Character archetypes and tropes are something we deal with in all our media; shows, movies and comic books all fall into these traps. In all fairness, the idea that it’s all been said and done before is relatively true. It’s hard to find a completely original idea out there that doesn’t somehow seem comparable to another.
Otome games seem to suffer from this issue a lot. If you’ve ever played a dating sim, there’s always very common themes to the characters; the “bad” one, the “good” one, the funny one, the loner and so on. Have no fear, there are games out there with characters that bend the rules, even if it’s just a little.
Hustle Cat: Reese
Hustle Cat is a fantastic dating sim you can find on Steam. It has a variety of characters who are individualistic in their own right, but Reese has always been very distinct for the barriers he breaks. Reese, the assistant manager of the cafe, loves being in charge, takes on responsibility, pranks his fellow employees and deals with a lot of things beneath the surface.
What I’ve always admired about Reese is that he has a lot of complex things going on in his character archetype that make him distinguished. He’s not just “the responsible one” type of character or the one with a inferiority complex. Reese acknowledges where he’s strong and where he lacks, rather than just tearing himself down like many dating sim characters do.
He also challenges a lot of stereotypes and ideals. He’s tough and a little bossy with his fellow employees but he also has a love for his magic and for utilizing it to design and create clothing. His “hard ass” archetype is more of a surface facade where he’s really a stressed out guy who wants to help. Reese, and everyone at The Cat’s Paw, is A+.
The Arcana: Nadia
The Arcana is a mobile otome game that’s updated by “book” for each character; currently there are three characters with ongoing stories you can date. Nadia is one of the female options and she is absolutely stunning in the way she’s challenged her roles.
Firstly, Nadia is the countess. Throughout her story line so far, she’s been placed with a lot of responsibility. A lot of the people of Vesuvia have placed her as sort of a “tyrant” because of her strong personality, but the main character finds she’s simply stressed. What I’ve loved about Nadia in particular is that she plays a very dominant personality; she takes action to find out the truth, she’s forward with the main character (you) and she’s also not fearful in the way we might find a countess-like character.
But beyond that, Nadia has depth. She also finds a great amount of joy in taking care of those around her. She’s kind to those who serve her and she often tries to lavish the main character with gifts and other warrants of affection. She challenges the role of being a “princess” archetype and the role of being a “brat” in a way that makes her interesting and worth reading about.
Lovestruck’s Love & Legends: Main Character
Lovestruck is a massive mobile game with tons of different dating sims to offer. Their Love & Legends one really struck me with their main character. Unlike many dating sim games, they have a set in stone main character in terms of what their appearance is and what they are like (though you can still name them as you please).
The personality of this girl is utterly ridiculous in a variety of ways. No matter who your love interest is, she has a lot of jokes to pull and is equally as daring. The interesting thing about her is that she continuously makes commentary about being a millennial, constantly cursing under her breath and running into odd situations.
What’s interesting is that she doesn’t change regardless of whether or not she’s dating a male or female. She always has a very prominent archetype that the writer’s clearly crafted to distinguish her as love interest. She’s different than many of the other main character’s I’ve played in the past because she is extremely realistic in being so awkward, nerdy and somewhat brave.
When it comes to dating sims, it can be hard to find characters that expertly break their archetype in a way that hasn’t been done before. This list could go on for some time because of course there are so many games out there, but these three have always really stood out to me. They show something different I haven’t seen before, and if you’re into dating sims, I think you’ll find them just the same.
Who would you have added to the list?