworth Academy, a school that's filled with several different cliques, including bullies, jocks, and nerds. Under the guidance of a senior named Gary, Jimmy tries to gain control over all the cliques to make Bullworth a more peaceful place for the students.
Most of the game takes place at Bullworth Academy as players complete missions to have Jimmy rise through the ranks of the school. He also has classes to attend which consist of mini-games that Jimmy gets graded on.
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