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The first ending many people experience when playing notorious pigeon dating sim Hatoful Boyfriend involves being ambushed by ninjas for "failing to display sufficient intimacy with the birds." You are unceremoniously killed and brought back to the main menu to start over from the beginning or are forced to resume from an earlier save point.Or else the game really won't know what to do with you, and thus you will be punished. Non-romantic visual novels do exist for those who don't want to opt in to this particular character-focused experience, but for this article we’ll be limiting ourselves to the love simulation variety.If you walk off the path, you'll be pushed back onto it. The systems in these romance-focused visual novels are usually not robust enough to support complex social sims, they're more like long and pretty choose-your-own-adventure novels.The player must accept their limited role in these spaces and do what they can in order to dig the interesting bits out of these games’ juicy narrative databases.Dating simulation games like Hatoful Boyfriend most often take the form of visual novels, interactive text adventures with images and animations accompanying the branching story.You won't be selecting every dialogue choice during your character's involvement with the game’s world, but you will be occasionally prompted to guide your hero or heroine along different paths, and depending on your prior actions these could result in good or ill.

Dating simulation games demand extensive experimentation, trial and error.

They are built to anticipate and encourage that style of play.

Many Western players new to the genre miss out on that fundamental aspect of the experience, writing dating sims off as shallow and basic after dipping their toes in.

We’re going to offering some hints at how to get the most out of all manner of dating sims, along with some places to start.

If you’ve ever been curious about the genre, this is your excuse to jump in. Bad ends, like the aforementioned assassination, exist to teach players how to engage with most dating sims.

Since dramatic romances are often the main focus of these games and are necessary to lead the stories along their branching paths, you are expected to fulfill your obligation as a good sport and at least attempt to fall in love.