In a world where there are cat people and there are dog people, I am absolutely unapologetically a dog person. I don’t have any problem with cats, but they don’t inspire in me the pure joy that dogs do. I feel like I might be a bit outside the norm for gamers, though, because you see a whole lot more cat-focused games than dog-focused ones.
I also don’t normally get super excited about dating sims, but I was prepared to make an exception for a (likely) Day One purchase for Best Friend Forever. Sure, it is absolutely a dating sim, but you also have a dog that you need to care for while trying to meet the love of your life in a new town. I was hoping would this would add just enough of a second game play layer to keep me invested.
Now that I’ve spent about an hour with the five-week long demo, I am completely and totally invested.
You’re new to a town where pretty much everyone owns a dog, so obviously, the first thing you do is go to an adoption event to get a dog of your own. You can choose from four Very Good Dogs (all of whom can be renamed after adoption). I chose Blocker, the silly mutt who couldn’t even pose right for a photo.
As with most dating sims, the majority of the game play revolves around choices you make in conversations, but you always have your best dog by your side, and sometimes, you need to pay attention to what is going on with him during conversations. Repeated clicks on your dog’s head can reassure him when he’s nervous, and if he’s pulling, you need to pull him back before he gets himself in trouble. When nature calls, you need to be right there to clean up after him.
When done properly, these tasks will improve your dogs stats, but if you neglect them, your dog will lose stats as well, so you absolutely need to pay attention. This game isn’t all about you, after all.
Because you’re a first time adopter, you will also need to perform weekly tasks to keep up with your dog’s training, or you risk losing him. Each week, you’ll be able to choose five enrichment activities, and three needs-based activities (such as brushing his teeth or rubbing him down with a towel). Some of these activities feel a little fiddly, and you absolutely can fail to accomplish the needs-based tasks, but so far, it doesn’t seem overly punishing.
You also will get the opportunity to do extra activities during the week, but those take motivation points which could be used on socialization activities or dates with the people in town. If you’ve already narrowed down the people that interest you, you might as well spend more of that time with your dog.
I am really enjoying the humor of Best Friend Forever (I feel seen), and I’m kind of madly in love with my fictional dog. The people you meet in Rainbow Bay aren’t half bad either. Although a final release has been pushed back a couple times now, I’m optimistic that the game will still be available for purchase before the end of the summer.