Chiyuki Ueda is a college student studying screenwriting. Her mother -- who passed when she was a young child -- wrote a screenplay called Pretend Love; she has obsessively consumed that movie since her mother's death. Pretend Love was the last thing her mother wrote before she became pregnant and stopped writing to take care of Chiyuki. She doesn't know who her father is, and now that her grandmother has passed as well, she wants to find out in hopes that she has family out there somewhere. Chiyuki is allowed to work as an assistant on a movie through her screenwriting mentor. She learns that multiple people who were involved with Pretend Love will also be working on this movie; additionally, the sons of a few of the men who worked on her mother's screenplay are helping with the movie in varying capacities as well. Can she find her father? And hopefully not date her half-brother at the same time?

Lover Pretend is a light-hearted, slice-of-life game that doesn't throw a lot at you. The drama is all realistic and low stakes; the only REAL drama is praying every route that Chiyuki isn't getting ready to mack on her brother. It's a slower-paced game compared to some other commercial otoges that are on the English market, but I had a good time with it. Yukito and Harumi were wonderful, Riku was fine -- I didn't hate it by any means -- but Kazuma fell flat. Professor Asagi was supposed to be a "secret" route, but they didn't make that very clear in the marketing which he was pretty heavily featured in. Eiichirou Asagi has a very short route compared to the other LI's, but it's meant to wrap things up more than anything else. I'm not super into teacher/student romance, but thankfully Chiyuki is an adult (while it doesn't specify, she's a 3rd-year college student, which would make her 20/21) so while it's a little weird, it's not nearly as predatory as the ever popular high school student/teacher trope. The two routes I loved more than made up for the two routes I was meh about and the one route I actively disliked.

I enjoyed Lover Pretend. It's a cozy game that you can pick up for an hour or two and put back down without being on edge wondering what will happen next; sometimes you need that type of calm in your life. I don't truthfully have a preference for setting when it comes to otoges, so I'm always happy to pick up a nice slice-of-life game and settle in. In my opinion, the good far outweighed the bad, and I finished it relatively quickly considering how long it frequently takes me to finish a game. I liked that I didn't have to worry about people dying, or the world ending, or suddenly read about randomly triggering material I wasn't expecting. This game is honest to God just a relaxing, peaceful time. It also happens to feature one of my all-time favorite tropes: fake dating. Every route is about Chiyuki having to pretend to be in a relationship with one of the LI's for varying reasons. Yippee!!!

This game also features a pseudo-mini game which is the "Pretend Time" segments. These feature timed choices where you have to convince another character of something that's a total lie; you can't save during these, so if you mess up you have to redo the entire thing -- assuming you have a save file that allows you to do that. I didn't mind them, but a lot of people truly hated these sections. I think they would be a total bitch to get through if you didn't use a guide and went in completely blind, so I think that's where the antagonistic attitude toward the segments comes from. If you're a blind player then be sure you make a save file right before you jump into a Pretend Time; for some people, it might be worth looking up the answers to these specific sections to avoid having to replay it multiple times. They're not particularly lengthy, but if you have to continuously go back to fix answers, they can take forever.

There are only two women of any importance in this game. One is Kayama Yuu, who is Kazuma's mentor and a well-established makeup artist. She's -- obviously -- featured most prominently in Kazuma's route, although does make the very occasional appearance elsewhere. The other is Kirari who is a gravure idol, which is a model who is featured in men's magazines and tends to pose and dress provocatively -- although never nude. Kirari shows up on Yukito's route, and is Chiyuki's rival -- although Chiyuki wouldn't agree with that -- and I'll post the most minor of spoilers by saying that they have a very wholesome friendship by the end. Chiyuki doesn't have many friends -- Kazuma is genuinely the only friend she'll claim to have -- so it was nice to see her build up some female camaraderie. While Kirari is an antagonist in Yukito's route, she's never so horrible that you hate her. I would say she has a backstory that does lend credence to why she acts the way she does. You feel for her, and so does Chiyuki, so I'm truthfully very happy with how her story turned out. Unfortunately, that's it for women in the game.

