Author Topic: Lover Pretend (Switch) Review Mini  (Read 1520 times)

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Offline Shaymin

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Lover Pretend (Switch) Review Mini
« on: January 25, 2023, 09:26:03 AM »

…we’re just going to pretend there are four stories in this romance set.

I’m not going to pretend that I have knowledge about how to write romance, which actually helped me relate to the main character of Lover Pretend, the newest Aksys / Idea Factory collaboration. From the 10,000-foot view, it’s a technically strong story, but you always want to hit the first and last big spot of the match. And it’s the latter of those where Lover Pretend blows its tires.

Our protagonist in Lover Pretend (default name: Chiyuki) is a student at a Japanese art university where she is majoring in screenwriting. She’s trying to take after her late mother, who wrote a famous movie called “Pretend to Love” before she died, while also working multiple jobs as she has no living relatives she knows of and has to put herself through school. Her screenwriting teacher - who notes that Chiyuki has trouble writing romance - invites her to participate in auditions for a film where her childhood friend is on the crew, and is introduced to the young assistant director, a model looking to transition into acting, and the inevitable leading man. Events transpire that force the protagonist to be in love with one of the prior four characters, which inevitably leads to actual romance if the right choices are made. It’s a solid premise, and the amount of “pretending” required does gain intensity the higher up the industry food chain you go.

Lover Pretend has a three chapter common route and then the main four suitors each unlock four additional chapters to chase their best (extended relationship) ending. The main gimmick of the game is “Pretend Time,” a series of three to five A/B questions that have a time limit to make a selection. Saving is offered before each one, which was greatly appreciated. A nice touch is that after getting the first good ending, the Pretend Time events on the common route can be skipped with a choice of options for specific “correct answer” percentages if you’re trying to set up a specific ending.

Although the four main suitors are typically chaste stories (nothing more intense than some French kisses and one topless scene from the male model), there is a fifth story that unlocks if all four of the best endings are obtained. It’s the shortest path (four chapters) and the only one that directly addresses the question of who the protagonist’s father is. BUT it’s a relationship with someone at least a decade older than the 21 year old protagonist (strike 1) who is also their screenwriting teacher at university (strike 2), AND is also employing the protagonist as an assistant (strike 3). It also goes for the fake out of focusing on familial love, but then leaving the door open for the relationship to become romantic by way of direct confirmation that they aren’t directly related (adoption is involved). As far as endings go, I probably should have skipped that one.

Standard dating rule is (age of older partner / 2) + 7 - 31/2 + 7 = 22.5. Houston, we have a problem.

If there were any egregious typos in the game, I didn’t notice them; it’s one of the most solid editing jobs that Aksys has done thus far. There’s a good amount of environmental variety, and the re-use is reasonably explained. (Someone really likes going to amusement parks, and there are dates on a couple of routes, so the amusement park comes up multiple times after the common route.) The music isn’t much to write home about, though it does work well as a podcast game.

Between Pokemon Scarlet / Violet and this, I really hope I don’t have any games in the future that could be great but that I have to start docking for egregious issues. A bad ending to a story isn’t as bad as game-spanning tech issues, but the end result ends up being the same; a game worth recommending, but with some major caveats. Especially when the story is 95% of the reason to play the game.

Donald Theriault - News Editor, Nintendo World Report / 2016 Nintendo World Champion
Tutorial box out.