Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Lunar Days Sim Date

Author: Pacthesis
Availability: Free, Online
Format: Dating Sim
Genre: Fantasy
Rating: PG
My Scores: (Writing: 3, Art: 3, Gameplay: 3.5) out of 5

Found at  http://www.deviantart.com OR http://www.bestonlinerpggames.com


Lunar Days Sim Date has nothing to do with werewolves, despite what the name and the sillouhette on the title card might lead you to believe.  In Lunar Days Sim Date, you are Karina/Insert-Name-Here.  After a recurring dream leads you to a magical book, you find yourself transported to a strange world populated by humans and cat-people, where a green moon shines during the season-long night.  Since the book's magic only works during the full moon, it will be a while before you can return home.  But once the time comes, will you even want to?


The Writing:

I really like the setting Pacthesis has created here.  While the story itself is relatively simple, and the premise is similar to Dating Sim Academy in that you are magically whisked to a strange land of animal-people for no adequately explained reason, the world and the characters in it give this game its life.  We are given glimpses of racial tension and its effects on the people of this world, and glimpses of what it means to have night and day pass like seasons instead of hours.  It makes me want to see more of this setting.  This could easily be re-used as the backdrop of a movie, or a novel, or even another several dating sims, and it wouldn't feel old. There is much to explore here, and if Pacthesis doesn't choose to do so, then I hope that she gives the fans her blessing and that someone takes up this torch.

Story-wise, however, this isn't really Pacthesis' strongest work, although it's still quite good.  The introduction sequence starts out a little cliched, but then, after the book is opened, does a very good job at drawing the player in.  The characters have distinguishable personalities, and some have interesting secrets.  Sadly, the dialogue has a smattering of typos and mistakes here and there, but at least it's nothing that will ruin the gameplay.

Also, this is the second time I've given a more conservative age-ranking than the official one; the author bills this as an "all ages" game, but I felt that some of the flirting in the dialogue was a wee bit too saucy to be truly "all ages".  Yes, I am hyper-conservative and picky about everything, which I hope you'll always keep in mind when reading these reviews.

The Art:

All of the backgrounds are filtered stock-photos.  This is an accepted convention among makers of free dating games, but I did miss having a drawn background.  To me, the scenes set in our world looked a bit tacky, although for the emerald world, it worked much better.  

What is drawn is mostly okay.  It does get off-model quite a bit, though there are some very good bits also.  There's some nice animation peppered in the game, and the music is appropriately eerie.  I also like the changing profile picture in the HP meter.  Lastly, gifts given to the characters appear in their rooms, which was a nice touch.

The Gameplay:

This game does things a little differently than Pacthesis' previous works.  For one thing, it doesn't show you any numbers.  Your character has no stats to build up, so which job you work depends on how much HP you want to spend.  As for HP, while certain interactions are said to cost a certain amount, your only clue about how much HP you have is the round meter in the corner which shows you how tired you are.  This means it will take a while to figure out how much you can get done in a day.  On the other hand, often-meaningless numbers for relationship points have been replaced with words like "Acquaintance", "Friend", or "Soulmate", making it much easier to understand where you are with a person.

Rather than a mini-map, the game puts you in the world and lets you wander, like in Cafe Rouge.  This heightens the sense of immersion, but can also cause a little frustration as you try to remember where you are and how to get to where you want to go.  On the plus side, there are multiple places where you can rest, meaning that you might not have to trot quite so far; and usually, once you've reached the Friend level with a person, you can rest at their house, saving yourself a trip altogether.

It's very difficult to actually lose this game, since generally, even if you fail to win the person of your dreams, you'll still get a nice surprise once you get home.  This makes failure almost as much fun as success.  The good news is that clicking on the moon when you're resting skips you forward to the last day, making it easier to see every possible ending.


Lunar Dating Sim isn't really Pacthesis' strongest work, although it's still good.  The world she builds here is exquisite, and I wish I could someday see more of it.  The art leaves a bit to be desired and the gameplay tries new things.  Overall, this is a fun game, and very much worth playing.  Also, there are no werewolves.

This is, naturally, all the opinion of one person.  You yourself may think this game is the cat's meow, or you may think it needs to be banished from this world.  Feel free to discuss your own opinion on the comments. :)