alias_sqbr: Nepeta from Homestuck looking grumpy in front of the f/f parts of her shipping wall (grumpy)
This was hailed in femslasher gamer circles as The First Real Yuri Game On Steam, and so even though it hit a lot of my Do Not Want buttons (including being quite expensive haha) I eventually gave in and gave it a go. And, as the subject of this post suggests, I have very mixed feelings.
Read more... )
alias_sqbr: Nepeta from Homestuck looking grumpy in front of the f/f parts of her shipping wall (grumpy)
I thought I had a post like this but apparently not! I've put (nb) next to the games with non binary options and (mm) next to games that include m/m paths. I haven't labelled games with m/f paths because that's pretty much all of them!

If you want even more, English Otome Games has a list of dating sims with a female protagonist and male and female or only female love interests, and Hella Yuri curates a list of games with wlw characters on Steam.

Read more... )

Hustle Cat

Mar. 4th, 2016 12:38 pm
alias_sqbr: A cartoon cat saying Ham! (ham!)
Hustle Cat is really cute fluffy dating sim about 19 year old Avery (of unspecified gender with a range of pronouns, skin colours, and presentations!) who ends up working at a cat cafe where all the other workers (2 women and 4 men) turn out to be cursed to turn into cats. You get to know them all and then have a romance with whoever you get along with best. The romances are all really adorable and the end of each path is thrilling and satisfying. I LOVED being able to choose my pronouns and presentation, and the love interests/romances were nicely varied and avoided annoying/sexist romance tropes while still wallowing in good ones (grumpy butch women and shy dudes and tsunderes and... omg my heart). The writing for the protagonist tries to be unisex which was really refreshing even if it didn't always quite work. I loved EVERYONE and EVERY romance (even Reese, who I didn't like at first), which is almost unknown for me and dating sims or ensemble casts in general.

There are a few issues: It's so fluffy it ends up glossing over points of conflict in ways that can feel shallow and erasing. The darkest any of the characters get is light brown, and the "brown" characters mostly have light eyes/hair and generically American names. The writing and art for Avery attempts to be unisex but sometimes felt like it was assuming I was a boy/girl in heterosexist ways, especially when you encounter the One Strawman Sexist (who treats you like a cis dude while you're romancing a girl) The "unisex"ness means you can't be femme which some women may feel limited by. There is literally one choice after you get on your love interest's path, which would be less annoying if the choices Avery made without asking weren't so frequently TERRIBLE. It all turns out ok but it shouldn't, and Avery is especially overbearing on the girls' paths :/ The 2 female/4 male gender balance is annoying, why not three of each, or 2 women/2 men/2 non binary? And there is zero diversity of body type or disability, asides from some fluffily presented implied mental illness.

But I still REALLY ENJOYED playing a woman romancing a hot grumpy butch lady, and then a dude romancing a shy guy with an implied anxiety disorder, and then a male presenting non binary person romancing a mysterious goth dude :D Also the cat versions of the characters are ADORABLE (nb there are no sexy scenes with cats)

Note: most of the paths are easy to get onto if you're just especially nice to that person, but the last one is SUPER TRICKY without a walkthrough.
alias_sqbr: Nepeta from Homestuck looking grumpy in front of the f/f parts of her shipping wall (grumpy)
I've been playing and enjoying the dating sim Hustle Cat (you can be male/female/non binary and there are male and female LIs! It's also really cute and fluffy!) I started making a walkthrough then discovered this official walkthrough, but mine has a very different structure (question by question rather than path by path) so thought I'd update it for anyone who's interested.

This is one of those games whose first part plays the same every time, then it picks a path based on whatever love interest you have the most points with. I'm only going to talk about the choices before the path split, so there's no real spoilers for anyone who's played the game up to the (fairly easy to recognise) point where the love interests' unique paths begin. And if you haven't done that, have a go before you start looking for help ;)
Spoilers if you haven't played the game at all )
alias_sqbr: the symbol pi on a pretty background (I like pi!)
Since he is laaaate hooome ;_;

Julia Among the Stars: An interesting, plotty Czech science fiction puzzle game with some of the feel of a hidden object game. You are a (female!) scientist on a space probe trying to figure out what happened to the rest of your crew with the help of the ships's (also female!) computer. Some of the dialogue was clunky, possibly because of the translation, but overall I liked the characters and story, it was about your average Dr Who/Star Trek episode level of scifi. The puzzles were mixed but overall enjoyable. Has some moderately dark/depressing/gory moments.

