Lovingly Evil is a game that puts its best foot forward. With sharp, witty dialogue, along with some genuinely laugh out loud moments, this “big bad dating simulator” is heaps of fun and well worth your time. But while there’s nothing wrong with a quick laugh, it’s hard not to walk away feeling like this title could have been much more.
So what’s the reason for this? Well, first things first, I should say that I call Lovingly Evil a “dating sim” in name only. This isn’t a game where you build up relationships with a character of your choosing, or at least, it doesn’t feel like it is. No, this is a game where you pick funny dialogue options, and get funny responses in return. And there’s nothing wrong with that. In fact, this is pulled off remarkably well.
Sure, true to the genre, you end up in a relationship with a character at the end, but that could be removed, and the essence of what makes Lovingly Evil worth playing would be intact. For better, and worse.
This title, developed by Lizard Hazard Games, could have benefited from leaning into the genre conventions a bit more. This is a dating sim that needed more dating. But with all that being said, this is still a brilliant romp for fans of the more light-hearted games in the genre, and it is undeniable that this makes for hours of fun.
Hitting on Satan
The premise of Lovingly Evil is that you're a bad guy, attending the supervillain convention, “VCon”. In an extensive character creation screen, you design your own villain from the ground up, both appearance and backstory – the latter of which even comes into play on occasion. You’re then thrown onto the convention floor, where you can spend your day speaking to attendees (AKA romantic interests), playing minigames to win their affection, and attending panels to pass the time.
You have four days to meet your match out of the five available candidates: Nova, an anime girl-esque robot; Satan, the king of Hell; Imperia Maissard, an uptight evil step-mother/queen; Felix Von Gloomheart, an adorkable socially awkward vampire; and finally, your uh, literal clone, who spends the convention pulling pranks on you.
At face value, they all meet a dating sim trope. Nova, for example, is meant to be the cutesy one, but has actually developed self-awareness, and only displays the “perfect waifu” tropes around her anime-obsessed creator. Similarly, Felix appears to be sensitive and thoughtful, but actually has no qualms about killing and draining the blood of human beings.
Spending time with the villainous cast and finding out their quirks is ridiculously entertaining. Going back to Nova, as you spend time with her she dives into everything from overthrowing humanity, to her adoration of naked mole rats. This is where most of the cast shine. They’re well written, and well worth your limited time. A game like this will fall flat on its face if the characters aren’t worth talking to, and in this regard, Lovingly Evil passes with flying colors.
So while that keeps the game above water and kept me coming back for more, it only makes the lack of other dating-sim features more jarring.
All reward, no risk
When I play a game with multiple dialogue options - whether it be other dating sims like Mystic Messenger, or RPGs with romantic elements such as Dragon Age - part of the appeal is that you can muck it all up by saying the wrong thing. It makes ending up with your paramour of choice all the more satisfying, as the risk of failure does in any game genre.
In Lovingly Evil your only chance of failure is if you don’t spend enough time with the character you’re after. It doesn’t seem to matter what you say. Just hang around them, and they’ll be into you. In a second playthrough, I intentionally picked the worse options when talking to Satan. I called him boring, called him ugly, and still ended up moving into Hell with him. Incidentally, the game, later on, joked about the ineffectiveness of negging, but I guess it really does work.
Becoming aware of this did hamper my fun with the game. Each playthrough felt less personal. Did it really matter what I said? Ultimately, everything that is in the game is great. It’s just what isn’t in the game that’s the problem.
With all that being said, does this mean I don’t recommend Lovingly Evil? Absolutely not. The dating mechanics are not the appeal here, it’s the writing. As a visual novel, this does not disappoint in the slightest. Lovingly Evil is a fun few hours of inserting your own character into a story of hilarious and charming characters, with each replay uncovering more lines and plot points you missed before. Even the weaker characters of Satan (I wasn’t actually joking when I called him boring) and the Clone have their moments, making their routes worth a few laughs too.
That’s not even to mention the rest of what the game has to offer. Each bad guy has their own minigame – such as a card game, trivia quiz, bouquet making, and more – which are surprisingly addictive and well made. It’s also very replay-friendly, with the panels acting as ways to skip time throughout the day, rather than go through the same conversations you’ve sat through already. Even the non-gameplay elements, such as the arts-style, are executed excellently; I can’t see that soundtrack getting out of my head anytime soon.
What Lovingly Evil is as a final product is absolutely fine. It just feels like it could have learned a bit more from the other games in the genre. The premise of a bad guy dating-sim had a lot going for it and mostly sticks the landing. For a fun few hours of hitting on a vampire, grilling some steak for Satan, and generally just having a laugh, absolutely spend a day on Lovingly Evil. As I said, there’s nothing wrong with having a laugh, it just feels like there could have been more to have than some quick jokes.
TechRaptor reviewed Lovingly Evil on PC using a copy provided by the developers.
- Great Characters
- Great Sense of Humor
- Brilliant Soundtrack
- Dialogue Choices Have Little Impact
- The Endings Feel Underwhelming