Welcome to another post for Pride Month! It’s been fun creating articles celebrating the LGBTQIA+ community. Since I dedicated a post to GxG visual novels, it’ll only be right if I created one for BxB games. If you aren’t aware, BxB is a genre that focuses or features relationships between male characters. Just like I did with my GxG article, I’ll be focusing on games with gay romances only. With that out of the way, let’s talk about the games we have on the list for today!
5) DRAMAtical Murder
Available Platforms: Windows (Steam)
DRAMAtical Murder is considered a classic among fans of the genre, and there’s good reason for it. Everything about it is phenomenal, excluding a couple of problematic characters who I won’t name. If you’re triggered by gore or sexual assault, this game isn’t for you. However, if those are things you can handle, then I highly recommend playing this title.
You play as Aoba Seragaki, who lives in a futuristic cyberpunk world. Midorijima, the island where he lives, is controlled by a megacorporation that has stripped the residents of their rights. They’re not able to leave the island, nor can they enter the wealthy area of the island known as Platinum City. Despite the apparent problems, everyone goes on as if nothing is wrong. As Aoba is living out his life, one day he’s dragged into the middle of a fight on the virtual world, Rhyme. That’s when he learns of something about himself that changes the course of his once-mundane life.
My favorite route has to be Clear. If you’ve read my articles before, you would have probably figured that I have a soft spot for bubbly, cheerful characters. He’s so sweet towards Aoba, using polite speech and calling him “master.” He stays with Aoba, cooking for him and making sure he’s okay. Then, the route takes an emotional turn. For me, the route hits the right beats. As for the other love interests, there are: Noiz, a hacker who has quite the mouth on him; Mink, a gang leader; and Koujaku, Aoba’s friend from childhood. Noiz is great; I think seeing him warm up to Aoba is pretty sweet. Koujaku is a great bro. Mink? I like to think he doesn’t exist.
4) Sentimental Trickster
Sentimental Trickster is a story about healing. You see, Haru’s life hasn’t been the easiest. His parents are separated, his dad is practically a deadbeat, and his mom is off happy with someone else. Haru? Well, the guy he confessed to not only rejected him but outed him to the entire school, making him the subject of mockery and bullying. Tired of feeling alone, Haru leaves the small town he grew up in and heads to the city, hoping to start anew. However, he realizes he can’t fully escape what’s happened to him. The mental scars are still there and he’s afraid to get close to anyone, thinking he might repeat history. So he has to work on his issues with the help of his newly found friends, Soichiro, Kanae, and Shinya.
What I like about this game is that it takes a very serious topic and makes it the central focus of the story. Just like in real life, Haru isn’t able to magically get over his trauma. He can’t easily make friends due to what’s happened. What’s worse is that he really has no one to turn to. Even when he does meet people, he’s afraid to open up, whether because he’s afraid they’ll bully him or he might turn them away. The same can be said for the various love interests. They all have their own baggage that they can’t seem to figure out either. It’s nice to see everyone evolve and learn to take care of themselves mentally.
As for everything else, I liked the art. I played the all-ages version because I’m a prude. From what I was told, the explicit CGs are nice and anyone who is a fan of muscles will definitely get a kick out of it. But you don’t lose anything of value in terms of story if you don’t download the 18+ patch, which is nice for people like me.
I should warn you, as you probably guessed, the game does go into heavy topics revolving around mental health, so if you aren’t comfortable with talks of suicide and such, then I suggest you stay away from this game.
3) Demon Kiss
Available Platforms: Windows, Mac, Linux (itch.io)
Demon Kiss is an incredibly wholesome all-ages boys’ love title that was created for NaNoRenO 2020. As someone who is sex-repulsed, while I don’t mind suggestive or sexual content, it can be a turn-off for me. I don’t like that I have to fast-forward through scenes because I might miss something important. However, I personally just can’t sit there and read what’s happening in front of me, especially if it makes me uncomfortable. So Demon’s Kiss was a breath of fresh air in the boys’ love genre. Rather than focusing on the sexual tension between the game’s two main boys, Felix and Trisetar, it hones in on the fluff and their growing feelings for one another.
