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#1 Edited by Redhotchilimist (2953 posts) -

I've been eager to play a dating sim lately, but all you ever hear about these games are the weird outliers with gay dads, llama people, disability girls and bird boys. I want some recommendations for a good dating sim that suits my tastes, cause I sure have no idea where to even begin. Some guidelines for what I'm looking for:

  • I want to date women. Not men, anthropomorphic animals, robots, pidgeons, holographic representations of dead people or whatever else might be going on. I'm not super into the bishoujo artstyle, but I get that that's what most of these are gonna be. I prefer characters that are kinda down to earth or nerdy, and I can't stand the whole idol thing in particular.
  • No Katawa Shoujo, I already played it. Thought it was basically fine but a little dull.
  • It can be porny or not, either is fine.
  • I hate the writing in the Huniepop games from what I saw, so none of that whole thing.
  • It's nice if there's a coherent story between all the different routes. My favorite experience with these sorts of games was Tsukihime. That game wasn't just about your romance, it also explored your character and family's backstory and the secret society of vampires and monsters of the setting. Playing through the whole thing left you feeling like you had learned everything and was able to have a relationship that made everyone involved happy, even from the other routes.
  • I've played all the newish Persona and Bioware games except Mass Effect Andromeda, so no need to suggest those if you were thinking of them.
  • It's got to be in English. I've got a PS2, PS3, PS4, Wii and 360, and games on a PC are probably fine. No 3DS or anything. It's nice if it's digital, that's so much easier than trying to dig up an old physical copy of something.

I hope there are a few people here with some good suggestions, thanks in advance.

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#2 Edited by younggryan (66 posts) -

I wouldn't consider mass effect or persona dating sims. I have tried a few actual sims of dating and the best is THE SIMS 2. Just my opinion. I personally don't really care for the genre.

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#3 Edited by LentFilms (1111 posts) -

When you say "dating sim" do you mean something like Tokimeki Memorial or Love Plus where you build up stats in order to date a girl or are you looking for a visual novel where you can date different girls?

I haven't played too many of the former definition but the Sakura Wars games are a great mix of dating sim and strategy RPG, I'd highly recommend So Long My Love on the PS2 or Wii. Also, there isn't a full fan translation available for it yet, but I played a demo for Amagami a few years ago and it was pretty good. Might be worth checking out but again the current fan translation patch only has a little bit of the game in English.

For visual novels I really would recommend Katawa Shoujo, the "disability girls" game. The game is a lot better than it first sounds and it is freeware so you only have to spend your time in order to find out if you'll like it or not. Off the top of my head I'd also recommend Majikoi, which is currently only readable through a fan translation but will be released by JAST USA sometime in the future.

There are many others but that's all I can think of at the moment.

Edit:

Also, the Visual Novel Database is your friend if you are starting at ground zero and are looking for recommendations. Here are dating sims listed by ranking and just visual novels in general, again listed by ranking.

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#4 Posted by liquiddragon (3289 posts) -

The only one I've played is Katawa Shoujo, it's free. I thought it was pretty good. The guy you play as kinda sucks but I could connect with it a bit 'cause the game is all about these ppl with disabilities. If you really like it, the game has plenty of replayability too.

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#5 Posted by hans_maulwurf (640 posts) -

two quality games that I liked a lot and that are free: emily is away and love is strange. emily is away is not gonna give you good feelings or anything, but it's really good. love is strange probably only works if you've played life is strange.

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#6 Edited by Redhotchilimist (2953 posts) -

I tried Katawa Shoujo already and didn't think it was all that. Like, it's basically fine, but nothing in there was particularly doing it for me either. I did the Emi and Haneko routes and gave up halfway into Shizune's route because communicating with her was exhausting.

I'll look into Sakura Wars: So long my love for the wii and Majikoi, but I'm not gonna bother with stuff that's not entirely translated in either a fan or official capacity.

@younggryan said:

I wouldn't consider mass effect or persona dating sims. I have tried a few actual sims of dating and the best is THE SIMS 2. Just my opinion. I personally don't really care for the genre.

