I’m not sure why I like dating sim games so much, the storylines are normally cheesy and there are always characters that seem too perfect and annoy me but I complete their storylines anyway because I just want them all to be done to get all the images or achievements or whatever it is the game gives you. I know this isn’t a new game, it was released in 2012 in Korean and then later that year in English, so it’s 2 years old now but I saw the playthrough that Dodger is currently doing on her channel in this playlist Dandelion with Cry the first few episodes didn’t sell me and the ‘animals that turn into humans’ aspect didn’t help but later on it just gets so much better and kind of weirder and the character they’re playing through at the moment isn’t too perfect nor is the heroine. I found it on steam and read the reviews and felt like I had to try it, though it is the most expensive dating sim I’ve ever bought at £22.99, it’s $29.99 in the US.
The story of the game itself is that that the ‘heroine’ (the word the game uses, not me) Heejung moved out from living with her mother who criticized her and pushed her too hard with her studies and now she lives on her own. At the beginning of the game a mysterious voice appears when she is asleep and when she wakes up there is a basket with 5 animals in. From then on you have to make a choice about which character you want to start because at least one (Jisoo the black cat) apparently can’t get a good end if you have stars with any of the other characters. I’m not sure how true that is but I did find his storyline hard and had numerous bad ends part way through. After a couple of months these then turn into the more human characters and the actual relationship starts. Each has certain interactions that increase their feelings towards you, for example staring at or poking a certain part. There are also set boundaries for you to reach before you can have a relationship with one, Jisoo’s being the highest in beauty, the rest are fairly easy to achieve before they become human. This makes it different from a lot of dating sims in that you have stats to raise and ensure that pressure and stress don’t become too high, rather than the normal decision making that influences the outcome in these games.
So far I have only played the two routes; Jisoo the black cat and Jihae the silver rabbit. I’m glad I played Jihae’s first as it was a lot easier and gave me the chance of working out which activites helped raise which stats and I’m not sure Jisoo’s route would have been as forgiving. I also didn’t find how to get to the store or how to give presents until about half way through the Jisoo route so I managed Jihae without either of those and while getting hearts on a couple of other characters so he may be a good first one to try.
I’m not going to give away any spoilers but here are some general hints I’ve found helped me:
- Buy the vision pills as soon as possible, they mean that when you look around for items on a date you see more items and this helps a lot when trying to find stamps. You should be aiming for 30 stamps for each character to unlock the special things and I only got 8 for Jihae and it doesn’t seem to matter if I start part way through to find more so I’ll have to replay his route from the beginning to get them.
- Presents don’t seem to help much,.I didn’t gain much from them, I think it was the same as a positive interaction, and it’s better to save your money for other things that boost stats or the vision pills.
- When the heart meter thing has become full buy the boosts for stress and pressure resistance first. The more activities there are it seems the harder it is to find some characters.
- To get more money go to the beach and search for pearls. They’re worth $50 each and you get more hearts from the character you’re after quicker going on a date than wasting this time going to work.
In Jihae’s route it was pretty simple, I managed it without many quick saves and it was a good introduction to the stats raising aspect though I did get a bad end pretty quickly when I didn’t realise studying reduced pressure and the pressure seemed to make me faint. You do have to make sure you pay attention to Jieun, I had 2 hearts on him at the end, otherwise you can’t progress with Jihae. From what I’ve read while still avoiding most spoilers it seems his is probably the happiest ending and I definitely found it happy compared to Jisoo’s good ending so maybe save this till last if you want a happy ending to end the game on.
Jisoo’s route was harder and I had the bad ending with Heejea (the male friend with a secret crush these stories always have) a few times on November 24th even when I went back to the beginning of October for a restart so I hard to start again from the beginning and this ending happened a few times quite late in the game for me as well. The main thing I found with Jisoo is do not get any hearts with any others and don’t let your stress levels get to the point where Heejung goes out drinking with Heejea, that seemed to be my main difference between my failed attempts and the successful ones. Also quick save all the time, any time you see him in the house quick save and try to interact with him, if you don’t find him then use the quick load and try again. If he’s in the kitchen then 90% of the time even after unlocking cooking he was at the fridge and in the bedroom he’s normally at the desk when you sketch, the living room he seems to be 50/50 between the infomercial channel when you unlock it and relaxing on the sofa.
I like this game as, for a dating game, so far I am yet to find a ‘perfect’ character, they all have a backstory and their own problems and reasons for being in the situation. There are a few unanswered questions I have like who the wizard character is which makes me want to know more about the story and I think that’s a pretty good sign for a game. The art is nice and has the anime/manga style a lot of these games have and the music is fairly calm though this can get a bit repetitive sometimes.
My main problem with it has been how frustrating finding some of the characters can be, Jisoo especially, and having to do the quick save then quick load can be a bit repetitive. Some may find the fact that every time you change character you have to replay the whole beginning before they’re human though the skip feature makes this go a lot quicker and you kind of need this section to make the choice between which storyline you’re going to play. Some may find the stat building annoying and at times it can be repetitive but I liked this aspect and thought it made it a bit different to a lot of the dating sims out there. I do wish they’d made Heejea a datable character as it would have been someone different and also as he’s the only properly human male in the story so far for me it would have been good to see how the house of ‘animals’ would react to him.
If you like dating sims, enjoy this kind of art and want one with good storylines, characters that aren’t perfect, and a long play time (I’ve been playing for nearly 10 hours and only done the 2) then this would be a good one to try. I think it’s good value given the amount of time I’ve already spent on it and the fact that I will be replaying each of them at least part way to get the bad ending just to have them all, even though I think only Jisoo’s actually gives you something more than memories. There is also a free demo which may be worth checking out first and starts part way through the storyline. This can be found on steam when you search dandelion.