Looking for a love story that features you as the main character? Dating sims are becoming increasingly popular, and this is very clear when you search for them on either the App Store or Google Play. There are so many options to choose from, including a wide variety of settings and themes, that it can be overwhelming! This is especially true if you're new to the world of dating sims.
We've looked at some of the most popular dating sims available and made a list of features to consider. We found that the best games have high-quality writing, engaging characters and a variety of characters to romance. See why we loved Mystic Messenger the most and some other great games to try.
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Dating sims (also known as otome games) have been popular in Japan for many years. Now, an increasing number are being translated into English, and Western companies are producing their own! In these types of games, you get to step into a fictional world and pursue romance.
The characters that you interact with are purely fictional, as these games are simulations (not actual dating apps). The gameplay takes the form of interactive, visual stories that you read through as conversations. Most titles also have minigames as well!
You can choose your potential beau from a group of characters, and you try to woo them throughout the game. Once one character's route has finished, you can choose someone else.
Each story route is unique, as are the characters. The player is given choices as the plot progresses, and your choice affects how the story develops. There are often different endings, and to get the full story, you may need to replay the game! The possibilities are endless.
With such a variety of options, choosing an app to download can be a little daunting. To try and make this easier, here's a buying guide to help you decide what features to look for and how to choose the best dating sim for you!
Dating sims all have their own settings and themes. You can find romance in a modern setting, go back in time, or live in a fantasy world. Some dating sim apps offer several different settings, while others stick to one location. Choose a setting that appeals to you!
If you don't have a distinct preference (or have several!) try an app with a wider variety of themes and characters. Also, some dating sim apps are fully focused on romance and only romance. Other apps have more variety in their stories and split their focus between romance and other events, such as family drama, work, or crimes.
The majority of dating sims have a female main character with only male characters for her to date. There is an increasing number that offer more options, though! From female love interests to gender-neutral protagonists, dating sims are becoming increasingly LGBTQ-friendly.
Most apps have different stories that you can play and give you a choice of which character you want to date. The stories themselves can be very linear or they may branch out and have different routes and endings.
If you want to get the best ending, you may have to play the same story several times. In some apps, these stories are distinct and separate. However, in other apps, they interconnect as the characters all inhabit the same world. So, to get the complete endings, you may need to finish several stories.
If you're not interested in replaying stories to unlock every ending or path (this can often cost money) or playing every character route, then a more linear app would be best for you.
Like every other app in either the App Store or Google Play store, dating sims get an age rating. Some dating sims have a 17+ rating and have been given said raising for a reason! The characters you're trying to date can make sexual references in more maturely rated apps, and there may also be references to things like alcohol or violence.
There are content warnings in app stores for each app, so please read these before you download if you want to avoid any of these themes.
Even if a dating sim has beautiful artwork and an intriguing setting, if you don't like the writing style then it won't hook you! You have to be able to relate to your avatar and like the love interests enough to devote time (and potentially money) into dating them.
Take advantage of any free tokens that most apps provide to try out stories and see what appeals to you. If you can't put the app down and are disappointed when you can't read any further, then it's a winner!
Some dating sims can be bought for a one-off fee, but this is very rare. The usual model is a free download with optional in-app purchases. With these apps, you need to use a ticket to progress to the next part of the story.
You will be given free tickets each day and may be able to get more from watching ads or playing mini-games, so it is possible to complete the stories for free. However, if you only use the free tickets, progress will likely be very slow.
You can purchase extra tickets with real money, but this can become very expensive very quickly. Be aware of how much you're spending. A few apps do offer a subscription service, which might be more cost-effective if you want to rush through the stories.
Click to purchase
Cheritz Co., Ltd
Find Romance Through Real-Time Messages
Episode - Choose Your Story
A Wide Variety of Stories, Including Player-Created Narratives
Nix Hydra Games
The Arcana: A Mystic Romance
Magic and Mystery Meet Tarot Cards in This Inclusive Sim
Try Something Unique With a Well-Written Pigeon Dating App
Voltage Entertainment USA, Inc.
Lovestruck Choose Your Romance
Experience Different Settings and Themes With Over 70 Characters
Dads Dating Dads in a Funny and Moving Sim
Is It Love? Drogo - Vampire
Your Chance to Date a Vampire
Dear Otome #Shall we date?
Find Yourself in a Love Triangle
Choices: Stories You Play
Enjoy Several Different Stories With Weekly Updates
Mr Love: Queen's Choice
Further Your Career and Collect Cards
The bulk of Mystic Messenger takes place in a chatroom, where you're able to speak to several characters at once. The chats happen in realtime and if you miss one due to being busy, you have to spend the in-game tokens (called hourglasses) to replay it. Characters will also contact you via phone calls, email, and text messages!
The realtime aspect of the game is difficult for some reviewers as they say that having a 9 to 5 job will result in missing some conversations. There are even occasional chats at 4 am!
Reviewers like the depth of the storyline and characters. They also like that the characters will show concern for the player's health—both mental and physical.
Unlike most of the other apps on this list, Episode is more than a romance sim. Although romance is an important part, there are also mysterious, dramatic, and adventurous stories. You can even create your own stories for other players to play.
