On May 19th, the final DLC (and main content update– there is one last Patreon moment coming in August) for the first Our Life game, Our Life: Beginnings & Always, released essentially finishing up the game. As much as I enjoy Visual Novels, as I enjoy reading in general, I have always been more in the mystery genre for them. That doesn’t mean I’ve never played romance ones, and if you’ve seen my Youtube channel or literal guides for My Candy Love, it’s clearly not true, but most do not click for me.
This is generally a combination of:
-They move too fast for me to be invested in the relationship.
-I don’t really have interest in any content beyond kissing.
-I have a very specific type and 99% of LIs in these games do not get very close to that type.
And the reason Our Life, and the first season of MCL to a specific point, ended up actually jiving with me were because they had a slow build up where you actually befriended the love interests. Something especially interesting though with Our Life: Beginnings & Always is that the game lets you customize a lot from the look, name, what they like to wear, and pronouns of your own MC (main character) to your relationship with some of the characters.
Even your general tone can be customized to cater to if you’re more shy or direct. Coming from someone who is definitely more on the shy side, having choices I can actually relate to and wanted to pick was crazy. And you don’t even need to necessarily end up with anyone– you have the option to play the game completely as friends or in the case of 2/3 love interests, acquaintances at best. It’s not treated as a bad ending or any kind of ‘bad’ choice– it’s just treated as your own decisions. Relationships also won’t really be pushed on you– you can select an initiative level (so if you don’t like being kissed or maybe even more directly touched, you can pick low initiative vs high) and characters generally will feel the same way you do (IE: 2/3 love interests will not have a crush on your character unless you also chose to have a crush on them).
Choices you make during the game will also help develop MC more such as describing your character’s heights, certain things they like, dietary preferences, and even sexual orientation (including options for the asexuality spectrum as well). You even get to customize your room to an extent in Step 3 (along with describing what your plans are after high school) and your living situation and job, if any, in Step 4.
The way the game works is each ‘Step’ takes place in the Summer in-between 5 year intervals with the first starting when your character is ~8. Step 2 has your character at 13, Step 3 at 18, and Step 4 at 23. The game starts off in 2006 with Step 2 in 2011, Step 3 in 2016, and Step 4 in 2021. The Wedding DLC is more or less up to you on how far after Step 4 it is. While the game takes place in reality to an extent (and in the USA– the fictional town of Sunset Bird is located in South California), it does have some of its own divergences to keep the more positive vibes and things like green hair, purple eyes, and wavy eyebrows are completely natural.
Our Life: Beginnings & Always is free to play with additional DLC for more content and the ability to date two more love interests. Buying all the DLC is roughly about $25 which I feel like is cheaper than a lot of visual novels anyway. And if you’re only interested in the default LI, then it’s $15– each Step DLC is $4, the wedding DLC is $3, and the DLC for the other two love interests are $5 which add 5 additional moments to their introduction step and a new version of Step 4. Keep it mind that even if you don’t have the DLC for the other two love interests, you will still meet them in-game so if you’re undecided, that could be a good way to know if you’d want to know them as more than friends. All three LIs are pan (Cove is panromantic, Baxter and Derek are pansexual) so they’ll love your character no matter what.
The default love interest is Cove Holden who is also only love interest to be customizable in some way and has the wedding DLC. Both Patreon moments (which are 18+– one for Step 3 and one for post-wedding DLC. You CAN play them without going into the 18+ content though) are for Cove as well. Cove’s appearance and personality can’t be adjusted in Step 1, but in Steps 2-4, you can change various things about him such as:
- Hairstyle – You have 2 options in Step 2, 3 in Step 3, and 4 in Step 4.
- If he’s still wearing his glasses or has contacts (Steps 2 and 3 only)
- Accessories. Bracelets and Necklaces– which he has if any.
- You also have choices of various clothing. (Shirts, Pants, Pajamas, Jackets, Formal shirt, Bathing suit, etc. Not all are available at each Step though)
- In Step 4, you can also pick Cove’s body type– if he’s more Lean or Muscular along with if he has any tattoos.
In addition to his appearance, you can pick if Cove is more warm or cold and more sporty or studious. Or, you can choose to not choose any of these (or just his personality OR appearance) and let the game pick which he is solely based off your character’s interactions with him in the game itself.