You play as Felix Wright, an IT guy who is pretty much an introvert. If he could just play video games all day, he would, but hey, how are you going to afford a subscription to an MMO with no money? His best friend Vanessa forcibly takes him to a Halloween party in order to try and get Felix to come out of his shell. This is where things get a little crazy. At the party, Felix meets Trisetar, a guy who he just thinks is wearing a demon costume. However, he soon learns that Trisetar is the real deal. Trisetar accidentally teleports himself and Felix to his world. As the two spend time together, trying to get Felix back home, they open up to one another. It’s nice to see Felix actually enjoy interacting with someone, rather than seeing it as a chore. As for Trisetar, it’s cute seeing him let down his guard as he gets more comfortable with Felix.
If I had to critique the game, it would be that Demon Kiss has one type of ending (two happy endings), which can be a disappointment to some people. While the game features choices, they don’t impact Felix’s relationship with Trisetar. So while you can act mean to Trisetar, all you’ll get is a few different lines of dialogue before the game goes back to its set path. It’s not a bad thing per se, especially for a NaNoRenO title, where the deadline is strict. I enjoy games where choices act more as flavor rather than resulting in the player going on one path or the other. But if I act mean towards a character, I would like for it to have a consequence, big or small.
2) Red Embrace
Red Embrace is another BL title by Argent Games, the developer behind the well-done Chess of Blades. In this game, you play as Ash. His life is pretty unremarkable. While he strives for more, he’s stuck working graveyard shifts at a diner where he has to deal with the rowdy clientele late at night. Before closing up for the night, Ash serves one last customer who catches his eye. The stranger asks him if a man with a tattoo on his cheek has stopped by—in a really urgent tone, might I add. Ash denies ever seeing someone like that, and after some time, the stranger leaves. Things get stranger when yet another mysterious man, named Isaac, invites him to see something exciting. Despite never meeting this man in his life, Ash goes to the spot where this “exciting” event is supposed to take place. It’s revealed then that vampires exist and they’re all battling each other to be number one.
Something I really enjoyed is that your choices shape Ash’s personality. A choice can either make Ash more aggressive, blunt, charming, or gentle. Essentially, it’s an alignment chart. Depending on where you are on that chart, characters will react differently to whatever personality Ash has. For example, an aggressive Ash might make people more afraid or even aggressive back to him. Of course, depending on Ash’s personality, you will unlock new scenes. This will make you want to see how a gentle Ash playthrough might differ from one where he’s turning on the charm.
Speaking of playthroughs, the game is short. A playthrough should take you no longer than 2 hours. There are three guys with two endings each for a total of six endings. Personally, I don’t mind this. Again, when you take Ash’s personality into account, it adds a lot of variety into this short game. For a title that’s only $4.99, I think it’s a steal for the amount of effort and variety you’ll get. Also, Isaac is great, and he’s totally worth the asking price.
1) Space Explorer Iyo!!
Available Platforms: Windows, Mac, Linux (itch.io)
If you ever wanted to play a game with space gays, than look no further than Space Explorer Iyo!!. It’s a really short free title about a human explorer named Iyo landing on Starbius, a planet that’s known for its Shooting Star. Despite just wanting to see the star, the planet’s owner, Atom, doesn’t trust him. He assigns the space explorer tasks in order to prove that he’s worthy of Atom’s trust. Of course, Iyo is excited to do whatever he has to do in order to see the Shooting Star. Yes, he’s even excited to take care of Atom’s garden. It’s precious.
Of course, after hours of tasks, when Iyo thinks he can see the star, Atom says he can’t, claiming it’s way too late. Despite having to wait even longer, Iyo doesn’t mind. His energy is infectious and I couldn’t help but smile every time he spoke. Atom, at first, is taken aback by it. However, considering it’s a boys’ love title, he begins to take a liking to Iyo’s exuberant self.
The game’s art, especially its CGs, are so cute! I loved seeing Iyo starry-eyed at everything he saw, despite being a space explorer who should be used to seeing things as pretty as star flowers.
If you ever want something to play on your lunch break, then I highly suggest checking Space Explorer Iyo!!.