Developer: Winter Wolves
Publisher: Ratalaika Games
Genre(s): Adventure, RPG, Simulation, Visual Novel
Platform: PlayStation 4 (Also available on Xbox One and Nintendo Switch)
Age Rating: PEGI 12
Release Date: 02/09/2020
A code was provided for review purposes.
Back to School
Welcome to the halls of Latin House – the dorm where you’ll be living for your first year of college in Roommates, a college dating sim from Winter Wolves. Whether you’re playing as shy nerdy girl Anne or as confident rockstar Max, it’s time to pull out all of the stops and make the most of your education far away from home. No matter which protagonist you choose to play as, the other will be one of your roommates, as will the chaotic artist Rakesh, the energetic campaigner Sally, the alluring and promiscuous Isabella, and the rule-abiding Dominic. You’ll have the opportunity to choose your classes, seek employment, participate in various special events with your roommates, and maybe even find love as the year progresses.
Roommates is a visual novel, with static background graphics and character models used to tell its story. Daily events, conversations with your roommates and the special gameplay events that take place in and around Latin House form the core gameplay. You can either participate in or avoid these events, with your decisions directly influencing your relationships with your roommates, as well as the possible game endings. How you approach your education, the jobs you do, your extra-curricular activities and your social life determines whether you are brought closer to that special someone you’re clamouring after, or are pushed further away. As such, it’s important to consider the type of roommate you want to be, and also what your prospective significant other is looking for in a partner.
It’s Getting Hot in Here…
At the start of each in-game week, you’ll plan out how to spend your mornings, daytimes, and evenings. Each available activity aligns with one or more of the following personality categories: organized, reflective, creative, spontaneous, active and rational. Your participation in activities which align with each roommate’s personality improves your romantic compatibility with them. Isabella and Sally like their partners to be spontaneous and active; Rakesh and Max like theirs to be creative and reflective; and Dominic and Anne are fans of those who are rational and organised. To win over the person you desire, you’ll need to bear these alignments in mind from the very start. Reaching 100 relationship points is no easy task, so once you’ve set your mind on someone, set up your activities each week accordingly and do not change them.
As mentioned previously, at various points, special events occur with your roommates. These can relate to your studies, your work, or else roommate drama within Latin House. In each event, you’ll be presented with two or more dialogue choices or actions to choose from. There are also two major romantic events to look out for; the first occurs during the midterm break, and the other at the end of the year. Some special events are obvious in how they build upon your relationships with particular roommates; choosing to kiss Dominic as Anne in the game of truth or dare, or defending the murderer in the Halloween whodunnit, are two examples. Other events, however, are more subtle, with the impact of your decision not noticable until later. Sometimes, choosing not to participate in a particular event benefits you more than taking part in it does!
… So Take Off All Your Clothes?
Roommates arguably has a lot of replay value due to the eight different romantic paths that can be pursued. Anne can romance Max, Isabella, Dominic and Rakesh, while Max can romance Anne, Isabella, Rakesh and Sally. However, from my experience of playing through the full game several times, it is much less fun than it appears. In my first few runs, I didn’t manage to romance anyone. The mechanics aren’t well-explained, and playing on the normal difficulty, building up the necessary points to reach the romance thresholds seems impossible. In the end, I looked up a guide of all eight romances online and followed this while playing on easy. It felt a little like cheating to follow a guide so closely, but without it, I’d have never worked out how to romance anyone at all.
Though the six roommates are well-developed, and their individual personalities shine through their character models and dialogue, it is this ambiguous gameplay that lets Roommates down. Its incorporation of life-management is done fairly well, but – at least in my opinion – the game should have required less specific choices in order to obtain the romantic endings. Participating in the special events and choosing the right dialogue options would have been more than enough. If you’re a completionist, or just want to see how each ending plays out, fortunately there are options to skip seen dialogue and auto-play unseen dialogue. These options will help you to navigate the slog of each romantic path much quicker, and much more efficiently.
Not Quite What You Expected
Though the gameplay and replayability of Roommates were a let-down, its graphics were quite refreshing, and visually appealing. In other visual novels I’ve played, the graphics have been repetitive and somewhat dull. Here, however, there was a much greater variety of character expressions, environments, and backdrops. It felt much more authentic and colourful than other experiences I’ve had in the genre, which was a surprise. The music and background tracks sadly left a little to be desired. The main theme for instance was a little rough, and cheesy – but overall complimented the experience. The available gameplay options did a lot to improve my experience; it was nice to skip through dialogue I had already seen in the interest of spending my time on new content, and customise how I experienced the game.
On the whole, I had some fun while playing Roommates, but found the experience of chasing each ending to be a chore. I was intrigued by each of the characters, and found the visual presentation to stand out in the crowd of other visual novels, but in the end this wasn’t what motivated me to seek out each of their endings – my completionist tendencies were. If you’re a fan of dating sims, like micromanaging virtual lives, and have some spare time, you may like Roommates – but be prepared to refer to a guide the whole time in order to avoid any mistakes.
Rapid Reviews Rating
You can purchase Roommates for PlayStation 4 from the following link: PlayStation Store (UK)
You can find and read our reviews on OpenCritic.