Relationships are tricky and they take effort to make them work. When you first meet someone, it’s an exciting, yet nervous time. You want to be yourself, but you also want to impress. Mistakes are made, but how you deal with them shows your character. LoveChoice explores the highs and lows of meeting a new partner and you control how each situation blossoms or fails.
Developed by Akaba Studio and published by Ratalaika Games, this is an interactive visual novel title. It’s the winner of indie prize Asia 2019 for ‘best narrative’, so I was excited to see what was on offer. The gameplay comprises three short novels about young love. You’ll witness the early stages of each relationship and guide the process with your dialogue choices.
LoveChoice loses its emotion in translation.
I’ve played many visual novels across an array of themes, and the common mistake is poor translation. I worried that this would be the case with LoveChoice and was concerned about how much this would affect the story. Sadly, my concerns were realised almost immediately! The flow and pace of the text failed to match the theme, and most of the dialogue felt cold and disjointed. This callous style worked well with the moments of hatred or sorrow, but when adoration or love was expressed, it failed abysmally.
The core concepts regarding mini-games, dialogue choices, and outcomes weren’t impacted. However, there was a distinct lack of emotional integrity, and I failed to build a rapport with the lead characters. It’s a shame as the main elements were interesting and made it a fun interactive novel to read through.
Short novels, multiple endings, and unusual mini-games.
The bite-size novels with their unique views on love were intriguing to read. I loved how the blossoming relationships were shown and how relatable the choices were. Akaba Studio captured the ups and downs and pitfalls perfectly and this made the lack of emotion much more frustrating.
Like other visual novels, LoveChoice has multiple endings for each of its volumes. You experience positive, negative, and neutral finales, and reaching them requires some trial and error and logical thinking. Yet, unlike other VNs, you are free to interact with the scenery, move characters, and discover hidden Easter Eggs. This was fantastic and made me want to keep playing, even though I felt no emotional attachment to the plot. I enjoyed how it dropped the usual voyeuristic manner and broke the fourth wall.
The interactive elements were also aided by the unusual mini-games and point and click mechanics. You’ll grab floating musical notes, pick restaurants, match faces, search for clues, and so forth. They’re not groundbreaking by any stretch, but they broke up the flow of the story and encouraged you to be part of the narrative.
LoveChoice is emotionally sterile, but its visuals are beautiful.
I may not have fallen for its written charms, but I loved the visual presentation. The soft colour palette and interesting backdrops were beautiful to look at. The hand-drawn images represented illustrations from a paperback book and supported each scene. The variety shown across each chapter was surprising, and I liked how it represented different eras and cultures. If the game was emotionally sound, these images would have been breathtaking.
The audio encompasses the theme magnificently! With its slow and touching sounds, you’ll admire the surrounding beauty. I enjoyed how a variety of songs and sound effects were used to highlight the poignant emotions. It was interesting to see the developers using nothing but music and sounds to enhance what should have been touching moments. Nonetheless, it fell flat because of the poor translation.
A slow-moving cursor, but easy to play, mostly.
Usually, visual novels are my go-to genre when I want to relax. The simple and limited controls allow me to enjoy the mindless action. However, LoveChoice demands more attention! This wasn’t a problem as the controls are simple to learn, yet, sadly, the slow cursor impacts the mini-games and makes this element more frustrating than I’d have liked.
Thanks to its three stories and multiple endings, LoveChoice has some replay value. Sadly, though, you are unable to skip through previously seen dialogue, and this was tedious. A moderate achievement list requires you to find all Easter Eggs and see every ending, so completionists must invest a considerable amount of time.
LoveChoice is well written but poorly translated.
The feeling of being lost in translation is something we all experience. Sadly for LoveChoice, it dominates its core concept. Devoid of emotions and with no rapport with the protagonists, it feels soulless. Even though it’s flawed, I enjoyed many elements and recommend you to buy it here! Will you play Cupid, or will you watch love fail?