Ever wondered how it must feel to be like Miaka Yuuki or Haruhi Fujioka who’s surrounded by dashing men who are in love with her? Ever thought the mangaka got it wrong in selecting the series’ end ship? Then you’ll feel right at home playing otome games — interactive visual novels that put you (yes, you!) in the driver’s seat of the story.
Admittedly, I am hardly a seasoned veteran when it comes to playing otome games, but I’ve gotten my hands on a few Japanese, Korean, and English ones (thanks, Steam sales!). And below are some of the lessons I’ve learned in playing otome games (or “otoge”, for short). I’m an ass, so I can’t guarantee this is spoiler-proofed!
1. DO leave your common sense and womanly pride out of the door. You are a woman on a mission, and that is to pursue romances with these impossibly handsome, trope-specific men (and achieve GLORIOUS lovey-dovey CGs with them).
For that to happen, you must prioritize pleasing your man above everything else– yes, even yourself: your safety, your liberty, your family and friends, your independent function to think and make decisions for yourself… basically, anything that clues your lover that you are actually a sentient being.
Thanks, Kyrie. You may be a magnificent trolling bastard, but you’re still my favorite Ozmafia!! character.
Otome games are a safe space to relinquish control of your personhood even for just one hour of gaming session (gah, who are we kidding? One overnight session.) because IRL, women can’t do that (not with so many douchebags around).
So go on– get yourself a glass of wine (or Gin milo, whatever’s in the fridge), prop up your feet, and give your IQ + self-esteem a break.
2. DO aim for 100% completion. Practice a degree of perfection never before seen in your school assignments or work deliverables. Remember what’s at stake: CGs!!!
As you can see, I’m still 2% away from the goal, and I am therefore an incomplete person. Don’t be like me.
3. DON’T schedule anything during your otome gaming day. Whether it be work, social calls, or package deliveries, make sure you absolutely clear your calendar for the day! And night, too! And everything in between!
When you’re busy romancing your husbando, everything else comes last. Heck, even bathroom trips and food know DAMN well to wait for their turn for your attention!
So if you don’t want to lose your job or your ties with the few friends who understand your obsession with 2D men, then don’t dare juggle them with your otome gaming days.
4. DO pick a megane first. ALWAYS. He’s usually one of these two things:
a) the kind-hearted, virginal, shy one. Great for beginner players who aren’t familiar with the -dere types. 1931: Scheherazade at the Library of Pergamum‘s Professor Nigel Hemsworth is something like that, when he’s not being a whining pity party next to heroine Saddie’s glorious, fabulous self.
b) the smart one. Helpful in routes and/or carry spoileriffic exposition. Like this poisoning, pimpin’ Nazagi from The Royal Trap: The Confines of the Crown.
Plus, even if his route ends up crappy, at least you’ll have eye candy till the end of game.
5. DO play a demo first. Dandelion was a hellish grind, no thanks to the randomness of its relationship-building (which for efficiency purposes is tied to stat building). Wish I knew that before I purchased the game… and spent nearly 24 hours completing tsun-tsun Jiwoo’s route (which had me switching between reading romantic novels and watching educational shows for almost a whole year).
6. DO save at every decision checkpoint. Bad endings are usually a bitch– a jumpscarin’ bitch. Nameless, in particular, is unforgiving if you mess up one or two decision points in a specific chapter. Like, dammit Yeonho, you just made those bunny-shaped sunny-side up eggs for me this morning. Why are we suddenly talking about being together forever with ominous BGM and cray-cray eyes? (T.T)
7. DON’T get too attached with one husbando. To understand the entire plot (and to extend gameplay and add replay value), otome games will compel you to finish ALL routes, unlocking another BONUS route, which in turn will give you the great, grand finale that explains the whole backstory which was barely touched in 90% of the game.
Like how, for instance, this guy is actually the most decent character in Ozmafia!!, but he gets the bulk of the villainy antagonism to bring everyone else’s routes to the climax and eventual resolution. So not cool, fellas.
8. DON’T use walkthroughs in your first two runs. Otome is a life simulation, only with a nifty Save/Load option. Don’t ruin the surprise by aiming immediately for the “best” ending / CG. Scenes like this one from Hakuouki’s BEST guy Saito (fight me!) is best viewed when you least expect it to happen.
9. DO invest in multiple platforms. I’m a PC person, but I have to branch out to Android (and later, PS Vita) just so I can play more otoge titles. As I am not blessed with cunning linguist Jose Rizal’s language skills, I have to grab whatever title is out there which has a decent English patch. (I’m looking at you, Alice in the Country of Hearts!)
I’ll probably endure a few more years of Blood Dupre waiting for a properly translated game. :/
10. DO support otome game publishers! Purchase your games from legit channels so they can make more otoge titles and bring English-patched ones to the market. Yes, they can be expensive, but during Steam sale events, they get marked down by as much as 85%! Don’t pirate!
Did I miss other tips for playing otome games? Let me know in the comments section!