Best Friend Forever key art.

Best Friend Forever Review

Welcome to Rainbow Bay, home of a multitude of cute dogs, led by even cuter singles in your area. In Best Friend Forever, your objective is not only to adopt, train, and care for your new best friend, but to find love in the process.

Best Friend Forever is first and foremost an indie game. It is the only game so far to be developed by the small creative team at Starcolt, and is published by Alliance, which holds a very limited repertoire of titles. Naturally, there were various bugs reported across both Switch and Steam versions ever since the launch on August 27. The developers have been very receptive to feedback on their Twitter and Discord server, with a patch released for both versions within the second week and more said to come in the future. With this in mind, let’s see if it holds up to its $20 price tag and promising premise.

Best Friend Forever dog interaction menu.

The game begins with you, the player, on the way to your new apartment at Rainbow Bay. The intro has fully voiced interactions between two minor characters, which gives the impression that there would be more instances of important events featuring voice acting. Yet, as the game progresses, it is mostly silent. Even the most important characters only have a few quips that are repeated every now and then. Fully voiced dialogue could be a hit or miss depending on the talent of the voice actors themselves, but this is hardly something that can be gauged from what little amount they do speak. Still, they have vibrant, likeable personalities, with surely at least one that the player will find appealing.

After you select from one of four dogs to adopt, you are free to roam the city and have encounters with the cast. Best Friend Forever’s gameplay runs through 15 weeks, and each week goes through the same pattern. Milestone events occur in thirds of the game, and special dates take up more of your energy. Otherwise, you will spend the different weeks up to your own volition. The week starts with a cute slideshow of activities you can pick from to increase your dog’s skill levels, but after you do them once, you don’t need to pay much attention to the repeated phrases again. At the end of the day, you can tend to the dog’s needs. After a few weeks, these can feel repetitive as well.

The cast is diverse and unique, and allows the player character, no matter which gender was chosen, to date whomever they’d like. You are allowed to select between she, he, or they pronouns, although the player pronouns don’t seem to be utilized often. Still, it’s a nice touch on the inclusive side. At least one character is specified to be transgender, written in a respectful, realistic manner. The game is definitely designed to be LGBT+ friendly in a way that is not too forced or improbable.

As you interact with characters, timed events with your dog help to add a more ‘real’ feeling to your encounters. There are no tutorials for these quick time events, leaving the player to figure it out on their own. Even though it’s all somewhat easy, it would be helpful to have an idea of which events require you to do which actions. There are penalties or bonuses depending on how you do, and even on a second playthrough, certain actions can still be tricky to get right.

For those into the more romantic aspects of the game, the dating sim areas will feel lacking. Those experienced with the genre will note an absence of CGs, or computer graphics, another word for the artworks used in visual novels that accompany special moments with your partner. Instead, each route in the game relies entirely on sprites. Important events and rather heated moments you can share with your preferred lover feel almost inconsequential once they are over. There also don’t seem to be any ‘wrong’ dialogue options, which allows for a much smoother and casual path to romance; but at the same time, it feels a bit too easy.

Despite this, if you couldn’t already tell from the screenshots, Best Friend Forever excels at being cute. The UI is stylish and easy to figure out. All the colors pop out at the player. Backgrounds and character drawings are fitting for the overall tone, accompanied by a relaxing original soundtrack. The only glaring problem with design in the game is how small the dialogue text is. Otherwise, it feels extremely polished.

So, would you get the bang for your buck? In terms of hours, gameplay will range from two to three in a single playthrough. There is definite replay-ability if you want to experience every unique bachelor or bachelorette date. In total, the maximum amount of hours spent to search every nook and cranny might cap at about 15 to 20.

Best Friend Forever is a short yet ambitious endeavor. Where it succeeds, it falls equally as short in the areas where you want it to shine the most, between both aspects of raising your dog and romancing partners. With the developers receptiveness to their audience, the game will likely become more refined in the near future. For now, it’s still a fun, casual gaming experience. If you’re on the fence, the best option may be to wait for a sale, when there are fewer bugs, and possibly more features.

You can find Best Friend Forever on Steam here.

Best Friend Forever can also be found on Nintendo Switch.

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