New to otome games? Heard of them and don’t know where to begin? You’re in the right place.
What is an otome game?
Copied from Wikipedia, “an otome game (乙女ゲーム otome gēmu, literally “girl game”) is a story based video game that is targeted towards the female market. Generally one of the goals, besides the main plot goal, is to develop a romantic relationship between the female player character and one of several male, or occasionally female characters.”
It’s a sub-genre of the visual novel genre of video games. You could consider it also a sub-genre of the dating sim genre, which is a sub-genre of the visual novel genre of video games. The target audience is female and usually features anime-style artwork.
How do otome games work?
You play as the (usually) female protagonist. In some games you choose a male suitor to be with and play through their route, seeking to choose answers that will increase your affection rates with that suitor, among other parameters. In other games, you begin by reading a prologue, and your suitor is then chosen for you based on the decisions you have made thus far.
If you succeed in building the correct parameters/stats, and you have answered enough criteria correctly, you will proceed to a “good” ending with your character. If you don’t reach the goals, or if you make a bad decision and die, you will proceed to a “bad ending.” Some games will also include a “normal” ending. As they sound, good endings usually mean that you get a happy ending with the guy you chose. Bad endings usually end in someone leaving, feelings being unrequited, or worse.
Where do I buy English otome games?
First, it depends on what platform you can play them on. Luckily, you will probably have at least one of these options already available to you:
- Nintendo 3DS
- Playstation Vita
- Playstation 3
- Smart phone (iPhone, Android, etc.)
- PC (via Steam, or distributed by the creators’ websites)
The Vita, PC, and Smart phones seem to have and/or be getting the most otome games at the moment. Either way, most are distributed digitally and can be found on their console networks.
How do I buy English otome games?
This might sound like a weird question, but let me explain. If you’re purchasing otome games on a console, you will pay a single price for a full video game. This means that you receive all the character routes and can play through them as you like. However, if you are purchasing otome games on a smart phone, you will likely download the prologue for free. After that, games will sometimes ask you to pay for a male suitor’s route. Other games will provide you with a few free chapters a day, and to unlock more you can either wait until the following day or purchase the next part of the story for immediate availability.
Okay, so what games should I play?
Everything. Well, I recommend Hakuoki as a good series to start with because it is easy, good quality, and a standard among the genre. It’s also available on nearly every platform (with PC being the only exception), so it should be easy to get your hands on it.
For the 3DS:
The 3DS is a good system if you like otome games that are not strictly visual novels, Fire Emblem: Awakening was one of my favorite games of 2012, and Fire Emblem: Fates was a good follow-up. Harvest Moon is always a solid series, as is Rune Factory. You can choose a female protagonist in all of these games and build a relationship with your suitor of choice.
If you’re not against emulating, Tokimeki Memorial: Girls Side and Girlish Love Revolution are two games that I recommend. I’m not going to link them, but there are fan translated patches floating around the internet. Still, I recommend supporting the game companies so that they bring us more quality titles!
For the PS Vita:
The Vita will soon be a great system to have! Amnesia: Memories just released in August 2015 and is a big title in the otome game genre. Norn9 and Code: Realize are both scheduled for release in the upcoming fall months. I’ve heard great things about Sweet Fuse: At Your Side! but have not had a chance to play it myself yet. Also, Hatoful Boyfriend (PC) is available on this system as well. Period Cube just hit the shelves in spring of 2017 and Collar X Malice will be arriving in the summer!
For the PC:
If you’re playing otome games on the PC, there is a good library on Steam. However, you can find titles like Hatoful Boyfriend much cheaper from their website, so do some searching before you spend the money! Cheritz, for example, is doing a bundle on their website for a Dandelion and Nameless, two very sorrowful otome games. I’d recommend them if you’re a fan of K-Dramas :). The number of games available on PC has grown considerably in the last few years, adding OZMAFIA!! among other titles.
For smart phones:
Smart phones have a TON of otome games to choose from. I highly recommend Midnight Cinderella or any of the games by CYBIRD, since you can play them for free! The Shall We Date? series also provides free, decent otome games. The Voltage games are also pretty good, but they cost money per storyline, and I find them pretty short, so I tend not to play those. The Koyonplete games are also completely free, almost entirely text, and generally not well written, but I have a fun time reading the player comments on each page LOL. Hakuoki and Amnesia (PS Vita) are both also available on the smart phone platform.
For 18+ games:
There’s (sadly) not much available here in English. Cute Demon Crashers is the only one that comes to mind, but it’s free so there’s that! I can give a full recommendation for the game since I really support its safe, consensual, positive sex vibe :). I am so tired of the shoujo stereotype where girls always have to resist or not want it.
If you’re into BL, there’s No, Thank You!!! However, the game lost me as soon as I got to a non-consensual sex scene. The game also goes with the yaoi trend of yakuza or yakuza-like characters.
Tips for new players:
- Save often! And make use of the quick save and quick load features just before decisions in case you end up with the wrong outcome.
- There is a skip function that allows you to skip text you have already read, or if you’d like, all text. Usually on the Vita, this is activated using the triangle button.
- I think the “dating sim” name is kind of misleading, since there are answers that you should be picking for “good” endings. If you want to see the good endings, choose answers that you think will boost your affection with your character.
- I do recommend playing the first time through routes without a walkthrough!
I hope this page is helpful for anyone looking for English otome game recommendations. It’s a really small niche, but it’s slowly building! If you have any questions, feel free to leave a comment or send me a message! Also, I’d love any recommendations you guys may have, as I’m always looking to expand my otome game library :). Until next time!
English Otome Games: A good resource for games that are out and are going to be out in English.