Untangling this Otoge! (or, thoughts on a decent starter mobage, Shall We Date? Love Tangle+)

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Overview:

A nameless MC has just achieved her dream! But studying leopards at the world-famous Kaleido Sanctuary has necessitated moving into the closely situated boarding house/apartment complex at Lilac Court, wherein MC meets multiple eligible bachelors. From amongst this group of men (and, as of the time of writing, one woman) with diverse careers (lawyer, veterinarian, model, Olympic athlete, bartender, chef, butler, prince and more) and personalities (tsundere, deredere, kuudere, etc.) she finds one or two that catch her eye. But things are never simple! As she’s trying to decipher her own feelings and succeed at her new job, competition for her heart ensues, and this complicated love triangle is about to leave the MC… well, tangled!


Background on Mobage:

Mobage (mobile phone otome games) are great for the budding otoge enthusiast because they are a) simple to acquire on a device you most likely already own, b) vast in number and theme, and c) lack the financial risk associated with buying into a game genre (read: games AND hardware) that you end up hating. Free to play mobage games are composed of character routes considered “freemium.” That is to say, all the routes (character stories) in a given title are available at no cost, but progress is markedly quicker and easier within the story if you buy the route outright. Otherwise, you’re stuck with a set amount you’re allowed to play each day, and that’s only if you manage to grind your stats at a very rapid clip.

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Not all freemium mobage are created equal, however.* These titles frequently hide pitfalls within their stat systems that leave even the most dedicated player unable to continue. As an otome enthusiast who exclusively and extensively played freemium otoge for two years before I even knew what otome actually was, I’ve been around the block before with various games; I’ve started reviewing otome (see the index here) to provide further information regarding the ins and outs of games and routes, freemium and otherwise. (*^^*)b

As a warning, you should know that mobage (with the exception of Mystic Messenger because it’s honestly amazing) is markedly less impressive than a fully immersive platformed otome game that focuses on more than only romance. These games usually have better gameplay, better art, and better plots, but that’s a discussion for another day. Don’t be expecting Collar x Malice, but do expect a good time! (If you’re new to mobage or otome in general, DO NOT START WITH MYSTIC MESSENGER BECAUSE YOU WON’T SLEEP AND YOU WILL DIE.)


Love Tangle+ Game Formatting:

But I digress. Moving back into the review, Love Tangle+ seems a good starter mobage in that, while its plot isn’t the most riveting of any mobage I’ve ever played, it’s story is simple and fresh. Most importantly, the stat-leveling system is fully manageable and allows for game completion within a reasonable timeframe and with reasonable effort. This is a good place to get one’s feet wet with freemium mobage mechanics before moving on to other titles on your mobage (and ultimately, otome) journey, and it’s unique enough to provide an enjoyable playing experience for even more experienced mobage players looking for something casual, happily achievable, and light. (I’m playing another route even now!)

Even though it is a freemium game, it doesn’t feel like you’re going to die waiting to progress as you slowly accumulate stats. As stands my advice with any Shall We Date? title, you need to grind your stats as often as you can (in this case, loading up the pop-n-sweet cafe) even if you can’t be patient during the first route. After you complete one, your stats make the achievement of others easier, at least in what I deem any quality freemium game. With Love Tangle+, you aren’t forced to send your money to move along at what is least a decent rate. The stories feel comparably short when held up some other Shall We Date? titles (like the routes in Desitny Ninja+), but that’s also refreshing in some ways, and the game lacks no number of romanceable characters.

So, you may be asking, how does one grind stats in Love Tangle+? What makes this game unique when compared to others of its genre? Simply put, you’re a) dressing up and b) leveling up your cooking skill to increase your stats. The game is unique in that its first half is simply your MC exploring the unique-to-these-two-potential-routes intro story and interacting with two different suitors to make an informed decision regarding who she likes and which of the two perspective character routes you’d like to ultimately enter. Was that confusing? Let me try again. You play a story that includes both potential love interests, and then you branch off by selecting one or the other character based on compatibility indicators present in pre-split chapters!

