Best Friend Forever is a dating/dog raising sim that introduces you to the adorable town of Rainbow Bay and some of the wonderfully colourful characters that live there. The trailer drew me in and the characters stole my heart with a unique approach to the genre. However, the question remains whether everything in this idealistic town is worth the time it takes to play?
Best Friend Forever follows a typical dating sim style; you speak to romantic interests with the intention (if you so incline) to date them. My favourite aspect of the Best Friend Forever gameplay was the added dog raising simulation which had the player attempt to improve on all your dogs stats each week whilst intertwining well with the plot progression. I have played many a dating sim on the switch and having the two blend together so seamlessly really appealed to me. The dog raising sim aspect was done quite well; after each week, I felt accomplished in how far my dog was coming along. Although when I saw my dog’s stats compared to the other dogs at the check-ins, I realised just how behind mine was. Apparently I’m just not meant to own virtual dogs.
Throughout each interaction that you have, your dog will always sit around the bottom right hand corner of your screen. Be wary though as there will be quick time events that occur at random moments, some of which will involve you stopping your dog from digging or being scared and then there will be others like having to pick up your dogs poo bags and discarding them before the timer runs out. I found that these moments in particular were cumbersome when using the standard controls as you play with a cursor which ultimately felt quite slow. I definitely recommend playing Best Friend Forever on the touch screen – trust me, it’ll be much easier.
The biggest issue I had with the gameplay were the glitches. SO. MANY. GLITCHES. I found myself really enjoying Best Friend Forever until all of a sudden, I was at the library talking to Felix without him even being present. It was a weird experience, to say the least. Have you ever tried to romance someone in person who wasn’t there? I haven’t, but from my playthroughs of this game, I can imagine it would be hard. It at the very least took me out of the enjoyable experience I was having up until that point. I tried to give Best Friend Forever the benefit of the doubt, but it kept happening to different characters at different times. After playing through the game three times and it kept happening, I was definitely disappointed. That, however, was not the most frustrating glitch. On my first playthrough, I reached the end of the game and the second-to-last scene continuously repeated itself in a frustrating loop. Over and over again I watched the same scene. I exited, I tried to reload, I quit and nothing helped. Needless to say, I was upset; I had tried to overlook the earlier glitches of my potential love interests not being present for our dates or conversations but to have the game have a moment right at the end like that was just upsetting. Obviously, this may be patched in a future update and I certainly hope that happens soon; perhaps do your research on the game’s update history before you click that Proceed to Purchase button.
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Best Friend Forever follows your character as they embark on a new chapter of their life. In the first half hour of the game, you’ll find yourself in your new apartment having met a choice of dogs for you to adopt and potentially the person of your dreams. Through playing the game, you will trigger events with your potential suitors and some of the other NPCs, just like in typical dating sim fashion. I really enjoyed the overall story but it definitely contained points that felt underwhelming and unfulfilled. In my first playthrough, I dated Felix, the hunky librarian and amateur podcaster. When I finally got a chance to finish the game and had the closing wrap up scenes that went through what happened to each character, I found that nothing was said about the relationship that I had spent the past 15 in-game weeks building. The wrap up scene also called my dog Bear the Valedictorian… which he wasn’t, he was closer to being the dunce of the class.
It was also underwhelming that the dog raising sim aspect didn’t seem to affect how your character can interact with the other characters. For a game that was billed as being a mix of the two, having them blend in seamlessly together would’ve just added so much more cohesion to the story and more depth to the game.
Graphics / Art Direction
The graphics and art direction can be summed up in one word: cute. I absolutely loved how bright and colourful Best Friend Forever was; Rainbow Bay really lived up to the rainbow part of its name. The design felt simplistic in the best way imaginable as there weren’t any unnecessary add-ons for the sake of adding frills. I honestly really enjoyed the art style in the game and if it hadn’t been for the glitches, I would’ve happily replayed the game over and over and still would’ve enjoyed the visual aesthetic every time.
Music / Sound Design
The music in the game is relatively simple and upbeat. It matches the artwork perfectly in its use of bright sounds and midi synth soundtrack. When first opening the game, I found myself really enjoying the music but after playing the Best Friend Forever through a few times, and although there are moments when there is a tonal shift in the music to match the story, I did find it to get a little repetitive.
Sound effects are scattered throughout and they do add some depth to the game. In moments when you are bonding with your dog for example, I ultimately did enjoy their additions however, I can’t say the same for the voice acting. I really do appreciate the work of voice actors but it didn’t feel as though the use of their clips were done at the right moments and when they happened in conjunction with the aforementioned glitches, it just came off as disconnected and unnatural.
Final Score: 57%
When I first saw the trailer for Best Friend Forever in the August 2019 indie World Presentation, I was keen to play a game that combined my love for dogs and dating sims. Unfortunately, Best Friend Forever falls short in the biggest two aspects of the simulation genre, and whilst there are still many things Starcolt have done right, I had hoped that after delaying the game’s release, it would feel much more polished than it is.
Thank you for checking out our Best Friend Forever switch review, thank you to Popagenda PR for providing the review code and thank you to our $5 and up Patreon Backers for their ongoing support:
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