To really get to the core of what I feel about Best Friend Forever, Starcolt’s dog care and dating sim hybrid, I need to tell a story. This is a story about Lily, my yorkie chihuahua, who I’ve discussed on Fanbyte before when I wrote about how she would be a terrible Last of Us guard dog.
You see, Lily loves me with the white hot intensity of a thousand suns, so she has to be by my side at all times. She’s even curled up next to me as I write this, cuddled up as close as she’s capable of being while also in a reasonably comfortable lying position. In most circumstances, this is fine. Especially right now, when I’m quarantined at home and she can just vibe next to me while I’m writing or playing a game. But there is one point where Lily’s undying love for me has interfered with something, and that was during a date that had ended up back at my place, and when he and I shut my bedroom door behind us, Lily scratched and whined at the door. After her whining had become enough of a distraction, we let her in, hoping she would hang out in her own bed at my bedside, only for her to, once again, cry, huff, and puff because she wasn’t being allowed on the bed. With the mood sufficiently destroyed, we let her up on the bed and ended up watching something on Netflix instead.
This is a microcosm of what it feels like to play Best Friend Forever, a single game that feels like two, actually, which are both at war with each other and vying for my attention. But neither really seems to mesh with the other to form something that feels meaningly cohesive.
The game starts out with your character moving to Rainbow Bay, a town full of people who each have their own pets that hang out with them at all times. You get to this place where dogs are central to the culture and realize you probably need one, too. I picked out Titan, the tiniest goodest girl of a maltese, and while she wasn’t very smart, she had good manners and was by my side at all times. The dog side of Best Friend Forever reminded me a lot of Nintendogs, where I could pet Titan, take care of her food and hygiene needs, then raise her various stats as I attempted to nurture her into a well-behaved Rainbow Bay citizen. It’s cute, and every time I took Titan to a check up and she had improved in her stats I felt proud of my little canine queen.
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Meanwhile, I’m also over here trying to wine and dine Felix, Rainbow Bay’s buff librarian with an affinity for crime podcasts and being a significantly healthier human being than myself. He’s looking for purpose and validation in his interests, and there’s overall a really sweet romance happening between me and him…but also Titan is always in the bottom right corner in need of pets, having to be pulled back in when something intrigues her and she tries to walk away, and sometimes just pooping inside places like the public library. Which I have to always be on the lookout for to clean up lest I get a penalty.
It’s strange, because more often than not, the dog side has next to nothing to do with the dating side, like they’re a digital pet constantly beeping into my ear as I try to build my relationship with this hunky stud. It makes half of the game feel like a gimmick, but I’m not sure which side that is most of the time.
Ultimately, Best Friend Forever is cute, and dogs usually make anything better, but for most of the game, taking care of Titan’s poop and managing her stats felt like a distraction while Felix and I tried to stare lovingly into each other’s eyes. At least she’s too lovable to stay mad at.