Out now on Switch and PC is Best Friend Forever, a visual novel-meets-simulation game about dating and dog ownership.
On its store page, the description for Best Friend Forever reads: “Step off the bus at Rainbow Bay and start a new life with your furever friend! Adopt a dog, find true love and experience all the wacky hijinks this colourful city has to offer.”
If that doesn’t make you want to jump straight into it, I don’t know what will. Excellently written, Best Friend Forever pulls you into its fold straight away. After creating your character – with a choice of facial features, hair styles, skin tones and pronouns – you’re thrown into the game, arriving at your new apartment. There’s one thing you notice straight away though; in your new town of Rainbow Bay, practically everyone has a dog. That’s that, then: you best get yourself down to the animal shelter.
And so, faced with a handful of adorable dogs, you’re tasked with selecting your new fuzzy best friend. I opted for Blocker, a large mutt in need of a loving home. His blurry profile picture, as if he’d charged at the camera, won me over. After some formalities – including signing up for pup school – we were sent on our way. Me, with my new best friend Blocker.
Best Friends Forever is neatly split up into different activities. There’s your dog’s weekly training, where he’ll improve his states in various areas, and your own schedule that sees you visit areas around town and meet new people. It’s a dating sim after all; your new furry BFF may love you, but you’re also after a different kind of love. Well, if you want to, that is. You’ll meet plenty of people to chat and flirt with, but ultimately, who you want to fall in love with is down to you.
Between these activities, you’ll have to care for your doggo’s needs. Blocker’s face appears at the right-hand side of my screen, and I can opt to pet him whenever I like. He’ll occasionally bark, or get stressed, and I’ll have to interact with him to calm him down. He’ll also sometimes try to pull away, so I have to drag him back with my cursor. And, uh, sometimes, he’ll leave me a big stinking pile of poo to clean up. Ah, the glamour of pet ownership.
As engaging as Best Friends Forever is, playing on Switch is a little awkward. You can use the touch screen if you want, but I found myself gravitating towards the analogue sticks, where I moved a cursor around the screen. When you’re simply pressing a button to advance through text, it’s fine, but navigating menus is a pain. Oftentimes you have boxes of text to scroll through; rather than simply using your right stick to scroll, as feels natural, you have to painstakingly move your cursor to click and scroll. It’s not particularly user friendly, making the Switch release feel more like an afterthought. If you have the option, then, opt to play the game on PC, where its controls feel much more at home.
But it’s a minor issue; even on Switch, it’s hard not to be won over by Best Friend Forever‘s wonderful visuals, quirky dialogue and oh-so-cute doggos. There’s little else like it out there; so if you enjoy dating simulators, and would like one with a large helping of fuzzy love, then you really ought to add this one to your library.
Best Friend Forever is available now on PC and Switch.