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Visual Novel / #LoveHacks

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The gang's all here. Top row: Horatio, Cole, Sereena and Brooke. Bottom row: Dani and Mark.

#LoveHacks is a Visual Novel that is part of the Choices: Stories You Play collection.

After arriving in San Francisco, a reporter reunites with an old friend from college, meets new ones, and faces dating and fun after getting a new job.

#LoveHacks includes tropes of:

  • All Girls Want Bad Boys: Averted. Dani finds out that her date is so tough that he had to demonstrate it... by fighting all the bikers at a bar. She quickly leaves.
  • Alliterative Name: Cole's full name is "C. Coleman". Book 2 reveals his first name as Clarence.
  • Artifact Title: Dani stops writing the Love Hacks column when she leaves Clickit at the end of Book 1; it never comes up in Book 2.
  • Bar Brawl: Chapter 8 has Hunter start up a fight first from putting his hands on the bartender because he looked at Dani, then punching out the guy trying to save the bartender.
  • The Bartender: Horatio is both a good listener, level headed and loves to make very elaborated cocktails.
    • In Book 2, Horatio hires Parker, his previous Manager at the country bar, as a part-time bartender at The Double Tap.
  • Becoming the Mask: If Sereena is still working at Solstice in chapter 10, she realizes she's acting more like Brooke when it was meant to be an impression at first.
  • Be Yourself: When the boys are trying to get Horatio a date, each of them give Horatio advice. Mark provides him with this, contrary to Cole.
  • Berserk Button: Brooke hates being called "motherly".
    • Chapter 12 has the group try to press Horatio's button when they find out he's being quite calm. Mark unknowingly triggers it just reaching for a bowl of nuts reserved for Tara the delivery girl.
  • Big "NO!": Sereena lets one out in chapter 10 if she's still working at the gym and if Dani says it's a good thing she's more like Brooke at work.
  • Birds of a Feather:
    • Cole tells the group that he is going to set up a trap for his business rival Amir Hakimi, while his friends already predicted that both will hook up. Not only do they try to outsmart each other, but Amir outright tells Cole that he always admired his talents. If they attent the ClickIt party together, they declare themselves the new Power Couple of Apps (while still fighting on who gets to be Beyonce), and both team up to con Martin into giving them business contacts.
    • As soon as they meet each other, Ben and Mark discover that they have a lot in common, mostly both being big nerds about "Venus Corps" around the 90's and Nice Guys in love with the same girl.
  • Black Comedy: In Cole's quest to find his cellphone in Book 2 chapter 12, the final clue takes him to the panther cage at the zoo. Both "Release the panther" and "Look close to the cage" will end up with the panther mauling Cole, closing the scene with a red screen and a narration box that says "Wow, that suddenly turned dark" before taking the player back to checkpoint.
  • Bland-Name Product: The series has dropped a few names standing for real social media sites and apps.
    • Cyrus Fabian's app "PicTalk" is equivalent to "Snapchat", since it uses pictures that vanish for conversations.
    • Isabel's videos are hosted in "Yummy!", which is a parody name for the "Tasty!" cooking tutorials.
    • Felix suggests Dani to use "Cinder" (or "Tinder") to find her three remaining dates, by swiping to the right to like a guy's profile.
    • As a Side Bet, Brooke bets Sereena that she will get addicted to "Pictagram" after using it for one day.
  • Blazing Inferno Hellfire Sauce: While thinking that Dani worked on "Epic Eats", Ben got her a bag full of Ghost Peppers. The only one able to eat them with a straight face is Felix.
  • Broke Episode: In book 2 chapter 15, Dani and Leah's finances have run dry and they're about to shut down.
  • But Not Too Bi: Cole flirts a lot, regardless of the gender of his target. When looking for Mark, they get a better result if Cole chooses to flirt with Nikhil.
    • Paying diamonds in chapter 14 allows Cole to go on a date with Amir.
  • The Cameo:
    • Yasmin from "The Freshman" and Nikhil from "Most Wanted" appear at a club while the group is looking for Mark in chapter 3.
    • Chapter 7 has Dean from Rules of Engagement pop in as a customer at the Double Tap.
    • Chapter 8 has Jessica from Most Wanted in a club giving Horatio her phone number. Randall Grimes from the same series also appears at the bar Hunter takes Dani to.
    • Chapter 9 has another Rules of Engagement cameo from Buzz and Shane as one of the guys Brooke tries to be mean to.
    • Chapter 10 has Edgar from The Freshman pop up while Dani's waiting on her blind date with Ben.
    • Chapter 12 has Antoine from Rules of Engagement as one of Dani's dates.