Honestly, you can pretty much go ham with this game. Asagi is locked behind the other four, but otherwise, there's not anything stopping you from playing in whichever order you want. It's been argued that saving Riku for last is best since he has much better pacing than the other three, but that's purely up to player preference. None of these routes spoil each other in the slightest, so you can basically pick who you're most interested in and start there. I did follow Otome Kitten's guide route order suggestion and enjoyed it. Keep in mind that if you start with Kazuma's route it's almost a universal agreement that he has the worst route, so if you hate him, at least push through to Harumi or Yukito. Yukito -- who is my favorite -- ranks decently high for most players, so I'd at least give him a shot before totally writing off the game.


Otome Kitten's Review/Route Order Guide

Riku Nishijima

Riku is the son of the famous actor Kosuke Nishijima. Kosuke hasn't acted in a while and seems to be living vicariously through Riku as his agent; he's constantly pushing him into movie deals and having him audition for parts. Riku is a natural talent, and while he seems level-headed and gentle, there does seem to be an undercurrent of something else behind his kind exterior. He's one of the actors gunning for a leading role in Director Makino's movie. Riku's father was the lead actor in Pretend Love, could that mean he met Chiyuki's mother on set and possibly be her father?

I'm purely indifferent to Riku's route. I don't like it, but I don't dislike it either. Riku's personality does a complete 180 in his route, and you find out that he's a bit conniving. I found his squabbles with Chiyuki to be pretty funny, but I guess I was thrown off by how different he was when he wasn't in front of people he had to impress. I think his route has been hit or miss for most people because of it; you're going into the route assuming you're going to see an affable guy with a sweet romance, and then you find out he's kind of an asshole. Riku isn't so big of an asshole that he's unlikable by any means, but it caught me off guard because the only hint that he might be that way is that he doesn't seem particularly interested in hanging out with the rest of the group, but I figured that was because he wasn't the type to be interested in making friends with people he'll likely never see again. I dunno, his route wasn't bad, and I do agree it has the best pacing, but I think since I went in expecting a soft-hearted romance, it just sort of fell flat for me.

Riku is frankly the least romantic of the original four guys, but that's because out of all of them, he truly had zero interest in Chiyuki beyond using her as a scapegoat. None of these routes are particularly plot-heavy, but Riku's route is slightly more focused on Chiyuki helping him overcome his issues with his father. I think I probably would've liked his route more if they had leaned more into him falling for Chiyuki sooner than they did, but I think there wasn't time to do that without sacrificing the little plot that exists.

Harumi Makino

Harumi is the son of Yuzo Makino -- a world-famous director, who happens to be directing the movie Chiyuki is helping Professor Asagi with. Makino was the director of Pretend Love, so Chiyuki is wondering from the get-go if he could be her father. Harumi is being forced to help his father with the movie; he hopes that Harumi will follow in his footsteps and become a director as well one day. Harumi has a secret though -- he doesn't care about directing live-action films; his true love is anime, and he wants to direct for anime, which is a genre his father looks down on.

I liked Harumi's route a lot! He was my second route after Kazuma -- whose route was a letdown -- so I was already thinking this game was about to be a real slog to get through, but Harumi turned my opinion around. He originally comes off as a possible tsundere, but that's not it at all (much to my relief). He's very self-conscious and anxious about looking lame in front of others, so I found him quite endearing. It was a joy watching Chiyuki try to help him realize that his interests aren't embarrassing and that he should be able to freely talk about the things he likes. They also had some very sweet moments together that warmed my heart. Harumi is a sweet guy and I have to say, he has the best "normal" ending out of all these guys. In some ways, I almost liked the normal ending better than the good ending, although it is naturally bittersweet.

