Lover Pretend Review (Nintendo Switch)

Release Date: December 1, 2022 (North America)
Developers:  Otomate
Publishers:  Aksys Games
Platforms:  Nintendo Switch
ESRB Rating: T (Teen)


SYNOPSIS

Chiyuki is a college student with dreams: One, to become a scriptwriter like her late mother, and two, to find her father, whom she’s never met.

Living alone with no romantic experience whatsoever, Chiyuki struggles with writing stories about love. But one day, on the hunt for clues for the identity of her father, Chiyuki learns that he may have been involved in the production of a romantic drama based on a script her mother wrote before she was born.

In a stroke of good luck, she lands a job for a new show working with the same director. On its production crew are the sons of the men who worked on that very program.

Chiyuki searches for answers as she tries her best at her new job. But as fate would have it,  the young men are all vying for her attention and distracting her from the task at hand. Chiyuki tells herself she’s simply pretending and this isn’t really love, or is it?

Will Chiyuki, who knows nothing of real love, be able to write her own story?

-(From Aksys Games’ Lover Pretend Official site)

ART AND MUSIC

Director: Hiroe Aoki, Nao Kojima (Producer)
Overall Illustrator: Rito Fuji, Uta Natsume (Chibi)
Scenario Writer: Kanan Misaki
BGM/Composer: Toshinori Orikura
OP/ED Themes by: Mao (lyrics), Mitsuki Nakae

I was practically blown away by how beautiful the game’s CGs were. Like, my goodness! It goes without saying that in terms of character design and overall art, Lover Pretend was completely a standout!

Fun Fact: Rito Fuji, who was in charge of Lover Pretend’s overall character design, is also the illustrator behind the new Otomate titleSympathy Kiss. This artist has also illustrated in the past a few of our favorite otome game LIs, such as Nicola Francesca from Piofiore, and Misyr Rex from Café Enchanté, during these game’s release commemorations.

Bonus: Check out Lover Pretend’s main characters drawn by Otomate’s popular artists below:

(1st Row) From L-R: Kazuma by Sakigumi Shiki (Hakuoki SSL artist), Harumi by Yuuya (CupiPara, CE artist), Sena by RiRi (Piofiore artist).
(2nd Row) From L-R: Riku by Miko (Code Realize artist), Chiyuki by Toka, Asagi by Kageroo Usuba (VariBari artist).

The game’s OP and ED themes were a bop. And I appreciated the cutesy BGMs that matched the game’s lighthearted tone. You can purchase Lover Pretend’s OST bundled together with the Nintendo Switch game at Aksys Games’ official store.

Voice Acting

Part of my overall enjoyment of playing Lover Pretend was that it had ALL of my favorite seiyuus as its main cast, so I really enjoyed the voice acting for this game. Their performances were just spectacular, make no mistake!

Makoto Furukawa as “Kazuma Kamikubo”Yoritomo (Birushana), Lugus (Psychedelica of the Ashen Hawk), Allan Melville (Cupid Parasite), Crius Castlerock (even if Tempest), Adage (Steam Prison), Ookurikara (Touken Ranbu)

Kengo Kawanishi as “Harumi Makino”Noritsune (Birushana), Rosho Tsutsujimori (Hypnosis Mic), Nansen Ichimonji (Touken Ranbu), Gen Asagiri (Dr. Stone), Munakata (Hiiro no Kakera), Roland Fortis (The Case Study of Vanitas)

Tatsuhisa Suzuki as “Yukito Sena”Akuroou (Dairoku), Ranmaru (Utapri), Mitsuru Hinase (Shinigami to Shoujo), Yuma Mukami (Diabolik Lovers), Daisuke Anayama (Shinobi Koi), Kakouton (Juuzaengi)

Maeno Tomoaki as “Riku Nishijima” Lupin (Code Realize), Yamanbagiri (Touken Ranbu), Red (TaiAli), Camus (Utapri), Radius (Period Cube), Keisuke Sanjo (CollarxMalice), Kunitaka Tojo (Winters Wish)

