Suburban Timewaster

I play video games and review them.

Archive for the tag “dating sim”

Princess of Ruin Preview (Unbrokenhours.com)

This trailer is for the very first commercial game by Unbroken Hours that I was lucky enough to beta test!  When a stranger, Xallaun, saves a young girl, Raissa, from a prison, she has no idea who she is.  With her is Kione, a mysterious fire wizard, and Cyraen, an enigmatic boy with a doll he always carries around.

All they know is that they’re trapped in the ruins of a castle that two of them, Raissa and Kione, feel the urge to protect with their life while Cyraen feels the same urge for his doll.  Can Raissa, Kione and Cyraen get their memories back?  What’s the story behind the mysterious castle?  How does Xallaun fit into all this?  Find out when Unbroken Hours releases Princess of Ruin.

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When your roommate leaves you alone at a singles bar, it’s your opportunity to break out of your shell. Are you capable of handling a player lifestyle?

From the above paragraph, you’d think that you play as a guy stringing girls along when you actually get to pick your gender and string the opposite sex along. The plot is the same no matter what gender you pick. You get two phone numbers, you pick a person you want to live with and another you want to keep on the side while your ex blackmails you. I’ve played dating sims where you can pursue the same character no matter what gender you pick but there was one thing they did differently. While some of the dialogue was the same, the game changed key plot points in order for the path to better suit the character. For example, when romancing Isabella as Max in Roommates, you are the pursuer. When you romance Isabella as Anne, you are the one being pursued. It fits, not because of gender stereotyping, but because Max is a rebellious rock star wannabe while Anne is a shy bookworm trying to break out of her shell. I will say this, the makers of this game have no double standards. Why else would the plot play out exactly the same no matter what gender you choose to be?

The game play is just you making dialogue choices to the characters that talk to you. If you make the right ones, their affection goes up and you can go to the next scene. Make the wrong ones, and you have a game over. There are some extras in the game such as quizzes or a love test but you can look those up on the internet.

This game is a little entertaining but incredibly repetitive. I give it 4 out of 10; nothing more than an escapist fantasy.

Roommates (Winterwolves.com)

When Anne and Max signed up for dorm living at their college, they had no idea how chaotic it would be.  Can they accomplish their goals while dealing with their crazy roommates?

Remember when I said that this game was a spiritual successor to Summer Session?  Believe me when I say that this one is a huge improvement.  One of the differences is that instead of a shy guy trying to get a girlfriend, you can play as shy girl trying to break out of her shell or a rebel guy trying to make sure his band gets a big break.  Anne and Max both have four romance options with Rakesh and Isabella being romance able for both while Dominic and Sally are only romance able for Anne and Max respectably.  Anne and Max can also romance each other and the story differs depending on whose point of view you play from.  One thing I really like about this game is that the characters are unique in their own ways.  They’re also considered attractive in their own ways instead of following one standard of beauty.  In the games Always Remember Me and the first two Heileen games, Marie and Amy were both considered average looking at best.  Anne is not a case of Hollywood Homely but rather I’m Not Pretty.  The difference between the two is that the former has the other characters agreeing with the character that says she’s not pretty.  The latter has only the character thinking this while everyone around him or her disagrees.  Another thing I like about this game is how characters like Isabella and Sally are portrayed.  Any other writer, such as the writers of That 70s Show, would portray a woman like Isabella as a bitchy slut with no morals or standards.  Instead, she’s portrayed as a woman who acknowledges her sexuality but will not do anyone who asks or do whatever her current significant other wants.  She’s just a sexually active young woman and there’s nothing wrong with that.  Sally is a vegan animal rights activist who would either be portrayed as a nutcase for her beliefs or as in the right all along and everyone should follow her example.  Instead, like Isabella, she’s just different and there’s nothing wrong with that.  The other characters are also different, such as Dominic with his rule upbringing and Rakesh with his art.  The only things that bother the other people about them is that Dominic is too strict while Rakesh has no respect for people’s boundaries when it comes to his art.  Anne and Max also develop throughout the game without changing their core identities.  I don’t want to give anything away, so I’ll just leave it at that.  However, I will say that Anne’s a nice change from the female characters that usually star in dating sims, at least the ones made by Winter Wolves.  Many of them, like Nicole, are outgoing and love fashion.  Anne is shy and prefers the comfort of a quiet library to a loud party.  I’m not saying that there’s anything wrong with Nicole but it’s nice to have something different and more relatable to me for once.  In addition, there’s this one scene where you find out that Dominic likes video games and Anne admits that she herself has played them.  It’s a welcome change to shows like the Big Bang Theory where even the scientist girls have no interest in video games, D&D, or comic books and makes a big deal about them doing those things for the first time.

