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Silent Hill 2
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Final Fantasy VI
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Bloodborne
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Bayonetta 3
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Portal 2
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Above and Beyond Sweetness

In 2022, a friend of mine recommended me Our Life: Beginning’s and Always, his reasoning being that since I am bisexual that this could be something I might end up liking. Initially, I was kind of hesitant to give the game a try. From my outside perspective looking in, it’s a romance otome visual novel, which it’s already hard to get me hooked into visual novels like that. However, it’s free, so I swallowed my pride and started a playthrough.
Almost immediately, I was sucked into a sugary sweet slice of California in Sunset Bird, and before long, I finished an entire “life” of the game, then went back, and did another. What I found was one of the most comforting, fluffy games that shuts out the outside world and allows a moment of reprieve.
The premise of the game starts with your main character at the age of six, who finds a man moving in next door. The man wants the main character to take $20 to befriend his son. Take the money or not, you’ll encounter the star of the show, Cove Holden. Fairly quickly you befriend him and will begin the first “step” of the game, the summer of childhood.
Each step of life is one summer in one of three (or four if you buy the DLC) parts of life; childhood, adolescence, and adulthood. In each step, you are given select activities to experience, each one putting you in a different situation with either family or friends, but most will focus on your relationship with Cove.
Each event has different options for you to take, and while some of them are inconsequential, a lot do have some impact on how Cove will act or what you do will alter events later in the game. While I could argue that the selections do not always allow for every type of response, and some of those missing would be more reasonable than what you’re presented, I quite enjoyed playing and seeing what I could do with each option.
But what I saw throughout each step of the game, and what made me love it more, is how nice the people around you are. Whether it be your character’s sister, your two moms, Cove’s father Cliff, or any of the friends you make in each step, each are well written and feel human, even if the dramatic and gloomy points of the game or their characters never linger long. The town of Sunset Bird is one I came to love, because of the likable characters, and the pleasant vibes it brought in every step of the game.
Cove is the star of the show, and the game goes out of its way to make sure that you will grow to like him. His inner struggles are very human and gives reason to care about him. Throughout each step, the game will nudge the player towards a (optional but c’mon) romance with Cove, and it’s super sweet.
I’m trying not to say too much about all the details of the game specifically, as I think just playing it and finding out each thing for yourself is the best way to experience Our Life: Beginnings and Always. However, throughout my experience at least, I found myself emotionally invested with every character, and Cove himself has shot up to one of my favorite characters.
What I do want to highlight is the game’s writing. I touched up on it in the options you as the player are given, but it goes further than that. GB Patch’s writing for each stage of life is not only good, but really believable. At least in my time with the game, I never read a piece of dialogue and said, “a six-year-old wouldn’t say something like that” or “they’re teenagers, this is not how they act”. It’s all very well written, and that writing is a strong reason I kept playing.
But more importantly, and absolutely my favorite part, is the handling of queer writing. Our Life: Beginning and Always embraces LGBT+ themes very openly. For starters, you can make your player character whatever you want them to be, and just like any actual queer person, have their feelings and own self change in each step of the game. Want to start off as a male, but have your character discover to embrace being transgender or non-binary? Then it’s possible, and incorporated with actual care.
Even further, a lot of the cast in the game is also queer. The player character has two mothers, who married and adopted both the main character and your sister. Not once did I think this was a strange decision, it just felt extremely natural here. You’ll also have an openly transgender character as one of your friends. With DLC, two additional characters can be romanced in a same-sex relationship as Cove.
In a lot of games, I never really find myself satisfied with how queerness is portrayed. Every so often we’ll get a game that doesn’t shy away from queer themes, but also embraces them either upfront or subtlety. However, there are also plenty of shallow duds, which either play it safe, use it as a bad joke, or do not even try to make it feel “normal”, but rather a gimmick tacked on for brownie points. Here though, GB Patch has put care into making a game that’s not only inclusive, but well-meaning and comfortable. That’s the word, it’s comforting.
With how much I hear of gay jokes or flat out homophobia, it doesn’t really bother me, but rather annoys me. How do we still live in a time where someone's life and way of life can be so despised? Why did I have to spend so much of it ashamed of who I was, and how others around me would feel about my sexuality? It's lame, and this game knows that those feelings are lame. So, it’s nice that Our Life: Beginnings and Always just feels like a nice warm hug away from the nonsense and venom people today can spew.
Would I recommend Our Life: Beginnings and Always to everyone? Absolutely not. Unless you’re queer, really into slice of life and/or visual novels that just keep it sweet, this really isn’t going to do it for you. But what I found is one of my favorite games, a game so good and so sweet that it being free is a damn crime. A game that is comfort for when I want to step away from the negativity of the world or the negativity of myself and want to have a smile plastered on my face. I would go to say it’s one of the best visual novels out there, with the likes of VA-11 Hall-A. But above all else, one of the best examples of queer writing out there in video games. To me, that makes it something special. I've wanted to write about this game for so long, and it felt good to do so.
Grand Theft Auto VI and Monster Hunter Wilds will be on their knees when the sequel, Our Life: Now and Forever, drops in 2025. Truly, it will be game of the year, I just know it.

Yeah the ending was very emotional, but I cried harder watching the scene where our beloved Joryu told famous Kamurocho Detective Masaharu Kaito "nice tits", then proceeded to slap them with the full power of the Yakuza fighting style.