Platform: PC (Windows) | Release Date: April 1, 2019 | Hours Played: 2
I feel that by pressures of societal standards, I must start this review by saying: I am not a furry.
However, in spite of furry-related topics being one often looked down on by many, I really appreciate how they recreate animals with believable human-proportions while maintaining their key features.
I also enjoy free-to-play games. It’s often a hit or miss, as since it is free, the quality may be… sub-par. And granted, when this game was recommended to me on Steam, I did have some apprehensions…
However, what sold me on it was the trailer:
Lovers of Aether was originally an April Fools Joke that was released as a parody spin-off to the game, Rivals of Aether. The game places the characters from the latter into a high-school setting, where you have to woo their hearts and ask them out for homecoming.
I feel it’s best to say from the beginning that I pleasantly found this game to be as amusing as the trailer promised. It doesn’t take itself seriously, although serious enough to throw you off-guard with its well-done presentation.
As a visual novel, the game itself is pretty standard. You have one school day and have to choose who you interact with when prompted so that they like you enough to be your date for homecoming. The characters are nicely designed and distinct, but only have one sprite. However, their personalities shine through the text itself, both by well written (albeit purposefully cringey) dialogue, as well as its use of font, colour and animation. I found this to be a clever way to create emphasis in their tone to the otherwise monotonous text beeps.
The general interface has a retro pixel vibe, which I always enjoy and I feel is a good connection (or I could be reading into it) to its original game. The music also has similar influences which again, always gets bonus points as it brings back that RPG nostalgia.
It takes about 20-30 minutes to play through one route and there are twelve different characters that you can choose from. There is no save option which given the short gameplay is fair, but you can reload during your confession scene to ask some other characters. You can save time doing this and get several endings, but will miss out on some extra character development in doing so.
Even if you don’t know the dating sim basics, it’s hard to get a rejection unless you completely avoided talking a character in which case you end up missing event triggers.
However, some of the rejections scenes were amusing and dare I say, better than winning their affections.
As I’ve never played Rivals of Aether, I do not know if there would be a greater appreciation for the characterisations in this game.
The game does make it new-player friendly to those who don’t know its lore. There is a pop quiz that covers the basics and if you don’t know the answer, the game allows you to ask your classmates for answers, making it a fun way to pique your interest. Clever.
As a game that was made as a joke, it ended up being much better than some actual dating sims that were meant to be taken seriously. There was clearly a lot of love put into this game and the developer, Dan Fornace, clearly had a fun time making it.
Obviously, due to its theme, genre and short length, alot of people may choose to avoid it entirely. But I feel that those who enjoy dating sims and something short and fun then this is a definite recommendation. (And again, free!)
The lore is clearly deep and rich and the game had the potential to delve further into that if they wanted.
With the original game, Rivals of Aether coming to the Switch later this year, it is definitely a neat little entryway to interest those into the game. (which I am one of them.)
Lovers of Aether is free to play on Steam for Windows and Mac