The game play is that of your typical dating sim.  You have to plan the schedule of the character you’re playing while trying to romance one of the other characters.  You do have the option of skipping events in order to save energy.  If you want to successfully romance a character, you have to raise your stats high enough for them to take an interest in you.  You can do that through part time jobs or pay to partake in certain activities.  You can also attend class and study in order to keep your grades high.  Max and Anne’s storylines are sold separately in case you would rather just play as one of the characters instead of exploring the game through both of their perspectives.

This game is addictive and hilarious.  I give it 10 out of 10; it definitely didn’t disappoint.

Blue Rose (The-white-cat.com)

After a fierce battle with a dragon, Lena, a templar of the blue rose, finds herself in a peaceful village with no clue what happened to her comrades.  Not only that but the village is under attack and it’s up to her to save it.  Can Lena protect the village and find love?

Templars of the Blue Rose in this universe are special knights that draw on the power of the blue rose to help them fight.  Therefore, it’s like being a Jedi Knight only instead of relying on energy you rely on an incredibly rare flower.  Lena is one of them and that’s the character you play.  Usually when playing otome games, the maker assumes that every woman’s fantasy is be a helpless damsel in distress that relies on a big strong man for everything.  This is one of the few games that understands that some women fantasize about being strong and self-reliant.  Lena can pursue a relationship with four guys and a girl.  Tobias is the arrogant yet caring village leader.  Simon is your loyal comrade.  Gavin is the playful outsider.  Erin is the caring innkeeper.  Last but not least, Aran is the mysterious outsider.  Other than those simple facts, nothing about these characters really stands out.  You can unlock extra details about them but their side-stories only take up space.

The game play is that of your typical visual novel.  You read the story and choose the appropriate dialogue.  During most of the game, you can pick different locations to visit on a map.  You can also collect pictures for your gallery and each time you get a character’s good ending, you unlock an extra story.

This game is intriguing but doesn’t really stand out.  I give it 6 out of 10; more of a casual play than something to really get lost in.

Nicole (Winterwolves.com)

Nicole’s excited about the college life only to discover that it wasn’t all she imagined it to be.  Three girls have been abducted from her campus and messages from the culprit tell her that she’ll be the fourth.  Can Nicole find romance while keeping herself from becoming the next victim?

For those of you who haven’t played the game, I have to warn you that there are spoilers in this review.  This game is not your typical dating sim.  From the very first scene, it’s clear that there is far more going on then hooking up with boys.  You have to solve a mystery while pursuing a guy. 

If you go there alone, you don’t get to solve anything.  I like to think that this is less about a knight in shining armor saving a damsel in distress than it is about saying that there is safety in numbers.  Celso Riva is working on the yuri version of this game so we’ll just have to wait and see.  The guy’s you can pursue are Ted, the hotheaded southerner, Jeff, the eccentric scientist, Darren, the shy computer geek, and Kurt, the social football player.  My personal favorite would have to be Ted because he has a touching storyline about his family and his temper’s not to the point where he gets abusive.  Kurt, on the other hand, had a scene that was used as a joke but it made me feel uncomfortable.  In that scene, he was trying to kiss Nicole even though she was saying no and she had to throw an alarm clock at him to get him to stop.  Maybe they were just playing and I took it the wrong way.  Jeff was also another love interest I had trouble with because he was way too easily forgiven.  True, he never killed anyone but he did experiment on humans like they were guinea pigs and pretty much ruined their lives.  I know that, as the player, I was the one to make the choice, but I think a far more interesting ending for him would be Nicole doubting whether she could trust him.  I like screwed up relationships but I would prefer if the author admitted that they were screwed up.

