Anti-Romance Jam Review

Since I played all the Neo Twiny entries, I thought it would be neat if I did the same for the Anti-Romance Jam as well, at least the IF entries. The Jam ended two weeks ago, but I didn’t have the time/energy to play most of them
The Jam also accepted non-IF submissions.

There are about two good dozens of games there. Let’s see how far I manage to go through them all. I’m reviewing them from last submitted to earliest one.

I expect to have my heart broken with most of entries :stuck_out_tongue:


I will be skipping reviewing :

because I’ve reviewed them in my Neo Twiny thread already. I’m also skipping Intersigne and Mission : Anti-Romance (because I wrote those :stuck_out_tongue: ).
Also skipped (as of the last review): Catch Your Sacrifice (FPS game), A Pathetic Door Left Open (Book), I’m sillay (Comic), Bowerbird (Zelda-like Dungeon), Fallen Without Them (Platformer), an aromantic’s guide to romance (Prompt/Essay), HEART BREAK IMPACT (Dungeon), WTFromantic (Essay/Thoughts), strawberry sour (Paid game), Intrinsic (Book)


Growing Pain by cassian

An Anti-Romance Jam entry.

Entry - IFDB - More by cassian - Tumblr Review

When a Romantic Setting is still not enough
Oh, the pains of unrequited love! Their presence hurts with your feelings not being returned, but their absence hurt even worse. And what torture to spend an evening with the object of your love, in quiet spot, in the ever-so romantic setting of waiting for shooting stars. There are moments that could create a spark (a brush of a finger, some unsaid words), but reality always catches up to you.
They will never love you the way you love them. You ache for them to, but you don’t seem to mind the hurt either…
Quite nicely expressed.

Minor tick for me in the formatting, with the links almost disappearing when hovering, or the choice looking like one large block of text, or the popups not following the UI colour scheme. Would have been nice if we could control the audio volume too :stuck_out_tongue:


Venus is a Liar by JazzTap

An Anti-Romance Jam entry.

Entry - IFDB - More by JazzTap - Tumblr Review

Beautiful confusing prose…
It is rare that I am enthralled by prose that flows through the page, and yet feeling nothing but confusion as I read through it. While I would usually stop reading and give up on a piece that I do not understand, here I stayed, hoping the story would fall into place and everything would make sense in the end.
It, however, did not do that. The conversations you have with other characters is interspersed with your thoughts or environmental descriptions, neither completely fitting in a way. I ended wondering if this was some sort of sci-fi/mystical retelling of some Ancient Greek mythos… or just vibes.
Yet… I could not look away… the prose kept pulling me through the passages, only leaving me hanging, stranded, by the end…
Was this maybe the point of this entry?

Sidenote: yay another creator using Dendry!!


how do i love you by Sophia de Augustine

An Anti-Romance Jam entry.

Entry - IFDB - More by Sophia - Tumblr Review

The Darkest and Sweetest Emotional Whiplash
There is probably nothing more anti-romance than a couple on a verge of a break-up; when the spark is not just gone but harming both parties (in this case, one more than the other). A fight is how the story starts, full of resentment and misplaced hurt. Setting expectations that behind the bright UI of the entry, darkness looms ahead.

And yet, this is not the path the story takes. It does not wallow (for long) in the misery of hurt feelings, despair over failures, or doubles down in the hurt in the hopes to salvage the doomed relationship. Instead, it takes the path of healing and love - for oneself and others but with a healthier view and supportive friends.
Love is an action you choose to do, how you show people you care about them.

As a final point, the formatting of the story inside chat rooms was so fitting. Each user had their own distinct voice, that barely needed the username to know who was writing which message. The addition of typos during emotional moments, especially for Sylvia, were a great touch!


Opal’s Monster by riderofblack

An Anti-Romance Jam entry.
>Note: only a small demo was submitted to the jam. The review will only reflect what is there.

Entry - Tumblr Review

A Freaky Steampunk Frankenstein’s Monster in the works?
The entry is short - not more than 10min of play short, and devoid of choice. You are introduced to Opal, a disgruntled (mad?) scientist looking for love and companionship, when all her friends have found easily what she’s been missing. Armed with determination and knowledge, she blindly goes down a path that may fulfill all her wishes… or may completely backfire.

This is the expectation of the piece when the demo ends, at the moment Malum (the “monster”) rises to life.
While there is not much else to say about the story, I did want to point towards the pretty UI of this demo, with its green colour scheme, funky font, and eye-catching sprites.


