By William Haderlie / March 6th, 2019
|Title||If You Love Me, Then Say So!|
|Release Date||December 13th, 2018|
|Genre||Eroge Visual Novel|
|Age Rating||18+ Adults Only|
Author’s Note: This is an Adult Visual Novel for 18+ only. The review is potentially NSFW, although steps are made to prevent that, and all links are Adults Only. The scenes featured are entirely straight and mostly vanilla.
The word that I kept on coming back to, over and again, when playing If You Love Me, Then Say So! was “competent”. It’s not a word I use very often in a review because it can definitely cut both ways. But for a game like this, I think that word is apropos. MangaGamer’s recent Eroge Visual Novel and Dating Sim is certainly a competent game in that it succeeds at what it sets out to do. But it also never really rises above that or becomes anything memorable. That is not necessarily a bad thing, but set your expectations accordingly, and you might even end up liking it more than I did.
The main character, Souta, is unseen and unvoiced (as is common in most Eroge of this type). Also the overused trope of the character being a beta male is in full effect. However, they did play with that stereotype a bit in that Souta considers himself too pathetic to even be a beta, more of a delta or even a gamma. Also the women around him, especially his best friend, constantly point out how badly of a beta he is and have a sense of humor about it. The other way they play with the trope a little is the entire premise of the game. This game is more of a dating sim than most Eroge are. There are aspects of this story and game design that could be considered almost a real life tutorial for beta males in Japan. As the title suggests, the crux of the game mechanically revolves around spending a lot of time with a girl of your choice and determining the right time to “confess” to her. The apple fairy that seems to think it’s a love fairy is really the only fantastical element to the game, other than so many sexy women having a crush on the same pathetic guy at the same time.
There is a calendar that shows major upcoming events, such as holidays or school trips, but most of your decisions will happen on the after-school time management screen. It is there that you will decide which girls you will interact with for that day. Initially you will only be able to choose a couple of them, but when you grow attached to more girls, the groups will grow more diverse. Within those individual events you will also have standard Visual Novel selection events that can help a girl grow more or less fond of you as well. Unfortunately you can’t just go all in on one girl, most events will not repopulate once you’ve done them once. And sometimes an event with another girl entirely will open up something new with the one you are after. If that sounds a bit confusing, you are on the right track, unfortunately you can miss many events even in a full playthrough only picking the same girl over and over again. I went through the game many times and there are still a whole lot of CG scenes that I have never seen and I have no idea of how to unlock. So if you are OCD/Autistic like I am, that can be a source of frustration.
Usually (with only a few exceptions) you will reach the weekend and see the screen above. The first major feature of this menu is to have your unreliable fairy determine whether the girl of your choice is open to a relationship with the “Love Fortune” option. In general it can’t tell you whether the girl will say yes or not, but it can tell you if there is a chance that they will. The other major feature of the weekend menu is the “Confess” option. If you confess and the girl of your choice agrees to be your girlfriend, you will enter the last third of the game. The dating game using After School Time Management represents about the first two-thirds of the game, and the last third is actually dating that girl. I should also mention that all Adult Content is relegated to after you are officially dating a girl. In fact, there is even a credits scene in the interval, almost like they are two separate games. Cupid Flowers are just used to set the reputation of a girl to a set level and are only useful after your first playthrough. Phone is used to slightly increase reputation with a girl of your choice and Sleep is when you want to just do nothing but pass time.
The best friend, sickly girl, loli, catgirl, and popular girl tropes are all here in full effect. But fortunately it’s not all entirely bland and free of any surprises. For instance, your totally hot best friend Yuki has probably the foulest mouth of any VN girl I’ve ever encountered. She is a font of dirty jokes that is rather impressive, and was one of the few things that will remain memorable to me after this game. The lolita is also a bit interesting because Souta had already dated her briefly in the past, so she has a bit of an ex-girlfriend thing going for her, even if she seems far less mature than everyone else. But beyond that she is still easy to anger and a bit of a baby, as you would expect from the trope. The character design and voice work for all the girls is also good but not great. Yuki has Adult scenes that are a little less vanilla than the others, but as I said before, I haven’t been able to unlock every scene yet.
Considering their prominence in the art of the game, you might think that Rinka and Chiho are the two main girls of the game. You may be disappointed to learn that you cannot date either of them until at least your first time through the game. Chiho is the cat girl, and you will meet her briefly during your first time through the game, but she will be a little difficult to try to date once you have gone through the game once. Rinka is seen on TV early in the game, but she is basically absent your first time through. And even when you can date her it was extremely difficult for me to get that relationship to work. I don’t mind having some rare dating scenario to be in a game, but it’s strange to feature the art so prominently when she is so hidden. It also doesn’t help with the frustration that she is probably the most memorable of all the five girls that you can date.
I have to reiterate that you can only date five of the girls in the game. The reason I want to make it clear is because my largest frustration with the game was that I could not date Maya, even though she features very prominently in the story. The extremely shy friend of Yuki cannot be dated either, nor can your sadistic club president. All of these girls are developed enough and have interesting enough art designs that it seems like they simply ran out of time or funds to add them to your dating pool. Maya was the true tragedy for me, because of all the girls I liked her personality the most. But really I would have enjoyed dating any of those side girls.
The localization and translation was very good, as we have come to expect from MangaGamer. They were able to mix in both Japanese and American colloquialisms to good effect, adding both personality to the girls and some much needed humor. Honestly without the humor in the translation I would have liked the game a lot less, it would have made the game boring instead of just competent. The music was overall very bland, but it wasn’t bad. It is one where I just turned it off for beyond 3 or 4 playthroughs and put on my own music. There were a couple stand out songs, particularly in humorous one off sequences that are difficult to reach in the story. But for the most part it all ran together. As you can tell from the art design, that is something that is common to the game overall. Good in short sequences, but pretty bland overall.
I don’t want to come off too negative, which is why I tried to reiterate that competent isn’t necessarily a bad thing. This game isn’t bad or buggy or broken in any way. It’s just simple and bit unremarkable. It is an interesting idea to make the focus so much on the confession tutorial and dating sim style. And in the end, you can spend a great many hours trying to unlock all the various CG scenes that you cannot reach in a single playthrough. For my first time through the game it took around 10 hours, but I’ve easily spent at least 3 to 5 times that trying to find all the myriad routes to unlock the rest of the scenes. Does that justify the $44.95 price tag? That will really depend on how much you like the girls. It would have been a lot easier for me to recommend if those other girls were dateable, especially Maya, but it’s still a large game for an Eroge Visual Novel. There are better examples of the genre out there, but that doesn’t take away from this title, which at a minimum is just a good game.
Review Copy Provided By The Publisher
18+Adults OnlyChuablesoftdating simEroge Visual NovelIf you Love MeMangaGamerThen Say So!