The game play is similar to Always Remember Me with a few differences.  In that game, you only tried to raise a particular stat if you wanted the special ending for a certain guy.  In Nicole, you have to raise a certain stat for a guy if you want their normal ending.  The only way to get the special ending is if you max out the clues stat and view all of the mystery scenes. 

You visit difference locations and do certain activities in order to raise each stat.  You also have to choose between two responses when having scenes with certain boys.  If you pick the correct one, it will raise their affection level.  Another thing that separates Nicole from Always Remember Me is that you have to buy five gifts for a certain boy if you want any chance of pursuing a relationship with them.  In Always Remember Me, you only had to buy a few stat-raising items and one thing for only one of the guys and even that wasn’t necessary.

This game is romantic with a hint of mystery.  I give it 9 out of 10; some of the suspense scenes had my heart racing.

Summer Session (Winterwolves.com)

When a shy student signs up for summer classes, he didn’t know what to expect.  Maybe he’ll finally have a girlfriend, or maybe he’ll remain as lonely as he’s always been.

This is not exactly an interesting premise.  In fact, the only reason I bought this game is that Celso Riva is working on another one called Roommates that he claims is sort of a successor to this one.  As I said, the plot is some shy guy trying to find a girlfriend in six weeks while still trying to ace his exams.  He can pursue the outgoing Rachel, his teacher Jenny, the studious Midori, the athletic Tanya and the eccentric Emma.

The game play is about choosing your schedule for the week and making the correct dialogue choices when pursuing a character. 

You can study to do well on exams, work for money, go partying, play sports, play video games, rest or exercise.  No matter what, you have to attend class every day.

This game is addictive but not that interesting.  I give it 3 out of 10; compared to Celso Riva’s later games, it falls short.

Heileen 3: New Horizons (Winterwolves.com)

Heileen is shipwrecked on a mysterious island with Robert and Ebele. They are saved by a ship called the Morning Star led by the pirates Morgan and Juliet.  Not only does Heileen use this opportunity to find her friends, she also needs to discover her destiny.  Will Heileen find love or will she find her true calling?

At first, the story is about Heileen searching for her missing friends and family.  After everyone’s found, the story changes depending on which character you pursue or which colony activity you partake in.  In the original game, Heileen can choose between Morgan, John, Jonathan and Sebastian.  Purchasing the female romance expansion extends her choices to Lora, Marie, Juliet and Ebele.  My favorite of the guys is Sebastian (though I hate to admit it) and my favorite of the girls is Juliet.  With Sebastian it might be more out of relief that Elias was going to be the romance option but he was voted out by Celso Riva‘s followers.  He also had no intention of adding Juliet to the mix but popular demand changed his mind.  I much prefer the plots where Heileen partakes in colony activities because at first she’s clueless about what she wants to do with her life.  As she continues, she realizes that she found her true calling.

While the first two games were pure visual novels, this one is a dating/raising sim.  During the game, you can do basic activities on the ship or colony activities on land.  You have to raise attributes from the former in order to participate in the latter.  You can invite one of the characters to do the colony activity with you and if you raise your stat high enough, you can qualify for the profession attached to it as long as you have the right sin or virtue.  There will be some cut scenes in the game where you have to make a choice that affects your alignment with good and evil.  It also affects your relationships with certain characters.  Some cutscenes are story-driven while others are just you inviting someone out or vice versa.

This is definitely my favorite of the Heileen series.  I give it 8 out of 10; it ended with a bang.

Heartstring Bugs (Unbrokenhours.com)

Elly has just finished her first year of high school and hasn’t really accomplished anything.  Fortunately, a baby virus from another planet wanting to study humans gives her the ability to see other people’s emotions.  Will this help Elly blossom into more than what she is?

