Top Picks: Monster Prom: XXL | $8 | Microsoft Store
Dating is hard in 2021. I mean, harder than usual. It’s always a minefield where you never know what kind of random roll you’re going to get. Dating apps are essentially gacha games with terrible odds for finding something good. Now throw in the whole pandemic and you’ve got something downright impossible on your hands. How is anyone expected to date during a time like this? What are you going to do, take a talk through the graveyard six feet apart in freezing weather? Maybe! That honestly doesn’t sound so bad if you’re a cool goth, but you can see where I’m going with this: options are limited and that spells disaster for Valentine’s Day.
Fear not, my romantically frustrated friends. I’ve come to the rescue just in time for the big Hallmark holiday. Video games may be something of a punch line for folks who still see them as an antisocial pastime, but the right game can help you navigate the weird world of dating. Of course, I’m talking about dating simulators. Generally, this genre is all about managing awkward interactions and trying to carefully pick the right thing to say to win someone’s heart. They’re often over the top and absurd, heightening a very real tension that people face when trying to charm their way through a night on the town.
Will dating sims actually make you better at dating? Okay, look, probably not. But are they a pretty fun representation of dating that’ll help your brain get back into that awkward space this month? Absolutely. With that in mind, here’s a handful of dating simulators (or games with very good dating mechanics) to get you in the Valentine’s Day spirit.
Monster Prom: XXL features a premise that’ll probably be familiar to many players. You simply need to find a date for the biggest social soiree of your adolescent life. One thing, though: your classmates are all werewolves, vampires, and various other creeps. What’s notable about Monster Prom is that it includes multiplayer for up to four players, so you can compete with your friends over undead cuties. Hell, that might even make it the perfect date game in and of itself if you’re looking for a goofy game to laugh about with your potential partner.
I feel like the title of this one really tells you everything you need to know, but here’s a description in case you’re lost. Dream Daddy: A Dad Dating Simulator is a game where you play as a hot dad trying to court other hot dads. Created by Game Grumps, the game features everything you could want from a dad dating game. There are beer guts, beards and bad puns galore. With seven fathers to choose from and multiple endings for each, there are so many different outcomes. Get out there and kiss some dads, will ya?
This is yet another extremely normal dating game. You’re a new student at a high school and you have to navigate the weird world of dating. You are also the only human in your class, because it is a high school for pigeons. Yes. This is a dating simulator where you smooch birds. It is a perfect video game. In addition to all the avian courtship, you can take classes and level up your skills, making this a faithful adaptation of the high school experience. I mean, as long as you went to a high school for pigeons.
Hades isn’t strictly a dating simulator, but it may as well be one. The roguelike is filled with hot Gods, which have been the talk of the town since it exited early access last year. Sure, it has fun, fast-paced action gameplay that changes with each individual run, but the main selling point is that you get to hook up with Hades’ hottest bachelors. The dating component is so central to the full experience that the internet has not stopped talking about how hot every character is for months. It’s the kind of inescapable (and justified) wave of Hornt that was bound to happen during these weird COVID times. If strict dating simulators aren’t your thing and you want some action with your action, Hades is a must play that you should put a ring on right now.
Mass Effect is a big soap opera about kissing aliens in space: it’s the gaming industry’s biggest dating sim. Chat with any Mass Effect fan about the original trilogy and they’ll talk your ear off about which character they romanced before being able to remember any scene from the proper story. You can buy any of the original games on services like Steam today, but remember that you can also pre-order the remastered Mass Effect: Legendary Edition today too, which comes out this May. That version will really maximize your smooching experience with updated visuals.