Like many other variety gamers, I enjoy playing and experiencing the many genres of games the world has to offer. I’m a big fan of fast-paced dungeon crawling roguelikes, cinematic open-worlds with rich character building, and competitive team games that require a decent amount of sweat and skill. But sometimes, when I’m itching to take it slow and really appreciate a game, there’s nothing I enjoy more than pointing and clicking my way through a dating sim. And independent developer Rocket Adrift’s Raptor Boyfriend provided me with just that.
In Raptor Boyfriend, you play as anxious human Stella who has just moved to a small town called Ladle for her last year of high school. Determined to make a good impression on your first day, you’re faced with coming up with a plan to make sure your new classmates think you’re cool. However, you soon find out that some of your classmates are actually cryptids, and your expectations for finding a high school sweetheart are quickly subverted. During your first day at school you’re introduced to the cast of three characters that you can choose to pursue.
There’s your childhood friend Taylor Tall-Toe, a sulking guitar-playing bigfoot.
Robert Raptorson, a jock velociraptor with a love for parties and poetry.
And Day Lilly, a studious magical fairy who’s being haunted (literally) by her ghost ex-girlfriend.
The gameplay is pretty conducive to your typical visual novel type dating sim. The game is broken down into seven different chapters you click through — the story and growing relationships being the heart driving Raptor Boyfriend. Often you’ll be prompted to pick a dialogue option for Stella, and how you answer might impact how the other characters view her. There’s also an enjoyable nostalgia factor that comes from the interactive time between chapters. After a portion of the story has gone by, you’ll have the opportunity to interact with things inside your home. The story only progresses when you call up one of your love interests on your home phone. Depending on who you choose to call each time, you’ll be awarded with knowledge about that character and insight into their feelings so choose wisely! You’ll also be awarded that character’s collectables to show your relationship’s progress.
I chose Day to pursue and was awarded these super cute comics.
Because I chose Day to romance, I got to learn about her passion for drawing and her desire to leave her hometown of Ladle behind. The dialogue between Stella and Day was sweet and honest. The uncertainty of their feelings felt relatable and took me back to when I was pining for girls in high school English class. I’ve played my fair share of dating sims and mobile romance games to appreciate the care that the developers placed in their relationship and the overall dialogue written in the game.
All three main love interests were endearing in their own ways, but my favorite moments of the game were wrapped up in Day’s storyline. A big part of her plot revolved around her ghost ex-girlfriend Ingrid, who immediately hates Stella’s guts just for being around. Ingrid is toxic in a way that ultimately is understandable, but that didn’t stop me from wishing she would just leave Stella alone. Though part of me wishes the mean ghost that hates your guts was a romanceable option, I think that might be something for me to work out with my therapist instead. I implore you to play the game for yourself and see if you’ve ever had an Ingrid in your life.
At the end of the day, Raptor Boyfriend was a beautiful graphic novel game I had the pleasure of immersing myself in on a lazy Friday night. The beauty of dating sims is that you get to choose who the character goes after. You have the autonomy to pick your favorite, and there’s a heartwarming story behind any character you like. While Raptor Boyfriend certainly wasn’t my first dating sim rodeo, I was pleasantly surprised that dating sims are now allowing me to pick and date the cryptid of my dreams. It reminded me of having high school crushes, the importance of securing an after-school ride home, and how seriously I took everything at that age. I’ll definitely be replaying again to get Robert and Taylor’s endings and collectables too! If you’re looking to enjoy a wholesome dating game about awkward teen romance, give Raptor Boyfriend a try! And drop your favorite dating sims down below, I’m always looking for new suggestions.