These things will affect his dialogue and also certain other aspects of his life (such as what he ends up doing after college or where his part time job is).
Your main character is the youngest child of a family of four that features your two moms, Noelani and Pamela and your adopted older sister, Elizabeth (who goes by Lizzie in Step 1, Elizabeth in Step 2, and Liz in Step 3 and 4). Your MC is also adopted.
Cove is introduced right in the introduction of Step 1 as your newest neighbor who has just moved in across the street. Depending on how you want to play, you could be disinterested in him, fond of him, or have a crush on him right away. You can change these at any step, but they can only go up– not down (So you could be disinterested for Step 1 and 2 and then be at Crush in Step 3 or you can be Fond and then Crush but you couldn’t be Fond and then Disinterested). How you feel can only be set at the start of a step so if you want to change it, you either need to replay or wait until the next Step.
Moments like these are when it really feels like the game gets me sometimes.
Each Step has an introduction, 5 free moments (where you can do all or none of them– it’s totally up to you), and an ending. Moments that you do CAN be brought up in future Steps and by the characters. Because of this, it can be fun to experiment with moment order too and honestly, I’d recommend doing all of them. One example is one of the very first moments in the list in Step 1 can be brought up in multiple ways even all the way in Step 3. If you’d like to see some specifics, I highly recommend checking out this document which mentions a lot of the references that can come up.
The Step DLCs add 5 more moments to their respective step. Derek’s DLC adds 5 new moments plus an extended opening/ending, and an alternate version of an existing moment to Step 2 (for a total of 15 moments if you have the respective Step DLC in addition to his) and 1 new option for Step 4 while Baxter’s DLC adds 5 new moments to Step 3 plus an extended opening/ending, and alternate version of an existing moment (which again, makes a total of 15 moments if you have the respective Step DLC in addition to his) and another new option for Step 4.
When you finish a Step, you can change:
-Your character’s appearance. Hair color, hair style, pronouns, name, whatever you want. Characters will be very supportive!
-Your relation to a Love interest.
-Your character’s comfort level (determines how shy or blunt they are)
-The initiative level of a love interest.
-Cove’s appearance and/or personality.
Step 2 introduces Derek Saurez, the first of two additional love interests. His alternate moment is Soiree which can also introduce the third love interest a bit early depending on the choices you make during that moment. Derek is the same age as the MC and Cove. His father is business partners with Cove’s dad. He also has two younger brothers. While you won’t really meet his family if you don’t have his DLC, you still will get to hang out with him quite a few times.
Unlike the other two love interests where you can choose to be completely disinterested in them, you will always have to be at least friends with Derek. He also has a crush on the MC right away, but beyond a mention at the end of Step 2 and certain lines in his DLC, you won’t have to worry much about it if you’re not personally interested in Derek. Of the three, he’s the most well-mannered.
Derek does not appear at all in Step 3 physically (you can have a phone call with him at the end if you kept in touch though), but does appear in both his and Cove’s Step 4. He can also be called in Baxter’s (our final love interest) Step 4 if certain conditions are met (His phone call is actually my favorite of the ones you can have, but sadly I don’t usually hit those requirements because of the Soiree changes required to do so).
Step 3 introduces Baxter Ward, who you can possibly meet at or even dance with at the Soiree depending on the choices you make. If you do meet or dance with him there, certain dialogue will be adjusted to represent that including choices in relation to it.
Baxter Ward will also be in their next Our Life game, Our Life Now & Forever (though, as a supporting character– not a love interest) which takes place in his hometown, Golden Grove– a fictional town in Oregon.
Baxter is a year older than the MC and Cove. Our Life: Now & Forever will follow a similar system (Steps 1-4), but with 4 year intervals inbetween instead of 5. The Love interests and your MC in OLNAF are 10 in Step 1, 14 in Step 2, 18 in Step 3, and 22 in Step 4 and take place in Fall during the years 2010, 2014, 2018, and 2022. The OLBAA MC is two years older than the MC and Love Interests in OLNAF. Baxter is three years older. His alternate moment is Hang. Honestly, I kind of wish you could do both moments of Hang, though, I can understand why you can’t.
