Adventure Corner: Best Friend Forever
Welcome to Adventure Corner, a column where members of the RPGamer staff can give their thoughts, impressions, and pseudo-reviews for various adventure titles that don’t come under our usual coverage. Adventure Corner is aimed at delivering opinions on a wide range of titles including visual novels, point-and-click adventures, investigative mysteries, and so forth.
In this edition of the column we take a look at Best Friend Forever, available on PC and Nintendo Switch. For this review, the PC version was tested.
Best Friend Forever
Hi, I am the crazy dog owner who has two pupperonis who never leave my side while I’m working from home. Anyone who has viewed my Twitter has seen my crazy, lazy, funny, and adorable dogs. My dogs were also very jealous and pupset when I started playing Best Friend Forever, a dog-raising dating simulator, because the digital doggo was getting more attention. It was so bad, my bulldog would bark and panic out of a deep sleep whenever he heard the virtual dog bark. This was my life playing this game; lots of comedy gold.
Best Friend Forever puts you in the role of an individual who has moved to Rainbow Bay, the most dog-friendly place on the planet. Everyone — and I really mean everyone — owns a dog in Rainbow Bay, and these lovely creatures are amazing at helping their owners find romance! Upon arriving in Rainbow Bay, the player decides to get a dog to fit in, but there are only four choices. Whichever dog is selected, the adoption agency will judge and test the guardian, so the player needs to convince the agency to let them keep the new four-legged best friend.
There are two main parts of Best Friend Forever: the dog-training sim component and the dating sim element. Players will set up their weekly activities with their pups to raise their fitness, manners, smarts, sociability, and trust. With each selected activity, the dogs’ skills increase, and at the end of each week, the player checks if the furry friends need to play, be bathed, or be fed to improve their mood. In terms of the simulator elements, it’s a fun game and a tough balancing act. There’s nothing worse than making it to the academy judging halfway through the game and being told your dog is dumb as a stump but as buff as Rambo. Being consistent is a huge part of the challenge in this game because there are times when it’s hard to know if the activity balance is just right or if it’s lopsided. Some of the little mini-games when it comes to feeding or cleaning one’s pet could stand to be a bit clearer, as it took a few tries to know exactly what the controls were.
The other part of the game is a dating sim that should be the main draw for Best Friend Forever, but sadly it doesn’t go far enough. One of the most hilarious elements of the game is taking the Woofr quiz at the beginning and seeing who the player’s best match is. The questions are funny and utterly insane, and it gives the game a good starting impression. The bachelors and bachelorettes are all very interesting, but with only fifteen weeks to train a dog and find a date, none of the relationships feel deep enough. Part of the reason people play dating sims is to watch organic relationships form, and while most games often go on too long, Best Friend Forever suffers from being too short in terms of relationship development. If the game had given an extra date or context for each candidate, the relationships forged by the characters would feel more meaningful than they do.
Best Friend Forever has fantastic humour and charm in its writing and presentation without a doubt. Honestly, my main bulk of fun came from the dog-training simulator because I needed Titan the Maltese to be the best of the best. I found the dating sim elements lacking, and while I do think that they belong in the game, fleshing them out more would have created a home-run. There’s a lot of amazing ideas in Best Friend Forever and I completely appreciate the developer’s effort to create something so fun and challenging at the same time. I think gamers who love difficult balancing acts in their simulation games will adore Best Friend Forever, but those looking for a deeper dating sim experience will feel slightly disappointed.