Love is a powerful emotion that can be expressed in so many ways. Pain, laughter, anger, and sorrow are all a part of the spectrum of passion. We all express our love in different ways, and there are a thousand different types of love to be celebrated on Valentine's Day. Being one of the most complex emotions, it should be no surprise that game designers have tailored an experience to capture each powerful expression of love.
Love can be lighthearted, creating memories of laughter, leading to some whimsical digital adventures that don't take themselves too seriously. It is also full of passion, quick choices, and indecision, which many dating simulators try to capture. Love is also full of pain that is bittersweet, and there are games that explore these feelings in great detail too. Whatever kind of love you are looking for this year, this list is sure to have something to offer you.
9 Hatoful Boyfriend
Based originally on an April Fools' prank, it should be no surprise that this game does not take itself seriously in any way, shape, or form. Hatoful Boyfriend is a visual novel-style game, where all the characters besides the protagonist are birds. That's right: The goal of this dating sim is to find a sapient bird to court and fall in love with.
Hatoful Boyfriend is a great game for those who are looking for a lighter take on love this holiday season. This game has high replay value and is incredibly well written for the absurd topic that it covers. The lore of this silly bird dating sim is surprisingly deep and shockingly dark. In other words, if you are sucked into the charming world of this game, be ready for something more sinister around the corner.
8 Cafe Enchante
For those looking for a more passionate love affair, look no further than the Cafe Enchante. After protagonist Kontone inherits her grandfather's cafe in Tokyo, she is young and ready to find love, and who better to find it with than one of the many beautiful patrons that enter her shop daily? Already the premise is dripping with romantic tension, but wait, it gets better.
The cafe is actually home to a portal to other worlds, and her patrons include the dashingly handsome king of demons, fallen angels, and other mystically troubled souls. Passion explodes from every scene of this game, and it feels more like a strikingly dramatic Hallmark movie than a dating simulator.
7 Dream Daddy
From the minds who brought you Game Grumps comes this heartwarming visual novel that breaks all the rules. Typically, dating sims are about a young boy who has been thrust into the arms of several girls who vie for his attention. Game Grumps flipped this theme on its head, putting the player in control of a lonely single father who just moved into a new town and is looking for love… in the arms of one of the other local dads!
This LGBTQ+ friendly adventure will warm your heart and give you a few laughs along the way. This game was developed by professional comedians, yet is not nearly as absurd as the other entries on this list and has its fair share of touching moments.
6 Stardew Valley
This game is far more than a farming simulator. Stardew Valley follows you, a burnt-out office drone, who moves to the countryside to take over their late grandfather's farm. The village of Stardew is tiny, with only about 40 inhabitants. While farming is your first goal, you will soon find yourself learning more about the villagers and growing closer with each one.
Stardew Valley gives players a look not only into love but a side of love that media rarely covers. Stardew shows you that relationships, especially romantic ones, take months and years to develop. Relationships have to be maintained and cared for each day, much like a crop, and they can wither and die away if left forgotten.
5 My Horse Prince
Now back to the world of bizarre love stories and bizarre is the best word to describe this mobile game. The story follows a businesswoman who is unhappy with her lot in life. Seeking to change this and her status as single, she decides to follow her true passion and visits a ranch to care for horses.
Upon arrival, however, she finds that the horse there has the face of an attractive man. Only the face. She is apparently the only one who sees the horse this way, and it is in all other respects a normal horse. Long story short, she adopts the animal, and they enter races together to earn a new living. As strange and slightly uncomfortable as the premise is, the game did bless us with unbelievably hilarious splash art that haunts the internet to this day.
4 NieR: Automata
To love is to be human… or is it? NieR: Automata's story takes a hard look at this philosophical question. This game follows the travels of androids 2B and 9S on the bombed-out ruins of Earth, far into the future. In this timeline, every last human died long ago, and only robots remain to inhabit the ruins of Earth.
2B and 9S encounter robots who have been left alone for centuries and have developed their own little societies and even families. As the game progresses it becomes more obvious that the robots are capable of displaying emotions, and even that 2B and 9S are developing them too – for each other. This game delivers a powerful message that being human isn't all about your chemical makeup and that the human spirit will surpass us long after we are gone.
3 House Party
For all you casual lovers out there, this is the game for you. House Party follows the protagonist who has been invited to, you guessed it, a house party. The whole goal of the game is to find a love interest at the party, and follow their quest line to the "natural conclusion."
Some characters have beef with one another, which means you can't hook up with both on the same playthrough. This in no way means that you are limited to a single partner for the night though. So break out the breath mints and your best pickup lines, because you only have one night to find a hookup.
2 Monster Prom
Monster Prom is a nice center area between goofy and serious romance. The game features a main character who goes to a monster high school. While there, they meet a number of attractive ghouls and goblins. The goal of the game is to romance a fellow student and take them to prom with you. Ghosts, demons, gorgons, and vampires are just a few spooks who make up the roster of romance for this game.
Many players may be drawn to this game for its inclusiveness. The game allows the main character to choose their gender and pronouns, leading to a much more relatable courting experience. Another draw to the game is that it supports up to four-person multiplayer, so you can drag your friends or real-life partner to the mix with you.
1 To The Moon
To The Moon is a beautifully painful RPG where the player controls both the sharp-witted Eva Rosalene and the lovingly bumbling Neil Watts. They are doctors who work for what is essentially a reverse Make-A-Wish Foundation. They have to make the final wish of a dying person come true. There is a catch though.
These people are elderly and frail and thus cannot leave their beds. To combat this, the doctors enter the patient's memories and alter them to make the person's wish come true. In the case of dying Johnny, he wants to visit the moon before he passes. More details would ruin the story, but know that this is perhaps one of the greatest love stories of all time, and one worth experiencing.
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