Amnesia: Memories: My first proper Japanese dating sim that's not about pigeons! Bought because it was on special and I heard one dude liked maths. I really enjoyed it, but (a) Cam is away, so tall, glasses wearing, mathsy dorks are very appealing right now (b) a fair proportion of that enjoyment was horrified laughter. The premise is that you are an 19 year old Japanese uni student and have lost your memory because a spirit basically collided with your head and got stuck there. You end up in one of several alternate realities trying to regain your memories with the help of the spirit, who is a lovely ally in sometimes scary and lonely situations, but whose existence means you can't just tell people what's up. In each reality you turn out to be dating one of the dudes, and you are motivated to get to know him to learn more about yourself. So even on paths where I didn't like the dude I enjoyed it as suspense/mystery, but it gets QUITE SUSPENSEFUL, culminating in a surreal and kind of meta final path with SEVEN DIFFERENT increasingly violent bad ends where you die in various ways (and 2 happy endings where you don't die ;)) The love interests are basically: tsundere, playboy, spock, technically-not-your-actual-older-brother, ????. You have to be prepared for some sexist douchery from even the nicest love interests on the good ends and some AMAZINGLY awful behaviour from the less nice ones on the bad ends. Like, trigger warnings ahoy, though there's no sex scenes of any kind which limits the inevitable consent issues. There's some "craziness" handled about as badly as it usually is. Also, the maths dude makes you solve actual algebra problems (The answers are online though :))

The Bridge: I enjoyed the first two levels of this Escher themed puzzle game but then there was a thing that can kill you and it stopped being fun :(
alias_sqbr: Dagna from Dragon Age reaching for a book (dagna)
Diabolik Lovers (ep 1): So since I'm making a dating sim about vampires it made sense to watch the anime adaptation of the Dating Sim About Vampires. But as expected it was really not my thing: it's all creepy vampire dudes stockholm syndroming the sweet protagonist. At one point a sexy evil lady vampire showed up briefly but I looked up spoilers and that plot does not go anywhere I'd enjoy. Still, it was interesting as research, and now I'll know more context when people talk about it.


Monument Valley: fantastic, beautiful, understated little phone puzzle game. You are a little girl wandering minimalist fantasy landscapes with Escher-esque topology that uses forced perspective in very creative ways. I found it fairly easy, there are a few minor timing puzzles I didn't always like. It reminded me a lot of Journey.

Descent (Dragon Age Inquisition DLC): really not worth $25, but otherwise moderately entertaining Deep Roads story. Focused very much on two not very interesting DLC-only NPCs with basically no other background characters and nothing for the companions to say or do. Some mildly interesting environments and dwarf related worldbuilding, but the (level adjusted) fights were difficult and dragged on and on, making the fun bits feel stretched out. Sidequests were dull as dishwater.

Cute Demon Crashers: Cute free sex positive dating (well, friends with benefits) sim. A college girl gets to know 3 incubi and a succubus and possibly has sex with one. Strong emphasis on consent and fluffy happiness: you can say no at any time and there are no bad endings. I did the f/f path and it was endearing but a bit too sex focussed for me (which I knew it would be but THE ART WAS TOO CUTE) The demons are all aromantic, it's the fantasy of the perfect calm, knowledgeable, non judgemental older partner with no expectations who wants nothing for themselves but to make you happy. Which is not really my thing (I prefer pining losers haha) but is certainly a contrast to the Diabolik Lovers style love interest.

Dark Parables: Ballad of Rapunzel: Servicable continuation of this series of fairy tale themed hidden object games.

Love Chronicles: Salvation: really quite terrible hidden object game. I didn't mind the previous games in the series but this is set in a demon underworld and is just ugly and unpleasant, and the puzzles aren't much fun.
alias_sqbr: Dagna from Dragon Age reaching for a book (dagna)
So after much squee by [personal profile] ember_keelty I checked out Seven Kingdoms: The Princess Problem. And I really liked it!

