Genre: Adventure, Simulation
System: Nintendo Switch (Also on Steam, Playstation 4, Xbox One, Mac, & Linux)
Developers | Publishers: Akaba Studio | Ratalaika Games
Age Rating: US Everyone | EU 3+
Price: US $4.99 | EU € 4,99 | UK £4.99
Release Date: September 10, 2021
Review code used, with many thanks to Ratalaika Games
LoveChoice is a sweet point-and-click adventure visual novel. It centres around the story of three couples, each with their own sets of problems and circumstances. Will love prevail in this short title?
What’s Love Got To Do With It?
In LoveChoice, you get to play three characters who are in various states of relationship: one adult couple is meeting for the first time at a game jam, childhood friends develop a long-distance relationship, and a long-married couple struggles to keep the spark in their relationship.
Upon hitting “Start”, the player is given the choice between 3 sections: “Love Game”, “Love Distance”, and “Love Detective” which are about the adult couple, kids, and married couple respectively. However, despite the supposed choice, it’s actually a requirement to play 2 endings in “Love Game” to unlock “Love Distance” and then an ending in that section to unlock “Love Detective”. A fun mechanic, even if the mystery fiend in me wanted to start with “Detective”.
Your Choices Matter
The primary mechanic of LoveChoice is the dialogue options that you get to make. The player may pick between 1-4 choices that influence the relationship for better or for worse. Some insight can be gained into how to approach the situation by interacting with the environment. This is where the game’s mechanics come into play. LoveChoice is a point-and-click adventure and it executes that aspect fairly well for the most part.
As someone who has played her fair share of visual novels, I quickly caught on to the choices and doing activities such as reading a Twitter feed to get information. However, I was pleasantly surprised to see that choices weren’t limited to the dialogue – clicking on items or people and other times not making a choice also impacted the story. Depending on those choices – along with the occasional minigame – the player will gain one of several endings for the respective couple. An album on the main screen keeps track of important events and ending scenes that the player has achieved.
The game is simple to control. The joysticks move the cursor around the scene while the “A” button is used to interact with an object, person, or to choose an option. They are super intuitive and easy with the joy-cons and Pro controller. As for the minigames, the controls are basically the same. The challenge in those comes more from needing to pay attention more than anything else.
However, the controls are not without their faults. I recall getting stuck on one scene after clicking through every option in the environment multiple times – only to have to click a very particular button in a certain way to trigger the escape. The other issue is that what can be interacted with is not highlighted or made clear to the player. That can lead to long periods of clicking around the scene just to see what will react. Having a highlighter or a hint system to help would have been a welcome addition to the game.
Art & Music
The art in LoveChoice is excellently executed. It’s a simple style that is just charming to look at and interact with. In combination with the emotional music and the sincere connections between each couple, the game comes in a simple but effective package.
Pros and Cons
For such a short game, the stories and lessons within hit hard and heavy. I found myself being touched and thrilled for a game to tackle the realities of relationships – positive, negative, and in-between. It was a refreshing romp, even if I beat it in a couple of hours. Exploring and playing around with different choices led the story in interesting ways.
The only drawbacks were the awkward wording and aforementioned controls. In some places, the phrasing felt a little too formal and wooden. However, the mechanics, story, and overall sweetness of the game more than made up for these minor issues.
LoveChoice is a delightful little anthology that I absolutely got a kick out of. It had strong stories, interesting mechanics, beautiful art and music, and some real-life truths about relationships. It also had plenty of moments that made me go “aww” as you can check out in my stream of the game here. There were only a few small drawbacks in the controls and slightly awkward writing.
Overall, LoveChoice is a wholesome, but honest examination of relationships. I highly recommend it!
Final Verdict: I Like It a Lot.