This game starts out as your rather mundane dating sim with time management aspects (think along the lines of your free time in Persona) and then quickly takes a turn into something more complex. (I’m being deliberately vague to try and avoid giving spoilers.) A single run is going to last around 10 hours. I believe my first run was 9.5 hours, or at least that’s what Steam says. The sprites are…passable. They’re very low-effort and low-res, and at points a bit unattractive. The CG’s, however, radiate skill and personality, and are a highlight. Of course, that just makes the sprites look worse by comparison. The soundtrack is generally inoffensive but unmemorable, aside from one high-energy J-Metal tune that’s really much better than anything else.
The girls are your standard tropes, all conveniently tied to a stat you can raise in the game. You’ve got your shy, glasses-wearing girl, your tomboy, your studious girl, your friendly girl, etc. Even the non-romanceable characters fill some form of trope. Under most circumstances, this would be a negative, but in this game, it actually works particularly well. What starts out as a ludicrous plot develops into something far different, and the contrast between what the game starts out as, versus what it evolves into only makes the game stronger overall.
The writing at points delves into tryhard territory. Characters will at points speak very unnaturally, and not due to a translation error, but because the writers are REALLY trying to get a point or emotion across. It can be jarring, and feels amateurish. Overall though, the game is enjoyable, just with a couple points that pull you out of immersion.
Overall, this game is a solid 8/10. It’s a good effort, just in need of a bit more editorial polish here, a little more artistic effort there, to make it something incredibly special.
This is a great purchase if you like your VN’s to be a bit non-traditional, or if you prefer VN’s with more “game”, as the time management at least gives a bit more engagement than simply passively reading and occasionally choosing an option. It’s an absolute buy if it’s on sale, and even at full price, you are likely to get value from it, if you enjoy the idea of repeated playthroughs. Even if you only play the game once, ten hours is a decent length, in terms of extracting value for money. I really hope that Cafe Shiba decides to try their hand at another VN, as this was a very enjoyable experience.
Purchase How To Date a Magical Girl on Steam!
The Chuck is a lifelong gamer who was born in Ohio, but now lives in much closer proximity to Mickey Mouse.
The Chuck has found his life to be a series of improbable and almost unbelievable events, starting when he was twenty and caught the bubonic plague from a prairie dog. He was as surprised as anyone when he found out that's something that can happen.
When he isn't gaming, The Chuck can be found enjoying baseball, (American) football, pro wrestling, and horror movies. He is most commonly seen in the company of one or more cats.
Reclusive by nature, The Chuck is (like most semi-feral creatures) reward-driven. Approach with caution and some form of treat.