Demons, humans and angels, oh my!
The popular mobile game Obey Me! — One Master to Rule Them All (or Obey Me!, for short) is the latest dating simulation game from NTT Solmare Corporation’s Shall We Date? series. The game follows your journey as an exchange student at RAD, a school for demons. You meet the seven demon brothers, whose backgrounds and hijinks are responsible for driving the main storyline, special events, in-game tasks and almost getting you killed (or wooed).
But what makes this dating sim different from other otome games and, more importantly, why should you care (and play this game)?
Certainly, the 4+ million downloads as of May 26, 4.9 out of 5 rating on the iOS app store and rave reviews from over a hundred thousand people should tell you something about the game’s popularity.
But what matters most is how Obey Me! invests heavily not only in the quality of the graphics, storylines and user interface, but also in the player’s experience. It’s rare for an otome game to have such a large fanbase, even more so for one to have an upcoming summer anime, gender-neutral player pronouns and a vast quantity of free content available.
Shall we break it down?
First of all, what’s an “otome game?”
An otome game, or otome gēmu in Japanese (which literally translates into “maiden game”), is a type of visual storytelling game that is usually targeted toward women. Not all otome games center around romance, but the majority of them involve developing a relationship between the female player character and one of several traditionally male characters. This genre of game originated and is most established in Japan.
Common elements in otome games are voice acting, CG stills and a small epilogue at the end of the game that features either a “good ending” or “bad ending,” depending on your game progress. Otome games usually have easy, intuitive controls and use multimedia like text, pictures, videos, music and simple animation.
But wait, I’m not a girl!
And this is the problem with a lot of dating simulation apps: They’re targeted toward a specific kind of girl.
The main character in otome games is often a slender, pale, brown-haired and doe-eyed girl who relies heavily on the protection and affection of her male love interests to achieve her goals or be saved from the dangerous situations that she will inevitably land in. Quite similar to the plot of many anime and even K-dramas.
Which, given that these games mainly originate from and cater to an East Asian market, is fair, but not super encouraging for those of us in the West used to greater representation and a stronger lead.
Take, for example, another beloved otome game, Mystic Messenger, from the Korean-based developer Cheritz. Mystic Messenger won best indie game at the 2017 Korea Game Awards, and received international popularity as a result. This game possesses a similar UI — you also have a “phone” where you can unlock photos, respond to emails, call and text, and view the main storylines. In Mystic Messenger, you are tasked to continue the work of Rika in planning elaborate charity parties. Of course, there are plenty of mysteries to unravel, from the identity of the sinister “Unknown” that originally invited you to the private “R.F.A.” chatroom, to helping each character solve their personal problems and falling in love in the process.
But even Mystic Messenger illustrates the player as a faceless, brown-haired female that requires saving (by none other than the love interest) from a bomb or kidnapping plot in your own apartment. For all your charms and strengths, dating sims still demand you to be the damsel in distress.
That’s why Obey Me! is so innovative in its design. Instead of assigning the player a basic female appearance, we are now a sheep! A cute, fluffy, pastel-colored, bell-donning gender-neutral sheep, for all intents and purposes.
Reviews on the Google Play store affirm users’ love for this decision, praising the fact that they can now “have their head canon character and in-game name be whatever gender they like” and that they “love the they/them pronouns for mc [main character].”
Even in the anime, we (the player) are depicted as such, sitting comically tiny at a table with the seven demon brothers.
What is Obey Me! about then?
You awake from a dream to find yourself in front of the gates of RAD, the Royal Academy of Diavolo, a school for … demons?!
Suddenly, a demon appears in front of you and introduces himself as Lucifer, the leader of the student body council and the oldest of seven brothers. You’re welcomed into the school as one of two transfer students, but not without a strict warning to be cautious, lest you get eaten by a stray demon. A reluctant guide in the form of Mammon, Lucifer’s brother and second-oldest, is assigned to watch over you. From then on, your journey in the Devildom starts! You’ll meet characters such as Satan — fifth-eldest and born from Lucifer’s wrath — and Beelzebub, whose gluttony seems to never end … and the mysterious seventh-born, who you have yet to see …
During your time at RAD, you’ll be tasked with quests assigned to you via your Diavolo’s Devildom Device, or D.D.D. And as all dating sim mobile games go, you’ll be spending your time wooing the hearts of the seven demon brothers in addition to keeping up with your lessons.
