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“Best Friend Forever” is the dating sim for dog people

(Photo courtesy of: Nintendo Life) “NPC’s dogs crowd the screen while a player character runs in the background.”

Riley Fontana
Connector Editor

“Best Friend Forever” is an indie dating sim created by New Zealand-based developer Starcolt. It was released on August 27, 2020, and is currently Starcolts only game. The game follows a self-insert player character as they move to Rainbow Bay and adjust to the new ways of life, which happens to be dogs. The player character must choose a canine companion to help them navigate their new city and all six romanceable singles.

The game features mild voice acting with each character getting a few lines and laughs, which does not take anything away from the game. “Best Friend Forever” also boasts a soft and bumping soundtrack as well as animated noises as text appears on the screen. Players can save once they have completed an in-game week, which takes around 30 minutes in the real world.

“Best Friend Forever” does not shy away from diversity. The game includes trans, queer, blind, and body-diverse folks for players to romance. This is a game built to be replayed as every romance option is complex and compelling, and the story offers a specific ending if a player chooses to be single. The game lacks the difficulty of other dating sims as dialogue choice does not seem to affect the player’s chosen partner.

The main area “Best Friend Forever” lacks is character customization. There are three bust options for players to choose from: a feminine option, a more gender-neutral option, and a more masculine version. From there players can name them whatever they would like and choose their character’s pronouns.

Players create their characters through an app called Woofr, an in-universe dating app. They take a brief quiz to find matches, which are the game’s six romance options. Players then pick from Anders a blind lawyer, Felix a wanna-be cop, Astrid a figure skater, Maribel an urban planner, Sacha an unemplyed trans man and Robin a single mother and pro gamer. Each character has their

own story that unfolds as players take them on dates and learn about their lives along with learning about their dogs.

Romanicables are not the only option players are given. They have to choose between four adoptable dogs to be their companion. Each dog comes with different stats which will help determine what skills players will have to work on the most throughout the game. Up for adoption is Titan a white Maltese, Blocker a very high-energy mutt, Cheeseball a super smart Shiba Inu, Cardigan trusting Stafford Terriod and Gargbage a raccoon who broke into the shelter. Each dog has a unique backstory as to why they are up for adoption and to help players connect with them. Once adopted players can rename the pups if their heart feels included to do so. Players have to work on their dog’s trust, manners, fitness, sociability and smarts as the game progresses to make them into a worthy pet.

Where “Best Friend Forever” breaks the mold of dating sims is that there is more than just dating to the game. Players must actively build trust with their dogs and teach them doggy manners while keeping them fed and bathed. Players will find themselves petting their pets to calm them down, cleaning up dog poop and much more which bodes well for the accessibility of the game on Switch and other touchscreen consoles. Keeping a dog under control while working through conversations can prove very difficult if players do not move fast enough.

Players are able to interact with up to five NPCs each week as they explore the new city. Most dating sims have one interaction per chosen time frame not allowing players to get a sense of the romance options. Players can choose “pawsonal time” with their dog to work on certain skills. The interactions with characters are short and sweet allowing players to experience a lot of personalities right from the jump. After a few interactions, players will unlock dates with NPCs which are longer interactions where players can really dig into the meat of the NPC’s backstory.

Players can also date several characters, up to two a week depending on how they spend energy. Some characters are much more forward with their romantic intents but the game utilizes the “fade-to-black” mechanic to keep the game PG-13.

“Best Friend Forever” is the game for anyone looking for an easy-going dating sim with queer representation and dogs.

Overall Grade: A

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