Old Gamers Never Die: ‘Acting Lessons’ Visual Novel Review – The Choices You Make Can Take You to Many (Hot) Places

Megan (pictured here) is the sweet acting student who is one of the women you’ll meet in “Acting Lessons.” (C) 2018 Dr. PinkCake

Acting Lessons (2018)

Designed by: Dr. PinkCake

Published/Released by: Dr. PinkCake ( via Patreon, Steam, GOG.com)

Genre: Visual Novel, Erotic, Adults Only

Rating: 4 out of 5.
Megan and the point-of-view character cuddle after making love in “Acting Lessons.” (C) 2018 Dr. PinkCake

On December 10, 2018, an indie video game developer who goes by the name “Dr. PinkCake” released Acting Lessons, an adults-only visual novel about a 30-something man who, during personal turmoil, saves the life of a young woman named Megan, thus beginning a chain of events full of romantic entanglements, sex, and a fair share of life-altering situations that lead to different outcomes based on the player’s decisions at certain points of Acting Lessons’ story.

Per Acting Lessons’ description on GOG.com:

The game centers around you, a heartbroken man with a background in cryptocurrency trading, telling the story of how you met a girl named Megan during a life-changing day. Megan is a young aspiring actor down on her luck and in desperate need of help. Will you be there for her when she needs it the most and help her turn the tide? Will you be able to win her heart?

In Acting Lessons – which is a prequel of sorts to Dr. PinkCake’s 2020 Being a DIK[1]you play as Jonas Redfield (you can change the name early in Episode One of the game if you prefer to use your own name or create another alias), a 30-something white dude who made a killing in cryptocurrency trading and are financially well-off, but your last relationship ended badly and left you heartbroken.

In “Acting Lessons,” you can choose to be a “nice guy” who refuses advances from most of the women you meet, or you can give in to one – or more – woman besides the one you really want. (C) 2018 Dr. PinkCake

When Acting Lessons begins, you get a call from your best friend, Liam, who you met in college several years ago and is the next thing to a brother that you have. Athletic, fun-loving, and loyal to a fault, Liam is the kind of guy you want as a wingman in any situation – especially when you go to clubs and bars to have fun and (most importantly) to get over your failed relationship with your ex-fiancé, Ana.

This is Liam on the “Adults Only” warning screen. (C) 2018 Dr. PinkCake.

Because Acting Lessons’ many endings depend on the choices you make – even during minor events such as a phone call – your phone chat with Liam will have repercussions later in the story. But the catalyst for your meeting with Megan is always the same: you are hungry, you’re out of groceries, and you need to go to a convenience store near your house to buy something for lunch.

This is Megan at a swimming pool. (C) 2018 Dr. PinkCake

See, Megan – the fetching young acting student who is one of the possible women you end up with in Acting Lessons – works in that store as a clerk in order to pay her rent and her acting lessons with Ms. Pearson. She’s young, beautiful, and talented, and she plays a key role in your destiny in the plot of Acting Lessons.

But just as you’re about to pay for your purchases and bantering with Megan – you don’t know her name at this point, incidentally – your heretofore uneventful day takes a nasty turn. A man wearing boots enters the store and goes on to commit a robbery. And no matter what you decide to do at this point of the story – you are injured and end up in the hospital.

When you regain consciousness, you not only wake up to see your best friend Liam, but you also meet your attending physician, Dr. Williams, and a hot-looking – if perhaps a bit forward – nurse named Leah. Here, you not only learn that you suffered a concussion, but that the girl at the store was physically unharmed and even came to see you at the hospital while you were unconscious.

Which woman does your character end up with in Acting Lessons? Even Liam, who is standing between Melissa and Hedwig, doesn’t know! (And his subplot is one of the most moving in the novel.) (C) 2018 Dr. PinkCake

At this point in the game, there are several choices you can make. Do you go on to pursue a relationship with Megan, whose life you saved by risking your own? Or do you accept Leah’s advances and go on several dates with the sexually-adventurous nurse? Or, later, do you have a threesome with Angela and Hedwig, the two attractive women you meet if you decide to go to the Inferno nightclub with your goofy but charming best buddy Liam?

Megan is hot, but what about her childhood friend Melissa? (C) 2018 Dr. PinkCake

Per the game’s description on GOG.com:

Acting Lessons is a drama-filled adult Visual Novel (VN) with many different endings.

The choices you make in this game, even early on, will permeate throughout the game and affect the people around you and your adventure.

The game is centered around the relationship between Jonas (or your name of choice for the main character) and Megan, but there are multiple women in the cast that you can pursue.

  • Will you be there for Megan and stay faithful to her or will you fall in love with her childhood friend Melissa?
  • Perhaps you find someone else more intriguing, for instance, the nurturing nurse Leah or the blue-haired actress Rena?
  • Will you value the friendship with your best friend Liam and be there when he truly needs you?
  • These choices, and a lot more, are all yours to make.

