Favourite Otome Games | Released in 2021 | Recommendations
Best of 2021: Another year has passed, and this time it was a big one for the otome game industry, so we thought we’d share our favourite otome games of 2021.
There were many, many new releases this year – from both indie and corporate teams – so this is by no means an exhaustive list of everything we loved to play. We’re simply offering our number one recommendation for each category, along with our reason for giving it a top spot in this Best of 2021 list…
Favourite Nintendo Switch Otome Game
☆ Game name: Cupid Parasite
☆ Developer: Otomate / Idea Factory
☆ Publisher: Idea Factory International
☆ Platform: Nintendo Switch
☆ Age Rating: ESRB – T (Teen)
☆ Languages available: Japanese (Audio) / English (Subtitles)
☆ More information: here!
A wacky rom-com with a vibrant palette, colourful cast, and rockabilly tunes; Cupid Parasite goes from slightly weird to completely absurd– in all the best ways…
There were lots of new otome titles released for the Nintendo Switch this year, including big hits like Olympia Soiree, BUSTAFELLOWS, and Dairoku: Agents of Sakuratani. There were even more titles released as Switch ports for existing otome games, including Code: Realize ~ Wintertide Miracles ~, Kissed by the Baddest Bidder, and Steam Prison.
With so many titles to choose from, picking a favourite game for the year was difficult – but Cupid Parasite stood out as something new, exciting, and completely different from anything I’ve played before. The bright colours, lively soundtrack, and uniquely entertaining cast of love interests consistently put a goofy smile on my face, and I was genuinely laughing out loud for most of the common route.
It’s also just pretty to look at – and fun to listen to – with some kinetic features that were clearly designed specifically for the Nintendo Switch (rather than an adaptation from another platform), making it a solid all-rounder that guarantees a fun time — which is why Cupid Parasite is our Favourite Nintendo Switch Otome Game of 2021.
Favourite Mobile Otome Game
Tears of Themis
Tears of Themis hasn’t just taken something that works and added their own spin; they’ve created something unique and innovative while still honouring familiar elements from the otome games we know and love. Instead of having the standard story parts interrupted by disruptive, generic minigames, the gameplay and other interactive elements have been incorporated into the chapters themselves to create something cohesive and fluid…
It’s safe to say that miHoYo’s venture into the otome game industry has taken the community by storm — and for good reason, too. The stigma around mobile games is slowly wearing off, and there are now plenty of otome gamers who actually prefer the mobile platform — which I believe is largely due to games like Tears of Themis, with such outstanding quality that they elevate the standard of the entire platform.
The mystery/detective-adventure story is exciting on its own, but there are also several types of gameplay elements integrated into the chapters themselves, allowing the flow of the story to continue uninterrupted, while also adding an extra layer of interactivity to distinguish itself from a typical visual novel. There’s also an extensive variety of minigames, debates, and time-limited events, all of which are frequently updated to keep the game fresh while we wait for new story chapters to be released.
That being said, I think the aspect of Tears of Themis that truly makes it shine is the artwork. Games with a core gacha component often rely on stunning visuals to draw in more cash flow, but Tears of Themis doesn’t limit its aesthetic appeal to the cards. Background art (‘invitations’), character sprites, and in-story CG’s, all have an intense level of attention to detail, with added layers of partial animation and fluid facial expressions that consistently add a dynamic feel that elevates even ordinary story chapters to a whole new level.
In short, Tears of Themis is an intriguing, entertaining game with some attractive, loveable characters. Furthermore, it’s simply impressive on a technical level, with beautiful art and innovative gameplay elements – making it an easy pick for our Favourite Mobile Otome Game of 2021.
