Game: Lover Pretend
Genre: Adventure Game, Visual Novel
System: Nintendo Switch
Developer | Publisher: Idea Factory | Otomate | Aksys Games
Age Rating: EU 12+ | US T
Price: UK £44.99 | EU €49,99 | US $49.99
Release date: December 1st, 2022
Review code used with many thanks to Reef Entertainment.
The Nintendo Switch is getting another Otome game, made by Idea Factory and Otomate and published by Aksys game. Let’s see if this one is of the quality we have come to expect! And if you’ve already bought the game, here is our walkthrough.
Chiyuki Has Two Dreams…
The main character of this story is Chiyuki Ueda. She is a college student with the dream of pursuing a screenwriter career, like her late mother. Her other dream is to find out who her father is. Her late grandmother reveals it is probably a coworker from the show ‘Pretend to Love’ that they both worked on. But there is one problem. Chiyuki has no experience with romance because she has lived alone for a while and has had no romantic relationships.
But, through a stroke of luck, Chiyuki’s writing teacher presents her with an amazing opportunity, being his screenwriter assistant on a new and unknown movie that is directed by the same director as Pretend to Love. Here she can get a foot in the door as a screenwriter, find out who her dad might be and maybe even get some romance experience. When she starts working on the movie things start to take a surprising turn…
At the start, it seems that none of the routes are locked, but after playing Riku’s route the final route will be unlocked Eiichirou’s route. So, this one has to be the last to play. I found online that there wasn’t a specific recommended route order for this game. So, I went along with what I felt like playing. This is my playing order: Kazuma Kamikubo -> Yukito Sena -> Harumi Makino -> Riku Nishijima -> Eiichirou Asagi.
Kazuma is Chiyuki’s childhood friend, they have been friends since junior high and they were in school together until college, when they chose different career paths. Kazumi started his cosmetics school to become a stylist, which means he does clients’ make-up and hair for photoshoots, movies, etc.
My first impression of him was that he was very loud and not afraid to let his opinions be heard, no matter the situation. He is also a very noble guy, who wants to do the right thing. But in saying this, he loves to tease Chiyuki and puts her in awkward situations.
Throughout this route I loved their dynamic, they often argued like an old married couple and that made me smile. In the story, I found Kazuma very endearing at times and I felt for him when he was trying to convey his feelings toward Chiyuki.
Two words to describe Yukito: ladies’ man. His father worked on the set of Pretend to Love years ago and his son Yukito is no stranger to the spotlight. Yukito is first and foremost a model, but when the auditions start for a new Makino film, Yukito does not hesitate to audition for the new film. He feels this is the chance to prove himself in the film industry.
But as with every ladies’ man in an Otome game, they fall for the girl who is not interested in them and is immune to his cheesy pick-up lines. This is no exception. He loves to tease the MC with his flirting tactics because he knows they won’t affect her, and especially like her embarrassed reactions. This is an enemy-to-lover trope of sorts, especially from Chiyuki’s side. But once she sees the real Yukito she falls head over heels, and I admit I feel the same.
Harumi is the son of the famous director Yuzo Makino. He has been given the chance to intern on the new film, the same as Chiyuki, in the role of assistant director. He is in the same year of college as Chiyuki and before this, he studied abroad since he is half Japanese and half English. We even find out he has his own fan club of girls.
He seems very shy and if he talks, he talks quietly and direct. But this is all thrown out the window when he starts talking about his passion, anime. This is clearly his one true love, and this is what creates his bond with Chiyuki.
Honestly, I can very much relate to Harumi. He doesn’t do well with crowds, has imposter syndrome and he loves anime. This describes me to a T. What is there not to find adorable. 🙂
Riku is a very well-known actor in the film world. He started acting from a young age, even having a part in Pretend to Love. He got this role through his father Kosuke Nishijima, who back in the day was also a famous actor. In the present day, his father’s acting days are somewhat over but he is trying to live through his son by managing his career.
