I see Fureraba ~Friend to Lover~ has been briefly adressed in this topic by @emilevnp and @Ariel . Currently, I have completed two routes (Rina and Yuzuyu), meaning I’m halfway through. I’m not expecting too many surprises from now on, so I’ll share my thoughts on the game so far. In detail.
The game is available on Steam.
In Fureraba, your goal is to get a girlfriend before a set deadline. To do so, you engage in dialogue with the heroines on a daily basis.
What made me interested in the game in the first place was its slight similarity to a dating sim. I’ve always wanted to play one but I have not yet done so.
The structure of Fureraba is pretty simple and straightforward. You will realize early on that it’s really more about having the player reach a goal than it is about telling a big story. Once you get through the intro part, every day of the common route is mostly the same and very repetetive:
Waking up > Arriving at school > first break [action] > lunch break > second break [action] > leaving school > evening/going to sleep
Most of these scenes are rather short and they usually consist of daily comedy and some interaction between the characters.
The parts I describe as [action] are where the actual gameplay happens. First, you choose a heroine to interact with. That’s right, you don’t choose a place where you either know or suspect a heroine to be like in the Da Capo series or similar VNs. The place is always the same: the hallway. There, you choose topics to talk about with a heroine - two topics per talk with occasional dialogue options in-between. You make progress in your relationship with the heroine depending on the topics you choose and choices you make.
Some special Events - that is, longer scenes, dates or date-like events - happen from time to time. They are either set to happen on certain days or they mark a milestone of your progress with a heroine. In case of the latter, that usually happens on weekends and after those events, your relationship to the heroine improves, unlocking different topics for the everyday [action] segments.
Once you get through all the events of a heroine, you can’t talk to her in the [action] segments anymore, instead getting the option to confess your love. If you don’t, everything else just proceeds as usual. If you do, once the day is over, the common route ends and the heroine route begins.
(EDIT: There’s a deadline, so if you don’t confess before that, well, you’ve probably figured out what happens. But don’t worry, there’s plenty of time to pursue your heroine of choice.)
From here on out, it’s pretty much “sit back and enjoy”. There are many choices to make over the course of the route, but the story itself will not change. For the most part, your decisions only change a few lines of dialogue. The first day is usually the day the protagonist confesses and from then on it’s lovey-dovey time.
Basically, the common route is where you put in effort in order to get a girlfriend, and in the heroine route, you enjoy your reward - lots of time that you spend with your girlfriend. Plain and simple.
Fureraba is not an onion cutting simulator. It’s not made to be particularly emotional or educational. As stated above, it really is mostly about working towards a goal and then enjoying the reward. Therefore, you should go into it with NO expectations for the story. It’s gonna be just… normal, I guess? The most outstanding parts are the over-the-top comedy and the countless “awwwww, that’s so sweet” moments. There will be no great trials to overcome. The conflicts are few and far between and the story solves them or moves past them rather quickly. So, just enjoy every event for what it is and don’t expect anything grand.
I doubt that discussions about Fureraba will be nearly as long as this post of mine
I believe the language in Fureraba stands out among other VNs. It’s over-the-top, straightforward and blatant at times, meaning they don’t beat around the bush in terms of wording. I think it often makes for really good comedy. I also suspect that the translators have taken many liberties here. The translation carries the general tone well, but some parts of the translation do seem a bit too over-the-top. For example, they used term “sister fucker”, which, judging by the context, is how they translated “siscon”. That aside, translation-wise, even people with little experience of japan and its media will have an easy time getting into this game.
First of all, we’ve got our Protagonist - Aoba Kyousuke (you can change the name at the start). He’s an average guy with average skills. One of his strengths is that he’s good at smalltalk - after all, that’s how you get closer to the girls in this game. In general, I’d say he’s pretty competent in terms of overall social skills. He likes fooling around and making situations more interesting.
The protag’s goal is, of course, to get a girlfriend. And he is determined to work hard for it. If I were to point out the one thing I dislike about him, it would be how quickly and frequently his thoughts take a turn and end up on the topic of sex.
Fureraba doesn’t make much use of tropes. Even though you can theoretically assign stereotypes to the heroines and some side characters, they definitely are individuals and won’t always act as expected.
There are 4 heroines in Fureraba: Yuzuyu - a new classmate, Rina - a familiar classmate, Himari - a childhood friend and ??? - a mysterious senpai. The latter kind of gets special treatment in that she’s not part of the everyday scenes and you won’t even know her name or face unless you choose to interact with her.
The side characters do their job: They give life to everyday events, provide entertainment and support the main characters, making them stand out more. Some of them even have proper backstories. Yes, there is a “best friend” character - Genki. He’s in charge of comedic relief, but he’s no wingman. I sometimes feel like he’s been made too much of a clown…
That all being said, none of the characters stand out too much so far.
The steam version obviously doesn’t have that but there’s a patch you can download for free on the publisher’s website. Yes, the game was made with this content as part of it, not just a bonus. You should decide add or not add the patch BEFORE starting your playthroughs, because you will get an error at some point after loading a pre-patch save file.
What I like about it
the comedy: Fureraba makes me laugh a lot. The comedy is really over-the-top. The dialogue keeps giving you little moments of shock - in a silly way. Buuuut, humor is subjective, so you’ll have to get your own impression
the characters: as stated above, no heavy stereotyping. There is even that one side character with a way too ridiculous fetish - but there’s actually a nice little story behind it!
the [action] dialogues: apart from the events, this is how you get to know the heroines. I didn’t expect this part to be particularly impressive but I ended up appreciating these little dialogues a lot. Why? Because this is where you truly find out that the heroines are individuals with a complex personality. I would often select a category consisting only of topics that seem unfitting or bad. I would often choose an option and think “oh damn, she’s gonna hate me for this. No plus points this time”, only to be surprised by a positive and elaborate response. And sometimes, the opposite happens.
the “gameplay” - it’s not much, and by no means elaborate, but to me, it’s new and refreshing
EDIT: Jealousy! - Considering that love is such a major part of pretty much every VN I’ve read so far, I’ve barely ever seen heroines display jealousy. That is - recognizing the existence of a potential love rival and reacting to it in some manner. Some heroines display jealousy as part of their own routes. Some display it more than others. And there are small events that appear if you make progress with several heroines during the same playthrough. These events are short, but they mean a lot to me. Because that shows the heroines don’t just exist in separate capsules that are their own routes. It means they are part of the same world and that they react to things that happen even outside of their personal story. I really want to see more of this in other VNs
Overall, Fureraba is entertaining, but it was never meant to be anything beyond that. Just sit back and enjoy it~