Just recently I experienced what I consider to be one of the best modern indie otome titles to have ever released — Our Life: Beginnings and Always. In my review I meant it when I said it: Cove Holden, the one and only current love interest in the game deserves a spot in our weekly Humpday Husbandos column sooner rather than later — so here is that promise being fulfilled!
It’s over a year since we posted a list of the best otome husbandos ever; had I compiled that list today, Cove would have absolutely taken a leading place on it. But don’t just take my word for it — let’s explore why that is the case. Because Cove deserves never-ending praise for his mere existence.
Who is Cove Holden?
Cove Holden is currently the only love interest in the indie otome Our Life: Beginnings and Always. Upcoming DLC for the game will include routes for fellow male cast members Derek and Baxter, but they will be hard-pressed to even come close to the perfection that is Cove.
Cove’s upbringing is witnessed through our own eyes, as the game’s protagonist is his best friend from childhood. Our Life efficiently heightens the potential of what the childhood friend archetype can be in a character-centric story, as we witness either a blossoming friendship, or mutually budding romance coming to fruition across a span of fifteen years.
Cove comes to Sunset Bird with his father after his parents divorce, leaving our hero in a vulnerable position as a newcomer to the sunny resort location. The main character is initially bribed into spending time with him to make him more comfortable in his new environment — but no matter how the player reacts to seeing the tempting money being offered to them, the pair of fated kids will strike up an everlasting strong bond as they continue to grow up together.
Why you’ll love him
But why is Cove such a special love interest? Numerous reasons. Firstly, the game’s customisable nature means that not only can Cove be who you want him to be, but he can also act as a source of validation. No matter what you choose, you will not reach a “bad” ending; Cove always loves the player character — and, by extension, you, since you choose exactly who that player character is. No matter who you are, what you look like or how you project your true self onto that main character, Cove falls for you and only you.
You could be the assertive type, a more timid individual, a younger or older woman, a man or anything in between — Cove appreciates you for you, no matter how you think you might come across.
By contrast, in the majority of otome games out, players have to deliberately play the main character as the type of person the game’s love interests will fall for. Certain decisions must be made to shape that main character into someone who appeals to the love interests.
Sometimes, certain aspects of these titles allow the player a certain amount of freedom to express themselves; BUSTAFELLOWS and the upcoming Cupid Parasite are good examples of this with their “personality test” mechanics. This sort of thing goes a long way into adding enjoyment for the player and allowing them to project themselves onto the main character — so I’m sure you can appreciate how impressive it is when an indie otome manages to excel in this regard, to such a degree of quality.
While Cove is customisable to an extent in terms of how shy or upfront he behaves during the game’s various life stages, he still has a very significant arc — an element that takes precedence even over our own main character’s development. Cove’s sense of personal conflict is the focal point to almost every single major life moment.
Our main character acts as Cove’s emotional pillar, as we see the character developer from a shy, nervous and insecure boy into a more vocal, comforting and outwardly supportive individual. The pair become best friends — or more, the choice is yours — and it’s clear Cove loves his family, despite his parents’ split.
His development is natural and relatable, and since we are accompanying him on the rocky road of his life, we get to see him learning to overcome personal issues, accept his family and understand what it means to truly be himself. He’s a constant reminder that sometimes life will deal us a bad hand, but what is truly important in those moments is that we can learn to connect with others and feel comforted in our shared circumstances. The best is yet to come, after all, and the struggles we endure while growing up help to define who we are today — for better and for worse.
Why we love him
Cove is one of the most endearing love interests I’ve ever had the opportunity to bond with. One of the most significant feats of Cove’s character that never fails to impress me is how he remembers the little things constantly.
The game subtly reminds you of these moments, such as when he gifts you your favourite flower despite only once hearing of it during your childhood, or when he remembers your selected mobile charm if it was gifted by him during a certain life moment. It is just one of his many charming character traits that explains why he is so adored by players, and it can be summed up very simply: Cove is as much of a comforting presence to the player as their own character is to him.
I’m forever grateful to any “genki” fictional character, since they never fail to brighten up my day and outlook on life through their optimistic and happy-go-lucky nature. And in that regard, Cove is one of the ultimate comfort characters. While he takes time to warm up to the player character, you’re rewarded with a character who quite willingly and obviously supports, cares and either platonically or romantically loves them without fail.
The game overall is a comforting and supportive experience to the player, and the majority of this can be felt through the character of Cove himself. His realisation of his own sexuality and his explanation of it to the main character is just one instance of how he starts to feel able to open up and understand himself through talking it out. It is done so effortlessly and delicately. On top of this, the confirmation that he is autistic only further adds to the sense of warm inclusivity in the title — and it’s one of only a few examples of love interests of this type within the otome genre.
Simply put, Cove Holden is the definition of a cinnamon roll, and deserves to be protected at all costs. We love to love him, and we are grateful for his love in return.
If you still have yet to play this game, do yourself a favour and try the free version of it at the very least. You’ll be thanking us and Cove in return. And pro tip – purchase its DLC to add more hours of content and support the developers!
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