Other than the cute baby virus, this is your typical slice of life dating sim.  Elly has five potential love interests in Huang, Chase, Lucas, Dimitri and Blaze.  Huang is a socially awkward geek who gets English slang confused.  Chase is the smart arrogant jerk trying to get rid of his legions of fangirls.  Lucas is the happy go lucky prankster.  Blaze is the egocentric rock star.  Dimitri is the easygoing boy next door.  Elly can also form a friendship with Tamera, Naomi, or Alice.  Tamera is the outgoing cheerleader.  Naomi is the insecure bookworm.  Alice is the shy withdrawn girl.  She also has another love interest she can pursue that you need to discover on your own.

One factor I absolutely love about this game is that it doesn’t take itself seriously.  It’s ridiculous and the writer knows it.  The game is so funny that there were times I had to stop playing so I could control myself after laughing so hard.  I was just lucky I wasn’t drinking anything at the time.  There’s one plot that draws inspiration from Twilight and as much as I hate that series, I actually enjoyed the storyline.

The game play is very similar to Lucky Rabbit Reflex.  You can date a character to help them raise their impression of you.  Some of the ways you can do so is by entering the same club they’re in, raising your scores in charm, fashion, academics and athletics enough to get good marks and experiment with different clothes to get the style the guy you’re pursuing absolutely loves.  One aspect of this game that separates it from others is that you also have to raise your impression of the people in your life.  All you have to do is click the emoticon that best accomplishes your goal.

This game is addictive and hilarious.  I give it 10 out of 10; I consider uncontrollable laughter a strong emotional response.

Hakuoki: Demon of the Fleeting Blossom (PSP Games)

When Chizuru goes to Kyoto to search for her missing father, monsters attack her.  Fortunately, a group of warriors known as the Shinsengumi save her just in time.  Now she finds herself involved in Japanese history in a way she never thought possible.

The plot is loosely similar to HBO’s Rome in that it explores history through the eyes of an ordinary citizen.  This story also interweaves fantasy elements through the lives of the Shinsengumi.

Chizuru and her father are the main factors of this.  The only thing I can say without giving away spoilers is that demons are involved and one element of history that makes it to the game is the introduction of western culture integrating into Japanese life.

I’m sure many of you expect me to complain about Chizuru being a damsel in distress but I’m actually going to give this a pass.  I can’t ignore the fact that this game takes place in a time where the belief that women should stay in the kitchen was very common.  While it’s possible to create strong female characters in a sexist setting (again I look to HBO’s Rome), it is incredibly difficult.  Chizuru has grown up on these beliefs so it’s possible that her subconscious mind will not allow her to take action in a way that in her mind would be inappropriate for her gender.

The game play is your standard visual novel.  During the first three chapters, you make decisions that determine which guy will fall in love with Chizuru at the start of the fourth chapter.  You can choose between Hijikata, Okita, Saito, Heisuke and Harada.  If her relationship with any of them is not high enough, you end up with Kazama.  You can also collect words for your encyclopedia so you can understand what’s going on in the game.  You can also collect pictures for your gallery.

This game is intriguing but gets dull after a while.  I give it 6 out of 10; interesting idea but is a little drawn out at times.

Re: Alistair++ (Sakevisual.com)

Merui’s a huge video game fanatic, especially when it comes to Rivenwell Online.  Unfortunately, a real jerk named Alistair stole a rare item from her.

In order to get it back she has to discover who he is in a month and she only has three suspects.

As I said earlier, there are three people Merui suspects, Travis, Shiro and Derek.  Travis is the geeky loner.  Shiro is the shy classmate.  Derek is the confident jock.  Merui responds to each one differently and they have a different side they keep hidden from everyone else.

During the game, you have to raise your stats to the specific liking of each person.

You also have to spend time with them and give the correct responses.

During lunch, you can choose who you want to hang out with.  You do the same after school.  The difference is that you have to do different things in your after school hours.  You have to spend time with Travis at the schoolwork program if you want to earn money.  You also have to go to the mall and spend time with Derek because there are some things you have to buy if you want to win the heart of a specific person.  Some routes require you to spend time with Shiro so you can work on your project.

When you get home, you can choose to raise your network reputation, social reputation, or intelligence.  You can also check your email.

This game is relatable and fun.  I give it 7 out of 10, a unique take on a dating sim.

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