Thanks. I wouldn't consider them dating sims either, but it's where I've got my romancing on the past decade so I was sure someone might suggest them.

@lentfilms said:

When you say "dating sim" do you mean something like Tokimeki Memorial or Love Plus where you build up stats in order to date a girl or are you looking for a visual novel where you can date different girls?

I think a visual novel is more my jam, but I'd be open for straight up dating sims if that's where the good stuff is. I don't have a ton of experience with visual novels, but I have zero with the stats type.

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#7 Posted by LentFilms (1111 posts) -
@lentfilms said:

When you say "dating sim" do you mean something like Tokimeki Memorial or Love Plus where you build up stats in order to date a girl or are you looking for a visual novel where you can date different girls?

I think a visual novel is more my jam, but I'd be open for straight up dating sims if that's where the good stuff is. I don't have a ton of experience with visual novels, but I have zero with the stats type.

In that case you may want to try The Fruit of Grisaia, Muv-Luv, or maybe ef. I only have limited experience with these titles, didn't finish them, but they are highly regarded and easily available on Steam or other official channels. And again Sakura Wars: So Long My Love and Majikoi are very good (and Majikoi's fan translation is complete).

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#8 Posted by Socuteboss (251 posts) -

@redhotchilimist:

I get the feeling you've probably played Fate Stay/ Night, but if not you should. Otherwise try Umineko, it's not a dating sim but still a really good VN.

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#9 Posted by kblosnack (351 posts) -

Katawa Shoujo is damn good (nevermind all the 4Chan thing), I only did the Hanako route and there's some deep stuff there

(and it's not that porny IMO)

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#10 Edited by deactivated-5c26fd6917af0 (487 posts) -

Uh... does Digital: A Love Story count? Because that is really good.

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#11 Posted by grandCurator (232 posts) -

Analogue: A Hate Story is very good and I'm also a sucker for Steins;Gate (though you don't date too much in that one, it's just a really good story with nice art).

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#12 Edited by Redhotchilimist (2953 posts) -

@lentfilms said:
@redhotchilimist said:
@lentfilms said:

When you say "dating sim" do you mean something like Tokimeki Memorial or Love Plus where you build up stats in order to date a girl or are you looking for a visual novel where you can date different girls?

I think a visual novel is more my jam, but I'd be open for straight up dating sims if that's where the good stuff is. I don't have a ton of experience with visual novels, but I have zero with the stats type.

In that case you may want to try The Fruit of Grisaia, Muv-Luv, or maybe ef. I only have limited experience with these titles, didn't finish them, but they are highly regarded and easily available on Steam or other official channels. And again Sakura Wars: So Long My Love and Majikoi are very good (and Majikoi's fan translation is complete).

Thanks for all the tips, I've added what I could to my list on Steam and started looking for the rest in other places. Some of them are a bit much to buy sight unseen I think, but I bet it's not that long until another sale anyway.

@socuteboss said:

@redhotchilimist:

I get the feeling you've probably played Fate Stay/ Night, but if not you should. Otherwise try Umineko, it's not a dating sim but still a really good VN.

Yep, already been there. Thought it was pretty good, though not as good as tsukihime. In a writing sense I mean, they sure blew up after that first one, and the production quality was so much higher. I appreciate that Umineko is good(I really liked the anime adaptation of Higurashi, though I've heard Umineko's anime is pretty bad), so I'll keep it in mind but it's not what I'm looking for right now.

@lyisa said:

Uh... does Digital: A Love Story count? Because that is really good.

@hans_maulwurf said:

two quality games that I liked a lot and that are free: emily is away and love is strange. emily is away is not gonna give you good feelings or anything, but it's really good. love is strange probably only works if you've played life is strange.

Are these actually what I'm looking for or are they subversive, short indie stuff that wear the guise of dating visual novels but are more about taking the piss? I think the chat interface thing in two of them look real unappealing, at least. Love is Strange kinda makes me laugh, I did play and like Life is Strange alright, but it's pretty funny that someone wrote a fanfic VN about just the girls going to the school, including the murder victim it seems. I think that's a maybe, so far.