(Don’t) Save Me by Coral Nulla

An Anti-Romance Jam entry.

Entry - IFDB- More by Coral - Tumblr Review

We all want a manic pixie dream girl, but what does she want?
I want to preface that this game was insane, and pushed all the right buttons for me. Is it genius? I think so. At least the ending I got was to me.

As a manic pixie dream girl, you are tasked by the Agency of Narrative Intervention to help the main characters of the short stories to fulfill their potentials, by making it all about “yourself”. Break some hearts, break some love, break some chains… But never become enmeshed with the story.
That is until…
… the story feels… off. And your role doesn’t quite fit anymore… You may choose to push through and finish your work, or maybe follow that strange character trying to make you question everything you know (was it your manic pixie dream girl?).

Along with some sort of red/blue pill choice, the ever changing UI almost pushes you down a path, one you might feel too afraid to take, one which could set you free? Yet, are you doomed to repeat the stories you were once tasked to change?

A really interesting and mind-blowing entry!

This was made using Decker, which looks like a neat little program. Thinking of trying it now.


Greenteeth by bertilak

An Anti-Romance Jam entry.

Entry - IFDB - More by bertilak - Tumblr Review

Wicked Jenny lurking you to your doom…
In this retelling of the Jenny Greenteeth folktale , you meet the titular character by the shore of a pond. Though it takes little for you to become entranced by her “charms”. Eyes, hands, mouths, hair… you cannot look away from the murky sight before you, let alone pull away from her grasp. Not like you truly want to pull away…
The horror oozes from the prose, its nails scratching your brain until it leaves a mark, leaving you wanting to wander by the lake, and once more meet the creature of your(?) desires?

A little minor tick with the hovering colour choice on the link (a tad too dark to be readable). I also found a teensy bug that gave me a blank screen after choosing between love and lust.


One last one for today!

Cycle by alyshkalia

An Anti-Romance Jam entry.

Entry - IFDB - More by alyshkalia - Tumblr Review

Time loop and its consequences?
Ever fudged so badly in your relationship you wished you had a time machine/trinket to go back and fix your mistakes by actually doing and saying the right things to save what is almost lost?
This is something that Tiel doesn’t need to worry about, as his grandmother left him a neat little pocketwatch, allowing him to save his relationship… if he plays his card correctly.
Through a thread of choices, your actions will determine which ending you will receive, and whether you will manage to save your relationship.
Still, regardless of the end post, Heron’s criticisms only resonate ever so louder with every new cycle. Sure, you may be acknowledging eir hurt and needs, but are you truly doing this selflessly? Don’t you invalidate eir choice, the one triggering the story, by going back in time until you succeed in your goal or relent in your defeat?
The game does not just do time loop incredibly successfully, it also raises quite the moral questions about slippery slopes when rewinding time…

This entry is related to the author’s other games: Structural Integrity (Spring Thing entry) and You’re a Time Agent!


Unrequited by Zee

An Anti-Romance Jam entry.

Entry - IFDB - Tumblr Review

Heartbreaking letter
Through the writing of a letter, parsed with words left unsaid/unwritten, this short kinetic entry deals with a loss of a close relationship, because of unrequited feelings and different expectations. It is touching in its tragedy, heartbreaking in its commonness.
In very few words, this entry beautifully encapsulates the end of something that is often stronger than romantic partnership. And how mixed feelings can tear someone apart.
The addition of sound and animation were a lovely touch as well.

I beta tested this game.



An Anti-Romance Jam entry.

Entry - VNDB - Tumblr Review

Beware of strangers…
Following an… accident, you wake up in a hospital with amnesia. By your side, a young man introduced himself as your lover or maybe your junior, giving you one piece of information (yourself, the accident, your job/club), before scramming when the doctor comes check up on you, promising to come back with things to jog your memories.
As the VN ends there, it is clear it is meant to be replayed until you’ve exhausted all options - which is pretty quick considering how short the game is.
Yet there is something unsettling about the game. Something about the young man is not quite right, from the way he talks to you or answers your question, there is this sense that he might not be who he says he is (and one of the image on the game page could point to it, even if it never appears in-game).
It kind of reminded my of the 50 First Dates movie… but the creepier version.


Cinderella - happily ever after by Kal Down

An Anti-Romance Jam entry.

