Favorite dating sim
Many folks never see Hatoful Boyfriend subtly transform into its final revelatory route that blows everyone's minds.
It isn't a good game because it’s hilarious to date pigeons, it's a good game because of what it does to you after you become attached to all the pigeons and then play again one last time in order to "fulfill the promise." The epilogue is the real story.
Another hurdle I see people experience when starting out playing dating sims is that they spread themselves too thin.
They shop around like they would when playing a Bio Ware game, interacting with all the different available characters for too long and find they are suddenly railroaded along a generic path that usually results in a normal ending where you don't kiss anyone, or worst-case-scenario: a harsh death.
He pointed out the lack of gravity a character's death has in these kind of games, stemming from seeing the main character and surrounding characters die so many times and how to work with it.
Approaching the games in this manner leaves one much less disappointed when they don’t deliver a true vicarious romance experience.If you walk off the path, you'll be pushed back onto it. The systems in these romance-focused visual novels are usually not robust enough to support complex social sims, they're more like long and pretty choose-your-own-adventure novels.The player must accept their limited role in these spaces and do what they can in order to dig the interesting bits out of these games’ juicy narrative databases.This is a very different philosophy from Western-style role-playing games, where one generally finds it more satisfying to select with your gut and accept how the die is cast.
Both approaches have merits, but I enjoy digging into a dating sim and seeking out all the various endings and full gallery completion.
While the tools offered by these games tacitly encourage narrative manipulation, such as skipping of prior-read text, jumping directly to decision points, massive amounts of save slots, gallery completion percentages, and new game plus content, unfortunately the user experience design isn't there to train someone completely new to this experience.