I won’t be talking more about OLNAF right now as this is mainly about the first game, but the Kickstarter for it will be going up this Fall— as someone who pledged for the first game, I am absolutely planning to for the second as well (and maybe actually go for some of the physical merch so I don’t have regrets like I do now for not realizing how attached I’d get.. Oh cute little charms… I would’ve liked at least one…).
As mentioned, the game is essentially about going through 15 years of your own MC’s life, whether you just want a friendly slice of life journey or something more akin to a rom-com, it’s just… really nice, honestly? You have the options to choose if you’re super into someone right away or pick more slow-burn options (though, if you go Baxter’s route, it is absolutely a slow burn as it is an angsty route and will be a bit of a gut punch at the end of Step 3. It gets better though!). I generally prefer the slow-burn myself because, as I said, I like actually getting to know characters before it gets to that point. And then if I maybe feel like playing a more romantic route after, I can.
For example, my very first playthrough had Cove as fond in Step 1 and 2 and then crush in Step 3 (which is when they confess), but I ended up having more fun doing Step 1 at Fond, Step 2 at Crush, and Step 3 at Love. Cove is essentially your standard childhood friends to lovers (or childhood barely interested we’re just here because of our parents ugh oh wait I may love you now to lovers depending on how you decide to feel about Cove at each step).
If you had asked me which LI was my favorite before the wedding DLC, I probably would’ve said Cove. And that might sound strange considering the DLC for Cove’s wedding is what made me interested in Baxter, but uh, oops.
Baxter is a very eccentric character in Step 3 and at least when I heard some of his
excuses reasoning in Cove’s wedding DLC, I just desperately needed to give him a hug. Even if he’s kind of a jerk (affectionate) sometimes. It is an angsty mess and I stayed up all night the first time I played it because I was hooked and needed to see how it ended and now desperately need some kind of crossover DLC where he meets up with everyone in Golden Grove and they make up and maybe both casts hang out together or something but that probably will not happen.
As someone who generally doesn’t care for the proper guy in suits, it surprised me too. But I suppose, as Baxter says, he’s “always been improper. I’m merely formal about it.”.
I know a lot of people who also really adore Derek. I generally don’t like the super athletic LIs, but he’s honestly such a great character. I really want to check out his romance route at some point– I’ve only played the friendly version thus far. I would say some of my favorite moments with him are playing Mario Kart, camping in his living room, and the Father’s Day debacle.
I would say the hardest part for me with Derek though is that his character arc situation hits very close to home for me and is something I struggle with in a way I’m not quite ready to deal with just yet.
Baxter’s hits certain things too, but in a sense of a lot of people go through this. Even Cove I relate to quite a bit with how he handles certain things.
Derek’s hits a very fundamental part of my core that makes things a lot harder to decide how to deal with, even when playing a game like this.
But more than anything, the game is generally just really heartwarming. It feels like getting a warm hug and is such an enjoyable thing to just play for some positivity and fun times. Being sick often and having family with multiple medical issues, my childhood was very complicated and in some ways, this filled a bit of the void with that.
I really love every character, even the not as nice ones (which are generally cameos from another GB Patch game– XOXO Droplets which I really need to play at some point), and it was really fun getting to know all of them.
Even for those who aren’t super into visual novels, I feel like you could get something out of this game, even if it’s just helping you think and develop a new OC.
Overall though, I think it’s one of a very small selection of otome games that make me feel warm and fuzzy. Like I said, it’s just genuinely really nice, not just to play through and enjoy the moments, but also to actually feel like your choices matter throughout and more often than not, have options I actually want to pick and feel like my character would do.
Our Life: Now & Forever is pretty much improving on every concept that Our Life: Beginnings & Always introduced (along with having two main love interests this time– Tamarack Baumann, a girl, and Qiu Lin, who is genderfluid) and having played the Demo, I’m so excited for another level of coziness.
Anyway, I’ll end this here before I keep rambling, but I really can’t recommend the game enough and it is free to play so if you’re interested, be sure to check it out on Steam or Itch.io. Or if you’d rather see more of it first, I have over 30 videos of it over on Youtube because I have played over 200 hours of the game. And one thing you will absolutely notice is there is a lot of content to enjoy both with the free content alone, but also what gets added with the DLC.
But yes, tl;dr: Very fun game, highly recommend even if you just want to play it as a Slice of Life friendship adventure.