Best Friend Forever quickly won me over with its unique combination of dating sim, visual novel, and pet care simulator gameplay. While that isn’t so surprising considering the game includes an adorable Shiba Inu named Cheeseball as a mascot, I did come away surprised, after spending some time with it at PAX West 2019, at how instantly charming the rest of Best Friend Forever is.Of course, that lovable pup Cheeseball is the star of the show, but Best Friend Forever’s funny, self-aware writing makes a lot of the non-Cheeseball moments just as charming. The set-up goes like this: fresh off a bus in the new city of Rainbow Bay, a few overly enthusiastic radio hosts turn my character onto a new dating app made for dog owners. The only problem…I don’t have a dog. Thankfully, after signing up via an amusing and somewhat intrusive Q&A, I quite quickly also find out about an adoption opportunity going on in town and am rapidly brought together with my faded new friend, Cheeseball.
Watch the original Best Friend Forever announcement trailer below.
Once Cheeseball is in my care, Best Friend Forever keeps up a hilarious running commentary of Cheeseball’s many actions. Cheeseball licks the floor. Cheeseball growls. Cheeseball poops.
Ever present in the corner of my screen, I needed to keep an eye on Cheeseball, occasionally clicking on the adorable pup before time ran out on certain emotions to keep my new pet happy. But in addition to that, I was briefly introduced to a pet-caring mechanic. Essentially, Cheeseball is in the player’s care leading up to a test. Until that test, I choose, day by day for a week’s worth of time, the activities we share together, like training, socializing, or even just hanging around doing nothing. All of these activities affect Cheeseball’s traits (sociability, trust, fitness, and energy among them) represented by various meters, that you’re trying to maintain by picking from all those activities. Naturally, some activities benefit certain traits while others actually detract, so it becomes a balancing act to help develop Cheeseball into a pristine pup.
Check out the reveal screenshots for Best Friend Forever below.
While that relationship may be the central one to Best Friend Forever, and the one I spent the most time with, there is also clearly a romantic/dating sim aspect to the game. I only briefly got to speak with a few denizens of Rainbow Bay, but 1) almost everyone was immediately extremely flirty 2) anyone who did not flirt I felt compelled to try to flirt with myself, and 3) these potential partners have adorable doggos of their own.
From the overly enthusiastic flirter Anders, who I met at the dog care store (which seems to be the social hotbed of Rainbow Bay) to Quincy, the store’s funny clerk, every character immediately carved out a unique personality, and often a very charming one at that. Quincy and my character fell into a running joke as we spoke, while Anders made no bones about his intentions, being direct and flirtatious from the get-go. I only met four or so characters, with presumably more to connect with in the weeks to come for my character, and I’m eager to get back to Rainbow Bay and meet more of its cast.
I can’t speak too much to where these relationships could go, but the set-ups I did see have me intrigued by the varied, potential lineup of romantic partners. Rainbow Bay’s cast felt, in my short time, distinct, charming, and full of plenty of different characters I actually wanted to get to know better. I’m excited to see where those relationships extend when I get more time with Best Friend Forever, but I’m just as equally excited to spend more time with Cheeseball…who will probably do some more barking and pooping.