Welcome, friends, to the Twilight Howl, where we delve into the intricacies of remote socialization. Mostly through games. Online games. Games where you play with other people. This is a game review blog, okay?
But not today.
Valentine's day. A day dedicated to love and romance where those who have significant others in their lives spend their money on cards, chocolates and flowers with anatomically incorrect hearts as a theme while others spend the day sharing memes about being single on social media or write stuff about Valentine's Day on gaming blogs.
What does this mean for Woolfie?
Romance as a theme has been present throughout gaming history. We have roleplaying games where the main character has a source of romantic tension either as a companion throughout the game or as someone that they're chasing after throughout the story. We have Italian Plumbers courting royalty by stomping on mushrooms and turtles. We have triple-A games where the player can make choices that not just affect the story as a whole but also their character's romantic options, until the devs butcher the ending causing outrage amongst the players. We have massively multiplayer online roleplaying games where players have the option of marrying each other. We have visual novels where the gameplay involves reading and clicking, and maybe the occasional decision making in an attempt to reach a good ending, usually in a romantic, if not downright steamy, manner. These may include pigeons and dinosaurs.
And then we have dating sims.
Dating simulators, or dating sims, have been confused with visual novels for a long time. The most basic difference between the two genres is statistics. No, really, while both genres can be text heavy, dating sims have numbers. A lot of numbers. You spend the vast majority of your time balancing your character's RPG-style stats in a futile attempt to be the ideal person for your targeted character, until that time where you fumble a single in-game day and watch your relationship meters plummet.
Since the first big dating sim - Tokimeki Memorial - released in 1994, aspects of dating sims have been used in other, less niche genres, such as social links and inter-character relationships boosting stats in roleplaying games. Unfortunately, the dating sim genre is extremely niche outside of Japan, and thanks to certain browser-based Flash games, have been given a reputation for being solely, ahem, Not Safe For Work.
Brain, you interject, why the heck are you talking about a niche genre?
You know how I mentioned that this is not a game review earlier? Yeah, the review comes on Wednesday. Review for what, you ask?
Well, this Valentine's Day, Woolfie's quartet of quarrelsome quacks plays a Dating Sim Visual Novel (I know, I know) where Bob gets friendzoned by a werewolf, Jacob tries to catfish a ghost, Stevia courts a genocidal mermaid and I try my best to get a 400-year old vampire crowned as Prom King.
That's right, Woolfie plays Monster Prom.