Do you like rom-coms? Chill vibes? Well, then you’ll want to check out Aksys Games’s latest Otomate otome localization, Lover Pretend. Get pulled into the entertainment industry with aspiring screenwriter, Chiyuki as she navigates her budding career, life and love! Sometimes a love born from a little white lie can blossom into something real!
- Genre: Slice-of-life | Romance | Drama
- Rating: ESRB T
- Developer & Publisher: Otomate & Aksys Games
- Where to Get the Game: Aksys Games | Amazon | Nintendo eShop
- Similar Games: Serendipity Next Door | Backstage Pass | Scandal in the Spotlight
Chiyuki is a college student with dreams: One, to become a scriptwriter like her late mother, and two, to find her father, whom she’s never met.
Living alone with no romantic experience whatsoever, Chiyuki struggles with writing stories about love. But one day, on the hunt for clues for the identity of her father, Chiyuki learns that he may have been involved in the production of a romantic drama based on a script her mother wrote before she was born.
In a stroke of luck, Chiyuki lands a job as an assistant for an upcoming film working with the sons of the former staff from her mother’s soap opera. But things take an even more surprising turn when she becomes the main love interest!
Will she be able to find her father and pretend to be in love, despite not knowing anything about love herself?Official Synopsis
Lover Pretend Characters
In Lover Pretend there are five love interests. At the start Kazuma, Harumi, Yukito, and Riku are unlocked, while the fifth route unlocks after you clear the Happy ends of the first four guys. Each of the love interests are involved in some aspect of the entertainment industry—Kazuma is a stylist, Yukito is a model, Harumi is the son of a famous director, and Riku is a promising young actor (the final LI is also in the industry). And after a misunderstanding (or k-drama level hijinks) Chiyuki winds up in a fake relationship with one of them.
As if a fake relationship isn’t enough, Chiyuki is also looking for clues about her absentee father and wouldn’t you know it, the love interests may be at the connected to that too.
The routes are fairly short; Episodes 1-3 comprise the common route and Episodes 4-7 make up the character routes. There is no set play order (aside from the locked route) and each route follows it’s own unique storyline, so you can play in whatever order you like without any issues.
Lover Pretend Walkthroughs
Kazuma Kamikubo (CV. Makoto Furukawa)
Kazuma is Chiyuki’s bestie and an aspiring stylist. He’s a force of nature, energetic, friendly, and a bit impulsive. He can be a bit extra, but he always means well and does everything he can to support those around him. Kazuma has known Chiyuki since middle school and he is the closest person to her so, she considers him family. He has always been there to encourage her both in her career and her day-to-day life. Kazuma gives boy next door vibes. In his route he and Chiyuki pretend to date as a cover for an incident that happens at work.
You’d think a friends to lovers story would be simple. Sadly, Kazuma got done dirty by the writers, which is a shame because on paper he is my ideal. He’s a loyal, well meaning, down to Earth guy, a bit annoying at times, but he’s always there to be the supportive bestie you need. His relationship with Chiyuki is so genuine and I love how much they support each other in their careers and life. There is an ease to their bond that allows for some really fun moments, and I’m not gonna lie the two of them bickering and teasing each other gives all the cute 90’s rom-com vibes.
This is not meant to be a huge story, rather the “conflict” of the route is Chiyuki and Kazuma’s both coming to terms with their changing feelings for one another. They’ve kind of outgrown the “just friends” label and are just beginning to explore if romance is the next step for them. They clearly have feelings for one another, they just need a little push to transition from platonic/familial love to romantic love. But, instead of letting their relationship NATURALLY progress, the writers threw in a last minute “twist” that completely derailed the wonderful emotional story they’d been crafting up until that point. Before that, this was my favorite route in the game. He’s an idiot, but I love him.
Yukito Sena (CV. Tatsuhisa Suzuki)
Yukito is a popular bad boy fashion model known for his wild social life and womanizing. He kinda does whatever he wants so there are a ton of rumors about him in the media. Yukito eats up all the publicity and really leans into his public persona, giving off the impression that he doesn’t really care about anything. He wants to break into acting, against the wishes of his agency, but most just see this as the latest in a long line of publicity stunts. In his route he claims that Chiyuki is his girlfriend to avoid an awkward situation with a fellow model.
Ain’t no secret I’m not a fan of the flirty otome guys, I find their constant flirtations annoying and eyeroll inducing. BUT, Yukito is one of the best written characters in Lover Pretend. I begrudgingly admit to loving this man. He has a “reputation” as a bad boy in the industry, and he really leans into that persona, most of his early interactions with Chiyuki is just a lot of cheesy pickup lines (much to everyone’s annoyance). But despite his flirtations, Yukito never pushes her boundaries. He teases the heck out of Chiyuki, and I love how sis never gets flustered by his antics.
