Fureraba ~Friend to Lover~ is one of the comfiest visual novels I have ever played. The game takes all of the tropes one would expect from a high school romance story and just completely drops most of them, leaving just a pure love story behind.
Pure love story. What sets Fureraba apart from similar visual novels is actually just how normal it is. These days, romance visual novels, especially those set in high school, oftentimes try to keep their stories interesting by adding in unnecessary drama and annoying love triangles, but not Fureraba. Fureraba is a pure love story through and through. There is no unnecessary drama, no love triangles, and no “does he/she really love me” scenarios. Sure, the story is completely predictable as a result, but it is quite refreshing to play through a game that just gets straight to the point, with none of that filler content in-between.
Hilarious writing. I am not the biggest fan of comedy in visual novels, but the way Fureraba handles it is just brilliant. It honestly has some of the most hilarious dialogue I have ever had the pleasure of reading through in a visual novel. This is largely due to how the game was localized. There are plenty of lines that are obviously translated very liberally, with characters constantly throwing around profane language and other stupid terms, but to great comedic effect. Lines such as “you fell for my trap card!” and “get out of here normies!” were not uncommon, but they do not feel out of place either. The characters in the game are high school students, after all.
However, it is not just the translation that makes the game so amusing, the characters themselves are pretty funny in their own right. One character in particular very openly identifies himself as a scalie, a type of furry fan that prefers reptiles and amphibians. Several jokes about this character’s strange fetish are made throughout the game, some of which got an audible laugh out of me, something that few visual novels have been able to do. The class teacher is also hilarious, cursing out his own students and giving very awful life advice based on his own terrible past experiences. These characters, combined with the game’s localization, really work wonders in the comedy department.
Free 18+ patch. Fureraba, by default, is an all-ages visual novel. Fortunately, NekoNyan Soft offers an 18+ patch, free of charge. Not only does the patch add back in the cut content, but it also removes the mosaics, technically making it more complete than the Japanese equivalent. Considering that this is NekoNyan Soft’s first release, they definitely are on the right path in that regard.
Story is not for longer play sessions. The drawback with this type of story is that it simply does not hold one’s interest for more than maybe an hour or two at a time. The game is funny and the pure love story is good, but it is structured in such a predictable way that it is just not binge-worthy. As a result, I ended up playing the game in short sessions over the course of several weeks. This may not even be a con for most, but for those that do like to binge-read visual novels, it is worth noting.
Freezing and audio stuttering issues. During the early game (the first two friendship stages in particular), the game would sometimes freeze on new lines. These freezes only lasted a second or two, but long enough to be noticeable. On top of that, whenever one of these freezes did occur, the background music would stutter a few times, then restart playback from the beginning. I tried uninstalling and reinstalling the game when I first noticed the issue, but that did not fix it. A rather odd issue, but it did not happen past the first two friendship stages, and even then, it was not too common, but still a technical issue regardless.
The story may be lacking in substance, but that is actually what sets the game apart. If you are tired of the constant drama and love triangles featured in most visual novels these days, then Fureraba can serve as a breath of fresh air. It may not be the best visual novel to binge, but the story is a decent read and the writing is hilarious too.
You can buy Fureraba ~Friend to Lover~ on Steam here.
I was provided a free review copy of the game in order to write this review. Read more about how I do my game reviews here.