    • Chapter 15 has Zack and Brandon from The Freshman pop up on the Kiss Cam at the baseball game as well as Isabella and Santiago, the couple from Rules of Engagement.
    • Chapter 18 has Blaire Hall from Rules of Engagement as one of ClickIt's investors.
    • Book 2 chapter 2 has the villain of Mark's old game Dopey Cat, named Prof. Seafood, be the Giant Crab from Endless Summer.
    • Book 2 chapter 3 has Edgar appear again. If you're in cosplay, he'll want to take a selfie of you and him. He also gets an autograph from Ben. Paolo from Rules of Engagement appears, still working for Mansingh Global.
  • Clark Kent Outfit: Chapter 10 has Horatio casually racking a 200 lb barbell while the weights are still on. He attributes it to lifting beer crates regularly.
  • Clingy Jealous Girl: Amy has always been jealous of Mark and Dani's friendship, to the point she questions why the gang accepted her so quickly while they still hate Amy.
  • Cosplay: Book 2 chapter 3 has Dani getting into cosplay as either Starfall, a character from Ben's comics; She can also cosplay as Kenna Rhys.
  • Darker and Edgier: In-Universe, Mark's brother, Isaac, makes one of his own for Dopey Cat called Dope Cat. Instead of cartoony characters, they're drawn more realistic.
  • Deus ex Machina: Book 2 opens with everybody finding out (thanks to Cole) that Mark is in love with Dani. Embarrassed, Mark prays to God for something to cut the awkwardness.
    Mark: God, please save me from this awkwardness… (FIRE!) God?
  • Drinking Game: In-Universe, the group has one of these in a game called Red Herring. Book 2 chapter 17 reveals Horatio made it up on the spot to settle a seating argument between Mark, Cole, Brooke and Sereena.
  • Elopement: Brooke suddenly announces to the gang that she and Keo are going to elope in Las Vegas... after dating for less than two weeks.
  • #EngineeredHashtag: Invoked. The title is stylized as "#LoveHacks", and some of the choice results will either have a "#OMG", "#WIN" or "#FAIL".
  • Ensemble Cast: The story revolves around six friends who are the protagonists: Dani, Mark, Horatio, Cole, Sereena and Brooke.
  • Epic Fail: If the characters choose the wrong options, they get a "#Fail"
  • Even the Girls Want Her: When trying to disprove the "Sphere of Prettiness", two girls sent a free drink to Brook.
  • Exact Words: Chapter 10 has Cyrus Fabian take Dani out to a date at the best Italian restaurant. And by Italian, he means all the way in Venice, Italy!
  • Fan Convention: Book 2 chapter 3 has Dani and Ben go to HeroCon because he has a panel for his comic.
  • Get Out!: During the flashback where Dani and Mark first met, it turns out they're in Professor Vasquez's class and he tells Mark to get his naked butt out of his class.
  • Girl of the Week: Genderflipped. The main premise of the series is to date a variety of "Character Guys" for a big article titled "10 Types of Guys you date"
  • Hated by All: Amy. Nobody from Mark's group likes her, and even Mark himself has problem defending her attitude.
  • Hello, [Insert Name Here]: The main character is nameable; the default name is 'Dani'.
    • Book 2 also allows you to name the new site you make with Leah.
  • Heroic BSoD: Mark goes through quite a few of these that Cole has described them in Patterns. Pattern 1 is just him being normal. Pattern 3 is when he goes to a quiet space to think about things. Pattern 7 has him just marathoning Space Jam all day. Pattern 9 is him playing racquetball.
  • Idiosyncratic Episode Naming: All the episodes are titled in the style of Click-Bait Titles for Internet Blog articles, in relation of the episode's main theme:
    • In Book 1, the episodes are:
    1. "This Story Will Change Your Life"
    2. "Telltale Signs Your BFF Is Into You"
    3. "3 SF Spots to Visit Before You Die"
    4. "You've Been Breaking Up Your Friends All Wrong"
    5. "Do's and Don'ts of Double Dating"
    6. "Things Only Country Fans Will Understand"
    7. "What The Media Hasn't Told You About Finding A Job"
    8. "She Dates A Bad Boy. You Won't Believe What Happens Next!"
    9. "Thing Only Attractive People Get Away With!"
    10. "We Need To Talk About Rich Guys!"
    11. "11 Times Geeks Gave Us Life!"
    12. "We Dated Three Guys At Once So You Don't Have To!"
    13. "13 Dating Fails You Have To See To Believe!"
    14. "Don't Plot Sabotage Without Reading This First!"
    15. "Why Sports Dates Have Us Hooked!"
    16. "16 Secrets For The Perfect Breakup!"
    17. "17 Things To Never Do At A Work Party!"
    18. "The Ending Will Blow Your Mind!"