Yukito is used to turning on the charm to get what he wants, but that doesn’t work with Chiyuki and that’s what initially attracts him to her. But it isn’t until Chiyuki starts to see beyond his flirty façade that their relationship really takes off. Chiyuki is very career focused, so she doesn’t know how to just exist and relax. This route is pretty lighthearted, lots of cute dates and fun without any huge conflicts or drama. Their relationship works surprisingly well, Yukito softens out Chiyuki’s rough edges and Chiyuki gives Yukito the push he needs to finally start taking things more seriously.
Harumi Makino (CV. Kengo Kawanishi)
Harumi is a college student and the son of a famous director. He studied abroad in Europe and recently returned to Japan. Harumi has helped his father on film sets before and most folks think he plans to follow in his father’s footsteps. He tends to avoid getting close to others and can come off a bit cold, but he’s a generally nice guy. Because of his good looks a bunch of girls on his college campus have formed a fan club and he spends most of his time ducking and dodging rabid fangirls. He has a secret that he doesn’t want getting out. In his route he pretends to be Chiyuki’s boyfriend when he gets caught by his fan club buying something… secret with her.
I did not go in expecting to like Harumi. He’s quiet, kinda has RBF and his whole vibe screams angry child, but this route ended up being my favorite. Harumi is a raging anime nerd and it’s just so cute to see this normally reserved dude lose his absolute sh*t over his fave anime series (very reminiscent of Il’s love of otome in Café Enchanté). But, he’s very insecure about his hobby, so he keeps it on the down low to avoid being judged by others.
Much like Chiyuki, Harumi has ZERO experience with love, so there’s a lot of fumbling and awkward cuteness going on in this route. They don’t really know what it means to be in a relationship, so they treat their fake dating like a learning experience. They actually make character bios and scripts for their fake relationship, which is both hilarious and adorable. This is the route (Kazuma not included) where the chemistry felt the most balanced. Also I was raised in the south and seeing Harumi open doors for Chiyuki and walk on the street side of the sidewalk brought me so much joy!
⭐Personal Note: Harumi’s Good End is my FAVE ending in the game and that CG… *chef’s kiss*!
Riku Nishijima (CV. Tomoaki Maeno)
Riku is a hot young actor and the son of the famous actor, Kosuke Nishijima. Despite his young age, he has already made a name for himself as a rising star in the industry. He’s polite, and his acting prowess surpasses that of industry veterans, but he seems to not be as passionate off camera. In his route he asks Chiyuki to pretend to be his fiancé to get out of a sticky situation with his father.
Just about everyone I talked to raved about Riku, so the bar was set pretty high for this route and I am happy to say, this he exceeded my expectations. This route is perfect, just EVERYTHING was on point! Riku is a guy who is almost too good to be true, he’s handsome, talented, actually nice… As the son of a famous actor everyone expects great things from him, and even though he does his best to live up to his father’s legacy, he doesn’t seem to be super passionate about his career. He’s just kind of going through the motions, which is frustrating to someone like Chiyuki who gives her all to everything she does.
This route hits all the cheesy rom-com clichés! I was riding the highs and the lows from the misunderstandings to the drama, there’s even a second lead swooping in to “steal” Chiyuki—and I ATE it up! I love the relationship between Chiyuki and Riku, just enough give and take to make their romantic progression feel real with a sprinkle of spice to make all the ups and downs worth it.
Eiichirou Asagi (CV. Toshiyuki Morikawa)
Eiichirou is Chiyuki’s professor and her mentor. He’s the son of a famous screenwriter and he has made a name for himself as one too, writing scripts for a number of drama series and movies. He’s kind, but doesn’t shy away from constructive criticism, doing his best to help Chiyuki hone her skills as a writer. He takes on a supportive role in Chiyuki’s life and is always ready to lend a helping hand.
I don’t know what it is about otome games and locked routes, but they always seem to frustrate me. Eiichirou is someone, I absolutely love as a supporting character. As Chiyuki’s mentor he is there to give her little nuggets of wisdom to help her navigate her career aspirations. And he seems to genuinely care about her well-being, but I always felt like their relationship was more platonic than romantic. Making him a love interest completely undermines everything he does for her throughout the game and I wasn’t feeling the uneven teacher/student power dynamic.
But, my feelings about the romance aside, this route does finally give a resolution to the whole, “who’s the daddy” mystery. However, your mileage may vary on how satisfying you find the answer.