Entry - IFDB - More by Kal - Tumblr Review

Happily? (n)ever after…
This almost-kinetic entry time-jumps 10 years after Cinderella’s tales, giving snippets into her life as Queen of the realm. As her life is described from her perspective, it becomes clearer the title of the game reads more sarcastically as one might think. Overall, the piece was much darker than expected…
Parsed through the story are the lyrics of Labour by Paris Paloma, mirroring Cinderella’s life after escaping the clutches of her step-family. But it leaves you to wonder if she truly escaped that life or if only the walls of house just changed.
The entry seem to have perhaps taken a more realistic take of what would probably have happened to Cinderella after marrying the Prince (if based on the 17th-century iteration), considering the place, status and duties of a Monarch’s wife.
Overall, this was an interesting mashup of a fairytale and song lyrics.

Aaaaaaah! It’s my UI template :stuck_out_tongue:


Three Things by Jinx/Lapin Lunaire

An Anti-Romance Jam entry.

Entry - IFDB - More by Jinx - Tumblr Review

Translating a broken heart
Sending you back to class, this entry tasks you with translating a Russian poem by Anna Akhmatova as your final assignment for a course you are taking. A poem (or the task of embodied translation), the teacher hopes will serve you in the future.
I should add there that I don’t understand Russian, nor had I come across this poem before. Went in there blind.

While most of the text will be translated by simply hovering your mouse over the text, the game will, in parts, give you choices (always in 3) to translate specific groups of words. With repetition in words, some choices are simpler than others. Even if not chosen, all choices should be clicked (~delicious flavour text~). Finally, you must choose a title!
I boringly compared the words of the title to the first line of the poem and wrote just that… I also played the game by not touching the translation bit, just continuing to the next passage, and the translated poem was so very funny in a stressed student doing in an exam way.

Then comes the painful process of waiting to hear back from your professor… or your boyfriend…
The poem itself is quite sad, and, as hinted by the game, might be mirroring your relationship…

The translation gameplay reminded me partly of Kit’s Piele


Philia by aurelim

An Anti-Romance Jam entry.

Entry - IFDB - More by aurelim - Tumblr Review
Note: the author mentioned the characters would be part of an upcoming IF piece. This was also their first game.

Love is the hurt we gave each other along the way
Told from the perspective of Terri, a love-inexperienced student, this kinetic entry tells the story of two dormmate hitting off after meeting, moving into a relationship, before breaking things off when unsaid truths were kept silent. And learned lessons along the way. This entry is what you’d expect from a slice-of-life story, considering the theme of the jam. It is sweet and at times a bit corny (in a good way). Kind of heartbreaking, leaving a bittersweet after taste, overall.

That said, the prose didn’t do much for me. While it had some heart, I found it a bit too meandering to keep me focused, dragging some scenes longer than it should, while glossing over beats that maybe should have been a bit more expanded (like the whole avoiding your partner, or going further into Terri’s struggle with their identity). There is potential here, it just needs a little more TLC to get there.

I wasn’t particularly fond of Terri’s passivity either. I think it made sense in the context of the story, but I wanted to shake them so they’d face the issues they created rather than letting Trinity to all the work for the both of them. Maybe some choices (even fake ones) could have helped?


Last one for tonight. I think I’ll be done by this weekend.

Flynn & Quinn by Stanwixbuster

An Anti-Romance Jam entry.

Entry - IFDB - More by Stanwixbuster - Tumblr Review

Stole my heart…
Starting in the middle of a conversation, you play as the titular Fynn, a performing poet by day and well-meaning thief by night, hiding Quinn, a cop on the run after an unfortunate incident from a previous installation of the series. With a love-hate relationship with the man, you must confront your dire situation and some consequences of your actions, plan and execute a heist, and try your best not to fall for him.

Even with having to press the spacebar to show every new line, I could not take my eyes away from the screen until I finished the game. I even had a hard time choosing whether to press the options offered to direct the story one way or let the conversations flow by itself (usually picked the second). The characters had so much personality, and you can’t help but take a step back and be a spectator to the conversation of the moment, just to see what happens…

The game makes it quite easy for you to root for Flynn (even considering the implications of the previous game) and want everything will turn out ok by the end of the game. Regardless of his not-so-legal occupations (which reminded me a bit of Lupin), Flynn has a bit of a Robin-Hood heart to him. >
But, as every heist demands, things don’t go to plan. The gunshot, although expected, shook me. So, did the cliffhanger.

Really great entry. I have to check the other ones, next.

I don’t know if it is possible with Videotome, but being able to scrollback to earlier lines would be nice. I was too impatient at times and pressed the spacebar too fast…


I’m off for a while, so I played a short one. Maybe I’ll have time for another later today?