Harumi has the sort of sweet, innocent romance that I had been expecting from Kazuma. I think he leaned slightly more romantic than plot-heavy, but there's sort of an A-plot and a B-plot going on that does matter. I think I preferred Harumi's B-plot -- learning to accept his interests aren't #cringe -- over all the other plots in any route. It was the exact brand of normal slice-of-life drama I wanted out of this game.

Yukito Sena

Yukito Sena is a famous playboy model who's the son of a notoriously playboy actor. His father had a role in Pretend Love, making Yukito another possible half-brother. Yukito is trying to leave modeling and start a career in acting; he's never acted before but seems to be taking this audition seriously behind the scenes. He's very blasé and carefree; he's a serious flirt who has all the girls falling all over him -- except Chiyuki, who finds his flirting plain annoying. Even in the common route, you can see there's something more to him than his easy-going attitude might suggest.

I loved Yukito and his route SO much. I'm not really into the flirty characters -- I think they tend to be degrading towards the women in the game and it bothers me -- but Yukito has so much more to him than just being a ladies' man. Yukito is trying to make sure he doesn't have any scandals that could arise and knock him out of the running as one of the leads in Director Makino's new film; unfortunately for him, Kirari -- who is a walking scandal waiting to happen -- is relentlessly pursuing him. Watching Yukito attempt to navigate this situation changed his character for me; despite everything, he doesn't want to hurt Kirari's feelings, so he's struggling to tell her to leave him alone. I feel like a lot of flirty characters would take the woo-then-dump route, but Yukito doesn't flirt with the intention of hurting feelings. I will say, he's also my favorite in the other LI's routes. He seems to have a 6th sense for when Chiyuki and/or the LI is finally showing interest and takes it upon himself to crank the flirting up to 10 to get a reaction out of the guy. It had me rolling every time; I appreciated how he knew he needed to help to hurry up some sort of confession scene.

Yukito's route is about equal parts romance and plot. The plot was pretty basic, but I liked Kirari as a character and enjoyed seeing how her relationship developed with Yukito and Chiyuki. This game is by no means steamy, but Yukito's route had some moments that made me go, wow, didn't see that coming. I guess it shouldn't have surprised me considering his character is meant to come off as a womanizer, but it had the most steamy-adjacent scenes out of all the routes. Overall, his route is my favorite.

Kazuma Kamikubo

Kazuma has been Chiyuki's best friend since they were young children. He's currently working as an apprentice makeup artist; his company gets hired on to help with Director Makino's movie, and he's brought along to help. He's the typical genki redhead who has had a crush on Chiyuki for some time but just hasn't dared to admit it. He loves Chiyuki's fried chicken and also happens to be the only LI that isn't potentially her half-brother.

Oh, Kazuma... I feel so bad for him. He had so much potential and it was snatched away from him TWICE. I'm sort of indifferent to childhood friends to lovers; I think it can be done really well or completely miss the mark -- Kazuma missed the mark. His route appears to be going decently well, and then it hits a wall with a random and COMPLETELY unnecessary usage of a trope I don't like. After they resolve that plot point, they then take Kazuma's whole character out back and shoot him in the head to put him down like a dog. I was staring at my Switch like...they didn't just do that, did they? I had to skip back to the start of the scene and replay it and went oh God...they did just do that. It was really unfortunate because I did like him up until the trope, and then everything that happened after that made it worse. Almost everyone who played this game will talk about how disappointing his route is; even the most staunch genki redhead lovers can't defend what happens at the end of his route.

Kazuma's route was decently romantic until it hit a wall with the trope. After that it dipped off into pure plot -- a plot I didn't care about and it frankly took all self-control not to just start skipping through his route -- and then tried to resolve itself with romance. It didn't resolve itself. I don't know if they thought the aquarium scene was supposed to be "hot" or something, but it was awful. I'm not kidding when I say it destroys the character they've built up his entire route. It was really sad actually, and I was somehow supposed to go "Yeah this guy deserves Chiyuki" afterward. Horrible.