@grandcurator said:

Analogue: A Hate Story is very good and I'm also a sucker for Steins;Gate (though you don't date too much in that one, it's just a really good story with nice art).

Steins;Gate might be cool, I loved the anime adaptation of that too. I suppose it's entirely the same plot but with alternate routes for all the girls Okabe has to help out after he messes up the timeline?

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#13 Posted by viking_funeral (2881 posts) -

I came here to recommend Sakura Wars, but see I was beat to the punch.

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#14 Posted by stordoff (1361 posts) -

Steins;Gate might be cool, I loved the anime adaptation of that too. I suppose it's entirely the same plot but with alternate routes for all the girls Okabe has to help out after he messes up the timeline?

More or less. It's the same basic story but _way_ more in depth (40ish hours vs. the 8 or so for the anime), and there is an ending (they are relatively short so not sure if I would call them a route) for each character based on whether or not Okabe undoes the effects of their D-mail or not, plus a True End (which is _fantastic_).

Pro-tip: This guide is pretty good at getting you to all of the endings with the least amount of repetition and without spoiling stuff along the way.

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#15 Edited by Redhotchilimist (2953 posts) -

@stordoff: Thanks, I'll probably give it a try. That's even on PS4 I think, or at least PS3.

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#16 Posted by clagnaught (2113 posts) -

Undertale let's you date a skeleton man.

When I think about it, I haven't actually played that many dating sims, besides Katawa Shoujo, which I liked, but it sounds like you weren't digging. I've been meaning to play Clannad for years. I don't know how much of a dating sim it is beyond (I'm guessing) selecting which route you want to go down, but it is highly regarded. Besides that, I bought My Girlfriend is the President because of how ridiculous that trailer was, but only played it for an hour. If that's not a recommendation, I don't know what is.

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#17 Posted by Redhotchilimist (2953 posts) -

Undertale let's you date a skeleton man.

When I think about it, I haven't actually played that many dating sims, besides Katawa Shoujo, which I liked, but it sounds like you weren't digging. I've been meaning to play Clannad for years. I don't know how much of a dating sim it is beyond (I'm guessing) selecting which route you want to go down, but it is highly regarded. Besides that, I bought My Girlfriend is the President because of how ridiculous that trailer was, but only played it for an hour. If that's not a recommendation, I don't know what is.

Undead skeleton monster men aren't women, but besides that, I already played it. Clannad is a possibility! That's another one I liked the anime for, After Story more than the first season.

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#18 Posted by WhatsHisFace (745 posts) -

Implying there are good dating sims. Haha, BOOM ROASTED!

...Katawa Shoujo is really good. I had a good time with it anyway. Lilly all the way.

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#19 Posted by TobbRobb (6576 posts) -

@redhotchilimist: If you liked Clannad, you'd probably like other Key stuff too. I like Little Busters a good bit. Likeable characters and there's good incentive to do several routes. Though I suppose watching and reading their stories might not be entirely comparable. I know that I've felt a lot of Visual Novels are kind of poorly paced and drag.

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#20 Posted by Darth_Navster (883 posts) -

@lyisa: Just to piggyback on this, Ladykiller in a Bind is also very good. It’s from the same creator as Digital and came out last year. It is a bit porny, but OP seems ok with that.

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#21 Posted by Rodin (348 posts) -

Grisaia no kajitsu - they are all pretty good and on steam i believe.

A lot of the stuff Air does is pretty great including Clannad, Kanon, Air, little busters and angel beats.

If you can handle some comedic and also not very comedic rape and lots of sex in general the rance series are held in very high regard.

Maji de watashi ni koishinasai! - is great.

Yume Miru Kusuri - is interesting and deals mainly with girls with mental issues, ie depression, drugs abuse etc.

Kamidori Alchemy Meister- If your fine with a bit of a grind heavy rpg this game is pretty good

Cross Channel _ never finished it but it has an interesting premise.

Wanko to Kuraso - Its very sweet, although it does contain animal people (dogs/cats that look like people just with ears and tails.)

Princess walts is a somewhat to long but fun LN with some card based combat.

