Dating apps are tiresome, filed with people being their best and worst selves. Then you have to meet the people. It’s a lot of work.
If you’re like me, dating sims are a great way to remove yourself from the dating pool as an act of public service.
Dating simulator apps are, more often than not, visual novels where you choose your own adventure and the person you’d like to smooch, without ever having to leave your house or ever need to worry about coldsore cream.
No one on a dating sim stops talking to you because you binged that Netflix show you were both into. And when you open a dating sim there’s almost no chance you’ll be getting an unsolicited dick pic. The only time someone will ever ghost you is if they’re an actual ghost which is a possibility in some of the scenarios.
The Best For Judging
Admit it: You’re not on the app to meet someone, you’re there to judge. It’s like people watching, except you can do it in your pyjamas with a bottle of wine at 3am, no judgement.
‘Grimdr’ is perfect for this. Technically no dating happens, but it’s set up just like a dating app and instead of going on dates or swiping potentials out of your life forever, these people end up going to either heaven or hell based on how you judge their habits.
The Best For Finding Someone Who Supports Your Career
There are those amongst us who are nurturers. You want someone you can take care of and that’s very noble. But imagine having someone as needy as Andy’s boyfriend in The Devil Wears Prada, but you can them put on silent when you have your own stuff to do.
That’s ‘BTS World’ The app about managing one of the biggest (if not THE biggest) K-pop groups of our time is a dating sim, you ask? It very clearly can be seen as that, all while you bring about one of the biggest revolutions in the pop industry. They send you messages, call you and reply to your social media. In return you make sure they eat properly and help them achieve their goals.
It’s just like dating except they don’t get jealous when you go for drinks after work with your colleagues.
The Best For Meeting Interesting People
Three-dimensional people can be interesting, but it’s winter and meatspace is cold. Why take the risk of wasting your time and possibly catching a cold?
‘Hatoful Boyfriend’ lets you fast-forward the boring bits, plus its characters are interesting – they’re pigeons. Yep, it’s a pigeon dating sim. Choose the right answers to romance the pigeon of your dreams. It sounds silly (though no sillier than the dating sim where you’re dating a horse), but play it long enough and you’ll discover the big secret.
The Best For Multiple Admirers
It’s nice to be in demand, or so I’ve heard. Welcome to ‘Nifleheim: Should We Date’. This is the closest to the standard dating sim you’ll find. But this one is my favourite because it has zombies in it.
You’re an undead princess who gets to choose between a few different guys to date. By pursuing them, you find out their stories. There’s also a cute dress up element and competing with other players to see who is the best. Added bonus with this one is the notifications read like cute messages from a guy who’s interested in you.
The Best For Possibly Finding The One
The One is a lie, but it’s a nice lie to believe if it helps you stick it out with someone who’s your fave. That’s where ‘Dream Daddy’ comes in.
You’re a dad dating other dads. There are mini games, dating scenarios, you get to be a dad and tell dad jokes. But the main aim is to explore love and happiness with another person. There’s a selection of dads to date, some better than others, but that’s the price you pay to find ‘The One’.
The Best For Having It All
That’s ‘The Arcana’. It has the best of each of the dating Sims mentioned above. You can choose your pronouns, there’s a mystery, you get to learn a bit about tarot cards and there’s a selection of people to romance, each with their own backstories.
In all seriousness, these aren’t really replacements for love and romance. But they’re a wonderful holiday, even a small one, from the world of actual dating apps. It’s a fun way to read stories, explore possibilities you usually couldn’t or wouldn’t and generally just take some time for yourself.