The user interface of Obey Me! is styled similar to a phone’s (your “D.D.D” in-game) home screen. Just like any phone, you can change your background, the BG music and move your apps around. Just don’t try deleting your apps. You’ll have to find out for yourself what I mean.
Obey Me! is a little different from traditional otome games. Rather than playing through one character’s route at a time, the player can romance all seven love interests simultaneously. The characters can call or text you, speak to you as an avatar on your D.D.D.’s home screen, work part-time jobs to make you Grimm (coins) and fight for you through dance battles.
Most of the story is slice-of-life, from familiar activities like cramming for your RAD final exam with the characters (but on demon history, of course) to activities that could only happen in the Devildom, like when one of Levi’s games inevitably causes a time loop in the house.
You can also receive bonus story content about the demon brothers through the Devilgram app on your D.D.D.
Is there romance?
With seven demon brothers and the recent romancing availability of side characters such as Simeon (angel), Solomon (fellow human exchange student and sorcerer), Diavolo (Prince of the Devildom) and Barbatos (mysteriously powerful butler to Diavolo), there are plenty of opportunities to win many hearts and be wooed in turn!
Like most dating simulation games, there is an affection meter, where you can raise your affection level by collecting affection points from making your characters work in “Jobs,” selecting the correct answer choice in the story chapters, or giving your characters what they want in surprise guest interactions. Raising your affection level can unlock more daily chats, phone calls from the brothers, and Devilgram stories (additional story content).
Not to mention, the squeal-worthy lines throughout the lessons, or when the characters ask you for a kiss or (clutches pearls) to go farther than a kiss?!
Hold on, did you say there’s an anime?
Obey Me! also has an anime set to be released this July that will depict the everyday antics of the demon brothers. Colored Pencil Animation Japan will be responsible for bringing the anime to life.
From what we can see in the promotional trailer, the animation won’t disappoint fans of the game or anime enthusiasts; the trailer showcases stunning graphics, adorable chibi representations and dramatic scenes characteristic of anime.
You can now watch the trailer of the anime (originally released in-app) on YouTube.
Can I play with other people in-game?
Although you can add real-world friends and strangers in your “Phone” app, currently interactions are limited to sending daily Action Points (AP), one AP per friend for a max of 100 friends. You can also see other people’s rankings and bios in the Pop Quiz app, along with exclusive, timed special events. Past that, there aren’t really any other interactions with people.
However, the large and deeply passionate fanbase more than makes up for the lack of in-game interaction. From Tumblr fan art to Twitter discussions to TikTok cosplay to 100K+ word fan fictions, there’s plenty of people more than willing to talk about Obey Me!
Ok, real question: how much do I have to shell out for this game?
Nothing! (Well, unless you want to.)
Obey Me! has a ton of free content. For one, the graphics are of incredibly high quality; from the beautiful landscapes and architecture of the Devildom to exquisite illustrations of the brothers in the chats and Devilgram stories, there are dozens of unique background images to discover and unlock. The voice acting is fantastic, and you can meet the voice actors of the characters (as well as listen to their songs!) on the game’s official YouTube channel. And, of course, the main story itself is the biggest draw: There are currently 58 “Lessons,” and each lesson has around 8-10 chapters interspersed with dance battles to overcome. That’s over 500 chapters of free content that you can access anytime, not to mention the special additional 20 chapters from Pop Quiz events every month.
Compared to most other dating sim games, there isn’t a daily limit of five tickets or 10 AP to progress through a measly chapter. You can go through all of the main chapters (“Lessons”), additional storylines, event stories or Devilgram stories at your own pace, whether that is for 24 hours straight, or little by little.
For instance, I’m only on Lesson 39, but I’m not worried about getting through it because I know all the lessons are there for me to go through at my leisure. Instead, I can enjoy the current Pop Quiz event and methodically grind through the dance battles to collect event rewards such as Devil Points and Nightmare tickets. Alternatively, if I wanted, I could just ignore the event completely and just read the main storyline, and come back to the event in six months, when they are added to Lonely Devil (a sort of “throwback” events space where you can revisit all the past events that occurred).
Ready to play?
Come join the 4 million of us, and get ready to obsess over gorgeous art, lively music, spectacular voice acting and an awesome story. The brothers are waiting for you!
You can download Obey Me! for free from the Apple Store, Google Play Store or Galaxy Store.