Edelweiss_ its also pretty cute,

D.C. ~Da Capo~ is also another cute little story.

There are tons more but the above are what come to mind immediately, you should also visit https://vndb.org/ It is an excellent place to search, its basically the giantbomb of Visual Novels.

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#22 Edited by Redhotchilimist (2953 posts) -

Thanks, that's a lot of stuff! I'll jot down what seems interesting and easy to get hold of. Clannad and Steins;Gate are a given since I'm already familiar with their stories and like them, and I might extend that to Key's older stuff too. Grisaia and Muv-Luv are also on my list, and I've heard enough about Rance over the years that I should proooobably give it a go. Edelweiss looks alright.

Ladykiller in a bind is... I dunno, maybe it's great, but it's got one of the the least appealing artstyles I know of. Just judging from the titles of her games and what I assume is her pen name, Christine Love's writing also seems totally like not my thing in any way. It's in my wheelhouse thematically though, and it's readily available and cheap, so I'm 50/50 on it. Maybe.

I'm gonna check out Majikoi for sure at the very least, but some of these are just gonna have to wait until they go on sale. Some are like a decade old and still 30 bucks. Actually most of them are old, looks like even the fastest ones to make it over took years.

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#23 Edited by LentFilms (1111 posts) -

Some are like a decade old and still 30 bucks. Actually most of them are old, looks like even the fastest ones to make it over took years.

Yeah, visual novels have only just become popular in the West over the last few years, I would say that the genre's popularity really started to grow in 2012 with the release of Katawa Shoujo. So a lot of the English publishers have been playing catch up to localize the more popular/famous titles that were released in Japan in the early 2000s, during the genre's boom period. However, there have been some recent examples of VNs being translated very soon after they were released in Japan, such as Steins;Gate 0 coming out in the West less than a year after Japan and the recent Grisaia: Phantom Trigger being published in English territories simultaneously with Japan.

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#24 Posted by AlvaroFAraujo (364 posts) -

I might be late to this topic but here are some of my preferences and taste:

1. I mostly play VN that have story and rpg elements to it. It keeps me entertained and focused on other objectives

2. You should check Mangagamer for recent releases, since they have a team oriented to just localizing visual novels

3. In this website you can check for language patches :https://vndb.org/

4. My suggestions are eroge but some lighter than others

My Picks:

- True Love - And old (1995) - https://vndb.org/v241 It has a light eroge content, but consists on a story about a student that you manage who gains attributes by performing tasks that you personally pick, some girls are interested in something particular others have past relationships with you.

- Kingdom - Not as old as the TL - https://vndb.org/r58 Similar to the previous one, but now you control the movement and activities.

- Fate Stay Night - This one is popular - https://vndb.org/v11 I played this because I wanted to reach some conclusions after watching the first iteration about the anime, where they only focus the story on one heroine route. This one is the most different from all of them because its very text based and no RPG elements to it.

- The Rance Series - This has to be my favorite series so far, the gameplay is far the better of this list but it has some content problems considering most of the times is not consensual, but then again its an Alice Soft game, the character was created like that, gained popularity throughout its story lines and the devs aren't going to change their main character tropes. The game is very VERY hard sometimes and its big on content. I recommenced the https://vndb.org/v2047 since its the latest localized but early enough in the series where you meet most characters here.

- Brave Soul - Back to the old stuff - https://vndb.org/v117 - This was my first VN RPG, and had a ton of fun with it. Is much lighter than the Rance series on eroge content but as great RPG nonetheless. You even have a ng+ option that unlocks different routes and answers for who your pet dragon might be.

- Kamidori Alchemy Meister - https://vndb.org/v5652 - If you want an interactive VN with a ton of crazy stuff in a fantasy world that is less over the top on the "sex" than the rance series but offers 3 main routes besides the ng+ content you can find it here. This RPG can be hard sometimes.

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#25 Posted by clagnaught (2113 posts) -

@clagnaught said:

Undertale let's you date a skeleton man.

