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This was an incredible little game, I loved it a lot. I was especially enamored by the way it depicted the charming sincerity of early internet culture in a way that stayed wholesome and earnest. This quality is weaved beautifully throughout the story, its themes, its characters, and even the UI design itself.

It made me think a lot about internet culture today, and how as we've shifted away from these cute, intimate communities and towards more centralized, corporate spaces, there has been a simultaneous push to drench any genuine feeling in a heavy veil of irony whenever expressed online. This kinda worries me sometimes, I wonder if today's generation of kiddos on the web will be worse off for being immersed in a culture that's so cynical.

But then again, early internet culture certainly had its uglier parts, and there are sweet little havens on today's internet, too - largely exemplified by your beautiful work. It really helped me out a lot and I can't thank you enough!

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As someone who only made it through life with their abusive grandparents (lived with them) by having the internet be their coping mechanism and support system, I heavily relate to this, especially the roleplaying parts.

If it wasn't for a roleplaying forum where I met two of my best friends (who I have gotten to meet irl a few times now!), I'm not sure I ever would have gotten up the courage to leave. But knowing that even if I moved to my Dad's to get away, to escape- that I'd still have my online support system to give me, well, support, made it at all possible.


If I had never met these "strangers" online, I... don't know what I'd have done.


But now I am out, and I know myself so much better! and I am happier than I ever could have been! So please, anyone out there suffering, know that it CAN get better. You are not alone.

Hi! I'm enjoying the game, but I do not understand how the "Is" command works? Can you please explain it? Every time I try it tells me the folder path or application "isn't in this user's directory"??? Pls help

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Hmm I want to give hints, but I don't want to post hints/spoilers where someone might accidentally scroll past them. I struggled with it for a bit too but enjoyed the struggle.

OK here's an idea! I've made up a google doc with a series of hints UHS style. Hopefully my waffling hints are actually helpful: https://docs.google.com/document/d/12LkFo2WPNjUCl0PmsOPkumwHDefRFUo-EtwflD6Z6e4/...

This game was absolutely, positively amazing. I'm in awe and in love. I don't think I'll ever be able to forget this game. Wow.

(+1)

this was incredible. i didn't know i needed this.

this game actually helped me realize that i have been in a similar relationship to one of my parents to alex.

i'm too young to have known the internet when it was still like this, but i still enjoyed this. 

thank you.

- amber

It’s funny and sad and joyful and heartbreaking and probably something every parent should play through.

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this touched my trans heart in ways i didnt know i needed. wonderful experience, makes me wanna talk to strangers and watch magical girl anime again. wish i could go back to when the internet felt like this

loved how distinct the dialogue options were at times, allowing you to choose whether or not to extend sympathy to john and andy. 

I really loved your game here! This really does immerse you in a way like no other. I had so much fun reading through the forums, getting a sense of what Alex and her friends were like, and making dolls! You did a fantastic job of making a space that feels relaxing and safe, and suddenly ripping that away in a second. I truly love this story, and the pretty visuals, too <3

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i think this is just me being dumb but i cant look up this theater website i am genuinely stressed over this but idk how to do it hahaha someone pls lmk SORRY I FOUND IT NVM I HAD TO WATCH SOMEONES STREAM TO FIND IT anyway games rlly good so far im on day 1

(1 edit) (+8)

Hey Victoria! I made some fanart but since I bought your game thru itch.io it won't let me upload it to Steam.. so I'm sharing it here instead! I hope it fits a little bit with your vision of Guardian Acorn! It was a fun draw sesh. reminded me why i love fanart so much :) 

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OH MY GOSH THAT LOOKS AMAZING THANK U <3 <3 :D

Also I've been watching your Let's Play of SLH so far and it's been really cool! ^_^

(+1)

OH GOD;;;; I'm so grateful to have you watch my experience, and I'm sorry this is my editing practice for letplays hahah//

(+2)

Hi Victoria, this is one gorgeous game and it incredibly resonated with me. Like crazy. The story of Samuel is gorgeous (they all are but...) and it has left me with a lot the reconsider about myself. I guess I am still allowed to have those questions about me, at any age ? And that chat with Alex actually makes me feel a lot better about how to treat my gender, myself, in the privacy of my own mind.
Thank you sooooo soooooooooo sooooooooooooooo much for making me relive those years and those questions. It matters a lot to a lot of people !!!

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I really like the story, if your trans like me, you should diffidently play this, I found it extremely relatable and upsetting. Great game! I loved the music, the writing and John segments where very powerful for me.

