I don’t know about you dear readers, but hobbies can be pretty expensive! I can’t even begin to tell you how much I spent on manga just last month alone, but even that pales in comparison to the amount of games I buy each month. Most indie games are pretty cheap, anywhere from two bucks to $25, and some of the more mainstream releases can sometime take you back $40 or more and that can add up! Not everyone has the disposable income to buy every new game that comes out, and no that doesn’t mean I condone piracy, because NO.
But, rather than pirating a game, there are some free indie game options that are just as good if not more so than the bigger budget games on the market—and who doesn’t like saving a bit of cash and getting a quality game? So, whether you’re an avid gamer or someone who plays only a handful of games a year, here are some free games that’ll be a welcome addition to your gaming library.
While these games are free, throwing the devs a few bucks in tips is always appreciated~
Our Life Beginnings and Always
Windows, Mac, and Linux | Steam
Our Life Beginnings and Always is a slice of life visual novel/life simulator developed by indie studio GB Patch. This is one of my favorite indie games. Our Life delivers a wholesome and emotion driven experience where you control just about every aspect of story. Design your own character and grow from childhood to adulthood as you navigate the ups and downs of your life alongside your family, friends, and most importantly the lonely boy next door, Cove Holden. It’s the everyday moments and experiences that make this game so much fun, from choosing your favorite flower, deciding how you feel about your height, and even your relationship with your older sister, each and every choice is defined to make Our Life a very personal experience for each player. While the base game is free, you can purchase additional DLC content to help expand on the story.
Check out the Review: Our Life Beginnings and Always Review – A One of a Kind Life
Ebon Light is a dark fantasy visual novel from Underbliss. Follow a young woman who is torn between her fate and a dark secret that threatens her very life. Meet others on your journey, some will help you, while other will try and end your life. Will you survive and forge your own path or will you be bound by the circumstances of your fate? Customize your MC (hair, skin color, and eye color modifications), but also decide your protagonist’s disposition. Personality choices directly effect the course of the story. There are five male love interests to romance, and your choices throughout determine both your relationships and the outcome of the game (and you can die).
I Love You (Suki Da)!
I Love You! (Suki Da!) is a slice of life comedy otome game developed by Shinogi Shiohara and localized in English by Moonchime Studios. This game is a riot! I’ve been pretty burned out on high school romance otome games, but I Love You! had me in stitches from start to finish. Follow a silent heroine as she navigates her high school days—her class is planning for their upcoming school festival, help your classmates prepare for the event and in your free time spend time hanging out with one of three cute boys!
Check out the Review: I Love You! (Suki Da!) Otome Game Review – Cute High School Rom Com
Windows, Mac, and Linux | Steam
Cinderella Phenomenon is a fairytale inspired indie otome game developed by Dicesuki Games. Follow Lucette, a cold-hearted princess, who finds herself the victim of a witch’s curse. In order to break her curse Lucette must complete three good deeds, but that’s easier said than done for this selfish royal. I love this wave of twisted fairytale otome games (and I definitely want more of them), but Cinderella Phenomenon really takes the premise and puts it’s own unique spin on it. Rather than doing gender flipped characters like in Taisho x Alice, each of the characters are afflicted with a curse that is inspired by famous fairytales—stories like Cinderella, Beauty and the Beast, and Peter Pan all get a fun twist. There’s even a sequel, Cinderella Phenomenon Evermore, where you can follow the characters after their ‘happily ever after’!
Check out the Review: Cinderella Phenomenon: Evermore – What Happens After Happily Ever After?
Dark Nights is a mystery romance visual novel from indie game developer pinlin. This game was in development for years before finally being released late last year. In the game you play as a young woman who becomes embroiled in a series of mysterious disappearances in her small time. While looking into the mystery you cross paths with four enigmatic young men. Could they be behind the disappearances? Are you next? Uncover this and more as you slowly put together the pieces of the puzzle. This kind of reminds me a bit of 7’scarlet, except, without the murder zombies and bro-con, each route builds up to a finale that brings wraps up the entire mystery quite nicely.
7 thoughts on “5 Free Indie Otome Games You Should Be Playing”
I Love You (Suki Da)! looks so funny and cute! 🙂
I’ve been rather obsessed with Our Life as well. Here’s hoping they will let me romance Derek as well in the future ~ ;p
As I might already have commented, ’cause I never get tired of saying it and your Thrifty Gaming posts especially make me grateful for this: a thousand thanks for the work you do on this blog showcasing great/interesting OELVN! *_* There is such a diverse scene out there where otome/LGBT+ games are concerned, and yet a lot of otome fans are still limited to Japanese, commercial titles simply for lack of knowledge about them, which is a right shame. So yeah, all the props to you, as always. 🙂
And boy oh boy do you have some real gems to show us this time! I was super happy and enthusiastic to even *read* Ebon Light’s title in this article, because the love I have for this game is unreal. I tend to be all about plot-heavy, introspective narratives with mystery elements, I really like high fantasy settings and the threat of (virtual) death will always be a plus. I remember playing the demo and genuinely wondering if Underbliss had been reading my thoughts while developing it, because it catered to my taste almost too much. To this day, I consider the existence of this game as nothing much of a miracle that I’m very grateful for, and will never be able to stop babbling about it. One of my favourite games regardless of genre and price.