The app is updated each week and also has stories licensed by entertainment properties such as Clueless, Pretty Little Liars, and Mean Girls.
There are many criticisms of the lack of choices in some stories, and that some stories require premium tokens (known as gems) to be spent to create more choices.
Reviewers praise the diversity of the stories that are available and the artwork. They also like creating their own avatar. Many reviewers compliment being able to play stories created by other players, as that just adds to the diversity offered.
Arcana is a dating sim that is split into 22 episodes, with each episode relating to one of the major arcana cards in a tarot deck. This is a major theme of the game as you can pick your own tarot cards throughout the story and get a reading.
The core storyline of the game centers around a mysterious murder that needs to be solved, but you can also romance the other characters as the story develops. This app is LGBTQ friendly as you can choose the pronouns for your character.
The tarot readings receive many compliments from users. However, some reviewers have complaints about how long it takes to get enough coins to make story choices.
Reviewers praise the balance of romance and murder mystery, and how the two themes fit together to create an intriguing story. There are numerous compliments for the art style of the game as well!
The story of Hatoful Boyfriend sees you as the only human student at a school for birds. The personality types you'd expect to see in a dating sim are all here—they're just in bird form!
There is more to the game than just a dating sim with birds, however. You can choose which classes to attend to help your character's stats, and the story has many dramatic and unexpected turns.
Several reviewers state that they downloaded this game expecting something wild and funny, but were instead blown away by the quality of the story.
They say that the game has surprising depth and replay value and is very well-written. The final story (only unlocked when the main story is finished) gets particular praise.
Lovestruck has one of the widest selection of stories among the apps in this list. There is no consistent theme linking the stories. Instead, you can choose from stories about magicians, shapeshifters, gangsters, or even Greek gods. The game boasts over 70 unique characters to choose from and is LGBTQ-friendly.
There are some criticisms for the game, as it doesn't allow you to replay any of the stories without using tokens. Reviewers also criticize how often the free tokens are given and how long it takes to read a story without paying.
Reviewers enjoy the variety of the stories and the art created for each one. Reviewers also comment on the diverse options that allow players to romance male or female characters and play as a gender-neutral character.
In Dream Daddy, you're a dad looking to date other dads. You can create your own dad and then choose from seven distinct men to romance. There are several mini-games to play, the characters are voiced, and it is crammed full of dad jokes!
The game is free to download, and you can play through one character route for free. For $15.99, you can unlock the entire game.
Reviewers praise the art style, score, and sound effects. They say that the story and characters are funny and moving, and they note that the LGBTQ themes of the game are well-handled.
Reviewers also comment on how interesting each character and their dates are. They also like how impactful player choices are for the rest of the story.
As the title of this app suggests, this is a dating sim with vampires. Your character is a student that works as an au pair, and both the school you attend and the family you work for are full of vampires.
Although there are several characters in this game, it concentrates on just one—Drogo. The other characters have their own, similar games.
Like many dating sims, it operates on a token system and there are many comments criticizing how little progress can be made each day without spending money.
Reviewers enjoy the storyline and say that it is as dark and intense as one might expect from a vampire romance sim. They also praise the mysteries of the plot and how it unfolds.
This iOS app includes several stores, but we want to just focus on the "Love Tangle" narrative!
In this game, you've just moved to a new city and apartment where attractive and single neighbors surround you. You can change your avatar using a wide range of designs. There are multiple minigames to play, such as cooking, and these games unlock bonus items and scenes.
To play the premium routes, you need to spend diamonds, and many reviewers comment that these are difficult to obtain without paying.
Reviewers like that instead of choosing one character to romance, you start with two potential partners that you can choose from. Several reviewers praise that your avatar is more independent and intelligent than the main character in most dating sim games.
Choices allows you to design your own character, and that app has a variety of stories that go beyond romance. As well as the romance stories, there are ones themed around fantasy, adventure, murder, and mystery. New chapters are released weekly, so you won't run out of content!
There are several criticisms that the best options in the game require premium currency to be obtained and that this is very hard to get without paying.
Reviewers praise the variety in the writing and development of the characters and stories. Many reviewers enjoy the depth of the narratives and appreciate the life lessons contained within them.
In this app, you have a choice of four male characters to romance. While doing so, you play as a character who is trying to develop her career as a media producer. Both love and career development are essential parts of the game.
The male characters have both Japanese and English voices, and the Japanese voice actors are all famous for their anime work. The game mechanic has you collect cards while playing minigames and progressing the story.
To progress in the game, you need to level up your company, and some reviewers express frustration at how slow and difficult this process can be. Several others also criticize how difficult it is to get the best cards.
Reviewers love the artwork and say that collecting the best cards can become addicting. They also comment on the well-written and interesting personalities of the characters that you can date.
If you need a break from romance, here are our choices for other entertaining games and apps!
No. 1: Cheritz Co., Ltd | Mystic Messenger
No. 2: Episode Interactive | Episode - Choose Your Story
No. 3: Nix Hydra Games | The Arcana: A Mystic Romance
No. 4: Devolver | Hatoful Boyfriend
No. 5: Voltage Entertainment USA, Inc. | Lovestruck Choose Your Romance
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