Making a connection and finding imaginary love online has been a windfall for simulation game developers as hungry singles search for the best dating sims.
History of Sim Dating
Since the trend’s start in the ‘90s, it’s spiraled across the globe to become one of the hottest genres in simulator games today.
If you’re a gamer new to the community, you’ve likely done some precursory searches for dating sims. That being said, you already know there are a ton of them to choose from. If you’re an established fan of the games, you may be looking for something new to play.
For many, the best dating sim is a visual romance novel that includes dramatic elements. Put it all together, and you’ve got a recipe for finding onscreen love while keeping yourself amused.
Different Styles of Sim Dating
Of course, not everybody enjoys the same cup of java. What a friend might like just may not be your particular brand of beans. Different strokes for different folks and all that stuff. We get it.
So, in an effort to satisfy your flight stick or controller lust, we’ve assembled an interesting mix of some of the very best dating sims that most gamers agree are well worth playing. They range from the casual to the complex, the old to the new, and you can find humor in quite a few of them.
Best Dating Simulation Games
You won’t be trying to win the affections of or go out with birds, animals, or inanimate objects in any of these popular sims. It’s just people dating people, and each of these simulation games has been nominated for and/or won several awards.
#1: The Sims
The very first “The Sims” was developed by Maxis and published by Electronic Arts for Microsoft Windows back in February 2000.
Since then, there have been many more in this crazy-popular series, and endless expansion packages for each. In fact, in 2017, the “Guinness Book of World Records” recognized the franchise for having the “Most Expansion Packs for a Videogame Series” and as the “Best Selling PC Game Series.
Several of “The Sims” games feature dating opportunities. There’s “The Sims: Hot Date” from 2001.
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In “The Sims 3,” there’s a dating route where sims can have romantic interests, make a marriage proposal, get engaged, take the leap, have kids, and even get officially divorced.
Sims can have “woohoo” with each other, and to facilitate this, in “The Sims 4” romance route your particular sim can even have its own online dating app.
The list goes on and on. In addition to Microsoft Windows, the games can be played on the following: macOS, PS2, GameCube, Xbox, Game Boy Advance, Nintendo DS, PSP, Java ME, Android, BlackBerry OS, Bada, PS3, Xbox 360, Wii, Nintendo 3DS, PS4, Xbox One, iOS, and Windows Phone.
#2: Arcade Spirits
Just released in February 2019, this new romantic visual novel “follows an alternative timeline where the 1983 video game crash never occurred.”
The premise is it’s 20XX, and after a tumultuous work history, you land a gig at the Funplex, a popular local arcade.
Because it sees a crosshatch of unique characters, you’ll come into contact with customers and work-related individuals to potentially date in “Arcade Spirits.”
One of the really cool features about this dating sim is the ability to design your own character from top to bottom.
Everything from pronoun to skin tone, eye color, shade of hair and style, etc., is reflected in the game play and artwork displayed.
Roleplaying options allow players to grow their character’s personality and relationships in whichever direction they choose.
Friendships can be formed and remain platonic or work into something more, but there are seven possible characters to hook up with.
Developed by Fiction Factory Games, it’s available for Windows, Mac, and Linux.
#3: House Party
If you’re looking for some wild fun and adventure, this might just be it. An open-ended 3D social sim combined with a point-and-click game, “House Party,” relies on classic 1990’s comedies for its story structures with some raunch.
As with all dating sims, each decision a player makes changes the story’s direction and impacts the supporting characters.
While you’re able to interact with all of them, you can’t develop romantic relationships with each. If you actually want to pursue one, you’re required to complete different challenges or quests for them.
There are 12 characters in total, nine of which are female, so there are a lot of options to explore with over 25 story plots to consider.
Developed and improved by Eek! Games, it was initially released in 2015 and re-released in 2017. Sorry, this one’s for Windows only.
#4: Dream Daddy
A video game with an unusual premise, this dating sim allows players to choose between seven single dads looking for love. The story line revolves around a lonely single dad who’s recently moved to Maple Bay with his young daughter.
If you live nearby, you’re in luck, because the cul-de-sac he lives on is inhabited by a lot of handsome single fathers, any of which you can romance.
In 2017, Dream Daddy was nominated for “Best Visual Novel” for PC Gamer’s Game of the Year Awards, and for “Best Adventure Game” for IGN’s Best of 2017 Awards.
That same year, it took top honors for Game Informer’s “Biggest Surprise” award during their Adventure Game of the Year Awards.
This single-player visual novel was developed and published by Game Grumps. Originally released on July 20, 2017, for Microsoft Windows and macOS, it was eventually distributed for Linux, PlayStation 4, and Nintendo Switch.
If anime is your jam, there are countless interactive simulation games you can fully immerse yourself in. While often played from the POV of a male protagonist, dating sims are increasingly casting females in the role.
These first three in the genre are the best dating sims for women who want to do the choosing. The three that follow are geared toward guys in pursuit of girls.
- Mystic Messenger — Mega popular with mobile users, this South Korean interactive dating sim in the otome style allows you to experience a love story through an unusual messaging app. It’s a female-oriented visual novel where players download a strange app they find online called “Mystic Messenger.”
Via calls and texts, the app ultimately leads them to the apartment of someone named Rika. Once there, the app mysteriously connects with a mystic chat room full of hot guys belonging to a group known as RFA. They know Rika, but something has happened to her. What is it? You’ll have to find out.