    • Book 2
    1. "What Happens Next Will Shock You!"
    2. "The Hot New Company Everyone Is Talking About!"
    3. "These Cosplays Are Better Than The Real Thing!"
    4. "4 Things Cowboys And Bartenders Have In Common!"
    5. "5 Party Hacks All Millennials Should Know!"
    6. "The 6 Best Spots For A Guys' Night Out!"
    7. "7 Things That Happened (And Stayed) In Vegas!"
    8. "8 More Things That Happened In Vegas!"
    9. "Forget Everything You Know About Weddings!"
    10. "10 Surprising Foosball Tips!"
    11. "11 Signs You Grew Up With An Older Brother!"
    12. "12 Things You Wish You Could Forget About Last Night!"
    13. "13 Times Burning Sand Was Lit!"
    14. "The 14 Job Offers Millennials Get!"
    15. "15 Tips For When Family And Work Collide!"
    16. "16 Things Teens Don't Want You To Know!"
    17. "So Your Roomie's Moving Out... Now What?"
    18. "The Series Finale Will Have You Shook!"
  • If You Ever Do Anything to Hurt Her...: Chapter 17 has Horatio talking to Ben about his relationship with Dani. One option is to have him threaten him if Ben does hurt Dani, then swing back to being chill.
  • In-Series Nickname: Every biker at The Garage Bar has a nickname, except for Hunter "The Bad Boy". Apparently, Keo used to be a legend there by the nickname "Razor".
  • Internal Reveal: Chapter 16 has Ben finally learn that Dani was writing about the list and that he was on it.
  • In Vino Veritas: Chapter 4 has the girls take Mark's girlfriend, Amy, out to a restaurant to get her drunk on mimosas, knowing she has no filter when she's drunk. Horatio also drops the same line on the guys' side when Cole's helping Mark to realize he and Amy aren't good for each other.
  • Irony: Horatio criticizes consummerism, encarnated by Ultra-Mart chain stores, and he develops a crush on the delivery girl.
  • Jerkass: Amy is a big example. Also most of the guys Dani has dated for the article are this, with the rare exception of Ben.
    • The first guy, Evan, on top of doing bad pickup lines, took her to his work party as their first date and decided to call off the date to go impress his boss. Accordingly, Dani dumped him on the spot to tag along with Mark.
    • The Gym Bunny, Brock, started to criticize her every move (body shape and food choice), claiming that his fitness lifestyle was the only correct one.
    • Subverted with Ray, who was "The Worst Date Ever" guy, who constantly chewed with his mouth open, kept talking about his exes, never took on the check and hit on other girls during the date (player can choose one as the worst part of the date). By the second date, he admits that the article gave him a Jerkass Realization, reflecting on his past mistakes and tells that he is trying to change for the better.
    • Seth The Musician spent most of the date talking about "selling out", criticized Dani's job at ClickIt as such and then took her to his gig... which consisted on him playing guitar by the sidewalk.
    • For the "Bad Boy" section, Dani went out with Hunter, a guy so tough he cound't stop looking for a fight at a bar.
    • Then Cyrus the Rich Guy, who constantly flaunted his wealth, how he got rich (by stealing the app idea from a former coworker) and complaining about how everything was too little for his status.
    • While TJ is initially established as the jerk co-worker rival, he becomes a full antagonist for the remaining chapters when his continuous harassment takes another level by drunkenly stalking Dani to her apartment and continuing to hit on her at the company party.
  • Leaning on the Fourth Wall: In Book 2 Chapter 1, the scene picks up immediately from last book's Cliffhanger, with Cole suddenly saying "[Dani], You've been... hic... stammering for, like, six weeks" (the time it took for the chapter to come out).
  • Mythology Gag: Keo's nickname "Razor" is a reference to another Pixelberry property, which is especially funny when the gang find out it's his online gaming username, while HSS!Razor is Koh's evil hacker ex-boyfriend.
  • Naked First Impression: Dani first met Mark when he was streaking due to losing a bet at a sorority party. He then stayed for her class since he couldn't afford to miss it until the teacher told him to get out.
  • Nerds Are Sexy: Dani expected to have as a date a typical nerd, but gets very surprised when Ben turns out to be a very handsome geeky guy.
  • Optional Party Member: In Chapter 17, only if the player paid for Cole to date Amir and/or Horatio to ask Tara out, they will attend the ClickIt boat party.
  • Origins Episode: Book 2 chapter 17 is how Brooke and Sereena met, how Mark and Cole met, and how Horatio met the group (Along with how the former two met the latter two) before Dani came around.
  • Polyamory: In Book 2, Dani has the option to casually date all Mark, Leah and Ben at the same time, until the last chapter, where she is required to choose one of them or remain single.
