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Game Reviews: Love Bites

love bites

Love Bites Trailer

I’d like to introduce you to my new obsession. Okay, to be fair, I’ve been fiddling around with Visual Novel type app games for some time. Unfortunately, most of them aren’t that well-written, they’re expensive thanks to micro-transactions, the art suffers from balloon-boob or bodies-don’t-work-that-way syndrome, and most of them only give you maybe one or two same-sex options. More important are the “not well-written” and “expensive,” though, which is why I’ve become loyal to Winter Wolves.

Not all of their games are impeccably edited, but they always have good art and interesting plotlines. Love Bites… god, how can I describe it without spoiling?

The premise is this: Twins Brandon and Kaitlyn both just graduated from college and are planning on getting work for the summer to save up money before going out on their own. Unfortunately, whichever twin you choose to play has fallen under some kind of weird affliction. As the weeks progress, you start to change and race to find out what has happened to you. Potentially helping you in this endeavor are your step-sister Sabrina, your former teacher Nadia, and students you knew from school Viktor and Tyrone.

You can romance any of the major characters as either twin. Or, you can, through your choices, get a non-romantic ending.

What I Love:

I have a weakness for horror, especially body-horror. Given the title and the description “tormented dreams and increasing physical changes,” somehow my brain tricked me into thinking this was a story about turning into a werewolf, but the story gets darker than that. And that made me soooo happy (because I’m weird). After you are cursed, your dreams get progressively worse. I can see some people getting tired of the dreams, but more than once, I found myself staring at my iPad in disbelief. Was this real? Did this happen or is this another dream?

Another thing I love is how different each of the paths for the love interests are. It isn’t just the script flipped with pronouns when you play with one twin over the other. Some elements are the same, of course, but things change, meaning that if you’re willing to play f/f, m/m, and f/m, then you have at least eight play-throughs. You can also change HOW you’re going to interact with each character based on two major personality traits. So, for example, if you push Sabrina toward her artistic route, you get one ending, and another if you push her towards her other route. The overall game is shorter than some of the other games Winter Wolves puts out, but that’s not a bad thing, necessarily, because for one price ($8.99 on my iPad, more on Steam), you get to play eight or more times.

Of course, since I was enjoying it, I both wanted to push to the end and for it to continue FOREVER.

And the love interests all have their own secret lives. I feel like this story is set on a Hellmouth or something because you have a little bit of everything bouncing around. The writer WW hired for this game obviously loves/understands horror because there are a lot of loving nods to other horror elements. I’m not going to get into the details, so you can find out yourself, but let’s just say that I appreciate the differences between characters and the rich sense that this town is just chock full of weird. It’s even referenced coyly in the details on your scheduler throughout the week. Did you go to Nightvale Community College??

Anyway, the character design is distinct and clever. There’s also one love interest who is associated with paranormal science who has you studying spore, molds, and fungus in one route, and I was so amused. I’ve been waiting forever to give Egon Spengler a boyfriend.

Obviously, I’m going to explore the f/f and m/m first (and as of this review, have had Kaitlyn hook up with her step-sister and Brandon hook up with Egon Viktor), but I like the story, so obviously I’m going to try every combo to see what other content there is.

The art is also smooth and suited to the game. I especially liked the blood-splattered frames around the dialogue tags and save screens. Lololol.

Game Mechanics:

This game is a dating sim that works on a simplified scheduling mechanic. It’s a lot like Roommates, which is another game by Winter Wolves which has been around much longer. Both use a scheduler although Roommates has you scheduling classes, jobs and activities, though which you raise stats to get with one love interest or the other. Love Bites has no stat requirements. Instead, you work on raising points between yourself and a love interest base on one of their major character traits, which as I mentioned before, will lead to a difference in the ending. It’s a short epilogue, but I’m obsessive, and I will try to get them all.

What you do have to pay attention to on the scheduler is your energy and stress levels. Because stress will make things get bad really quickly.

(This game also reuses from Roommates some backgrounds for the twins’ house and other settings, but I’m not looking at that as a problem because the newer backgrounds match exactly to the style and it was sort off a fun Easter egg for me to see those sets again.)

Final Thoughts:

It’s a bit early for this, but I’m hoping in 2020 we’ll see Love Bites 2 because I’d really like to see another game exploring this location and the side characters who didn’t get fleshed out. The story is, as mentioned before, on a compressed timeline. It happens over the course of about two and a half months. The only suggestions for improvement would really be more interaction between the characters even after you’ve selected out of romancing them and more clarification on the backstory… which I can’t really explain without spoiling, so that’s all you get.

Ultimately, I’m really glad I downloaded this one and gave it a chance. I was actually looking at a few games to review, found out that this one had been released more recently, and so decided to try it in case I could end up giving some attention to a new release. It was so amazing that I just sat there played through the whole thing Saturday evening/night. Then when I finished, went back and replayed the first three weeks as Brandon before forcing myself to go to bed. Then, I got up, did Sunday stuff, and plowed through the rest of that plotline.

If you’re into horror, and even slightly into dating sims, this would be a good under ten bucks game on your iPad. Frankly, any of the games from Winter Wolves is worth a try. I mentioned Roommates (which only has on f/f and m/m per lead an plays a lot longer), but Heirs & Graces (m/m only) is next on my list when I’m finished obsessing with Love Bites (may take a while) and Queen of Thieves (f/f only). They also do games outside of sims, straight up RPGs, but I’ll have to try those through Steam on my laptop, so I’ve put it off.

Winter Wolves hasn’t disappointed me yet.

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