Rather than chose a character’s route at the beginning like you do in most mobage OR earning your way into a route like you do in most platform-based otome titles, Love Tangle+ gives you a choice, but it lets you test the waters first. Also, the love compatibility indicators from pre-split chapters don’t determine which route you take. You get to pick whichever you want, and those indicators are just there to help you try and make an informed decision.

After that point, make the right decisions when the occasions arise to increase the MCs romance level and have her live happily ever after with the chosen beau.

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Mechanics–Stats and Checkpoints:

First, we should address the two types of in-game checkpoints. The first are fashion checkpoints.

There are four fashion stats that a player must monitor (sexy, elegant, playful, and sporty) which are accumulated through the acquisition of clothes purchased with in-game currency or earned through free daily gotcha raffles. To pass a fashion checkpoint, you must either use diamonds or in-game currency to buy a particular fashion item and wear it to proceed. (You can also buy both opportunities to play raffles and buy clothing at checkpoints using diamonds–premium currency available for cash. Using diamonds to buy clothing at a checkpoint unlocks special “premium” rote content. Trust me, in this game, it isn’t usually worth the expense of your diamonds. Use your best judgment.) In-game currency, diamonds, and other helpful items are also given freely as daily log-in bonuses.

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Gold -elegant, Pink -playful, Purple -sexy, Blue -sporty

Dressing your avatar in a particular fashion increases your stats in a particular area. Are you pursuing Carter or Nolan? You want to wear more elegant clothes. Miguel? Try sporty. This helps you earn more stats points and in-game currency through the pop-n-sweet cafe leveler (more on that later). Basically, you’re dressing up to get cooking. Is it sexist? You tell me. But it’s easy; so I like it. More on that later.

It may all sound complicated, but I assure you it’s super simple. The pop-n-sweet cafe is pretty self-explanatory. You cook. You raise your stats. You earn little bonus short stories with each new dish you perfect. Boom.

I’ll state again to that it is very important you keep leveling your fashion stats; they are helpful at pop-and-sweet story checkpoints to continue in the route.

At pop-n-sweet checkpoints, the goal is simple: have a high enough stat to continue on with the route. If you do, you can earn a bonus mini-story for speedy progress. If you don’t, go back to the cafe and cook until you do.

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The clothing you wear can give you a benefit in the pop-and-sweet cafe. For example, if you’re cooking Oliver’s favorite dishes, you’re going to want to dress in his favorite fashion style (playful) to earn bonus stat points and more quickly increase your level.

(And, as a side note, you can make the favorite food of any bachelor even if you’re not in his route. Just make sure to dress appropriately.)

Conclusion:

Love Tangle+ is a starter mobage that I definitely wouldn’t skip. It has workable mechanics, decent plot, a plethora of well-designed, refreshing characters, and even a female love interest if that’s your thing. (That’s not very common in otoge.) The visuals are what one would expect from Shall We Date? They’re pretty, casual, and clean. The dialogue isn’t anything to write home about, but it’s honest, to the point, and very, very well translated. The setting is both modern and realistic (as opposed to say fantasy or zombie apocalypse–that’s a real mobage, guys! I should review it!!), so while a lot of otome relies on fantastic elements to tell an engrossing story (which may or may not be your thing; I love it.), Love Tangle+ does not.

As a disclaimer, I should add that I’ve not seen any racy sexually suggestive content during my play of Love Tangle+’s routes; I have not played all the routes, however, and that is also not to say there isn’t any present in the side stories or additional bonus content to which I have not been exposed. (I have only recently started replaying after accidentally losing my app data.) While it doesn’t have an age barrier in the app store and I haven’t run across anything, proceed with a modicrum of caution, if such content worries you. (^^)v

If you’ve played Love Tangle+, what did you think? If you haven’t, do you think that you will? Let me know in the comments below!

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Did someone say refreshing???

~Shoujo ❤
Buy Me a Coffee at ko-fi.com

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*Do not even get me started on that…well, I was going to say “trash,” but that’s rude, so we’ll say stuff that Western companies are trying to pass off as otome. Like, NO. THIS IS NOT OTOME. (Looking at you, Episodes and Choices.)

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