At first, I thought he was putting on an act by being very nice to the people in the industry, and it turns out he sort of is? When he really wants something, he will do anything to get it even use dirty tactics, which really made me laugh a couple of times, but it also made me angry. It was sort of a toss-up. This route was the most intense one for me, I was super into the story, and I actually felt the emotions Chiyuki was feeling (on a smaller scale of course). My favourite route by far.
At first, we come to know him as Chiyuki’s writing professor. But as it turns out he is a super well-known screenwriter in the film business. He advises Chiyuki on her script drafts about two or three times a month. In the story, he is hired to write the script for the new project Makino is working on. And once again his father was also a famous screenwriter. If you haven’t noticed, this is a theme in the game.
At the start of the game, there aren’t really any traits that stand out about him. In general, he seems kind and caring and wants to give Chiyuki the chance to prove herself. But for some reason in his route, he gives me some slightly creepy vibes, especially because he is so much older than Chiyuki and for some other reasons…
Visuals and Sound
I loved how colourful this game was, from the characters to the background colouring, it made me very happy. The CGs (Computer Graphics) also had a lot of different mood lighting which really set the right tone for the image. And let’s also talk about the character design, I thought the characters were stunning, from their features to the clothing design. I am often more swayed by a game if the characters are beautiful and I would surely give this game bonus points just for that.
One thing I would also like to point out is the background visuals. They were beautiful and some of them were super detailed. I definitely spent time scanning the background for details.
I enjoyed the background soundtrack, especially the sadder themes. Which I am always a sucker for, for some reason. It fit the modern theme of the game well.
The opening theme LoverPretend by Mitsuki Nakae is really catchy and it got me excited about the game. But let’s talk about my favourite song, the ending theme Hajimari no Uta, also by Mitsuki Nakae. This is such a beautiful song and it’s definitely something I would add to one of my playlists.
There are two things to note when playing Lover Pretend. The first one is the Love indication and the second and biggest one is the Pretend Game.
The Love indication is very simple and has been done before in other Otome games. When you are in the love interests’ route, these hearts will show up when you have chosen the romantic response. It is a useful tool to know if you are on the right track.
This is a minigame that will have an effect on your relationships. They are often conversations where Chiyuki (you, the player) has to convince the other person of something or get information about something. Each time you will get two options to choose from and when choosing the right answer the puzzle pieces will disappear, to make the ‘image’ clear. For a visual see the image below.
I admit that when Lover Pretend was announced it immediately caught my eye because of the beautiful graphics. And I must say I wasn’t disappointed. The graphics are amazing, which set the mood perfectly and got me excited. When I started playing, I did notice that the routes were a little shorter than in some other Otome games. But the storylines and characters more than made up for this. It kept me spellbound, I even forgot to write review notes at some points because I was so into it.
The story itself I thought was interesting, especially because the main character is not necessarily the centre of the story. She is just an assistant to the screenwriter, rather than becoming an actual famous actress for example. You could say she is a woman living in a man’s world, but there is also something to say about following your own dreams and that it doesn’t always have to be super glamorous, as long as you’re happy.
One other fun detail I noticed was in the background design. In a couple of scenes, you are in a studio hallway or a club room and there are posters on the wall of none other than Piofiore, Variable Barricade and Collar Malice. I thought this was a fun easter egg.
A minor point for me was Chiyuki’s search for her father. A lot of the time this plot point was a bit neglected. This wasn’t too much of a bother for me, but why make it such a big plot point at first. Something I should also mention was that in rare instances there were some typos.
Lastly, let’s talk about the pretend game. They could have left it out and Lover Pretend wouldn’t change. The games could have been regular conversations but I didn’t like the stress of choosing between two options with a timer added. However, it did bring something new to the game, which I applaud.
I would absolutely recommend Lover Pretend. It does have some small flaws but those are nothing compared to how fun and beautifully made this game is. Every route was enjoyable to play, which does not happen often for me. This would be a good Otome game to add to your collection.
Final verdict: I like it a lot