Toshiyuki Morikawa as “Eiichirou Asagi”Shigure (Yoshiwara Higanbana), Onimaru (Touken Ranbu), Thoth (Kamigami no Asobi), Aogami (Shin Megami Tensei), Arles (Black Wolves Saga), Carla (Diabolik Lovers), Olga (PotAH), Lizaru (Jakou no Lyla)


MAIN CHARACTERS AND ROUTES

You can play Kazuma, Harumi, Yukito, and Riku’s route at the start. Asagi’s route will only unlock after finishing the previous four. There’s no recommended route order from LP’s dev team. However, I’ve read from Otomate’s official blog that some fans are suggesting Riku’s route be played last due to it having the best pacing among the four. So I pretty much did just that. Each of the routes does not spoil the other, so I believe you can start with whichever boy you fancy first. ♡(>ᴗ•) My soft recommended route order is Kazuma = Harumi = Yukito → Riku → Asagi. I played mine in this order: Kazuma → Harumi → Yukito → Riku → Asagi, and was pretty happy about this sequence.

Each route entangles Chiyuki to play the part of a ‘fake lover’ along with her respective love interest. As clearly advertised in the game’s premise, part of the story involves the heroine and the LI lying about their relationship. As a full-blown fanatic of Ji-eun and Yeong-jae’s fake marriage in Full House, I am totally a sucker for this trope!😂 However, if you are perhaps uncomfortable with this fictional concept, this game may not be for you.

Walkthroughs:

KAZUMA KAMIKUBO

  • childhood friend
  • genki

Kazuma is Chiyuki’s best friend and the only friend who stuck by her since their high school years. He’s a very cheery and energetic person who’s always looking out for the heroine. He works as an apprentice stylist specializing in hair and make-up and strives hard to become a first-class professional in his field one day.

Kazuma’s route was the conventional childhood friend otome route. It’s very, how should I put this…cliche? banal? I didn’t wanna stereotype this into anything, but pretty much, this route amusingly spells out the ‘by-the-book-childhood-friend’ tropeNot that this is anything bad or uninteresting. It’s just that nothing particularly stood out to me here as far as how Kazuma’s story panned out. I do think Kazuma’s character was very likable though! I mean, what’s not to like about a genki LI voiced by Makoto Furukawa?😆

Kazuma and Chiyuki were best friends since junior high, so evidently, something has already sparked between the two, whether it was their bonafide bond as best friends or perhaps alien feelings that remained unexplored. Either way, I thought their blossoming romance felt very convincing because of their already-established relationship. It was cute how they realized their fondness for each other, and I’m glad they decided to talk about it like adults instead of leaving the issue in the dark (like how most cliched childhood-friend stories in shoujo mangas fare lol). All in all, a cute route…not a fav, but still very cute!

HARUMI MAKINO

  • bb, gentleman (luv him sm! must protect at all cost!)
  • secretly otaku

The only son of the famous director Yuzo Makino. Harumi is a very reserved third-year college student who seemingly dislikes getting involved with other people. Despite his cold and aloof persona, he gets quite a lot of fangirls at his school fawning over him because of his good looks. Harumi and Chiyuki work together as assistants in Yuzo Makino’s new film.

I have a penchant for immediately liking a pink haired LI voiced by Kengo Kawanishi. So, at a glance, I was already fixated on Harumi’s character even before starting this game.🤪 Luckily, his story did NOT disappoint, and I couldn’t be anymore happier with it! First of all, Harumi’s fleshed-out eccentric character was the bare bones of this route. He’s literally a misunderstood boy who struggles with being himself around others, afraid that he’ll be negatively judged by society (Huh…I’m sure a lot of us can relate!).😂 It honestly took me by surprise how he was all along, this adorable otaku dork- just trying to get by the qualms of social fallacies. What a precious bean! Must protect!🥺

Chiyuki and Harumi also went through the stages of romance, and I was very impressed with how genuine their relationship development turned out. I adored Chiyuki’s musings about Harumi. And her getting plenty of inspiration just from happily thinking about their days spent together was so heartfelt. These are exactly the nuances I have been craving in a romance-focused game, and Harumi’s route delivered, hook, line, and sinker!