It's like a cross between Long Live The Queen and The Royal Trap: you're a noble from one of six not!18th century!European countries at a diplomatic summit, and your choices about skills and dialogue affect your success and relationships. You can choose to play on story mode which makes it easier to pass challenges and impossible to die, or challenge mode if you LIKE failing and dying (I have not played challenge mode. I have heard it is fun if you like that sort of thing)

It's only a demo, afaict it stops at the point where the plot would split into love interest (or lack thereof) specific paths, but it makes for a fairly satisfying little story as it is.
No spoilers just more details )
alias_sqbr: Nepeta from Homestuck looking grumpy in front of the f/f parts of her shipping wall (grumpy)
Some more stuff I have watched and read recently! Links for those where you may want to see if they're as odd as they sound.

A Lily Among Thorns by Rose Lerner: a sweet regency romance where the female lead is an ex sex worker! Also the secondary romance is m/m!! Longer review at my tumblr.

If you're judging me for that rec you should probably stop reading now.
finch girlfriends, bear girlfriends, magical boys, other )

Date Warp

Dec. 27th, 2014 02:34 pm
alias_sqbr: the symbol pi on a pretty background (Default)
Date Warp: a scifi visual novel/dating sim from Spiky Caterpillar and Hanako Games (of Long Live The Queen and Magical Diary) It's flawed but I overall enjoyed it, and it does the "multiple versions of the same story from different perspectives adding up to a complete picture" thing I really like.

It's cheesy, badly drawn, a bit slut shamey, and fails the Bechdel test spectacularly but the the love interests are all varied and basically decent and the protagonist is well drawn. Also she's Indian American but this is not a big deal, which is a nice change from the ZOMG LOOK OUR PROTAGONIST IS BLACK/What Are PoC approaches of Certain Other Dating Sims. She's an agnostic too, which I enjoyed, even if the plot gets a bit THE POWER OF FAITH for my tastes. (She is also a little more similar to the ethnically Indian agnostic vegetarian intelligent-but-unsure-of-her-goals similarly aged protagonist of one of my games in progress than I'd like but that's not really a flaw)

I had some issues with the way the bisexual poly love interest was treated but they're spoilery (EDIT: Ok it turns out I was mostly wrong about that! It's actually pretty cute)
alias_sqbr: Nepeta from Homestuck looking grumpy in front of the f/f parts of her shipping wall (grumpy)
Namco High is a dating sim preduced by Andrew Hussie, creator of Homestuck, with Ananth Panagariya from Johnny Wander as head writer and lots of different webcomic artists doing the sprites (which are pretty cute!).

You are Cousin, cousin of the Katamari Damarci dude, and can date various Namco video game characters (including the ship from Galaga) as well as three Homestuck characters. It is completely ridiculous and a lot of fun, and you can try 6 of the 18 paths for free. I got the full package and thoroughly enjoyed it. You play in your browser, the interface is functional but I miss autoplay, reverse and multiple saves.

You don't have to be familiar with any of the characters/games/webcomic. There are male, female and anthropomorphised inanimate object love interests and the protaonist's gender is never stated. There's a lot of "YOU'RE CRAZY" but it lacks Homestuck's "edgy" offensiveness. The paths don't seem to affect each other at all, but the writers have made a little effort to make them consistent. Switching from one path to another mid game seems to lead to bad endings.

There are six free paths (Galaga, Lolo, Valkyrie, Anti-Bravoman, Meowkie, Albatross) but the rest cost $2 each, $5 for 3 or $15 for everyone (unless you have Crunchyroll Premium membership, then it's $14). For the benefit of anyone wanting to decide what to buy, as well as the curious, here's some brief non-spoilery summaries of all 18 paths!
Read more... )
alias_sqbr: the symbol pi on a pretty background (Default)
First: my "Online Games: Literature, New Media, and Narrative" Coursera course is really very simplistic, I should be finding it challenging, not feeling annoyed at everyone for missing obvious points. And when the one POC in the videoed tutorial ever so gently suggested that maybe The Lord of the Rings has some troubling racial subtext the lecturer changed the subject :/ :/ Then while they happily chatted about the repeated theme of evil cripples in "To The Dark Tower Childe Roland Came" there was no suggestion that any of them saw this as anything but extra flavour to the general unpleasantness of the situation :/ :/ So...yes, let's just wallow in ancient tropes without thinking about their limitations or damaging effects. Sure.

