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Or else the game really won't know what to do with you, and thus you will be punished. Non-romantic visual novels do exist for those who don't want to opt in to this particular character-focused experience, but for this article we’ll be limiting ourselves to the love simulation variety.If you walk off the path, you'll be pushed back onto it. The systems in these romance-focused visual novels are usually not robust enough to support complex social sims, they're more like long and pretty choose-your-own-adventure novels.
Japanese dating sim players often refer to the romanceable characters in the games as "capturable." Whether you want to interpret that as literal or prefer to see yourself as "captivating" the various characters’ attentions is up to you, and sometimes up to the particular game’s themes.
But when playing dating sims you are actually being quizzed on how much you know about a particular character you’re after, either learned through attentiveness or knowledge of tropes.
They shop around like they would when playing a Bio Ware game, interacting with all the different available characters for too long and find they are suddenly railroaded along a generic path that usually results in a normal ending where you don't kiss anyone, or worst-case-scenario: a harsh death.
At this stage I advise friends new to the genre that they need to focus on a chosen character early and aim for that goal ceaselessly.
The player must accept their limited role in these spaces and do what they can in order to dig the interesting bits out of these games’ juicy narrative databases.