3 of the best new dating sims to start playing pronto

We all love dating sims here! So much so that I’m back with another three dating sim games worth your attention, time, money and love. While the first one is undoubtedly making heads turn thanks to the hype it built up prior to release, the other two ended up being even better than my personal most hyped western dating sim of this year — what a lovely surprise!

So be sure to regularly check up on the dating sims tag on Steam to keep up-to-date on these releases in the future if you are just as committed to this genre — but for now, here are our picks for your enjoyment.

Boyfriend Dungeon

Boyfriend Dungeon dating sim

Let’s kick off with Boyfriend Dungeon, which I was excited about seeing drop this year, and once again became ecstatic about with its releasing immediately after the Nintendo Indie World Showcase back on the 11th of this month.

Developed and published by Kitfox Games, Boyfriend Dungeon was the most anticipated release of the three dating sims listed here, and while it currently has a few design flaws — namely it having only two dungeons despite marketing itself as a dungeon crawler, an antagonist that some people have taken issue with due to the subject matter he explores, and rushed character development — it still makes for an entertaining time-sink for all the elements I was initially excited about.

Boyfriend Dungeon offers a hack-and-slash gameplay experience somewhat similar to that of Hades, and features dungeons designed to represent real life anxieties, not at all dissimilar to how the Persona series handles things.

The game is easy to get to grips with despite having roguelike elements, and is mindless and simplistic fun during its battle sequences. The weapons are noticeably different and distinctive, not only in personality and appearance, but in combat too.

The game allows you to romance as many of the weapons as you want, resulting in a possible harem of weapons, or you can just keep everyone on friendly terms. While the dating mechanics are the crux of the game, its dungeon-crawling segments are the cherry on top that help to provide an extra layer of distinctiveness to the package.

It is hard to argue that the game most definitely needed more time being forged — both in terms of runtime and content — but Boyfriend Dungeon remains a hack-and-slash dating sim worth returning to not only for its entertaining gameplay, but characters I’d simply love to spend more time with. On a final note, on top of its gorgeous character designs and writing, its soundtrack is one you’ll want to play on repeat. Some super stellar tracks can be found right here!

Funnily enough, this is not the only game on this list that has its name centred around “boyfriends” despite providing some positive representation for the LGBTQ+ community, with a romanceable non-binary character and a female love interest!

Boyfriend Dungeon is available on Steam and Xbox Game Pass.

Raptor Boyfriend

Raptor Boyfriend dating sim

Another dating sim about virtual boyfriends? Sign me up! But this time our object of affection is not our trusty weapon, but a skating raptor? Talk about bizarre dating sims, but do not let that comedic setup fool you.

Raptor Boyfriend released on the 15th of July, and has a lot of heart in its substance and writing, and the sheer enthusiasm from its developer, Rocket Adrift, is infectious.

While the game is based on the sort of humorous premise we typically see in fan-made dating sims, Raptor Boyfriend manages to combine its quirkiness with a heartfelt and genuine main plotline which covers social anxiety, teenage angst, finding our identity, overcoming trauma, and plenty more relatable troubles from our developing years.

The game manages to feel grounded and emotionally captivating despite how ridiculous its premise is, subverting expectations as it becomes a whole lot heavier and deeper the more you experience it. Each romanceable character is memorable and loveable in their own right, with their own arcs, and other characters related to their personal issues are brought in to paint a wider picture and add depth to the main stories.

The talented trio who brought us this hidden gem have a signature sense of humour and sense of artistic flair that is fully capitalised upon here, with an incredible script that can smoothly jump from being comical to heartfelt, and an incredibly distinctive art style which makes the title stand out all the more.

Raptor Boyfriend provides the feel-good moments we can expect from its tried-and-true high school romance premise, telling us an emotional coming of age tale and providing some real-world messages along the way. And every second of it was thoroughly engaging and worthwhile. As an effortlessly positive representation of bisexuality, an aesthetically pleasing ’90s art style and memorable music does wonders in making Raptor Boyfriend a title to keep coming back to for multiple runs and many more reruns.

Raptor Boyfriend is available on Steam and itch.io.

Heart Fragment

Heart Fragment dating sim

As my obligatory otome game pick — this is my list, after all — we have Heart Fragment, which released on July 30, 2021. As the first video game from developer and publisher Starfield Gaming, the production and overall quality of Heart Fragment is extremely commendable and impressive.

The game is partially voiced, character designs are diverse — it’s especially nice to see a darker skinned protagonist — its scene transitions are unexpectedly unusual, the UI is polished with a consistently appealing aesthetic, and its soundtrack is impactful, helping to deliver the tension and subtle scares of this psychological horror/mystery.

But if you thought the presentation is the best part of Heart Fragment, another particular detail its developers implemented made the title even greater. As an otome game, Heart Fragment offers something different to the usual formula; players can choose what relationship they enter with its characters, be it as lovers, or platonic friendship. This makes for a number of different endings with very different dynamics.

With its well-paced character development and bonding, Heart Fragment’s story progression is perfect and immediately hooks the player with its central mystery and layers of intrigue. Additionally, our heroine’s personality traits are also shaped depending on what players select during the massive amount of options scattered across its runtime, making for a heroine we want to stand by and see grow, just as we’ve seen before in titles such as in Tailor Tales and Demonheart.

Heart Fragment has had an impressive start as a twisted fairy-tale thriller with the release of its first ‘book’ on both Steam and itch.io. And by purchasing the game once, its two upcoming ‘books’, each containing two new character routes, will be added for free. Be sure to go into this one blind, as its many twists and turns are best experienced unspoiled!

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Lilia Hellal
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