My only gripe during this route was Harumi’s little spat with his father. But I admittedly, couldn’t care about it because this was all resolved right away, and needless to say, this conflict didn’t drag or dull his story’s course. Also, I thought Harumi’s ‘Good Ending’ hit bullseye with all the right feels (became one of my favs, tbh) so be sure not to skip it!(„• ᴗ •„)

YUKITO SENA

  • playboy with layers
  • #yourmeowmeow 😂

Yukito Sena is the famed top model who’s known for his carefreeness and very lax attitude. Though, despite his easygoing outlook in the public eye, he never fails to take his responsibilities seriously. His natural charm and modeling skills are second to none, and he is surprisingly rather good at acting too.

Being not so big on the flirty archetype, Yukito was probably the character I was the least bit interested in out of the bunch. But he clearly blew my expectations away, and I’ve got to admit, as I parse my thoughts for this review, I am quite annoyed and frustrated with myself for being in such complete denial about how much I loved and adored Yukito Sena! (cackles) 😩 This route was perhaps the most satisfying in terms of both the protagonist and the LI achieving their career goals. Yukito, despite being branded as a ‘womanizer’ was also a fine gentleman at heart, and in all honesty, was the only LI that shined the most for the game’s entirety. Even in other routes, he continued to show his care and support for Chiyuki, the least you expect it. It was really hard not to get smitten by his kind gestures throughout the game.

During his route, Yukito also brought out the best in Chiyuki’s character growth. What’s funny is that unlike most heroine x LI relationships in Otome games, where the heroine plays therapy with the guys to heal them, this route throws away that notion and does a subtle reverse. Making Yukito THE therapy for the introverted Chiyuki. To be honest, I am totally taken aback by this realization just now. (laughs) 😂 I seriously was not expecting to like him this much, but here we are… Anyway, Yukito is not even my oshi in LP, but given how satisfying his route was, I have no doubts he’ll become a favorite to many.

That is not to say this route didn’t have any setbacks. There was one scene that really dampened the momentum of his story (for me), which was a shame because it was all going too well until that particular scene. Was the whole prolonged scenario with Kirari in Ep.7 really necessary? I wonder? 🤨

RIKU NISHIJIMA

  • ...🎭
  • romcom angst 👀

Riku Nishijima is the son of the famous actor Kosuke Nishijima. Born with a talent for acting, Riku is well-liked by everyone because of how effortlessly he performs any role assigned to him with finesse and perfection. He is gentle and kind to everyone he meets, including his fans. He is also friendly towards the movie staff and the crew he works with on movie sets.

Good grief! Just when you think the game couldn’t get any better, then comes Riku Nishijima’s route. Hnng. I’m so glad I actually played his route last because my goodness…was this a romcom rollercoaster or what?😳 Admittedly, I’m also very biased with Maeno characters, so his acting may have also amplified my enjoyment of Riku’s story.😅 To be honest, Riku’s ‘plot’ was very B-tier kdrama – unrealistic, and the conflict here logically doesn’t make sense but…hear me out! How this route was written, its pacing and its unending dramafied scenarios single-handedly ticked all my guilty pleasure boxes. Before I knew it, I found myself glued to my switch screen breezing through this route at 3 AM on a work night. And I have no regrets!😤

I liked how predictably-unpredictable Riku’s character was, if that makes sense. (laughs)🤭 His perplexing personality, I have to admit, was quite endearing. I love seeing him bickering with Chiyuki and their banters were perhaps the most fun I’ve encountered in this title. Their chemistry as a couple was so good that I even had to replay some of their iconic scenes. I was very much entertained, to say the least. Overall, this route was great. Riku was great! No surprise, to the LI who won the game’s popularity poll…har har!🤭 It was peak romcom and will probably get you caught up in the Riku-high in no time!