Favourite PC Otome Game
☆ Game Name: Heart Fragment
☆ Developers: Starfield Gaming / Casper Swann
☆ Publishers: Starfield Gaming / Casper Swann
☆ Platforms: itch.io / Steam
☆ Age Rating: 12+ / Mature
☆ More information: Twitter | Kickstarter | Carrd.co
Determine your fate and find your happy ending in ‘Heart Fragment’ – a psychological otome game written and directed by Casper Swann of Starfield Gaming. Funded by Kickstarter, blood, sweat, and tears – this labour of love is a phenomenal visual novel, separated into three ‘Books’, with a compelling cast of creative, complex characters, who are just doing their best in a deeply intricate web of conspiracies that threatens to unravel at any moment, changing their lives forever…
Heart Fragment captivated my attention this year, despite having only released one of three books so far. The characters in this story are truly fascinating, and I love that there are so many different endings already – even with only two of the love interests being currently available.
As a psychological-mystery visual novel, the story is deeply compelling, with some fascinating visuals, and compassionate depictions of mental illnesses and those who struggle with them. I particularly loved the choice to include the protagonist in this theme, rather than making her a perfect ray of sunshine who heals all the traumatised people with her general pure-heartedness. Instead, she’s just as flawed and interesting as the rest of the cast – and you can even shape her personality further through your choices, crafting a unique experience in each playthrough.
I’m still amazed at how many choices, twists, turns, and other elements have been woven into this game, and I can’t wait to read more with the upcoming releases of Book Two: Belief Fragments, and Book Three: Despair Fragments in 2022 – so, with that anticipation in mind, our Favourite PC Otome Game of 2021 has to be Heart Fragment.
Favourite Erotic (18+) Game
First Bite is an all-inclusive buffet of dark comedy, sexy vampires, and deep, eternal bonds — From dead ends, to sexy ends, to best friend forever ends – no matter your preferences or persuasions, First Bite will have a route for you…
I had a blast playing this game and I’ve already started
spamming gifting my friends with links to download this game, because, honestly, I just need more people to play it and get excited with me. Whether or not you consider First Bite an otome game in the traditional sense, I’m going to say it ticks enough ‘story-based games in the romance genre’ boxes to be included it in our 2021 Favourites… mostly because it’s just really good and it would have felt wrong not to include it in this list when I enjoyed it so much.
If you’re looking for a more mature experience than you can typically find in an otome game (and you’re a fan of sexy-scary vampires of all genders and persuasions) then I highly recommend indulging in First Bite. It doesn’t get as explicitly graphic as other 18+ games I’ve played (Fashioning Little Miss Lonesome, for example), but there are still plenty of opportunities to get unapologetically horny, with a variety of kinks and fetishes to choose from.
That being said, if you’re more interested in the ‘scary’ part of ‘sexy-scary’, then there are also platonic versions of the good endings that didn’t feel like a bad, normal, or ‘slightly-less-good’ ending – instead, they’re just as intimate as the sexy endings. In general, there’s a lot of care for all types of players in First Bite, despite being produced by a smaller team.
I’ve seen a lot of people in the otome game community looking for more inclusive options, (as well as more mature options), and, in that aspect, First Bite absolutely delivers. I’ve never read such descriptive, sensual 18+ scenes that still allowed any player to put themselves in the player’s shoes, regardless of their gender, pronouns, and anatomy. Whether you’re an otome gamer looking for a mature, all-inclusive experience, or a writer looking to expand your repertoire when it comes to inclusive 18+ scenes, you’ll find what you’re looking for in First Bite — which is why it’s our Favourite Erotic (18+) Game of 2021.
Read More: First Bite | Game Review | NSFW 18+
All in all, there were a lot of amazing games released this year, and I’m already looking forward to several new titles coming up in 2022! These favourites are games I personally enjoyed, and that I felt added something new to the genre that I hadn’t seen before, but it’s definitely not a complete list of everything I played and loved this year.
Do you agree with these top picks? Or do you have different personal favourites? This website was started to celebrate otome games, so please let us know your ‘Best of 2021’ in the replies section below (or on Twitter!), as we’d love to hear what you loved to play this year.
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