Look, we get it: returning to class after weeks of summer vacation freedom rarely feels good. An entire semester just to earn one W per topic? That’s a poor time-to-reward ratio. But those grades are important, and you don’t want to lose precious time getting your head back in the studying game. Fortunately, you can ease into that back to school spirit with a little help from our favorite virtual hobby. Here are the best school-themed games to help you prepare for education reentry.
Persona 5 Royal
If you’ve already mastered balancing schoolwork, a social life, and gaming, then how about doing it twice? This time with alternate reality battles inside the twisted psyche of classmates and teachers alike! Persona 5 Royal is the best distillation of the life sim RPG formula so far, with plenty of quality of life upgrades over the original.
Yes, much of the game will see you performing heists and dueling demonic creatures, but there is an educational twist. You’ll also technically be learning because there are pop quizzes in classes and, of course, the cultural norms and geography of Tokyo to immerse yourself in and wrap your head around.
DokiDoki Literature Club
As locations go, school grounds must have some of the highest counts of broken hearts and early relationship fallouts. But whether summer separation has strained your connection or your crush still doesn’t even know you exist, take heart: It’s extremely unlikely that any of your school relationships will go quite so terrifyingly poorly as those in Doki Doki Literature Club.
This now infamous psychological horror game portrays itself like your typical romance visual novel. After joining the school’s literature club, you’ll get to meet its members, write poetry for your them, and attempt to win their friendship or heart. That’s until things start going very, very off-piste.
It’s best to go in knowing as little as possible, but a word of warning is warranted: As the official trailer notes, “this game is not suitable for children or those easily disturbed.” Doki Doki Literature Club features mature themes including self-harm. But if you’re preparing for college and want a good excuse to leave memories of ill-fated high school romances behind, Doki Doki Literature Club will gladly supplant them and ensure you never forget your time with it.
Looking for love that’s a little more lighthearted? Real life prom may be a long way off, but you can practice your smooth talking ahead of time by winning over one of Monster Prom’s inhuman potential paramours. A fast-paced multiplayer dating sim for up to four players, Monster Prom sees you attempting to seduce your pick from the likes of a jock werewolf, party-loving poltergeist, booksmart vampire, and more.
Over the course of a term, each player aims to boost their stats and spend time with their ideal prom partner. Whether you compete with your friends or go it alone, there’s only one goal: make the right moves and prove yourself worthy of them saying yes.
Monster Prom is packed with entertaining writing and secret endings that’ll have you replaying it numerous times. But if you’re keen for other takes on the concept, you can also check out sequels Monster Camp and Monster Roadtrip.
HyperX Back to School Sale
Looking to gear up ahead of the new school term? HyperX can help you study and game in style thanks with a Back To School sale aiming to raise your GPA and KDA! Head to the HyperX store to find discounts on a range of gaming gear including the Cloud Alpha headset, QuadCast USB microphone, Pulsefire Haste Wireless mouse, and Pulsefire Mat XL (Naruto and Itachi editions!).
If you want a lesson in how not to spend your school years, Bully is about as good as they come. In Rockstar’s often overlooked PS2-era release, you play a mischievous teenage rebel in a terrible private boarding school. Your aim? Defeat all the major cliques and clubs to restore peace and order at Bullworth Academy. All without missing out on too many classes.
Bully will have you playing minigames to make the grade in class; picking fights with bullies, preppies, and jocks; and grabbing cars while riding your skateboard to hitch a lift around town. It’s basically a chance to let loose a bit and enjoy all the things you probably shouldn’t do in real life because, well, we’re hoping that starting an underground boxing tournament during school term is as obviously bad an idea to you as it is to us.
Bully is certainly showing its age at this point, but it’s still available to enjoy on Xbox and PC thanks to the Scholarship Edition. Just be warned that on the latter, some players have reported stability issues.
Fire Emblem: Three Houses
Sorry, did we say Bully was an example of poor school attitude? Well here comes the turn-based strategizing of Fire Emblem: Three Houses to teach a whole new course on inappropriate educational behavior. As a young professor at the international military academy of Fódlan, your job is to lead one of three houses: the Black Eagles, Blue Lions or superior choice Golden Deer.
You’ll be training your crew of students in the key skills of how to lead armies and wave weapons around. But this is also a game in which you’ll be flirting heavily with your class, hosting regular tea parties, and then taking them on missions to kill not just bandits but eventually also their former friends from the other classes.
So Fódlan is a messy place, but it’s also one of the best realized worlds in Fire Emblem’s entire history. It’s home to a cast of characters written and acted so brilliantly that you’ll struggle not to fall for some of them. With three (and a half) full campaigns of turn-based battling, it’s also long enough to accompany you through a full school year. And given it’s on the Switch, easy enough to drop in and out of in the breaks between classes.
Plus, it’s a thankful reminder that you probably won’t need to fight strategic battles against your real-life classmates after they graduate into the upper echelons of a society on the brink of all-encompassing war. Probably – we’re not making any guarantees here.
School-themed games will help you get ready for the return to class, but did you know that the right gaming gear can level up your studies too? Whether you're at home or in the library, make your game and study place a more enjoyable place to be and you might actually look forward to those research and cram sessions.