Just finished your game and I absolutely loved it <3

I really like this game so far - it's charming and I'm having big trans feels about it. I'm stuck on the command prompt section with /Is - I cannot seem to get the thing to work. It might be because I am actually computer illiterate. I don't have an option to ask Laguna about it more and I'm scared to wade through the comments or Steam community because I really don't want this to be spoiled for me. Any spoiler-minimum resources where I can see how this works?

Sorry, in retrospect, I really should have made this command a lot more clear - the command is actually /ls (Short for "LiSt"), not "Is".

Oh my goodness, thanks for taking time out of your day to help me! I can't wait to keep going!

This game is so wonderful!  The characters are charming and remind me of friends I've had online, and the writing feels so genuine.

This was wonderful! I was alternately frightened, charmed, consoled, and elated. It has a wonderful ending, really recommend!

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my egg was already cracked so it was straight up uncomfy at parts but overall good game i did squeal when i found out laguna was One Of Us lol 9/10 id give it 10/10 but it didnt let me respond to the scam email offering spiro and estradiol ://

(+2)

having had time to think about it, though. i wanna address the happy ending to the game. normally, id be fine with it (there arent enough pieces of media with happy endings imo), but seeing the real effects this game has had on real people, i think it could be a dangerous narrative.

just hearing from john's own mouth what hes done in the past and the scale of his delusions and twisted perspectives? im surprised he even got joint custody. and like, im sorry but... ive never heard a story about someone like that who actually ended up changing their ways. in fact, they usually apologize and seem genuinely vulnerable (just like john does) for a very short time before going right back to how they were before. its called an abuse cycle, and this game ends in the middle of one.

im not saying the game is tone-deaf. in fact, sammy's and laguna's situations kinda highlight what im talking about. but the end makes me uncomfortable; just coming to grips with the fact that abuse cycles rely and feed on the hope that "they'll change this time" can take years of therapy. it's why found family is such an inherently queer trope—we usually end up forcing ourselves to break out of it by leaving the johns of the world behind us, and making new & actually healthy connections.

sorry for the long comment. if this game cracked your egg, please keep this in mind, and be careful. you'll figure it out. <3

(+8)

Hey, thanks for playing the game, I wanted to address this bit about the ending in particular. The issue of John's arc actually weighed pretty heavily on my mind before releasing the game. I wanted to try and make it so that neither John nor Andy were forgiven by the protagonist, and to also give the player the option whether to extend any sympathy to them. I hoped I had made it apparent in the writing, but admittedly having any ambiguity on such a heavy matter can lead people to think that I'm excusing his behavior. You're absolutely correct that in real life, people like John don't get better after someone calls them out on their abuse. I didn't want the ending to be perfectly happy and make John suddenly better, or suggest that people in real life would be the same, but I did feel responsible for at least making the game end on a hopeful note in the sense that Alex would be able to eventually make things better for herself. That's why the tagline of the game is "You'll figure it out" rather than "Everything will be okay".

So once again, I apologize that there was enough ambiguity that it appeared I wanted to excuse John's behavior - I certainly didn't intend that, and I really hope that no one took that as the main message from the game. I just felt responsible to give the story a somewhat happy ending on Alex's terms to maybe give struggling queer kids out there some hope.

(+5)

oh hey!! first dont worry i never thought that was ever an intended takeaway. in fact it does actually make me happy knowing you tried to address and work around All That. but i 100% understand your reasoning it's messy and complicated and idk if there exists a perfect way to deal with that without messing with the game's positive message (which is also really important like you said). i think i mainly just wanted to write that disclaimer somewhere, outside of the game's narrative, where people who played it might see.

the number of gender identity crises this game activated is impressive (congrats btw, official game of trans your gender)(this is a joke that isnt how being trans works), and i think that in and of itself is something to be proud of. the longer it takes to figure it out the worse it can be for some folks, and i really love seeing the impact this game had. idk, i guess i just wanna take this opportunity to say thank you (and dont take what i said earlier as criticism on your part even though reading it back it def sounds that way lol)

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i really love these types of old net/90s kind of games, and this one is absolutely awesome. the dialogue really reminds me of how i used to message my friends online when i was younger. it was terrifying whenever john messaged and the glitching/flashing effects were perfect in helping to understand what alex is feeling. this game is just so good and i wish to see more games like this, especially in terms of genre/gameplay/visuals. wish i could play this again for the first time 5 stars

(+1)

Hi!
I really liked this game. I'm a fan of visual novels and this was a toptier one. The messages felt like real conversations and the characters were really nice. I'm non-binary myself but noticed a lot of real life parallels with people I know. I missed some dialogue with Jenni because I was unable to share my fanfic with her after getting it to 1500 words. 
I was really bad with the terminal parts and that gave me its own frustrations and difficulties. I wasn't a fan of that mechanic, but I think it made the game more than just the usual clicking around in visual novels which was nice. It was neat to have some challenge.

