As much as I want to play Mystic Messenger’s newest route, the better part of my mind is annoyingly making a pretty convincing argument for not completely trashing my sleep schedule for the time being. So, I’m left getting my visual novel fix from other sources. Luckily, I stumbled upon one before the urge became unbearable.
Despite sounding like something I would name a fake game as a joke, Team Salvato’s Doki Doki Literature Club takes the typical slice of life school romance plots and uses its medium to make something truly memorable. While every dating sim and visual novel can be interpreted as a small, in-depth exploration of human (or human-like) nature, Doki Doki Literature Club uses its story to explore the extents of kindness and humanity, and if it can or should cross the boundaries of the narrative fourth wall, leaving players evaluating and re-evaluating their first impressions of the main characters. Before you continue on, reader, I highly suggest you experience everything DDLC has to offer before I spoil it for you. Team Salvato is offering the game for a “name your price” cost on the game’s itch.io page, as well as for free download from Steam. The first run will more than likely take around four hours to complete, but in my opinion it’s entirely worth it. One more thing: please, please heed the content warnings on the game’s page—they aren’t fucking around.
Screenshot taken by me
Massive spoilers below! Trigger warning for depression and self-harm.
The last thing I need right now is another game. I know this, but I also know full well that I’ll always, always make time for dating sims. I was pulled into this one by a couple of people from one of my D&D groups and was pleasantly surprised to discover that while I’m certainly easily swayed into trying dating sims by people simply saying that they’re good, this game is good. Very good. Follow me below the cut for a tale of murder, magic, intrigue, and most importantly, the Arcana.
Yes, it appears that even if I say that I’m probably not going to buy a game, I’m going to end up buying it anyway so long as you slap “dating sim” on it and give me pretty art. Though Dream Daddy had a couple problems coming out of the gate and still has a few glitches, my experience with the game has been nothing but positive. I’ll get into the wonderfully fluffy details below the cut, but allow me to give my TL;DR right here. If you’re interested in the game at all, it’s worth purchasing; the writing is fun and everyone is kind of great. Also, if you want cute routes, definitely go for Mat or Damien. Drama? Hit up Robert or Joseph. More information? Well, just follow me below the cut.
Near the end of Pride Month, it’s more than a little easy to feel down about returning to the rest of the year where the world around you is a little less, well, proud. (Although given the shittinessofthe police and of otherwhite queer folk this year, it’s definitely been business as usual for many.) And unlike with most other events, it may be difficult during this period to find a game that brings the lightheartedness and fun that’s needed when trying to decompress. Sure, there are games where you canbequeer, but many of these games are also filled with dramatic events that aren’t exactly made to let you have a chill time. Strangely enough, the Game Grumps (a team of YouTube Let’s Players), of all people, are trying to fill this void with a cute-looking gay dad dating sim aptly titled Dream Daddy.
A pervasive problem within the dating sim genre is representation. If you’re looking for a dating sim that stars attractive, thin, white or East Asian people, you’re pretty much set, but if you’re looking for anything else, you may have to look a bit harder. Recently, with games like Hustle Cat and Women of Xal, it seems like the indie dating sim scene is stepping up its game with adding more and more representation to the genre. Today’s web crush is a project that finally gives the limelight to one group of people who have been denied romantic representation in these games for too long: fat girls.
I won’t lie to you, readers: I’ve been excited to write this Web Crush for a while now. Strong as my love is for dating sims, I’ll be the first to admit that the setups usually draw from the same pool. School romances with various magical trappings; the new woman in a business where all her other co-workers are men: the tropes are familiar and comfortable, but sometimes we all need a little spice in our lives. A little something to shake things up. So today I present to you a dating sim that breaks out of the more typical shoujo romance mold and thrusts you into a world of corporate intrigue where romance may be the last thing on your mind.
You may recall earlier this year when I spoke of Mystic Messenger, the mobile dating sim game created by Korean company Cheritz that blew up in certain circles on the internet. Though I thoroughly enjoyed the game, I lamented that Jaehee’s route—the only woman on the datable cast—left off on a wholly unsatisfying note. To that effect, not too much later I recommended a fic that I hoped would soothe the pangs left by Cheritz. This time, I aim to do the same, but through a different medium. Though the fandom has quieted, if you’re like me and still eagerly, but silently, waiting for more Mystic Messenger content, I bring to you this fan-made game starring none other than the queen of the RFA: Jaehee Kang.
As opposed to many people who shared my excitement, therelease of No Man’s Sky was just about everything I expected. However, what I didn’t expect was that, for me, its release would be completely overshadowed by another game. Back in July, messing around on Tumblr, I found some screencaps of a mobile dating sim and thought to myself, “what the hell, I’m not doing anything else right now,” and downloaded it. Looking back on it now, this could have been the biggest mistake of my summer, but only because Mystic Messenger is perhaps one of the most engaging dating sims, mobile or otherwise, that I’ve ever played. Three months of playing and still going strong, I figured now was about the time to write about it.
As the game itself does have a potential pay-to-play quality to it, I’ll be writing from the perspective of someone who has only done all of the character routes—not the after stories or secrets.
I’ve spoken about Life Is Strange a few times on this blog before: the episodic game by Dontnod Entertainment came out January of last year. Focused on the time-travel gifted teen Max Caulfield, the game places both Max and the player in the middle of a mystery surrounding her hometown of Arcadia Bay. As interesting as the story was, and as relatable as the characters were, Life Is Strange had one major problem: killing off the main wlw ship. Okay, so technically Max didn’t have to sacrifice her best friend/girlfriend Chloe Price—the option to “save Arcadia Bay” forcing Max to accept Chloe’s inevitable death as she gets murdered—but upon choosing to stay with Chloe instead, the girls sacrifice everyone in Arcadia Bay for their love. I don’t think I’ve met anyone that didn’t agree this was a super shitty way to end Life Is Strange’s story, and an especially shitty way to handle one of the few positive wlw relationships that I can think of in a recent non-indie game. But today, have I got a solution for you!
Back in November, I spotlighted a little up and coming dating sim called Hustle Cat. Back then, the folks at Date Nighto had just met their Kickstarter goal for initial development and were on their way to distributing this fine feline troupe of characters to the masses. Falling upon some unexpected generosity, I recently had the chance to play the finished product. If I thought it looked cute before, holy shit, that was nothing compared to what I experienced. Which is to say, Date Nighto really hit it out of the park.