One Night, Hot Springs

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A great thing about video games is that they let us experience things from a point of view we won#t otherwise be able to take. Even better is when you are given the opportunity to play out different scenarios from that person’s perspective. It allows you to not only learn about what the world can be like for another person, but to, in a small way, inhabit and experience it because of the agency that games can provide.

One Night, Hot Springs is a visual novel that does just this by having you experience a very specific moment in the life of Haru, a 19-year-old trans girl from Japan. One day, seemingly out of the blue, she gets a call from her oldest friend Manami. Manami is turning 20 (the legal age for an adult in Japan), and her parents are paying for her and two friends to go on an overnight trip to a hot springs resort.

Haru is reluctant to go on the trip because traditional hot spring baths in Japan tend to divide by gender. She’s worried about potentially making a scene regardless of which bath she goes to, as she is still legally male and hasn’t gotten gender-affirming surgery, but lives as a woman. Things unfold like in most visual novels; the crux of the experience lies in you being presented with different choices to make on Haru’s behalf.

Only playing through the game once doesn’t give you the full picture. Completing all of the endings gives a much greater sense as to who Haru is and what she goes through. And there is a level of empathy and caring that the other characters have for Haru that manages to show how important an accepting environment can be.

One Night, Hot Springs is free to play on Steam

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