We’ve all fallen victim to the wiles of good writers, and had our hearts stolen by fictional characters we could (unfortunately) never truly be with. Whether you’re a hopeless romantic, or just not ready to commit to a real, flesh-and-blood relationship, dating simulators are the best way to get a taste of the fictional romance you crave. 

What’s typical of many of the best games in this genre, is that they feature casts of wonderfully diverse characters, so no matter what your type or sexuality is you’re bound to find at least one character you can see as a romantic interest, if not fall in love with all the characters simultaneously. 

Without further ado, here’s our list of the top 10 dating sims to play when you’re achin’ for love or just really down bad. Like for instance, if it’s Valentine’s Day and maybe your date is big bowl of soup and season 3 of Psych. 

10) I Love You, Colonel Sanders!

While dating simulators have the potential to be very serious and easy to immerse yourself in, there are titles like I Love You, Colonel Sanders! that are meant to appeal to people through humor, aaaaand make you recognize how easily writers can bend you to their will and have you thirst over a capitalist icon. Recognizing that more than anything, this game was made as a marketing stunt, it was still an extremely entertaining dating simulator and good for players with short attention spans as it is able to be played through in about an hour.


9) Helltaker

Have you ever had a dream that you wanted so badly you’d literally go through hell for it? Well, in Helltaker, you play as an MC who is so hellbent on creating a harem of sexy, corporate demon women for himself that he does just that. This game is very short, and doesn’t rely as much on the communicative aspects as you would expect for a dating simulator, but is aesthetically pleasing, comical, and very fun to play through. What short interactions you have with each of the demon women you’re introduced to, it does make you wish you could spend more time romancing them.


8) Hatoful Boyfriend

Birds of a feather flock together in this dating simulator titled Hatoful Boyfriend, where the available love interests are just that, birds. The humorful and satirical nature of this game is really what makes it fun. It doesn’t take itself too seriously, because you are romancing birds, but still relays enough of a story with a bunch of different romantic options to keep you hooked past it’s initial shock factor. It’s worth noting, you have the option to turn on humanized versions of each of the romanceable characters, but I think in order to get the best experience it’s best to see only their bird appearances. 

 

7) Mystic Messenger

The medium through which Mystic Messenger is played was fairly unique when it debuted, having most of your romantic interactions made through texts, picture messages, and phone calls with the characters. For players that grew up forging relationships digitally, it made it very easy to lose yourself in. While it could do better in it’s variety of characters, it does still appeal to a couple overarching tropes, a rich heir, an actor, a gamer, a hacker, and an assistant. As an engaging, feel good dating simulator it deserves it’s spot on the list.


6) Arcade Spirits

With Arcade Spirits is where we really start to get into the games with a more assorted cast and branching storylines to compliment each of the unique romantic interests in the game. With this game specifically, the plot is based in a booming, modern arcade; a sanctuary for gamers and a place where your character takes up a job. With three male, and four female characters to romance, players are certainly not restricted based on sexual orientation. The relatability is strong in this one for any young adult out on their own for the first time and navigating adult life.

 

5) Our Life: Beginnings & Always

While Our Life: Beginnings & Always is more of a visual novel, with the main focus being on the romantic interactions you have with one character named Cove, it’s a beautiful slice of life that takes you through a lifelong friends-turned-lovers experience. You grow up with Cove in a seaside town and go through various encounters and life events, and have deep conversations and realizations about your identities. It’s extremely immersive, intimate, and difficult to put down. Did I mention it’s free to play?

 

4) Max Gentlemen Sexy Business!

There was never a game so perfectly relayed in its title as Max Gentleman Sexy Business! In contrast to the Victorian era we know, this game is set in an extremely sexy deviation from the historical canon, where your character attempts to build a company and create relationships with other sexy business tycoons in London. There’s a lot of customization available in this game that I think makes it great for literally everyone, including a character creator that leaves very little about your MC to the imagination, the ability to play the game in a “safe-ish” or “MAX SEXY” mode to match your thirst, and a variety of different gendered characters to romance. While it may make you feel like you’re betraying your proletariat roots, it’s a fun and raunchy game that I highly recommend.

 

3) Monster Prom

Monster Prom is a unqiue, multiplayer dating simulator where you navigate relationships with other teenage monsters, the ultimate end goal being to take one of them to the Monster Prom. While trying to figure out based on your skills and personality traits which characters would ultimately not reject you if you asked them to prom, you’re also competing with other players for certain characters attention. While the game touches on darker concepts with it’s monster character’s backgrounds, it is ultimately a comedic game with twists you may never see coming.

2) Dream Daddy

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The appeal of Dream Daddy is pretty self explanatory, you’re a dad attempting to romance other exceptionally dreamy daddies. With seven very different men to romance, you may find yourself falling for one or all of them. Ultimately though, this game has a lot more to offer than just lusting after attractive single dads, as there is little to do here in sexual based options. The game itself goes a lot more in depth not only in the relationships you’re able to build but addresses subjects like fatherhood and toxic masculinity. It’s incredibly well rounded and a difficult game to turn off.

1) The Arcana

The Arcana rightfully deserves a spot at the top of this list. It’s a fantasy romance visual novel set in the magical land called Vesuvia. The character that you control is the apprentice of a well known sorcerer, and when he leaves to go on a mysterious journey, you’re left to tend to the shop where you both normally reside. As you explore life in the city, you come across a number of enchanting figures that each pull you into captivating story lines with twists and turns around every corner. The art is beautiful, the dialogue is clever, and the characters are to die for. If you really want to experience a thrilling fictional relationship, you’ll play this game. 

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