Chiyuki is very much an otome heroine through and through; she’s kind, reliable, a hard worker, and she has a knack for fixing broken boys. She lost her family at a young age, so she’s had to work hard to make her way in life, even if that means making a few sacrifices along the way–including never experiencing love. Because of this she has a hard time connecting with other people and she doesn’t have a lot of friends aside for Kazuma. Chiyuki desperately wants a true connection, so she pursues a career in scriptwriting as a way to learn more about her parents, and herself. But her lack of experience gets in the way of that and she has a hard time writing meaningful romance stories.
Lover Pretend Review
Follow aspiring screenwriter, Chiyuki Ueda as she navigates the ups and downs of life and love, but with a fun little twist plucked straight outta the world of K-dramas. Chiyuki dreams of two things, becoming a screenwriter like her late mother and finding her long lost father. The only lead she has is that he might be connected to a film her mother wrote the script for years ago. So, she throws herself into her studies in hopes of breaking into the entertainment industry and finding the clues she needs. As luck would have it, she lands a job as an assistant on the set of a major film directed by the same director who worked on her mother’s film! Also working among the production crew are the sons of the men who may have worked with her mother all those years ago.
Of course this is an otome game, so it wouldn’t be a party without a few romantic hijinks. While working on set she catches the eye of a few of the hotties and each one propositions Chiyuki to take part in a fake relationship. Since she needs more experience to write better love stories, she agrees. Along the way her pretend love blossoms into something more and Chiyuki finds herself experiencing her first taste of true love.
And that’s the gimmick of Lover Pretend. You have to fake it till you make it in four (five) pretend romance stories. Choose from your best friend and aspiring stylist, Kazuma; bad boy model, Yukito; handsome college student and son of a famous director, Harumi; promising young actor, Riku; and your handsome professor and professional screenwriter, Eiichirou.
While Lover Pretend may be set in and around the entertainment industry, the story itself is surprisingly pretty grounded. There’s a bit of drama (and the threat of a scandal or two), but for the most part a lot of the conflict in each route is kept within the realm of believability. Even in Riku and Yukito’s routes where their fame thrusts Chiyuki head first into the spotlight, the focus is less on their celebrity and more on their struggle to balance their careers with their personal desires (ie. a normal life).
Unlike some otome games where the MC is overshadowed by the love interests, Lover Pretend is very much Chiyuki’s story. Just as much time is spent exploring her wants and needs and as far as heroine’s go, she is the most grounded and realistic. She’s not a warrior or a superhero or a Mafia princess; she’s just a normal girl making her way in the world the best way she knows how and I think that’s something a lot of otome gamers can relate to.
Every otome game nowadays has a “gimmick” and in Lover Pretend you can hone your acting skills by completing missions in “Pretend Time”. Answer a series of timed questions and prove that your fake relationship is legit in this interrogation styled mini-game. Correct answers clear away puzzle pieces obscuring the screen, while incorrect answers will cover it up. If you successfully complete your mission the story progresses, but failure can often lead to Bad Endings, so be sure to have your wits about you. Pretend Time is a lot of fun, definitely giving the Ace Attorney Psyche Lock vibes and I am always down for more interactive gameplay in my otome. But, one downside is that they rarely involve you having to “defend” your fake relationship, more times than not Pretend Times occur when you have to get out of a sticky situation.
There’s also some fun extra stories and scenarios in Back Stage that give more insight into the characters outside of the main story. These are cute and often hilarious shorts that take full advantage of the game’s phenomenal cast. I love the interactions among the LIs and more bro time opportunities with them is always appreciated.
The overall tone of Lover Pretend is much more in line with a 90’s rom-com or a K-drama, there’s a nice balance of lighthearted moments and drama. The dramatic parts don’t get super dark, but it’s enough to create some believable obstacles for the characters. The MC is romancing the sons of the guys who could potentially be her father, so there’s a bit of an “oh sh*t, I might be falling for my brother” situation going on. The “accidental incest” potential had me wary about this game early on, but, thankfully it’s not a huge issue in most of the routes. So no worries on that front. Chill vibes only in Lover Pretend!
The Verdict: So, is Lover Pretend Worth Playing?
Lover Pretend is the latest otome localization to make its way to the West and the one I was most looking forward to playing. No mafia bosses trying to snatch me off the street. No life or death superhero battles. No swords. No magic. Just a chill slice-of-life romance game. Finally something to soothe my rom-com loving heart! Everything about this game screams chill vibes, from it’s bright inviting UI, grounded modern setting, and fun, easy-going characters, Lover Pretend is the feel good story many otome fans have been begging for. This is proof that you don’t need world ending storylines and angst to tell a really great story!
Thank you to Aksys Games for providing a copy of Lover Pretend for this review.