This is an early access review, so my opinion will likely change once the game moves out of beta.
Having only played a couple routes so far, I'm quite excited for the finished product. Backstage Pass is your standard otome (girl main character) dating sim/visual novel; perform tasks to skill up attributes which open up options for you as you target each guy to romance. There's a little more to it than that, but for the most part that's the game. If that doesn't really sound like your thing, you may want to pass on this one.
Yes, the game is still littered with bugs, but those are being actively rooted out and squashed as the devs move through beta. If you can get past the issues, though, the game has a TON of promise. The artwork is beautiful, drawing inspiration from Japanese sources while adding a nice touch of western flavor, and some of the CG's are simply gorgeous. The UI is one of the better ones I've seen for this type of game, especially since there are some pretty horrendous ones out there; you'd be surprised at just how distracting a bad UI can be.
I've played quite a few translated Japanese language otoge before, and it always feels like something is slightly off with them (some more than others). Perhaps it's the cultural differences, but I find well written English Visual Novels to be a much easier/more enjoyable read, and Backstage Pass is no exception. The characters feel real with their own distinct personalities that somewhat fall into standard archetypes, but are more fleshed out and human than in other games. Our protagonist, Sian, is a believable young woman who has her faults but isn't a meek little lamb waiting for one of the guys to sweep her away. Outside of a lull in events further into the story (which is being addressed with some added scenes) the plot moves along nicely. The writing is fluffy - meet guy, become friends, fall in love, etc. I haven't come across anything that's overly dramatic or deep, but that's okay, sometimes I want a little less drama and a little more romance in my games. On a final note about the writing, I haven't come across any completely unbelievable situations nor have any of the characters done anything so stupidly groan worthy that I'm facepalming out of incredulity. These characters are written like human beings, and they are placed in believable situations that make sense for the story. That is a HUGE plus for me.
As a slower reader, each of the two routes I played took me between 3 to 4 hours to complete, and I didn't get the endings I was aiming for, so replaying to complete CGs and aiming for achievements will likely double the play time per route. I would estimate that with the 4 main romanceable guys and 3-4 hidden routes, total play time for completing everything in the game could easily bring you well over the 20 hour mark, especially once the voice overs are added which will slow down gameplay a bit. A completionist by nature, I can see myself logging at least that much play time into this game.
I realize there's a sentiment that the price of the game is too hefty for what it is, and to a certain extent I understand that complaint. However, Backstage Pass offers much more than your standard Renpy EVN, the quality is better, more CG's, and the overall high polish even in this state of development is evident compared to what most other genre games are offering with a $20+ price tag (and believe me, I've played some that I felt completely ripped me off, but that's totally not the case here). It plays smoother and is closer to what you might get out of a Japanese dating sim, which is pretty remarkable considering this game is made by a small group of dedicated fans.
If Backstage Pass were to be released finished in its current state, it would be better than 90% of the EVN out there right now, but the devs are determined to continue adding to and fleshing out the game. With full voice acting and additional hidden routes on the way (including a couple of yuri for those who are interested in them), Backstage Pass may very well become my favorite EVN. Keep an eye out for this one once it moves from Early Access to Official Release.