My Take

The quality of the artwork in Acting Lessons is top-notch. (C) 2018 Dr. PinkCake

“Curiosity is, in great and generous minds, the first passion and the last.” ― Samuel Johnson, Works of Samuel Johnson

“The difference between sex and love is that sex relieves tension and love causes it.” ― Woody Allen

You can, of course, choose to pursue any of the major female characters. This is Rena, Megan’s fellow acting student and friend. (C) 2018 Dr. PinkCake

In the 35 years since I got my first computer, I have owned and played over 100 computer and video games. From flight simulators to Star Wars action-adventure games and military-themed strategy games, they reflect my key interests and passions in life, ranging from aviation and space travel to military history and space fantasy.

The view from the periscope in “Cold Waters.” (C) 2017 Killerfish Games

My current collection of playable computer games that I have purchased from Steam [2] consists mostly of games in those genres; I play a mix of new or newish games – such as Cold Waters (2017) and remastered versions of older games, including Crusade in Europe, Star Wars: Rogue Squadron 3-D, Silent Service II, M-1 Tank Platoon, and F-117A Nighthawk: Stealth Fighter 2.0.

That having being said, I have always been a sex-positive person, and even though I didn’t get laid until I was nearly 37 years old (shades of The 40-Year-Old Virgin!), I loved women and endeavored to learn more about the fine art of lovemaking via a college course on human sexuality and books such as How to Make Love to a Woman and Sex: A User’s Manual.

And, yeah, I sometimes watch porn, although I must admit that it is not my favorite genre and I find most of it as realistic and engaging as, say, professional wrestling matches.

I’ve written several posts about why I bought several games by Dr. PinkCake – including Acting Lessons – at a time when I’m single by circumstances and in a sad chapter of my life, so if you want to understand why I decided to buy games that some people consider to be smutty, I suggest you read at least this one.

A rendering of a minigame “reward” in Being a DIK. (C) 2020 Dr. PinkCake

I bought Acting Lessons late last week, a few days after I bought and started playing Being a DIK, a later and far more complicated visual novel from Dr. PinkCake. I didn’t know it at the time, but it turned out that Acting Lessons is a loose prequel to Being a DIK, or, if it’s not, at least exists in a shared universe as the set-in-university visual novel.

Acting Lessons is a “visual novel” or a scripted story with multiple possibilities regarding who your character, Jonas Redfield (or, if you decide to change the name early on in Episode 1, any name you choose, including your own) ends up with.

There’s more than sex in Acting Lessons. There is a good storyline, too, full of drama and spice-of-life fun that has nothing to do with erotic action. (C) 2018 Dr. PinkCake

The way this setup works goes something like this. At specific points in Acting Lessons, the game will present you with a set of choices that you must respond to. They can range from something trivial as Check Megan Out or Don’t Check Megan Out to something more serious as Accept Leah’s Advances or Reject Leah’s Advances.

Of course, the most obvious path to take is the one that leads to your character ending up with Megan, the cute, sweet, and loving acting student you meet – fatefully – in that convenience store early in Acting Lessons.

Megan, Melissa (with a joint), and Rena. (C) 2018 Dr. PinkCake

However, there are other women that you meet and can pursue relationships with, including:

  • Melissa, Megan’s childhood friend, is in an unhealthy domestic situation with her mother and abusive stepfather
  • Rena, Megan’s fellow acting student
  • Angela and/or Hedwig, two fun-loving women you meet at a nightclub while on a Boys’ Night Out with your best friend, Liam
  • Leah, a hot redheaded nurse who looks after you in the hospital and is interested in taking the relationship further

Along the way, you also must figure out why Liam is acting so strange – buying expensive new cars and talking about a “bucket list” – even as you navigate through your own messy love life.

The story also has some dark subplots that involve drug dealing, shady characters, and even some stark sequences where you must decide whether one character lives – or dies.

Here, you’re about to kiss Melissa. Will Megan find about it? What happens if you have sex? (C) 2018 Dr. PinkCake

Oh, yeah. Acting Lessons includes quite a few graphic depictions of sex, most of them involving your character, but – assuming you choose to try a threesome with Angela and Hedwig – there might be at least some girl-girl action in there, too.

Update: So far, there’s no way to get Hedwig and Angela into a threesome. However, Being a DIK, the second visual novel by Dr. PinkCake, does allow the main character to participate in at least two threesomes.

As I mentioned earlier, Acting Lessons is a visual novel with multiple endings that depend heavily on the decisions you make. Some elements of the story – such as the two villains whose paths you cross – are constant, but who Jonas ends up with at the end of the story is up to you.

I had never played any adults-only games before I bought Acting Lessons and Being a DIK. I’d wanted to get Virtual Valerie – an early erotically-charged game published nearly 30 years ago by Reactor, Inc., but it was not easy to get at the time, so I never bought it.

