Best Friend Forever
Genre: RPG, Simulation
Platform: Nintendo Switch
Age Rating: PEGI 12
Release Date: 27/08/2020
A code was provided for review purposes.
Best Friend Forever is a visual novel covering the first fifteen weeks living in your new apartment. You have just moved to a new city and you are constantly meeting new friends and their dogs. Establishing relationships with these people is the main premise of the game, but you will also groom, feed, and nurture your dog daily. As it is a visual novel, the game focuses on the story, and reading dialogue is the majority of gameplay.
For a visual novel, the story is the most vital part of the game. While the story told in Best Friend Forever is cheerful and uplifting, the game did not leave me contemplating deeper truths or caring deeply for the characters. Each action that took place in the story seemed to be insignificant except for the partner you chose to date.
Despite the lack of deeper meaning, the story added commentary on those who were underprivileged and subtly supported the LGBTQ+ community. Additionally, the game is very inclusive, featuring characters who are blind as well as featuring various body types as models for the NPCs. Additionally, pop culture references that were integrated into the plot were done well, and the many dog puns created in doing so were also a nice touch.
Moreover, the characters in Best Friend Forever are very distinct and meeting new people is one of the more enjoyable elements of the game. However, nearly all the characters are static, and they seem to fit a mold around a couple of defining characteristics. The characters have backstories, but they are rarely important to the story and explaining them seems to serve as filler information. For example, learning about past relationships between certain characters should have a significant impact on the plot or character development, but in Best Friend Forever, the dynamic does not change.
Best Friend Forever also hosts various activities related to grooming, taming, and training your dog. There are quick time events where your dog will act inappropriately in a situation, and you are tasked with managing your dog. These tasks include repeatedly petting your dog, pulling your dog in a certain direction, or cleaning up your dog’s poop. While I am sure the developer intended for these quick time events to be enjoyable breaks from the visual novel, I found it frustrating to deal with the situations my dog was causing. Additionally, the game is controlled by a cursor. This means that you lack the precision of button inputs, and it is more tedious than being able to remedy a situation with a button press.
After each day, you choose activities for you and your dog to participate in. There is a cute animation that plays, and after choosing the activities you wish to participate in, the corresponding stats are boosted. I was displeased with this feature, as it does not add significant depth to the game and the options I selected did not seem to change anything about my dog other than the numbers.
After this activity phase, you are tasked with cleaning and caring for your dog. You can choose from a variety of options that change other elements of your dog that show up like statistics. Instead of picking options that logically go together, it is most effective to pick options that best correspond to the statistics needed. This may mean it will benefit the player to leave their dog drenched in soapy suds without being rinsed off, or to leave them covered in dirt, as the only noticeable difference would be the statistics.
Music and Sound
The music from this game leaves much to be desired. Even before viewing the credits, it was evident that the developers received the music from a non-copyrighted source instead of hand crafting the tunes themselves. It often did not fit the theme of the area that the characters were in, and tracks were repeated so frequently I grew tired of the music almost instantly. Some situational music was included, such as a suspense track when things get dicey, but overall, the music is underwhelming, and I expected better.
The voice acting is less inspired than the music. The characters burst out random voice lines that rarely have any context and served as a distraction from the text I was reading. The dog sound effects are a nice touch, but the human voice acting is abysmal, and takes away from the overall experience. Had the game been properly voice acted it would have been fine, but the random cuts of dialogue were not significant, and were disappointing.
Moreover, at times there was no sound. I cannot tell whether the developers ran out of individual tracks, or whether this was a glitch in the coding, but there were long periods of time where there was no music whatsoever, and it made the atmosphere of certain locations awkward in comparison to the locations with music.
The developers went for a cute aesthetic, and I enjoyed the art of the game. They have adorable environments and animals. Additionally, I like the design of the characters. They all look unique and have their own style. Unfortunately, you cannot dress up your character or dog, and the customization features they do offer are severely lacking. It is impossible to play as a boy, and there are only three customization options available for your character. Additionally, there were occasional visual glitches, and text would be illegible, or the screen would go blank.
One of the most disappointing inclusions in this game was that everything was controlled by a cursor. Instead of selecting options from a menu list, you are tasked with moving the cursor over each item you wish to select. While not that big a problem, it made navigating the game challenging. Not only does it make progression slower, but the cursor feels inaccurate, and I was disappointed by the number of times I missed the option I was attempting to click on the home screen as well as quick time events I failed due to the cursor. Despite options in the settings that alter the speed of the cursor, I constantly struggled with it.
There were also occasional typos and grammar mistakes. This did not happen frequently enough to be a major concern, but it was something I noticed.
Costing £15.00, Best Friend Forever is overpriced for the content it provided. I was able to complete the game in two hours. While there are other people I can date and other events that may happen if I do so, I was not compelled to continue unearthing the story of this game. I did enjoy some of the experiences in the game, but I would not recommend this game, especially not at the current price point.
Rapid Reviews Rating
You can purchase Best Friend Forever from the Nintendo eShop here.
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