I first got into Otome this past July, when I saw Mr Love: Queen’s Choice advertised in my colouring app. I then got more into it when ill this past winter: Otome games (also known as Otoge) are based around easy to follow stories of varying complexity, which are read in short dialogues. They provide the entertainment of stories, the slightly more active engagement of a book compared to a film or TV series, and it’s not as demanding as reading long paragraphs. Most of them are for iPad, and they come with time limitation (unless you spend money on them, more on this later), which is why I have this many apps simultaneously. I have 3 games I played in January on my laptop which don’t have this limitation and I will add them to the list even if I haven’t played them again while in lockdown.
Mr Love: Queen’s Choice
I’ve never thought I’d get into romance-based games, but this was the gateway drug. I first started playing it because of its fantasy-themed storyline, which seemed intriguing. There is a romance element to it, but it’s not the driver of the story. You play a TV producer involved in some mysterious stuff, and the main game (there’s loads of side stuff which helps you to get ahead in the main game) proceeds based on whether you are successful in your shooting missions. You can be stuck on a level for ages or progressing through some of them really fast depending on your company’s level and how much stamina you have, and you can play the side quests to increase both (plus you get daily freebies -some at specific times only-). Playing the side quests only (no dates) is very quick so it doesn’t drag you down too much.
Otome Romance’s (formerly Voltage) collection of stories is a mixed bag, but you get some free main stories, some available all the time and some only for limited periods, and at least one side story per day. The downside is that free stories tend to have a 5h waiting period between episodes. You can also accumulate free coins via the daily login bonus and exchange that for stories (it takes forever, but they have frequent sales that make it a little easier). Some stories are better than others, and some are chaster than others. It’s usually side-stories which are easily spotted that are mostly about sex, and when it appears in some of the main stories (for example the Irresistible Mistakes series) it’s like watching any mainstream film or TV series from the past 20 years. My favourite sagas are Masquerade Kiss (although the Kei storyline is really problematic), Romance MD (even if not using the hearts for the Love Choice ends with little romance except maybe the Takado storyline -which is the best one anyway-) and the stories about a much glamourised and fictionalised Shinshengumi. The English translation can sometimes be hilariously bad.
Samurai Love Ballad Party
From the same developer as the previous game, this story is about a much glamourised and fictionalised Lord Nobunaga and his warlords in the Sengoku period. You get 5 free story tickets per day and there are challenges that require either that you acquire an item (with a premium option paid only by coins and a normal option that comes sold with the currency you get free in the game), or possess certain stats through the side games. If you understand Japanese or are into the voiceovers anyway, some stuff is voiced by some really good actors. I’ve only played the Nobunaga storyline so far and it was a bit dark but still lovely since I’m a sucker for saving bad boys in fiction.
Different developer, same historical period. This time, though, instead of playing a contemporary you are transported to the Sengoku period through time-traveling and it’s an alternative storyline to what really happened. I have chosen to play a different route (Hideyoshi) to mix it up a little, and he’s such a bae (and as glamourised and fictionalised as in the other app). Like any historical fiction, I guess, they humanise people who appear so far and mighty. It works very similarly to the other app, but the twist on being a modern woman makes for some hilarious content.
Dear Otome (Shall We Date?)
The final app on the list is a multigame app. The stories available are: Lost Alice (loosely based on Alice in Wonderland), Guard Me Sherlock (even more loosely based on Sherlock Holmes), Ninja Shadow (historical fiction about the Sakoku period), Love Tangle (based in a modern-day fictional city, where you are at the centre of a love triangle until you make your choice), Blood in Roses (basically Twilight with witches and without Michael Sheen) and Wizardess Heart (about an inept witch admitted provisionally to a school of magic, it’s hilarious). The way it works is the same as the other games, and so far I have only finished a route in BiR and LT because of the checkpoints, which is frustrating but I just really want to know how the story ends!
The other games I have played in the past on Steam have been Cinderella Phenomenon (I loved it, it’s a twist on a few well-beloved fairytales and Karma is just the best), High School Otome (not as exciting, it’s a teen drama but it has its moments), Magical Otoge Ciel (absolutely delightful story about a princess running away from home on an adveture) and not on Steam Alistair++ (another teen drama with a mystery at its heart, really short to play).