Mitch’s Otome Corner: Lover Pretend Review

Mitchell Lineham
6 min readFeb 5, 2023

I’ve wanted to review Otome games for a while, and it’s been a while since I’ve reviewed anything at all, and Lover Pretend has had me hooked recently. In fact, it has quickly become one of my favourite Otome games that I’ve played to date. I think it has helped to at least solidify for me that I prefer a more grounded Otome, rather than a fantastical one, not that that will stop me from buying every localised Otome game for Nintendo Switch!

Lover Pretend not only has great romantic routes, but it has an engaging overarching story too. Chiyuki Ueda has lost her family and lives alone as an aspiring screenwriter, hoping to track down information on her father after her mother and grandmother passed. Armed only with the knowledge that her mother wrote one movie, and that her father has to have been one of the cast or crew, Chiyuki forges ahead and is lucky enough to be working on a project that has several ties to her mother’s project.

This story ebbs and flows throughout each of the routes, culminating in the answers you’ve been looking for, and so even outside of the romance you’re encouraged to keep moving forward because the core plot is so engrossing. I actually picked up Lover Pretend after struggling to be engaged with Cupid Parasite (which I still plan to finish, although I have already finished one route) and I realised that a core part of that is that I’m not pulled into the larger story of the protagonist wanting to prove to her father that she can successfully live among humans — they’re Gods/Goddesses, by the way! There’s no mystery, and the plotline itself often isn’t brought up from what I played, with it almost being entirely forgotten throughout Shelby’s route. I’m sure it’s elaborated on later, but it just wasn’t present nor engaging enough to hook me the way I wanted it to, despite its gorgeous art.

Anyway, back to Lover Pretend. I love how it plays out, but the character routes are equally as enjoyable. There are routes where facets of a character don’t come out to play until very much near the end, and you might question your opinion of them, with your judgement perhaps mirroring or differening from that of Chiyuki. Of course, the happy ends are always going to be happy, but I liked that it felt that these characters went beyond the stereotypes of “aloof actor” and “childhood friend”, and expanded into something more. For what it’s worth, I think all the characters rounded out to be great, and Lover Pretend features one of my favourite main and supporting casts in the genre.

This isn’t really entire related to the quality of the game itself, but you know what I really liked? That Kazuma (seen above), the childhood friend, is the one heavily featured in the artwork. It’s usually always the “final route” character — which this game has and is locked behind the other four routes — so this was a refreshing, if not very minor, change from the usual.

My favourite Otome tend to feature protagonists who are strong and aren’t at the mercy of the love interests, and Chiyuki definitely proves herself both as a career-driven woman and as someone who is comfortable at knowing what she wants, or doesn’t want, from a partner. She’s up there with Kotone from Cafe Enchante for me, a game that I also love partially due to how strong the protagonist it.

Also, something else I quite like (though I don’t ultimately have incredibly strong feelings about it) but there’s no mascot character in this. Even in a story about making a movie, there’s not a mascot character. It’s refreshing, and whilst it might not overall really make a difference, I do feel it went just a little way in letting the story breathe and be as mature as it is. It features an older cast (protagonist and suitors alike, thankfully), and really leans into that aspect.

The visuals and music are both gorgeous, with plenty of CGs to get sucked into. The CGs are tied to good endings, so don’t expect anything too gruesome from the bad ends — these are mostly sad but do not do much to add to the story, characters or provide new CGs, so it’s easy to skip them if you’d prefer not to experience them. I did a couple but then just stuck to the happy and good ends.

Lover Pretend ticked a lot of boxes for me, and allowed the men to explore things that are usually seen as feminine, but are simply played out normally in the game. Kazuma, who does make-up and styling, I really enjoyed as a character, especially as I did make-up for a couple of years as part of theatre in school. I haven’t done it in years — you would not want me to do your make-up — but I really appreciated seeing a character do this without it being questioned or looked down on, especially as it’s a young man doing it. You’re doing good work, Lover Pretend!

This is all to say that I love this game. I do believe it’s one of the strongest Otome games on the market, and it strikes a great balance between comedy and drama without swaying too far into one side or the other. Comedy moments can be pretty darn funny, whilst the drama can be heart-wrenching, but the game knows when to let a moment breathe without distracting from it.

The final route is a bit questionable, although I appreciate how it finally answers persisting questions, but I find that Otome does often drop the ball on the final love interest route. It’s a good route, but not my favourite, and definitely has some topics that will make some — including myself — uncomfortable. It could have been handled better, but ultimately doesn’t sour my thoughts on the game as a whole.

If you’re into Otome and haven’t played Lover Pretend yet, then it’s a firm recommendation from me. And why should you listen to my opinion? Well, I don’t have an answer to that, but this game is dang good.

My routes, in order of favourite to least favourite, are: Sena > Harumi > Kazuma > Riku > Eiichirou.

Lover Pretend is published by Aksys Games for Nintendo Switch.

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Mitchell Lineham

Writing "The Presence of Eve", repped by Tiger Lily Publishing Co. | Hang around for Otome and Games | Mostly active here, Instagram, Letterboxd and Goodreads