Academagia can literally drown you in options. It’s a fun universe, but it takes multiple, multiple playthroughs to get a grasp of what’s going on, what you can do etc. In terms of the novel-ish setting you were looking for it’s actually fairly up to the task- It doesn’t take itself too seriously, (though the writers’ first language is not English and it shows, so that may account for some of it), but it still manages to make your ‘own’ story out of the experience. Worth the 24 dollars? Eh. Depends on how much you’ll be playing it in the end. I’d hold off until at least second year is out though, while the constant updates and tweaks to the game are definitely good, it feels like I’m playing a beta sometimes.
As for gamebooks, that’s a tad trickier. Most of the ones that feel irreverent are usually for a younger audience and the darker ones like Lone Wolf (while EXTREMELY fun to play mind you) don’t necessarily break new ground.
‘Pretty Little Mistakes’ sounds interesting though. I’ll have to shell out for that one and see if it lives up to the hype as an ‘mature’ gamebook.
(Mild note- Meant for a younger audience, but I found the Narnia Solo Adventures to be well in tone with the spirit Lewis imbued into the storyline. They’re lighthearted but still take themselves semi-seriously, so it does feel a bit like you’re messing around in Narnia.)