Depending on the player’s choices, there are multiple endings for each character arc — of which there are many. Some of their ends are good, some are not. Released on August 8, 2016, by developer Cheritz, this single-player game is available in Korean, English, and Spanish on Android and iOS.
#6: Sweet Fuse: At Your Side
Again, straying from the male-lead format, this dating sim sees Saki Inafune, the female character, calling the shots.
Another otome mystery romance novel, Saki’s uncle is a famous Japanese game designer who’s held hostage on opening day at his theme park.
With the taking of Keiji Inafune, Saki is swept up into the drama and struggles to save him from his captor.
The theme park, fraught with danger, is where she randomly meets six handsome men over seven days of fighting. She has the opportunity to form bonds with each, but that’s totally up to you.
Saki can get pretty angry, so sometimes it doesn’t end well for them. Sweet Fuse has received strong reviews on Metacritic and various gamer sites.
Developed by Idea Factory and Comcept, it was released June 14, 2012, by Aksys Games. Available in English, it’s a single-player game for PSP, PSV, and PSTV.
#7: Shall we Date?: Ninja Love
One of the most popular dating simulation games on Google Play for apps, in “Shall We Date?” you’re a force to be reckoned with as a deadly ninja princess in pursuit of justice.
Along the way, you embark on a steamy romantic adventure full of surprises. The problem arises when you fall for the enemy and are forced to pick between your new love and your ninja brothers and sisters. Ouch!
There are 14 episodes which take approximately 5 hours to complete. The basic package features three characters.
If you like the game, you can purchase additional side stories and character packs. Those stories take around 20 minutes each.
Released in 2011, this otome-style interactive romance novel was developed and published by NTT Solmare. It’s available for Apple and Android platforms in English.
With beautifully illustrated characters and impressive backgrounds, this drama/romance visual novel offers a branching plot line and multiple endings.
Its lead is a boy named Tomoya Okazaki, and Part 1 of the story initially centers around Hikarizaka, a fictional private high school located in Japan.
Tomoya is disillusioned until he meets Nagisa Furukawa, a soft-spoken girl who is a year older than him. While she is the main heroine, Tomoya has encounters with four others throughout this incredibly complex journey. There’s a lot going on here, so if you’re looking for some meat, here it is.
Developed by Key, it was launched on Windows PCs in 2004 and eventually ported to other platforms such as PS2, PSP, PS Vita, PS3, S3G, FOMA, Xbox 360, and Android. Available in English and Japanese.
#9: The Flower Shop
Sometimes overlooked, don’t blow this two-part visual novel series off. It’s actually a popular dating sim for men because, as it turns out, it’s also a farming simulator. As the lead here, players assume the identity of a young college guy named Steve who grew up in the city.
In the first game, “Summer in Fairbrook,” the story begins with a troubled Steve facing problems on all fronts. To make matters worse, he ends up being forced to spend the entire summer on his uncle’s farm.
Once there and working hard, he learns several important lessons concerning friendships, like making them, maintaining them, and learning about real love in the process.
Written by Ayu Sakata, there are nine endings to both games. The sequel is entitled “The Flower Shop – Winter in Fairbrook.”
Developed and published by Winter Wolves, this single-player visual novel series was released on February 1, 2010, and December 8, 2011. It’s available in English for iOS, Linux, Android, Microsoft Windows, and Mac OS X.
#10: Katawa Shoujo
Regularly making the lists of Top 5 best visual games, “Katawa Shoujo” is a bishōjo-style visual novel.
It explores the story of a young man and five girls who attend a fictional Japanese school together known as Yamaku High School for Disabled Children.
A bit of an odd premise, but fans love this dating simulator. The protagonist is Hisao Nakai, an ordinary kid who undergoes dramatic life changes stemming from a congenital heart ailment.
After transferring to Yamaku, Hisao has the chance to come to terms with his medical situation and gradually adjust.
Along the way, the character meets each of the five girls that present opportunities for love. Depending on the choices you make as Hisao, the story splits off into multiple paths you can follow.
Presented by Four Leaf Studios, it was released on January 4, 2012, in English. Since then, it has become available in French, Spanish, Russian, Japanese, and Italian.
The single-player interactive game is available for Windows, Mac OS X, and Linux.
For Windows, Mac, and Linux users looking for a solid gaming source, try checking out Steam. It’s an online platform by Valve Software for downloading games straight to your computer. Launched in 2003, it’s extremely popular and described as the ultimate destination for playing, discussing, and creating games.
Members have instant access to nearly “30,000 games from AAA to indie and everything in-between.” You can benefit from exclusive deals, automatic game updates, and a number of other valuable perks on this pay-and-play platform.
User-friendly, navigating is a breeze. You can browse by category or genre and use multiple tags to refine your search.
You’re able to see game user scores with various ranking sites; when it was developed and released; any awards it’s received; information about the genre, art, style, and much, much more.
Free games and early access opportunities are also pretty sweet, along with the ability to share recommendations with friends or use Steam’s automated suggestion queue.
Itch.io is another popular source for this kind of all-in-one, user-friendly gamer service. Released in March 2013 by Leaf Corcoran, it’s asite for users to host, sell, and download indie games.
Users have access to around 100,000 games to choose from, and itch.io lets them host game jams, where entrants have a limited number of days to create a game. Some of the more notable jam events include Game Off and Game Maker’s Toolkit Game Jam.
While you’re browsing services like these, you might even find the best dating sim for you.
So overall, if you’re looking for love or just a fun fantasy from the real world, the best dating sims can help to provide you with that.
There’s a variety of platforms and games available to suit your needs and desires. Get online and start dating virtually.