Otome games are story-based video games (also known as visual novels) targeted towards a female audience. These games, contrary to popular belief, aren’t always sunshine and rainbows—the genre is rife with mystery, horror, politics, and compelling coming-of-age tales. Read on to find your next otome fix!
Best Otome Games
In the year 1593, Nobunaga Oda started the Tenshō Iga war, decimating most of the Iga ninjas in the process. The very few that survived were absorbed into the Kōga clan, despite their past rivalries. After 17 years the Sengoku Period finally came to an end, and Japan was unified. Enju (Protagonist), daughter of Kandō Ueno, the Head of the Kōga clan, spends her days training diligently in hope of becoming a full-fledged ninja like her peers. At long last she is assigned to her first mission, but finds herself caught in a dark conspiracy.
Nightshade is one of the most popular otome games right now, and it’s not hard to see why. Between the impressive artwork and the plot’s integration of real Japanese history, this visual novel is easy to lose yourself in. And ninjas—don’t forget the ninjas!
A catastrophic flood split the world into two: the Heights, a gorgeous utopia, and the Depths, a filthy industrial wasteland. Our heroine, Cyrus Tistella, born and raised in the Heights, has nothing but contempt for those from the Depths. As Cyrus descends to that unknown world, the gears of her fate begin to turn…
The plot of Steam Prison will make your blood pump almost instantly: Cyrus, a privileged inhabitant of the Heights, is cast into the Depths after being framed for the murder of her parents. Watching Cyrus evolve as a character and become intimate with the people she used to look down upon, all while trying to solve the mystery of the true killer, makes this a must-play (just take caution: as is often the case in the otome genre, this story can take a very dark turn).
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Dandelion – Wishes Brought to You
Heejung Kim moved out from her education-obsessed mother’s house in an effort to find her real dream life. All Heejung has to show for herself is her major in business administration, average language skills, not being very popular, and decent school grades. As graduation approaches, she starts to worry about her future. One day, Heejung wakes up to animal sounds…? After she finds these mysterious animals, her story begins.
Dandelion was developed by Cheritz, the same team behind the well-known (and highly beloved) Mystic Messenger. The game features a beautiful soundtrack and a surprisingly deep storyline for what initially seems like a silly premise.
Platforms: Android, Steam
You awaken to find your memories gone. To learn the truth behind your amnesia, you’ll choose from five romantic paths, each its own world. With 20+ endings, can you write the lasting love story you deserve, or will your love and life come to an end?
Amnesia is a popular visual novel that is often recommended to otome beginners, since it offers all of the genre’s best components (stunning art, interesting characters, and even a couple of minigames) without delving into too intense of a story—unless, of course, you romance that one certain character…
Collar x Malice
Platforms: Nintendo Switch, Android, Playstation Vita
A dangerous shadow organization launches a campaign of fear and violence in the city of Shinjuku, pushing society to the brink of chaos. As a young police officer tasked with restoring order, you become the target of an attack, and have a poisonous collar attached to your neck. With the situation spiraling out of control and time running out, five mysterious strangers appear to aid you in your quest for the truth. Who can you trust?
If you’re familiar with otome games, you’ve probably at least heard of Collar x Malice, which is lauded as one of the best titles in the genre. Thrilling and dark, this game continues to win over players with its intricate story and themes of justice and morality.
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Venture into a reimagined steampunk version of 19th century London. Follow the adventures of the poison-skinned maiden Cardia, the men trying to help her, and the mysterious organization intent on capturing her. Experience a visual novel adventure brimming with literary and historical characters including Victor Frankenstein and Abraham van Helsing. Will Cardia find love, or destroy those she cares for? Her story is in your hands.
Code: Realize is the ideal otome choice if you’ve played Persona 5 and now have a crush on Arsène Lupin (just kidding—unless…). Similar to Nightshade, Code: Realize relies upon historical inspiration to create an intriguing storyline and equally compelling characters. It’s also available as an anime, if you’d prefer to sit back and watch the romance blossom.
Four years after the end of the Great War and the loss of her mother, Crown Princess Lucette of Angielle is still struggling to come to terms with her new life and step-family. Cold-hearted and bitter, Lucette’s life is once again turned upside-down by the Fairytale Curse. She is thrown into a battle to regain her crown in a fractured kingdom where nothing is as it seems…
When otome games are criticized for lacking in a specific element, it usually boils down to the heroine feeling one-dimensional or overly passive. Cinderella Phenomenon puts an interesting spin on this issue by creating a heroine that is, at first, downright unlikeable. The ensuing character development (along with a dark retelling of the classic fairytale) earns this title its spot among the Best Otome Games.
Platforms: Android, Apple
“Downloading a messenger app will lead to chatting with hot guys!?” A new type of female-oriented mobile game in which you can experience a love story through an interactive messaging app. Receive phone calls and texts depending on how intimate you become with the game characters!
This list wouldn’t be complete without Mystic Messenger, which continues to enthralls veteran and new fans alike with its unforgettable cast of characters and layers of storytelling. Unlike other otome games, which you can turn off and put away, Mystic Messenger sends texts and phone calls to your phone ’round-the-clock for a realistic chatting experience.
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