Gaming

Disappoint Your Family By Bringing These Dating Simulator Games To Christmas

Dating Simulator

Video games let us experience many things that we otherwise wouldn’t. We can fistfight monsters. We can save and establish kingdoms. We can pierce the hearts of gods. And we can get dates.

Christmas is a time when families gather around, meals are shared, and all of us have to come up with answers to questions such as “is there anybody special in your life?” It’s an annual ritual that everyone hates yet continues to perform, because we’re all desperate for human connection but don’t know how to express love to people we rarely see.

This Christmas, learn how to love with these visual novels and dating sims. Yes, romancing a pigeon isn’t the same as bonding with your grandma, but we all have to start somewhere. Think of these as affection training wheels. If you can connect with a human-headed horse, you can connect with anyone.

Dream Daddy: A Dad Dating Simulator

Dads. Most of them have boned. This is how they became dads. We don’t like to think about it, but it’s a truth that must be acknowledged if we are to accept dads as people.

Dream Daddy helps us reconcile with this uncomfortable fact, placing you in the shoes of an eligible single dad out to meet some other, equally eligible single dads. You have a new home, a daughter who you are very proud of, and a healthy romantic appetite. To sate this appetite there are seven sexy dads available for romance, including Cool Youth Minister Dad Joseph Christiansen, “Goth Dad” Damien Bloodmarch and “Fitness Dad” Craig Cahn.

The game also lets you do dad things, like brag about your kid and make terrible jokes, for the complete dad experience.

Animal Lover

Have you ever looked at a hamster and thought, “Yeah, they could get it?” Well now they actually can, thanks to Animal Lover. To be clear, you aren’t actually dating a hamster, so sorry to disappoint. But you’re getting the next best thing: A human that was magically transformed into a hamster. Or a cat. Or a dog. Or a ferret. The zoo is your oyster.

The dateable fur boys come from different times as well, so you aren’t just dating a hamster — you’re dating a hamster that is also a prince, or a ferret that is also a ‘70s punk, or a dog that is also a ‘90s jock. Why settle for just one romantic fantasy when you can mush them together into a giant fantasy turducken?

Aside from finding the furry animal of your dreams, you’re also trying to save all of them from turning into animals forever. Happily ever after therefore won’t involve you introducing a dog as your significant other. Maybe that’s for the best.

My Horse Prince

Can’t choose between dating a man or a horse? Split the difference and date a horse with a man’s head.

I imagine My Horse Prince is what happens when Horse Girls organise and make a game. Unlike the other games in this list, My Horse Prince only has one love interest, but it really only needs one. It isn’t as though you’d choose to date anyone else when there’s a human-headed horse available.

My Horse Prince is a mobile game too, so you can carry your equine boyfriend with you and proudly show off him whenever you want to test a friendship.

Monster Prom

It’s coming up on prom night at the monster school, and you are a dateless loser. Fortunately, Monster Prom gives you three weeks to woo a fellow student, options including a ghost, a gorgon and a vampire. Unfortunately, it won’t be as easy as simply choosing someone, as you must literally compete against other players for your lovebun’s affections.

Though this multiplayer game wears the skin of a dating sim, it can be more adequately described as a party game. The appeal isn’t in getting to know these relatively shallow characters and forming an emotional bond with them. The appeal is in cockblocking your friend who wants to bone the werewolf.

Doki Doki Literature Club

When I was in high school I went through a period in which I attempted to write poems. While art is subjective and beauty is in the eye of the beholder, in the eye of any beholder my poems were subjectively terrible. Fortunately, Doki Doki’s Literature Club merely has you choose words from a list, which grows different girls’ affection for you depending upon what you pick.

However, like poetry, Doki Doki Literature Club is not as simple as it initially appears. Before you begin, the game cautions that you’re agreeing to see “highly disturbing content” — and it delivers. Be warned: Despite its sweet appearance, this is not an innocent game. This is a fourth-wall-breaking exercise in extremely unsettling horror, insidious fear and gore.

In some ways, it’s just like falling in love.

Panzermadels: Tank Dating Simulator

Why date something made of perishable flesh when you can date 70 tonnes of steel? The dateable tanks in Panzermadels don’t look like tanks, but don’t let that fool you. They’re actually sophisticated pieces of equipment designed to look like teenage girls for infiltration purposes.

Each tank also has a personality based upon their country’s attitude during World War II. There’s a surprising amount of historic and military knowledge backing up this game, though the it still revels in stereotypes and double entendres about being inside tanks. This is a tank girl dating sim, after all.

Hatoful Boyfriend

I would never hear the end of it if I didn’t include Hatoful Boyfriend. This bird-dating simulator popularised unconventional dating sims in the West. In this game you are a human girl with a variety of avian suitors. Not people transformed into birds, or birds disguised as humans. Straight up birds.

The birds can talk and possess human-level intelligence, so it isn’t as weird as it could be. But there’s also an unlockable story mode involving decapitation and dismemberment, so it’s still pretty weird.

Doodle Date

If you can’t find a dating sim to suit your specific aesthetic interests, Doodle Date lets you draw your own date. Want to date a Disney-princess proportioned supermodel? Done. A tentacled eldritch abomination? Go for it. A horse with two men’s heads? Nobody’s judging. 

The only limitation is your drawing skills — which, to be fair, it a significant limitation. Unless you have a drawing tablet your paramour probably won’t come out looking as you envisaged. But real beauty comes from within, apparently, so it’s a good exercise in learning to love someone even though they look like they’ve been through a blender. Shout out to Grandma. Love you.