Second: two games I was reccomended as examples of transcending the usual limitations of their genres.

In Dear Esther you wander a small island, hearing fragments of a man's story, and feel melancholy. It's like an interactive sad little art house film. The surroundings are beautifully rendered and they combine with the music and sparse narration to create a very effective sense of melancholy but there is NO PLOT. I enjoyed it to start with (it really does feel like exploring a beautiful desolate beach at dusk) but got bored by the end and didn't think the narrator's story was interesting enough to warrant a whole game. Gone Home did the "Experience a story as you wander around a setting" thing better imo, though it wasn't as pretty. But I don't tend to enjoy arty films with no plot either (or men poetically describing their pain), and a lot of other people found Dear Esther very effective. Warning: some of the content of this game could be very triggering, I don't want to spoil it so will put the specific warnings under a cut.

Ristorante Amore, on the other hand, made me angry. It would be a cute, slick, moderately well written m/f and m/m dating sim...if it weren't for the pretentious gimmick the writers chose to put over the top. It suffers pretty badly from "Not like other girls" syndrome, blatantly mocking other dating sims despite really not being all that different, and clearly thinking female characters only have value if they fit into the "~feminist~ strong female character" box (male characters of course can be much more varied. Also they get to be queer). If you can grit your teeth through all that the characters themselves are likeable enough and I did enjoy the romances, but overall the game left a bad taste in my mouth.

Dear Esther content warning )
alias_sqbr: the symbol pi on a pretty background (Default)

A Shrine to Saint Ann: A very enjoyable little fantasy ebook, reminds me of the Curse of Chalion series by Lois McMaster Bujold but with less racism and more sarcastic reanimated corpses. Like Bujold (and Megan Whalen Smith, who I was also reminded of) a little too in love with gods and royalty and not enough with regular people for my tastes, but that's what I get for reading fantasy. It was still a quick enjoyable read with interesting and diverse characters and worldbuilding, focussed very much on complex female characters being fascinatingly terrible. And only $3!

The Circle of Magic 1: Sandry's Book/The Magic in the Weaving by Tamora Pierce: Light and mostly innoffensive children's fantasy about a mismatched group of children with different magical gifts gathered together to learn magic and the ~power of friendship~ etc. Obviously trying VERY HARD to be DIVERSE (about race/class/gender/body type) which gets wearying sometimes (and is undercut by some skeevy subtext) but is a nice change from books that don't try at all and creates lots of natural moments for character growth and contrast.


Watched the Cowboy Bebop movie and I did indeed enjoy it more now I know it affects NOTHING in the series chronology and is just a random side adventure. Still makes no freaking sense.


Flight Rising: Briefly opened for new members! Hello all! You will have to friend me if you want to be friends, the notifications were annoyingly lacking in lair links. Also, the comments to this post have some good advice.

Gone Home: a very good little interactive story (not a dating sim! Or fighting game!!) where you play a woman who arrives home from an overseas trip to find the house empty. You wander around trying to figure out what's been up with your family while you've been gone, and are railroaded enough by having to find keys for locked doors etc that the clues you piece together form a coherent and affecting story. Note: the vast majority of items you can interact with are there purely for atmosphere, don't waste time trying to figure out the Secret Meaning of the toilet paper or how to set it on fire, because there is none and you can't. *cough*

And now two very fluffy fantasy visual novels with f/m dating sim elements.

Blue Rose: I played the demo of this and enjoyed it but not enough to pay $20 for the full version, especially given all the typos and general amateurish feel. It's fairly generic fantasy with lots of anachronism and unconvincing worldbuilding, the characters were varied and kind of interesting but the dialogue was often stilted. The one f/f romance option seems nice but bland. Blindingly white, even the (blonde!) woman who seems to be from pseudo-China.