EIICHIROU ASAGI

  • sensei route ¬‿¬
  • secret route, but not really

Eiichirou Asagi is Chiyuki’s professor and mentor. Besides being a guest lecturer at Chiyuki’s University, he is also known as a famous scriptwriter who has written a number of drama series and movies that are famously known all over Japan. In the game’s prologue, we see him offering the protagonist a job as his assistant and a chance to work with Yuzo Makino’s new upcoming film.

It never really dawned on me that Eiichirou’s character was actually a secret route, to begin with. The trailer and the game’s OP pretty much showcased him as if he’s one of the main LIs, so I kind of assumed he is indeed one, and his route was just locked til the finale.🤷‍♀️ Otomate has also heavily advertised him during their LP pre-promotions and release commemorations.🤣 So I’m honestly baffled how this was all supposed to be “secret”… (cackles) Anyway…

I’m actually sad that this route was a bit short. I loved Asagi-sensei as a character as well as a love interest. Quite shocking too, since the trope they showcased here was my least fav. otome game trope in some games, (cough). But oddly enough, I ended up enjoying this route as a whole.😳 In my opinion, I think the writers did a great job tying all the loose ends together during this finale. This route also featured the typical shoujo-manga twist, and yes, it was very cliché and convenient (and possibly overdone too), but it felt right for the story, so I wasn’t the least bit mad about this. If anything, this sort of reminded me a lot of Marmalade Boy, somehow…So I guess, all’s well that ends well?

CHIYUKI UEDA (Main Heroine)

  • introverted cutie
  • best girl!

Chiyuki is a third-year college student in the field of arts, who aspires to become a successful screenplay writer someday. Because of her rocky family situation, Chiyuki lived a very busy independent life and she’s always hustlin’ and bustlin’ taking care of her home, making sure her studies are up to standard, as well as actively taking up part-time jobs to be able to afford life’s necessities. Because she’s always a busybody, she grew up having no friends and no time to make friends, save for Kazuma.

An introverted, antisocial heroine? Sign me up! Chiyuki immediately warmed up to me the moment she revealed her introverted quirks. She’s not fond of being around many people due to her past experiences at school. She hates being pitied by others because of her family’s situation. So, to avoid feeling dejected, she normally stays away from any social interaction instigated by her classmates and remains very closed off. She also admitted that keeping up with highly outgoing individuals drains her energy.😂 Despite this, she remains very positive and optimistic towards her goals.

Chiyuki is also very earnest, practical (especially when it comes to money), highly independent, and hardworking to a fault, and I’ve never related to a heroine this much. I am absolutely enamored by her character. She’s pretty great throughout the entire game, though this might just be my biased opinion since I immediately clicked with her personality right off the bat.🤣 This heroine was also very stingy, a bit cheeky, and comedic at times. She showed so much character growth in every single route. I loved how quickly she adapted to each of the guy’s personalities, as she consistently held her own. I also love how she’s always on top of her game when it comes to her priorities!😂

Chiyuki’s one braincell: 50% OFF MILK > > > > > > Date with Boyfriend

Sure, she was naive when it comes to love and even quite dense sometimes, though this was all justified by her background (her daddy issues and subconscious fear of being abandoned). Chiyuki has also continuously surprised me whenever she revealed a flawed side of her, like being jealous, highly competitive, selfish, and emotional. She’s too real, and this is why I think this heroine was a breath of fresh air. All in all, a very relatable protagonist that’ll no doubt join my fav. MC shrine.


SYSTEM AND LOCALIZATION

Lover Pretend has one of the cutest and cleanest UI I’ve seen from Otomate’s recent roster of new titles. I’m such a fan of the pastel coral hues that were basically its main theme, so I find the game interface very easy on the eyes. As for the “Pretend Time”… well, I can’t say I was a fan of it.😩 The game only allows you to save before Pretend Times sessions happen, and you cannot scum save during each of the choices. Luckily, the questions weren’t that hard to analyze, sometimes way too easy even, but the ten-second timer felt like a ticking bomb that had me scrambling like an idiot on my first few attempts. (cackles) 😂 It took a while for me to get used to it, ngl.

