As a soppy so-and-so, I do like a good romantic yarn here and there, as long as it isn’t too corny and the couple (or triangle!) are likeable. When it comes to LoveChoice, I chose to give up on love and head for the pub. Socially distancing, of course.
Developed by Akaba Studio and published by Ratalaika Games, the game is collectively a visual novel with three main stories with a host of features, tricks up its sleeves and a common theme: relationships are hard work and much like the real thing, you need to be a mindreader to know what’s ‘the right way’.
The first story begins at a game jam. You play a dev who sees a girl on the other side of the room, so approach her to declare your love. The build-up of the relationships in LoveChoice and, more importantly, the delivery feels like being a teen again. They’re awkward, inexperienced and unnatural.
LoveChoice PS4/5 Review
We’ve all been there/will be there where we confuse our words. In our heads, we’ve got this beautiful line geared up, but ‘on the night’, we decide to tell the person we collect toenail clippings or something else that will put them off. Naturally, we’ve never collected any sort of clipping but put our foot in it nonetheless.
The dialogue in the game doesn’t have this same absurdity, but the sentences, while decipherable, are clunky. In this first story, the love interest complains about her boss, and you have two dialogue choices to respond with. Neither option is what you might choose, but you go with it. However, the responses are as romantic as Siri. As your beau confides in you, you promptly change the subject and ask them out.
Time to choose the movie, then the restaurant. Cue mini-game. In this game, three images drop down from the screen, and you have to click the one with the good review. A few waves of this, then they are placed in a cup, get shuffled about like a magic trick, and you have to decide where it is. Do you want to replay the game after you ace it? Absolutely not.
The story continues, and suddenly, the couple are at each other’s throats, and we seem to have entered a rut. Cutting to the chase, my dialogue responses triggered what I would call a bad ending. Oh, that’s not fun; on to the next story. Ah, you can’t, as you have to finish at least two endings in each of the stories before proceeding.
Reluctantly returning, I do the same thing again but choosing the opposite responses, but nothing happens – it’s the same story. Then, without realising it, you can interact with the backgrounds in LoveChoice instead of selecting a dialogue response. Mildly annoying, but a way of thinking out of the box. Alas, the same ending is triggered and though this has taken – what – 10 minutes? I don’t want to play it again and take a break.
After finally unlocking a second story, it’s on to the next. This time it’s a long-distance relationship; the third story is about a housewife who investigates her husband’s activities as he keeps coming back late from work. That old chestnut. The latter is a bit of a point and click, and again, you often have to think out of the box.
In Love And War…
Referring back to the game jam of the first story, LoveChoice feels like it’s a product of that, but looking to put in a link to the developer, I found that it’s currently in Early Access on Steam and has been in the ether for a few years. It’s not that the game feels unfinished, but it just didn’t provide me with enough satisfaction, and the only reason for pursuing was due to this being a review.
That doesn’t mean that it’s a bad game, and you should avoid it. The reviews on Steam are massively positive, but I couldn’t get on with it. Judging by the number of language options, I might be making an unfair assumption that there wasn’t a crack team of translators on this indie title, and it might have been a copy and paste through some readily available software.
There was never a moment where I didn’t understand what was happening in terms of dialogue; it just felt like it was an AI romance and not the kind of conversation I’m privy to. Besides that, the additional mini-games were a chore. So, the saving grace, other than one of the characters, was the cute visuals and consistency throughout.
I’m not about put-downs, so I’ll leave this review unscored as LoveChoice isn’t one I can recommend, but read some other opinions and make your… choice. As usual, it’s a very fair asking price, so it’s not going to break the bank and force you to split from your partner. If that happens, replay the scenario again.