I didn’t exactly go out of my way to get sexy games – there are quite a few of those around, by the way – until recently, but when I decided to take the plunge – so to speak – I chose the titles by Dr. PinkCake.

I guess what drew me in were two things: the quality of the visuals in the screenshots I saw in Being a DIK’s Steam product page and the promise that there would be sexual content. I bought Being a DIK first and based on how much I liked the graphics in that visual novel, I decided to get Acting Lessons even though I have not played through Season 1 of the 2020 game yet.

So far, I have played through the “Get Megan” storyline from beginning to end this week. It took me about eight hours – split between Tuesday and Wednesday – to complete the “obvious” choice or, as the site TVTropes.com puts it:

  • Everyone Can See It: No matter which choices you pick throughout the game, you will always go somewhere with Megan, even if you break up with her or if she dies later on in the story. Many characters comment on how they can see the tension and love between you and Megan, with most assuming that you two are already dating.
  • First Girl Wins: Played Straight if you choose to be with her. Even more so if you do not pursue any other girl throughout the game.
Megan looks gorgeous in this screenshot from Acting Lessons. (C) 2018 Dr. PinkCake

Oh, I forgot to mention – you can give Jonas (or whatever name you choose) one of three different personalities:

  1. Athletic
  2. Bookish
  3. Charismatic

When I finished my first playthrough, I did so with the Charismatic personality trait.

I enjoyed the story in the first playthrough, even though I was shocked when one of the main women in the cast had to die and I had to deal with a psycho murderer in one of the later episodes.

I also – in all honesty – love the graphic sex scenes, even though they’re less varied (so far, anyway) than in the later (and more complicated) Being a DIK game. I like the mindfulness Dr. PinkCake lavishes on his representations of consensual sex between young – if straight out of Central Casting – adults. You can even choose what sexual positions you perform and how long the sex lasts. (Be warned, though, the animation in the sex scenes is good, but it’s limited and after a while repetitive, so don’t make them last longer than necessary!)  

I also must point out that just like in Being a DIK, there is more than sex, sex, sex. There is a storyline in Acting Lessons, one that delves into the nature of relationships, whether they are sexual, platonic, or “brotherly friends” (as in the subplot between Liam and Jonas/your character). The game explores the bonds of friendship, the pain of lost love, the price of being dishonest, and the rocky path to redemption and true love.

Is Acting Lessons a game for everyone? Certainly not. It’s intended for players 18 and older, and because of the nudity and explicit sex depicted in Acting Lessons, it’s not a visual novel for prudes, sex-negatives, or right-wing religious fundamentalists of any faith.

If there’s one weakness in Dr. PinkCake’s Acting Lessons/Being a DIK series is its male-centric view. Yes, it’s likely that Dr. PinkCake is a man or a creative team led by men, and therefore the games’ main point-of-view character is, predictably, male, too.

If this were an adults-only blog, I’d post some of the hotter screenshots I have saved. This one from “Being a DIK”, though, is hot enough. (C) 2020 Dr. PinkCake

Considering that there are women out there who might be interested in adults-only games but don’t like the idea of playing as a male character, it would have been nice if Dr. PinkCake made it possible for Megan, Rena, or Melissa to be point-of-view characters for women to play as. Yes, most adults-only material is produced by men for the male gaze, but would it have killed Dr. PinkCake to add an option for women to play the game as female characters?

Acting Lessons is not going to dethrone my military-themed games from their current Most Favored Games spot, but I do enjoy it. And if you think that I’m a bad person because I enjoy graphic representations of sex, I’ll just say, “Snap out of it!”[3]

[1] Acting Lessons´ Jonas Redfield and Liam attended the small university that is the setting for Being a DIK and were members of that game’s Delta Iota Kappa fraternity. Thus, this visual novel exists in the Being a DIK shared universe.

[2] I also have an account on GOG.com (GOG stands for “Good Old Games” and focuses on games that are – as the site’s name implies – older and were once out of print but reissued and reconfigured to work with 21st Century computers), but I have not yet bought any games there.

[3] Because, of course, “Fuck off” is so unlike me to say, right?

Published by Alex Diaz-Granados

Alex Diaz-Granados (1963- ) began writing movie reviews as a staff writer and Entertainment Editor for his high school newspaper in the early 1980s and was the Diversions editor for Miami-Dade Community College, South Campus' student newspaper for one semester. Using his experiences in those publications, Alex has been raving and ranting about the movies online since 2003 at various web sites, including Amazon, Ciao and Epinions. In addition to writing reviews, Alex has written or co-written three films ("A Simple Ad," "Clown 345," and "Ronnie and the Pursuit of the Elusive Bliss") for actor-director Juan Carlos Hernandez. You can find his reviews and essays on his blogs, A Certain Point of View and A Certain Point of View, Too.

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