Speaking of miracles whose “existence” you are grateful for: Cove Holden. <3 ("Gush about cute otome boys", indeed. :D) I for one don't even care about Derek; the character-developing scenes we've got with this boy are enough to make me happy. The care put into his creation by the writer(s?) floors me on a regular basis, and honestly? GB Patch deserve all the accolades for their sheer range. Not one game in their catalogue is the same as the next, and all of them are enjoyable in a distinctly different way. I'm glad Our Life seems to be gaining some traction lately. They deserve some recognition, not only for a great game, but for a lot of interesting offerings as well!
Cinderella Phenomenon is the title I always recommend to people new to otome, for its intuitive system, amazing production value for a free title, cast of multidimensional characters and good balance between comedy and heavier moments. Again, I’m really glad Evermore garnered the hype it did (beyond some people being disappointed because they were unfamiliar with what a fandisc entailed). Getting reacquainted with the cast and witnessing how much they’ve changed between games was a real fun experience, and they/we deserve the fluff!
I’ve yet to play I Love You! and didn’t gel with Dark Night’s writing style and had to stop (that’s a personal thing, though your description is A+ and almost makes me want to pick it up again) but in the off chance that someone is reading the comments on this post for further opinions, there you go. ^^
And because I play a number of those games that is comprised between a lot and way too much, here are a couple more titles that might interest you, Naja! Feel free to take them or leave them. 🙂 These tend to be obscure, as I’ve tried to pick only games you haven’t covered yet (but it’s also possible that I suck at research, in which case I’m sorry ^^; ):
– April Was A Fool: Another all-time favourite of mine. I love this game with all my heart and will rec it until I’m old and grey. A shortish romp where you play as a hapless barmaid who gets mixed up with a party of famous adventurers with a lot of emotional baggage. Has a really fun artstyle and writing that can be hilarious one moment and absurdly real and gut-wrenching the next (4+ years and I’m STILL crying about Erwin’s route, I swear to God).
– Froot Basket Valentine: Ever wanted to romance boys with fruits for a head? What do you mean “what kind of a question is that”? Short as well, but deserves to be mentioned for the sheer feeling of dissonance it evokes in the player, along with its really pretty art (also be wary of sensitive topics for one route in particular, as SPOILERS this may or may not be a horror game in disguise).
– Wanted: Dragon: Take what is rightfully yours! Just a fun time, with the rare example of “sassy” MC whose dialogue I enjoyed from start to finish. While the dynamics between Our Lovely Heroine and her boys are, hmmm… not the healthiest (playing as the villain will do that to you), their chemistry is in no way lacking.
That’ll be all! Take care, and here’s to more discoveries!
PS: I cannot believe I forgot another personal classic: The Pretenders Guild! Disclaimer, because: 1) I’ve played the old version (and it’s been quite some time), some changes/additions have been made to the game since and 2) I am admittedly extremely biased, since Minyan is among my favourite indie devs and can do no wrong in my book, but this game is a trip in the best of ways. First, it is very silly. Your mileage may vary when it comes to humour, but rare where the jokes that didn’t land with me. Second, the characters are quite distinct from one another and truly well defined, up to and including MC. I really appreciated the amount of customisation that was possible re: MC’s background, and the small and big ways it then came into play in the narrative. Each love interest has their own voice and motives, and they work just as well together as a group than as romances in relation to MC. Everyone is also some variation of a dork, which doesn’t prevent the occasional serious or emotional moment from catching the player unawares. It’s a rather long, lovingly crafted adventure which may be unrealistic and wish-fulfillment-y at times but never drags, and was a real pleasure to go through.
This is an excellent list as, for one, I’ve played all of these entries, sans the last one. I think I’ve seen Dark Nights before, but passed it up for some reason, so this is a good a time as any to check it out!
Out of all of these I’d like to highlight Cinderella Phenomenon and Our Life: Beginning and Always above all others.
I admit to being at least somewhat biased towards Cinderella Phenomenon, as it is the first indie otome game I’d ever played. But I still think it holds up to this day, and recently delivered a really nice fandisk to boot. Impressively it’s entirely free, tho the fandisk isn’t. A definite recommend.
Our Life: Beginning and Always is perhaps some of the best I’ve played in the indie marked, just from how customizable the whole experience is, as well as LGBT+ friendly. It’s still sort of a work in progress, but with the content that is available, it’s already a fairly complete experience.
As for the others, Ebon Night is reeally interesting, cuz I haven’t really seen anything thematically similar before. But the story is pretty good too, the visuals really grow on you, and while the romances were perhaps a bit hit n miss? For me? I still enjoyed most of them.
I Love You! was an exceedingly simple experience, but still rather charming imo. If you want something very light and short for an errant evening, it’s quite nice.
I’m gonna try out some titles BUT before that, I really need to say that Our Life is such a great game!
Honestly, give it a try. This game is way too wholesome, so heartwarming, so sweet… I cried, I laughed, I thought about personal stuff. I cannot express how much I love this game ;-;
Thank you for mentioning Our Life here so more people is aware of it fufu