Choice of Romance
Nobody said the life of an aristocrat has to be dull... in Choice of Romance, the latest text rpg from Choice of Games, how you live your life is entirely up to you. You are the eldest daughter (or son) of a once wealthy and respected noble family whose fortune has begun to decline. But right now that's the last thing on your mind; you're about to come of age, and you are sent off to court for a Season with your aunt and uncle, both of whom have their own ideas about how you should direct your attentions. Perhaps you'll catch the eye of an unconventional kindred spirit. Maybe you'll make your mark on the world. Or perhaps you have more... royal... aspirations?
As with previous titles, Choice of Romance is played as part choose-your-own-adventure and part RPG. Events happen, and you select from a list of choices how you want to respond and react. Just make sure you think carefully, since everything you do has an effect on not only the story but the various attributes. You'll be given a chance to create your character and specify where you want to focus your skills. Will you be a bookworm who speaks your own mind with little care to what pops out of your mouth? Will you be the darling of the social world, charming everyone you meet and getting what you want with little effort? Whatever you do, keep your friends close... and your enemies in your sights.
Analysis: Despite following a certain story, the narrative affords you a lot of freedom. You're still only choosing a response or action from a set list, but they're generally varied enough to give you a sense of character development as you choose. The game even gives you the option early on in setting your preference for men or women regardless of your gender, which makes the game accessible and more immersive for everyone. For a game with the word "romance" right there in the title, it's nice to see one that is open to all types of love.
It's just unfortunate that it can be hard to really connect with the characters. Some are more fleshed out than others, and depending on who you choose to pursue, this can mean the whirlwind romance your character is supposed to be having can ring a little hollow. And depending on how you balance your skills, you could find yourself unable to really participate in the plot beyond picking a betrothed; intelligent or sly characters will see a lot more development beyond the boudoir, while playing someone a bit bobble-headed but well intentioned could see a potentiality unsatisfying and early end to the story. Thankfully, this does open the door to a good amount of replay value, which means you can spend a solid evening exploring the ins and outs of high society.
There is no "right way" to play Choice of Romance, but you'll get better results if you remember to play to your character's strengths; someone with a poor reputation, for example, probably isn't going to have a public speech go over well, and likewise having a beauty-over-brains hero try to wrap their head around military movements might have disastrous outcomes. While not quite as exciting as previous titles, more given to political and social intriguing than firebreathing or the buckling of swashes, Choice of Romance is still a fun engagement full of twists and turns, and with enough endings to keep you busy for a while. And who knows? If you play your cards right, you might find your story doesn't end here...