When I think about it, I haven't actually played that many dating sims, besides Katawa Shoujo, which I liked, but it sounds like you weren't digging. I've been meaning to play Clannad for years. I don't know how much of a dating sim it is beyond (I'm guessing) selecting which route you want to go down, but it is highly regarded. Besides that, I bought My Girlfriend is the President because of how ridiculous that trailer was, but only played it for an hour. If that's not a recommendation, I don't know what is.

Undead skeleton monster men aren't women, but besides that, I already played it. Clannad is a possibility! That's another one I liked the anime for, After Story more than the first season.

Undertale was a joke ;)

Yeah, I really liked the Clannad animes, and I have been meaning to play it forever. From my understanding it is also an incredibly long game too.

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#26 Posted by Redhotchilimist (2953 posts) -

@alvarofaraujo: Some of these just look too old and cumbersome, but I'm considering that Rance game specifically.

@lentfilms: Maybe I should go for Phantom Trigger just to get a game that's actually from 2017, lol.

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#27 Edited by stordoff (1361 posts) -

@redhotchilimist: I don't know how heavily it gets into the dating aspect (rather than just being a VN), but FWIW my first 15 hours or so with Chaos;Child have been favourable (just released in Europe, out in just over a week in the US).

It's set in the same universe as Steins;Gate (very loosely connected though so far - shared themes, similar musical style, and a possible vague reference to a character from S;G), which probably gives you some idea of the style/tone. Writing is strong (there's a fair number of typos, but they don't really hinder readability), the characters are interesting, and the premise its setup so far is intriguing.

Don't know if it sticks the landing (I've heard good things though), but may be worth a look.

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#28 Edited by LentFilms (1111 posts) -

@redhotchilimist: Well newer doesn't always mean better. From what I've heard the consensus by fans is that Phantom Trigger is pretty mediocre. Plus the game is completely linear so there are no alternate routes for each girl or dialogue choices of any kind, unlike the other Griasia games. Stordoff already beat me to the punch on this but if you want a new VN that has been getting some great buzz recently then Chaos;Child might be up your alley. It is more of a murder mystery than a dating sim but there are routes for each of the girl in the game. A lot of VN fans have been saying Chaos;Child is one of the best titles they've played in recent years and you don't need to have played other games in the series to enjoy it. Here is a good video that explains why you should maybe be excited about its upcoming American release on October 24th:

Loading Video...

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#29 Posted by Bamse (66 posts) -

...my sister?

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#30 Posted by Belegorm (1848 posts) -

Not really a "dating sim" but Princess Maker 2 on Steam is pretty rad and does the "complete various activities to raise stats" aspect well.

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#31 Edited by Redhotchilimist (2953 posts) -

@lentfilms: @stordoff: Chaos;Child seems great, but it's not exactly what I'm looking for, I think. I guess it depends on what the balance of cute anime girls and grisly murders are like, but it seems way more like a murder mystery than a romance.

@belegorm: Wow that's an old pull. I have played some time management sims before and some are alright, but yeah, I don't think this is quite what I want either.

@bamse: What's your sister's Metacritic score?

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#32 Posted by Bamse (66 posts) -

@redhotchilimist: oh she's a sturdy 6 for sure, but the constant micro transactions needed to progress with her might glitch your system. Not to mention the various dlc and add-ons in demand for hardware upgrades for no apparent reason... Yeah good luck with that.

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#33 Posted by Belegorm (1848 posts) -

@redhotchilimist: Hmm then let me add my recommendation of True Love, it's also old (1995) but is a dating sim-ass dating sim.

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#34 Posted by LentFilms (1111 posts) -
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#35 Posted by Mupod (44 posts) -

I remember trying to explain Persona 3 to people by saying it was True Love + Jojo's Bizarre Adventure + SMT.

OP you like Tsukihime so you are a cool guy in my book. Give Majikoi a shot, it's already been recommended several times I see.

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#36 Posted by Ravelle (3296 posts) -

You should try Thousand Arms. It's a PS1 turn based JRPG but with the looks of a 90's anime. The girl you go out with and how well do actually impacts the gameplay, your girlfriend stands next and helps you craft weapons and allows you to make special type of weapons, gives you extra buffs in combat and has chance's story a bit.