Date sims, or dating simulators—popular especially in Japan—have increased their notoriety in the west in recent years, and how not to do it? It is a genre that skillfully and charmingly combines the romantic element with the interactive within the story.
They place you in a place of power where, regardless of your social skills, you end up getting what you want. Whether you make a decision or another, or which character you fall in love with, you enjoy fantastic locations and situations through a magical and rich narrative.
Whether it’s your first time entering this genre, or a frequent activity, there are hundreds of factors that differentiate some simulators from others, making them more attractive, fun or interesting for a certain general public.
What makes a date sim good?
Maybe it’s the atmosphere and memorable characters that catch you, maybe it’s the challenges and mini-games, or a compelling story what makes you addicted to a date sim.
The top things to look for when downloading dating sims are:
1. The theme and sexual nuance.
Before downloading any date sim, by recommendation or not, you have to know what theme defines it and what sexual nuance it has.
There are thousands of simulators, each classified within a different genre according to their target audience, sub-classified according to a specific topic and sub-classified according to their level of sexual content.
Thus, there are dating sims aimed at heterosexual male, female (Otome) or homosexual (Boys ‘Love / Girls’ Love), and divided according to genres such as science fiction, drama, or adventure, covering topics ranging from the typical cliché of life in high school to exotic encounters with vampires in the seventeenth century.
Important is to highlight their level of sexual content, some being more entertaining and focused on the development of the plot, like others whose sole purpose is to allow the player to have sex with a character in the simulation.
Those totally explicit are included within a category of this genre known as “Eroge”.
2. The dating.
Once you know what you are looking for, you must know what it offers you. Whether the game offers the option of finding your ideal love or having a good time with one or more of the dates, all the fun must be in the process, not the end.
For that, the game must offer multiple options, with different personalities for the NPCs’ (Non-Playable Character) to not group them just by physical characteristics but by their background, likes, and dislikes that identify you as a player.
3. The challenge.
Every game offers a challenge, and dating sims should not be the exception.
You know your platonic love, you know by heart your background, your tastes, what you hate most, your pattern of behavior, and your responses to emotional interaction.
The simulator should be able to put obstacles, barriers that force you to interact with the fantastic world around you to overcome the challenges that are imposed, give and receive to get hooked on the plot, and make the game a fun experience.
4. Emotional feedback.
The key element of a date sim is the emotional attachment, to make you feel in love with the character in front of you and develop emotions that trigger involuntary reactions, such as a smile, a flush, or a grimace.
Likewise, there must be a feedback from the NPC, several emotional components must be arranged within the game to make the NPC feel like a real date, with physical and emotional responses rather than rational ones.
5. The conclusion.
What does the conclusion of the simulator offer? The plot must trigger a conquest, which is either sour or sweet, making you want to repeat it over and over again, with different dates and different endings.
The date sim must offer a variety of experiences, and if not, at least one “happily ever after” reason to delve into the history of each of the NPCs.
The best dating simulators are those with a larger and, hopefully, more philosophical plot goal, which runs parallel to the goal of courtship. The end not only has to depend on a choice of partner but also decisions and actions that impact the world that embraces the plot.