Some of the Pretend Times were also immersive breaking (for me). For example, there was a scene in Kazuma’s route where I actually deemed a high point of his story, and instead of getting absorbed by the scene itself, I was instead panicking, trying to come up with the right answers. Anyway, this can only be circumvented if you use my walkthroughs. heh! (no shame in self-promoting here lol).😂

🎬Backstage

These are short stories found in the extra section of the game, which you can unlock after completing a few routes. Most of them involve LP’s main cast and side characters, and these brief little episodes were all comedy galore! It’ll make you cringe in a good way.😂 A couple of these extra stories are also the guy’s POVs during their respective routes. So be sure to read them as they contain very essential nuances & quirks that heighten certain scenes in their stories. Plus, they unlock a CG!

The game also has a “Jump to next choice” button (➤ Right Key) which was a huge help while trying to unlock different combos for the cursed Pretend Times! lol

As for the localization, it was surprisingly very pleasant. The comedy was spot on, and the amusing, witty dialogues of the game were translated remarkably well. There were a few typos and spelling errors I’ve spotted, but nothing egregious or even close, and they were almost unnoticeable.


TRAILER


OVERALL THOUGHTS

It took me around 40-45 hours to finish this title, and I was playing it mostly docked and in auto-mode. This includes unlocking all the endings, playing all the short stories, and reading through the game’s character profiles. I have to say, I breezed through this title pretty quickly.

Lover Pretend’s story was very lightsome and easy to read. There were no elaborate plots, no impending deaths you need to worry about, and nothing too serious happened during the stories that’ll make you bawl your eyes out for hours on end. The entirety of the game was simply a very cozy slice-of-life drama enough to make you giggle and feel warm & fuzzy inside. If anything, it gave me that toasty feeling similar to whenever I re-watch my favorite classic k-dramas/j-dramas.

I must admit, when it comes to otome games, the modern-day romance settings aren’t usually my cup of tea. So initially, I had no expectations whatsoever for Lover Pretend. Jokes on me though, because this game absolutely blew me away! I was very surprised by how much I easily vibed with the setting, the characters, and the heroine overall.  The game’s simplicity was a reminiscence of the old-school formulaic romance in shoujo mangas. It is over-the-top cliché with its tropes, but it was done fairly well, which hit all the right notes for me. Perhaps it was also because I used to take a lot of film prod classes back in college (and did a few production gigs in my prime 👵 rofl)  that I was immediately engrossed by the game’s atmosphere. The film camp they portrayed during the common route was very spot-on too. It really brought me so much nostalgia!😭 

All of the LIs were very likable and I believe were all good matches for the protagonist, Chiyuki. The human issues tackled in their subplots were straightforward and uncomplicated at best. And the conflicts that arise from their stories didn’t drag on for too long. Not to mention, were all satisfyingly resolved at the end of each route. It really was a rom-com game done right.

As for who ended up being my oshi, as a box pusher, it was honestly very tough to decide lol (all the guys were just too good). I loved Harumi to death & will fight to protect this boy with everything I have.😤 On the other hand, Riku’s rollercoaster route, with all its pleasantries got me my guilty pleasure fix.😏 And then you have Yukito Sena, who I’ve amicably grown attached to for the entire game. (laughs) So yeah, I actually have no clue!😂 Jokes aside, here’s my character and route ranking for now:

Character Ranking: Harumi > Riku = Sena > Asagi > Kazuma
Route Ranking: Riku > Harumi > Sena > Asagi > Kazuma

Do I recommend this game? YES.
Lover Pretend has proven to me continuously that a game doesn’t have to be heavy-toned, filled with angst and edgy content to be deemed interesting. Sometimes a simple plot about ‘pretending to be lovers’ can be as compelling as the latter. I swear this isn’t a pun.😂 ha ha! All things considered, I was thoroughly impressed with how much I’ve enjoyed this title. The entire game was very entertaining from start to finish and it kept me wanting for more.