Everlove: Rose. This I enjoyed enough to pay $5 for the full version and I'd say I got my money's worth but I wouldn't rec it very strongly. The historical setting is SO SHALLOW and the vast majority of scenes are identical on every path even when you make drastically different choices. But the art is pretty, the characters are likeable enough and the plot was interesting the first time through. The puzzles are easy (on an iPad) and not super fun but do break up the plot. You have the option to declare yourself a lesbian in one scene but otherwise it's very heteronormative despite your female best friend having the cutest sprite :( I wasn't very satisfied with the special ending you get after doing all four paths.
alias_sqbr: (happy dragon)
Have been feeling under the weather, these things have made me feel better about it.

Flight rising: A dragon breeding/raising sim. Not super exciting since most things can only be done once a day (resetting at 3pm local time) but it's cute and I get the feeling will be increasingly more fun as I build resources.

Bounce Energy balls Ridiculously overpriced vegan fudgey nut things that are nowhere near as healthy as they claim but taste quite nice for something that doesn't set off my intolerances. The vegan ones are Cashew Pecan, Fudgie Walnut and Spirulina. Haven't tried the Spirulina yet.

Wysp Bills itself as an artist-centered (eg concrit and improvement rather than exhibition) gallery site, not sure I'll actually use it for that but the sketch practice is nicely set up. Assuming you want to sketch hands, dragons, or male anatomy.

(This Let's Play of) Hatoful Boyfriend It starts as a pigeon dating sim and gets weirder from there.

The Wa Gokoro Japanese restaurant in Morley. Wheelchair accessible, near the shopping centre/bus station, relatively cheap and quite nice.

And finally: making dreamwidth posts to procrastinate about answering my email... >.>
alias_sqbr: Nepeta from Homestuck looking grumpy in front of the f/f parts of her shipping wall (grumpy)
Since it came up at the programming meeting as a thing a few people are interested in.

Otome Games in English A tumblr about dating sims aimed at women in English ("Otome" is the Japanese term) with lots of links to upcoming translations of Japanese/Korean games and a few that started out in English too. The links and affiliates and games list pages are super sueful.

Creation tools I use Ren'Py.

A thorough list of English language otome games Requires forum registration

Some interesting games to check out (not all dating sims aimed at women):

Hanako games an Indie US games developer, all their games are aimed at women and many have dating sim like elements. They also tend to be feminist and queer friendly. I specifically rec Magical Diary and The Royal Trap, both of which have free demos. Free demos.

Cinders Very cool retelling of Cinderella, includes dating sim elements. Free demos.

Witch/Knight: Not a dating sim, just a visual novel, but it was a nice change from the norm. Free!

Katawa Shoujo Aimed at men, but glossily made and with optional 18+ content. Free!

"Favorite free otome game?"

And if you want something really different check out the demo of the otome pigeon dating sim Hatoful Boyfriend :D (Note: the full version doesn't work very well on Macs)

Did I forget anything?
alias_sqbr: Nepeta from Homestuck looking grumpy in front of the f/f parts of her shipping wall (grumpy)
I've been deciding whether or not to try this game for ages, but it was on sale and "silly pirate f/f dating sim" sounded like just the thing to get me through a cold.

The Heileen series is about a young woman, Heileen, who sails to the New World from Liverpool with her friends and family in the first game, has to survive on a desert island in the second, and spends this third game on a pirate ship finding her friends, forming relationships and trying to figure out what she wants to do with her life. The way it works is you download the demo (Heileen 3: New Horizons), then pay to unlock the f/f or m/f romances (or both) I just paid for the f/f romances (sold as "Heileen 3: Sea Maidens"). I started on game 3 and wasn't too confused, and apparently it's the best of the series.

