Adding a romantic element to a game is often a good way of getting people invested in characters, but dating sim games do away with all that pesky gameplay and get right to the flirtation.
Dating sim games aren’t everybody’s cup of tea; they’re a subset of visual novels, meaning the emphasis is less on gameplay and more on story and character. They’re typically fun little diversions like Hatoful Boyfriend, rather than deep and involved narratives like The Witcher, meaning many people who like action-oriented games will find them boring or tedious.
But for people who like romance plots and want a little break from the action, dating sim games are perfect. While many big games include marriage and romance plots, sometimes the focus gets lost, the characters aren’t developed enough to make romance satisfying, or we’d just like a little more romance out of them.
Here are a few great series that we’d love to see get the dating sim treatment.
The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim: Lizards are Fine, But You Can’t Date a Cat
Skyrim did so many things right: it’s an unbelievable blast to play, with a huge open world, customizable combat, and dragons. While the attention to detail makes for an amazing game, there’s one area where Bethesda could have done more: romance.
Marriage is already available in the game, but anyone without modding capability is out of luck when it comes to some of the game’s best characters. Great warriors and stuff-carriers though they might be, many of Skyrim‘s companions are strangely devoid of personality, meaning while they might be perfectly okay to make you food and give you buffs, they’re not all that much fun to hang around.
That’s precisely why it needs the dating sim treatment—there are plenty of intriguing characters in Skyrim, they just aren’t romanceable. Take most of the members of the Thieves’ Guild, for instance: Brynjolf, Sapphire, and Vex are all intriguing characters with distinct personalities, but none of them can be romanced. All of Skyrim‘s Jarls are similarly unavailable, as is fan favorite Serana, the ancient vampire. Also strange is the fact that while there are Argonians and Orsimer available for marriage, there are no Khajiit or Bosmer willing to accept your Amulet of Mara and settle down.
The solution? A standalone dating sim. It might be silly, but who doesn’t want to hear a few more lines of dialog from M’aiq the Liar?
BioWare Games Just Have Too Many Characters to Love
Admittedly, a good chunk of any BioWare game is already dedicated to romantic subplots and, typically, they’re excellent. But with so many great characters, some people are bound to be disappointed that their favorite isn’t a romantic option, and for those people, a standalone dating sim is the perfect answer.
While the romantic plots of BioWare games are often already deep and involved, dedicating a standalone dating sim would add a little extra for those who love that aspect of the games. And for people who prefer an intriguing side character to BioWare’s selection of love interests, a secondary dating sim could provide the chance for players to get to know some other well-loved characters a little better.
Mass Effect‘s Kasumi is a popular choice, as are Aria T’Loak, owner of Omega nightclub Afterlife, asari Justicar Samara, Normandy pilot Joker, and squad member James Vega (while you can hook up with the character in a DLC, he’s not available as a romance option in the core game).
In the Dragon Age series, characters like Lace Harding, Krem, and Varric (or any dwarf—like Skyrim, the series has a strange blind spot when it comes to certain races) are the subject of a lot of love despite not actually being romanceable.
While BioWare probably won’t ever be interested in creating a dating sim version of their hit games, they’d undoubtedly be a great success thanks to how much affection fans have for their characters.
Fable Features Tons of Marriable Characters but Few Personalities
The Fable series is another one where you can certainly marry characters, but the ones you might want to marry never seem to be available. Instead of having a slew of deep and intriguing characters, like BioWare, the Fable series, especially later games, have tons of marriable characters but few with any personality whatsoever.
While the easiest solution would probably be to give more of the NPCs some personality, that might be a lot to ask from a series where doing a chicken dance is a viable method of befriending someone. The romance options are particularly egregious in Fable III, where, out of tons of characters, only a few are unique and even less are romanceable. While many players fell head over heels for Captain Ben Finn, he, and the other allies, remained stubbornly unromanceable. The same goes for fan-favorite Reaver who, despite being evil, has quite the following—something about his charisma gets people heavily invested.
Instead, the only unique romanceable characters are Elise/Elias and Veronica/Vincent, depending on the hero’s gender. This is another instance where a standalone dating sim would enhance what we’re already given. Because the plot of the Fable series isn’t really about romance, personalities and love stories could be better explored outside of the main game. Instead, we’ll just have to keep chicken-dancing our way into the hearts of every NPC we come across.
What games would you like to see get the dating sim treatment?