This title sells the modern-day-romance trope so well that even if you’re not into this genre, you will still find enjoyment in the game because of how well-written and nicely paced the scenarios are. Keep in mind, this game is by no means perfect, though. But I do believe it’s one for the books!

I also thought this was a perfect title to play during the holidays while snug in your warm fluffy, velvety blanket. So If you’re still on the fence about getting this game at launch, consider this a soaring recommendation from yours truly!😘

CHLO’S RATING: 8/10


9 thoughts on “Lover Pretend Review (Nintendo Switch)

  1. so glad you enjoyed this one and recommend it, i was holding off on pre-ordering it but i definitely will now and the art is so gorgeous 😭 thank you for the review!!

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Thank you for this early review! I was waiting for your impressions on this one before P-ordering my copy! I am now fully convinced and just purchased the game from Amazon haha! hope it’ll arrive on time! I was really burned from all the heavy plot of a few otome games and BL titles I have been playing recently so I just want something light to relax for the holidays and this game seems the perfect fit! Thanks again for recommending it!
    PS Im a long time lurker of your site, always a fan of your funny and witty reviews keep up the good work!

    Liked by 2 people

  3. When I first saw previews of Lover Pretend, it gave me Cupid Parasite vibes (without the paranormal/fantasy setting), so it was definitely something I was looking forward to! I’m happy to hear that you enjoyed the game and can’t wait to play it myself!

    Thanks for the great review as always Chlo!

    Liked by 2 people

  4. I was actually just thinking how I wanted a simple, (actually) cozy title, so this couldn’t have come at a more perfect time for me. As always, your review is amazing and does a thorough job of explaining the game without spoiling it.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. i think this will be my next title after CupiPara!! I’m really into more casual and cozy titles instead of the drama filled gems (Collar x Malice is a forever favorite but got did it give me palpitations!) thank you for yet another amazing review and walkthroughs ❤

    Liked by 2 people

  6. I was so excited for this otome the moment it was announced, it just looks so cute and fluffy, which is rare for localized otome! I pre-ordered it along with the Piofiore fandisc, but as much as I was excited for the Piofiore fandisc, I actually ended up not having played that yet but played Lover Pretend the moment it arrived at my door. I’ve only played through the prologue and chapter 1 so far but I am in *love*!! It’s just so cute, I love the art, the aesthetic, and all the characters so far. The MC is definitely gonna go in my top MC’s I can already feel it, she’s just so relatable!!

    Really glad to hear you enjoyed this game though, despite my excitement I was a little worried because I read quite a few negative reviews on it before it was localized. I didn’t read your entire review, just the overall thoughts portion since I didn’t want any spoilers, but I’m really excited to get through this game! Thank you as always for your reviews and walkthroughs 💕 your walkthroughs will definitely carry me through the Pretend Times :,)

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I just finished Harumi’s GOOD End, followed your advice to not skip and aaaaaaaaaah oh me oh my! My heart! That ending will definitely be one of my favorite romcom endings ever!!! Anyone reading this comment: PLS PLAY THAT ENDING YOU WILL NOT REGRET IT!

    THANK YOU SO MUCH for the walkthrough and for recommending the game. I was not going to get any other game until the year ends other than Pokemon but when I saw you rated this high I immediately jump the gun and bought it haha no regrets because I am loving this game so far. Already done two routes and Harumi is so far top bae! I don’t think I can move from Harumi T_T he’s such a good tsundere.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Yes yes yes! I have to x3 that and say the same and hype everyone to not skip the Good End of Harumi!
    I wasn’t very interested in playing the good end, but after the walk-through suggestion I was like what do I have to lose and then… 😍🤩🤐😱

    Liked by 1 person

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