Overall I enjoyed it, but was bored or irritated for a lot of it. It's got a very conventional outlook: slavery is bad but colonialism is good, and "natives" are simplistic and often scary. It's very heteronormative, it's origins as a m/f dating sim are pretty obvious especially at the start when the main character keeps swooning over all the guys (especially Morgan, who she unambiguously crushes on all game regardless of who you romance), and since the romances are structured to allow you to switch to friendship at the last minute some felt a bit out of left field. Also some of the unavoidable "flirtation" from LIs felt like sexual harassment to me.

nb: If you are easily triggered by not-quite-incest don't read my summary and don't play the game!
More specific thoughts )

And now, because I found it confusing for a while and to steal ideas for Copper Rose (if only in a "DON'T DO THIS" way), a more in depth discussion of the game mechanics. Some general plot spoilers but nothing specific about the endings, and personally I would have wanted to know all this going in.
More details than you can poke a cutlass at )
alias_sqbr: Dagna from Dragon Age reaching for a book (dagna)
I spent much of today playing The Royal Trap, the new game from Hanako games, creators of Magical Diary. It's been a lot of fun.

The game is set in a vaguely 17th century-ish pseudo-Europe notable mainly for being a matriarchy. Men have a moderate amount of power, but cannot inherit and must wait to be married off to a woman with land to support them. The main character, Madeleine, is a minor noble who acts as valet/bodyguard to the sweet young Prince Oscar. They are in a nearby kingdom with various other Princes vying for the hand of an eligible Princess...when THINGS HAPPEN and the player must choose who to trust/makeout with etc.

The structure is like Katawa Shoujo and a lot of other visual novels: Past a certain (clearly signposted) point the plot splits into one of at least four distinct paths, and each of these splits at the end into good, average and bad ends based on your past decisions. SAVE OFTEN. Most of the "good" ends require a romantic relationship with the relevant guy, but there's f/f friendship and romance options and nonromantic happy-ish endings.

I've done all the good ends (EDIT: Gaston path definitely grew on me :D :D) and they were all (a) sweet and (b) focussed more on finding stability for everyone the main character cares about than Twue Love.

Still a pretty heteronormative game, and everyone except the sly fey guy from pseudo-East-Asia and ambiguously brown pseudo-French maid is white. The way the game treats sex and gender is well meaning but may upset some people (ask me if you want details) But it's a story about a kickass woman dealing with a bunch of complicated crap, making out with cute boys (there are no f/f makeouts afaict ;_;), and deciding her own fate and I enjoyed it.
alias_sqbr: an airship ladder in the disabled parking (up)
I finally bit the bullet and downloaded the sexually explicit dating sim Katawa Shoujo ("Cripple Girls"), which was created by 4chan and where all the romance options are disabled girls.

You can see why I was reluctant, yes? But I KEPT hearing it was worth checking out, and it's free, and I had a cold and was really really bored.

And you know what? I LIKED IT. I mean, sure, it's created by and for men, and the main character can be a bit passive-anime-guy-sexist but it's mostly well below average levels of creepiness for male-gaze-y romance, the treatment of physical disability is pretty thoughtful (not so much mental illness or cognitive impairment :/) and the romances are generally pretty sweet. I'm glad I kept the sex scenes in, they were generally fairly tasteful and fitted organically into the plot, even if the characters look way to young for it to be very sexy (don't worry they're all around 18, and they act it. It's just a cutesy style)
Read more... )
alias_sqbr: Nepeta from Homestuck looking grumpy in front of the f/f parts of her shipping wall (grumpy)
So, I just paid money for a pigeon dating sim(*). Where you date pigeons. Based on the demo, where I had to genuinely ask myself "Which of these pigeons is the cutest?" (in my opinion, the younger guy who hangs out in the library, though that romance really didn't go where I thought it was going to…STOP JUDGING ME)

But seriously, this game is hilarious. If you don't want to play it, even if you find the idea of dating sims utterly unappealing, may I still strongly recommend this thread where a woman plays through the demo with increasing horror and hilarity.

This lead me to a review/"let's play" she did of a Jane Austen dating sim, which was a lot of fun to read (and is even funnier if you've read the pigeon thread and get all the references to which birds match which Austen character) but didn't actually make me want to play the game. The idea has potential, but that potential didn't seem to have been used to much interesting effect.

So now I want to write my own interactive version of Pride and Prejudice where you can punch Wickham in the face and actively flirt with Mr Collins and run off with Charlotte. There would definitely need to be at least one "screw youse all I'm being a spinster and loving it" option. Oh god someone stop me before I start looking up reference images.


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