So I'm going through Yandere Simulator right now, where you play as Ayano and the idea is for you to eliminate/kill off those rival girls who are looking to steal Senpai's heart. It's my first time playing.
From seeing the intro:
I know very well what it's like to feel like there's a void in your heart, when life doesn't seem worth living without having someone to adore, to dream about, to love.. the missing heart would be placed higher on Ayano's chest, because it looks like someone had pushed a heart-shaped cookie cutter over her stomach.
If you could customise Sempai to look like the boy/girl of your dreams, I'd also love it if the player could customise Ayano's appearance in-depth (besides the uniform she wears).
Ayano feels one-dimensional. She has virtually nothing else defining her as an individual besides that:
Now, there's a childhood backstory to Ayano which dramatises how difficult it is for her to feel anything in life - essentially, trying to justify her instant, maddened attraction for Taro Yamada (Sempai). But if the genders were reversed, Ayano would easily resemble an envious Elliot Rodger who is entitled to the object of his attraction's affections:
"How could such an inferior, ugly girl be able to get Sempai and not me?" Ayano fumes, writing in her diary. "Aren't I beautiful too? I'm descended from noble aristocracy. Osana is descended from Kansai hillbillies. I deserve him far more."
As well, there is the film Unsane which has Claire Foy's character stalked by one David Strine - a scenario exactly like Yandere Simulator's, but set in a mental institution:
Ppppft. I suppose other players would enjoy playing the role of the girl stalker simply as-is, and yet for me, I wish there was a more sympathetic depth to Ayano.
When I personally fall in love with someone, it's slow. The heart is easily vulnerable. I wouldn't think much of a woman at first, besides that she has a pretty face, but as I grow to know her better, my heart would steadily and yet irrevocably roll off that cliff people would call rationality, until my stomach blushes over the mere thought of her - a thousand handmade butterflies in the summer's breeze, all shimmering with joy.
To have Ayano start off as initially shy, even dismissing the idea of being with Sempai at first because she feels unworthy of his love is such a nice emotional place, and I'm sure every girl would be able to relate:
"It's growing difficult to ignore how my heart aches, my mind clinging onto the way Sempai's eyes look back upon me, with all the promise of experiencing more of his tenderness. Yesterday, I dreamt of him. Before I could feel his lips touching mine in a kiss I've yearned for my whole life, I woke up. It was the first time I've endured a sleepless night, and I just cried my heart out into my pillow.
"Is this what being in love is? It's beautiful. But, why is it painful too?
"I've never been a religious person. But if God were real.. if I only had one wish to make, I would ask Him for courage. The courage to love Yamada-kun the way anyone should. The way I would want him to love me back."
Over a series of meetings with Sempai, Ayano feels like she'll have a bright future with him. He's.. far better than anything she could have dreamed of. He's always courteous, holding the door open for her in the halls. When Ayano had a grain of rice sticking to her chin, Sempai's touches are so delicate, like he's surgically removed a mole from her face.
As it turns out though, Sempai has a friend he's known since childhood, Osana. When Ayano finds out, she tries playing it off as inconsequential, since it's silly to expect that this pure boy wouldn't have other friends of his own, even friends who happened to be girls.
But when Ayano witnesses Sempai, treating Osana with hugs and even a kiss on the cheek.. a new feeling trinkles into her heart, from a depth of secret darkness that had lurked within her as long as that loneliness had existed: jealousy and hatred.
This would be preferable to the cliche of absolute love on first sight, which currently exists in the game's intro. This would also mean major adjustments, particularly with the possibility of Sempai being a girl. I'm not too much into same-sex relationships, but it's hard for me to see that same scenario played out exactly if Sempai were female.
There are ten rivals currently planned. I would like it to be reduced to around 4-5 rivals in total, who are very different from one another save for their affections over Sempai. Because there's diminishing returns on player satisfaction, on what is essentially carrying out the same goal ten times over - this would save a massive amount on development time, and means more focus can be placed on differentiating the rivals, in terms of personality, and in how the game plays out around them.