By Tyler Trosper / August 6th, 2016
|Title||My Secret Pets!
|Publisher||Dogenzaka Lab, D3 Publisher|
|Release Date||May 10th, 2016|
|Genre||Otome Dating Sim, Visual Novel|
|Platform||Steam, iOS, Android|
Do you ever wish your pets could talk to you? Furthermore, do you wish your pets could become human? That might sound cool, but what if you found out that all of your pets secretly wanted to have sex with you? It would give a dog humping your leg a whole new meaning. And that is the premise of My Secret Pets! I take my first step into the Otome genre with the Steam version of the game.
Originally published for Android and iOS, My Secret Pets! is an Otome game where a young woman’s pets suddenly become human, and each one of them wants her to fall in love with them. Unlike other dating sims, you choose the route of the character you want to pursue right after reading the prologue. The choices you make merely determine if you get the Happy Ending for that specific character or the Miraculous Ending. The format stems back to it being a mobile game, with each route originally being available to purchase separately. Not only is the Steam version cheaper (each route is $3.99 each for mobile, $15.99 altogether on Steam), you need to play every route in order to fully understand the whole story.
With only bits and pieces of the overarching plot revealed with different routes, replayability is pretty high. However, the plot takes itself a bit too seriously sometimes and not so much at other times. Thankfully, each route isn’t the exact same scenes but with slightly different dialogue, but you do get an annoying sense of déjà vu at times. This isn’t helped by the bland writing. For the most part, typos are kept to a minimum, but the text isn’t very lively, or colorful to begin with.
Forget the plot, though. The main draw of any dating sim is the characters! Each character you pursue is modeled off a specific pet: Lufna, a Russian Blue cat; Assam, a pot-bellied pig; Ramin, a cockatoo; and Lize, a rabbit. For the most part, the characters try to follow the personalities of the animals they are assigned, such as Lufna being aloof and kind of lazy or Assam being into cleanliness. However, some traits don’t come across quite as strong, especially with Ramin coming across as an older brother type for the sole reason that he is just the oldest of the pets. You get to choose one person who isn’t a pet, the main character’s ex-boyfriend Reito, but his route comes off a little emotionally abusive at times. For the most part, the characters are diverse enough that you might find your favorite, but if you really want to know the whole story, you are forced to go down every single route, even if you don’t like some of the characters (again, I wasn’t a big Reito fan).
As you might have noticed, the game does come with an age warning on Steam. Each route has a few sex scenes included, but, with it being Steam, every sex scene is basically written with a blank background image behind it. With each of these scenes comes a sense of dread because the writing is usually repetitive and bland, more so than the rest of the game. Phrases such as “my most sensitive spot” and “I jumped like a fish” repeat during multiple routes, almost as if they were copy and pasted in. If you’ve chosen to play this game for the smut, you might want to look elsewhere.
Mechanically, the game is pretty straightforward. You choose a route, each one being eight chapters plus two endings and two special chapters, and you answer the occasional choice every so often in order to build the relationship with the character you are pursuing. Each chapter can range from as little as five minutes to 15 minutes, depending on your reading speed. After you clear someone’s route, you can choose chapters to jump to, but beware. If you want to get the best ending for a character, it’s best to start over completely or follow a guide from the very beginning, because if you jump to a specific chapter for a character, their relationship drops back to zero percent. Luckily, there is a skip button and you can have up to six saves.
Art and sound is a mixed bag. The character sprites and the CG are really crisp and well-done. However, since My Secret Pets! is a port of a mobile game, the backgrounds look horribly stretched and blurry. For the most part, your eyes are on the character, but then you run into the occasional sex scene that focuses on a blurry image of a bed. Furthermore, the title screen emphasizes the mobile roots further with big bulging buttons that look plain ugly. However, the design at least works. The sound of the game is mostly a repetition of the same five or so songs with no sound effects; if a character is slapped, you won’t be hearing it. The game contains no voice acting, Japanese or otherwise.
Overall, My Secret Pets! is a decent game. If you can get past the eeriness of pursuing your pets as boyfriend material, each character has their own likeable quirks and faults. With such a premise, the game takes itself a bit too seriously at times and gets slightly repetitive because of its format. However, these faults aren’t too detrimental. If you are dying for another otome game, My Secret Pets! might at least scratch your itch for a short while. If you aren’t a fan or completely new to the genre, I wouldn’t recommend this one.
Review copy provided by the publisher.
dating simDogenzaka LabMy Secret PetsOtomeSteamvisual novel