PAX West Spotlight: Best Friend Forever

PAX West Spotlight: Best Friend Forever

Best Friend Forever is a dating sim and dog raising hybrid game being developed by Starcolt and published by Alliance. We got the chance to try it out for the first time at PAX West 2019, although what we played offered just a small taste of what’s to come.

Best Friend Forever starts off by asking the player a number of questions so that a profile can be created for the “woofr” dating app. But these aren’t the typical questions you’d normally see when making a profile on a dating site, they’re much more humorous and outlandish — such as asking where dogs will be as a species in 300 years time . Once you finish answering questions, you’re shown several characters who would be a good match for you, with a few details as to why, although in the demo I didn’t get to interact with any of them all that much.

Best Friend Forever takes place in Rainbow Bay, a city obsessed with dogs where just about everybody has one. You move into town right before the local animal shelter has an adoption day. The following day, you show up rather late to the shelter and there seems to be only one dog left — although in the full game players will have four to choose from–, Cheeseball ,the adorable but rambunctious female Shiba Inu. While talking to other characters, your dogs actions will be described, and since they’re untrained when you first adopt them, it can be pretty embarrassing.

Once the adoption process is finished, you select several activities for your dog to do throughout the day. These activities include obedience school, going out for walks, and more, which all help increase the stats of your dog so that it becomes healthier and more well behaved over time. You also have the option to feed your dog snacks when it does well. The more your dogs grows, the more opportunities you’ll have to interact with other characters. When I tried to feed Cheeseball, the game glitched and wouldn’t let me for some reason, but unexpected errors are always a risk when playing demo builds.

Something I found interesting is that Best Friend Forever is trying to be a more diverse and inclusive experience, similar to other dating sims release in the past few years. According to Studio and Creative director, Lucy Morris, “We’re coming at BFF from the angle of being a woman-dominant studio. A lot of the creative decisions we make are so we can see more of these varied perspectives and stories in our games.” and according to Gamerunner, Calliope Ryder, “Every person on the core team belongs in the LGBTQ+ community, so being inclusive in BFF’s design was paramount. We needed to ensure that everyone is able to play the game however they want to.” It’s always great to see developers take a more progressive approach when developing their game, and in the end adding inclusiveness makes it so that just about anyone can have a personal connection with their game.

I’m not really the kind of person to play dating sims, that is unless they have a theme or gameplay element that I find intriguing.  I enjoyed what I played of Monster Prom last year, so I decided that I might as well give Best Friend Forever a chance too. I feel like there wasn’t quite enough in the demo for me to get a real feel for the game, as there weren’t as many character interactions and it didn’t seem like there were any consequences depending on what I said, but I could understand not wanting to spoil too much and save it for the full release.

Best Friend Forever will launch on PC and Nintendo Switch on Valentine’s Day 2020.

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