Eiichirou Asagi

Professor Asagi is Chiyuki's mentor and a famous screenwriter; his movies and TV shows are well-known in Japan. He offers Chiyuki a once-in-a-lifetime chance to help him work on Director Makino's new movie so she could see the screenwriting process up close. He's gentle and somewhat soft-spoken, but he's always cheering Chiyuki on and truly wants to help her achieve her dream of becoming a screenwriter like her mom. Asagi is unexpectedly also an ally in attempting to find out who her father might be. Asagi's father was incidentally Chiyuki's mother's mentor -- could her professor be her half-brother?

Like I said, I'm not really into teacher/student romance. It freaked me out a lot less since Chiyuki is very much an adult, but it still skeeves me out. Power imbalances like that just don't work for me. That's not to say that Asagi is ever a weirdo with Chiyuki, but the power imbalance is inherent in situations like that. His route is about half as long as the other routes -- I finished it in one sitting -- which was good because I wasn't interested in it. As I'm sure you can imagine, Asagi's route is where we finally learn who Chiyuki's father is. It was a jumbled mess that was thrown all together in about 15 minutes right at the end and it made my head spin. I guess it wasn't a horrible conclusion -- you do learn that one of the men involved is indeed her father. No spoilers about who, though.

Asagi's route is very much just a super plot dump. There are a few romantic-ish moments, but since his route is genuinely half the length of the previous 4 routes, there is just not even much time for a romantic build-up. That was preferable for me but would be disappointing to anyone who was looking forward to seeing their relationship. It IS romantic, but just about 10% romance and 90% plot. I don't think that even if they gave Asagi a full-length route there would be much room for a serious romantic relationship. He does have reservations about possibly dating Chiyuki due to the power imbalance I oh so hate. It probably would've been a real drag just watching him go back and forth between "Oh I love her" and "Oh this is weird, I'm a freak" so I'm glad I didn't have to sit through that for very long.

Chiyuki Ueda

Chiyuki is a college student with a dream to become a screenwriter like her mother. Due to not knowing who her father is/never having her father in her life, she's very introverted and shy because her classmates treated her poorly in the past. Her grandmother passed away while she was still in high school, so she's very pragmatic and good with money as she had to balance school, part-time jobs, and keeping herself alive at too young an age. She doesn't have friends aside from Kazuma and frankly doesn't seem to have any problems with that. She actively avoids most social situations and is very much an introvert; Kazuma can be a real energy vampire to her as she can't always keep up with his golden retriever zest. Chiyuki is a very hard worker and can be a bit of an old soul sometimes.

I love Chiyuki! She was a very strong MC to me; while she isn't some ass-kicking, sassy, smart aleck, badass, she gathers strength from her beliefs that she won't back down from. While she's not aggressive, she never lets the guys push her around. In fact, in Riku's route, I thought she was about to kick his ass. I liked that -- despite being antisocial -- she found herself willing to help the LI's out. She put herself out there to help them all, but it's not done in a savior-complex way. She has moments where she stands up for herself (or the LI's) and I love that! Chiyuki allows herself to open up to other people in each route, but doesn't lose her sense of self while doing it by any means. I think she's a wonderful MC, and the game is worth playing just to see her character development.


I enjoyed Lover Pretend. I thought that Harumi and Yukito's routes more than made up for the awful route that was Kazuma's, and the "eh" routes that are Riku and Asagi's. The real joy of this game was all Chiyuki though, who I think has some of the best character development I've seen in an MC. It's a cozy game that doesn't require a lot of brain power -- aside from the Pretend Time sections -- so it was a nice brain popcorn game to play in between some more serious and plot-heavy games. Don't go into this game expecting a masterpiece in storytelling; this is a game where you're supposed to just get warm and fuzzy feelings and not some grandiose mind-altering revelations that will change the core of your person forever.