Overall, this game is a solid 8/10 from me. I think this would be very important to play for all kinds of people, trans or not. Just seeing how many eggs it has cracked in the down below comments, it's definitely important that this game exists. This game is so, so important. Thank you so much for this experience!

(+3)

This game is fucking incredible. 100/10 55/5 I wish I could experience it for the first time again. The perfect length, left me wishing for more but gave amazing closure. Can't really recommend it enough.

(+6)

This is probably kind of weird praise, but: the sheer level of dread I felt after One interaction with John was *incredible* and the way my heart just absolutely stopped on the second day when that terrifying little (1) popped up beside his all-judging eye nearly made me close out of the game right there. While I didn't have the same struggles as Alex does, I can deeply relate to the pressure of unmeetable expectations that feel deeply, crushingly impossible for internal reasons, and it hit me hard in a lot of ways.

But also this game is so fucking funny I laughed so hard and loved all of Alex's friends so much. <3

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It's an amazing game and it really opened my eyes to the trans community.

I've finished the game once (on my 2nd playthrough rn to find secrets I missed) and I just found out about Henry

Is there anything more to it after Henry says "merry christmas"?

(+4)

Although I wasn't nearly as acutely aware of my gender feelings as Alex, SLH deftly captures the experience of growing up online in the Y2K era. I knew Andy's, Jenni's, Laguna's, and Sammy's. 13 was a long time ago for me but the cozy message board community is so beautifully realized that I felt like I was a middle schooler using the family computer again. Thank you so much for this.

(+3)

I absolutely cried over this game several times while playing it on stream. What a wonderfully made nostalgic trip with a stellar message.

mind sending a link to your stream? id love to watch!

The vid doesn't exist anymore but I started editing the footage I do have into a playthru on youtube ;w; It was 7hrs worth of game play so this is probably easier to consume. https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLeCA06foTr1DnCeMLrZXrn8h6pt-5WF4b

(+5)

Insanely accurate. The way she doesn't deny being a girl when it's assumed she is... Seeing myself here. Old times in chat rooms on MH amino.

(+1)

it's such a sweet and moving game. and it made me think about how i used to hover around sailor moon and kisekae sites and chats in the late 90s. I wish I knew laguna then :)

(+3)

Welp, eggs beware, it will crack the shell

(+6)

This is an emotional blender of a video game. if you're trans or traumatized or god forbid both, bring tissues

I broke down completely on day 2 and cried in the good way on day 4. Game is VERY good, and the OST is wonderful

I'd normally end something like this with like a "Play SLH" joke but you're on the itch page so

Buy and then play secret little haven

(1 edit) (+5)

This game didn't start my crisis with gender identity, but it definitely through some gas on it. 10/10. Will play again.

(+2)

how do i use the unlock code

a very well-written, very necessary game. thank you for it.

(+7)

I feel compelled to comment 'cuz I got this game with the itch.io blm bundle and popped it open for stress relief purposes and then cried like three times while playing (in a good way lmao). Extremely well-written with super cute art, hit me right in the trans, thank you for this experience

(+2)

Finally got around to playing this game and it was absolutely wonderful. I really love how fleshed out the entire forum community is and how much attention to detail there is, heck, sometimes I almost forget I'm not actually talking on a real chat server! Also I teared up a little at the end ;v;

(+1)

Loved this game thank you so much for making it <3

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This game is so amazing, I hope another game comes out soon! <3 Thank you for making this for the little peeps!

aaaa i just finished the game and i'm all choked up and i love it so hecking much ;_;
and then i go and find you and twitter and realise i've been liking your tweets for months!!
from one trans girl to another, thank you so much for this game :")

(+3)

laguna deserves the world and more

(+6)

I have been telling everyone I know to play this game. Constantly. It's just that good (although the puzzles aren't always obvious.)


This game managed to skewer a moment in time perfectly, simulating the illicit thrill of the early 2000s internet, where identities were less connected; more fluid, situational.


Oh, and it'll crack your eggs, for sure.

Wow, I loved playing through this game!!!! I got a bit stuck on the password bit but I looked at the forums...lol. But gosh. So many feelings. So good. You clearly put a lot of heart into this game.

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