We’re yours and you’re ours by beeyolk

An Anti-Romance Jam entry.

Entry - IFDB - More by beeyolk - Tumblr Review

We’re each other’s…
Through this quite short entry, we are introduced to Pan and Subsa, two not-quite-human friends who might be more than friends, struggling to put a meaningful and correct label on their relationship. It is very sweet, and kind, and warms your heart.
I quite liked how it ended.

It was also neat the creator added a theme changer for a light mode on Harlowe.


Secret by ikuyustas

An Anti-Romance Jam entry.

Entry - IFDB - More by ikuyustas - Tumblr Review

(Un)forgivable sin
This kinetic entry recounts the moment a person realised their parent’s relationship wasn’t as loving as it seemed. Through a series of event, they find their mother’s indiscretion and struggle with dealing with the situation. Ultimately, their choice is to keep it a secret, and the facade of a happy family going.

There was something in the prose that felt a bit off. The way the entry was written felt a bit to clinical/academic, quite detached from the event described. Maybe the story could have been from the perspective of an adult recollecting old memories. But it felt so devoid of feelings… I thought it was a bit strange…


wretched star by swanchime

An Anti-Romance Jam entry.

Entry - IFDB - More by swanchime - Tumblr Review

Dark confusion…
I’ve had trouble putting my thoughts in order for this one, as I honestly was confused about the story throughout the whole thing. Parsing bits together from what seemed a memory and what was “current time” was a bit of a struggle, as the formatting for either part were quite similar.

I did take from it a story of broken (maybe more than) friendship, filial duties, expectations from status, and feelings kept secret. I was quite disoriented trying to keep up with it (not knowing where to click probably didn’t help). I did find the aesthetic quite artsy, even if a bit strange for my taste.

If someone understood the game, please explain it to me…

1 Like

affection. by Coeur

An Anti-Romance Jam entry.

Entry - IFDB - More by Coeur - Tumblr Review

Or melancholic affliction?
This short poetic prose takes you on a drunken melancholic trip filled with stolen glances, caring touches, and repressed feelings. With every sentence, the tension between the two characters is palpable, edging to succumb to their yearning, yet never faltering - no matter their current state, no matter their actual feelings for one another.
With its simple UI design and atmospheric music, this entry managed to create quite a melancholic and somewhat heartbreaking aura to the story.


The beating of my heart by eckardlise

An Anti-Romance Jam entry.

Entry - IFDB - More by eckardlise - Tumblr Review

An attempt at parody?
This entry does not give one, nor two, but six and a half stories within one game, all taking a jab at romantic clichés. In the container half story, you are courting Molly, a more-or-less maneater, who coyly tells her different affairs with past men and why it never worked out. Among those: a perfect man she always felt insecure around, a mad scientist who let his work consume the relationship, a literal Don Juan who depleted her savings, a foozball celebrity who partied too much, a royal alongside which she felt too much pressure, and a rockstar who cheated.

While the entries try to make fun of romantic clichés, its prose is none the better, emulating those romance novel of questionable quality, without really fully hitting the mark. Adding on to an unneeded formal tone, this adds to the impossibilities of the tales being reality, removing the possibility of fantasy. With the game switching from a second-POV (you, the player) to a first-POV (Molly), it also fails to give both Molly and you distinct voices, making the transition between past and present a bit strange.

Molly is everything you find in Romance stories: she is gorgeous and yet bland, capable and helpless, confident in herself and insecure around men she thinks are better; and in most situation. She is honestly quite infuriating; worse even when she finishes her tale, taunting you with showing her how you are better than her ex.

The end of the game is none the better. After going through Molly’s retelling of her life with her different exes, you simply throw your hands in the air and leave. Claiming she was looking down at you. Which she had until now. But showing the tipping point being the man who behave the worst towards her left an awful taste in my mouth, when you barely flinched her taunt the other times (and had no choice to give up before then).

At this points, I questioned whether this was truly parodying the genre. Or just trying to make a bad joke. In any case, it felt of bad taste.

Note: Don’t pick Rod until you’ve read all stories, or the game will end abruptly and confusingly.
Also, the font makes it hard to read, especially the punctuation.
The author claims they used ChatGPT only for research (edit:) and some content.


I wasn’t able to play this one (on my laptop, at least–didn’t try it on my phone) because the iframe wouldn’t scroll, so I couldn’t scroll down past the initial text to begin the game. Did you play it on mobile?

1 Like