  • Poke the Poodle: Chapter 9 has Brooke picking out a random guy to Kick the Dog to disprove her "Sphere of Prettiness". Everything she does just backfires on her and the guy loves her even more.
  • Precious Puppy: A premium choice in book 2 chapter 15 allows Brooke to buy a puppy for Sereena since Brooke is moving out.
  • Pretty Freeloaders: If the player doesn't choose to buy the premium option for Sereena to have a job at Brooke's gym, she will be this by moving to Brooke's walk-in closet and never discussing rent after this.
  • Promotion to Opening Titles: Leah and Ben get promoted to the cover in Book 2.
  • Ragtag Bunch of Misfits: The gang is composed by the Audience Surrogate Sassy Girl (Dani), Ridiculously Average Guy in love with the Oblivious to Love Best Friend (Mark), the Soapbox Sadie (Sereena), a Quirky Con Man (Cole), the Genki Girl Team Mom (Brooke) and The Bartender Hipster (Horatio).
  • "Rashomon"-Style: The Premium scene in Book 2 Chapter 8 has Mark, Cole and Horatio telling three different versions of the time Mark and Cole got arrested in Venice Beach. The most accurate version was Horatio, since the only part that matters is that Cole and Mark were so drunk, they ended up passing out on top of a cop car.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Paying diamonds in chapter 18 allows Dani to give Martin one of these for all the shit she's been through at ClickIt.
  • Roommate Com: The formula is in full play: A group of best friends in their 20s living in an expensive city (San Francisco), the girls all are roomates, two of the guys are also roomates and one of them is the barman of their favorite hangout spot.
  • Sassy Black Woman:
    • Chapter 9 introduces Leah, a movie critic looking to get hired at ClickIt. Making the right choices as well as paying diamonds to take her out to dinner allows Dani to recruit her to the company.
    • Book 2 introduces Leah's younger sister Andi, who is so sassy that Leah must work actively to keep her sass in check.
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here: Chapter 18 has Dani leaving ClickIt due to Martin wanting to change the Love Hacks page to be not only mean spirited, but having TJ assisting in it.
  • Shipper on Deck:
    • Throughout the story, Dani can work to get two of her coworkers, Felix and Isabel together. Making the right choices pays off in chapter 17 when they attend the party together.
    • The rest of the gang, especially Cole, have options to tease Dani and Mark on how they should be together.
  • Show Within a Show: Book 2 chapter 2 allows Serena to play an old game Mark made called Dopey Cat.
  • Slice of Life: It's a mixture of Millenial Culture, Romantic Comedy and Roommate Com.
  • Skinny Dipping: Book 2 chapter 3 has the option for Sereena to join Aiyana on her radio show. On the topic of worst date ever, one of the options is for skinny dipping on the 4th of July.
  • So Beautiful, It's a Curse: Chapter 9 has Brooke learning she has what the guys call the "sphere of prettiness" that has a 30' range. No matter her attempts to be mean to prove it wrong, everyone keeps treating her like a queen. The only one immune to it is Sereena. Book 2 chapter 1 reveals a firefighter, Keo, who "rescued" her from the fire at the bar and proved himself quite immune to the Sphere. In fact, the group thinks Brooke might be caught in his Sphere of Prettiness.
  • Start My Own: Chapter 18 has Dani and Leah start their own lifestyle blog together.
  • Straight Gay: Sereena's orientation is only made clear for the player when Amy offhanded comments on it by trying to hook her up with one of her lesbian co-workers. Also Amir isn't revealed as gay until he hooks up with Cole.
  • Strange Minds Think Alike: If Horatio works up the courage to ask Tara out, the only quirk they have in common is their mutual love for artisanal cheese.
  • Streaking: Paying diamonds in book 1 chapter 3 allows you to see how Dani and Mark first met each other. He was streaking through the school with his friends before sitting next to Dani.
  • Switching P.O.V.: The game tells the story of the six friends and allows the player to interact by playing with Dani, Mark, Brooke, Horatio, Cole and Sereena.
  • Thousand-Yard Stare: In book 2 chapter 8, Horatio gets one of these during a game of paintball against Keo.
  • Two-Timer Date: In book 1 chapter 12, Dani arranges dates with three guys at once to fill out the rest of her article.
  • Virtual Paper Doll: You can dress Dani up in clothes that are unlocked as the story progresses, with the best stuff being unlocked through diamonds.
  • Viva Las Vegas!: Book 2 chapter 7 has the group go to Las Vegas for Brooke and Keo's sudden wedding.
  • What Did I Do Last Night?: Book 2 chapter 12 has Cole and Horatio trying to find his phone after a drunken bender. Paying diamonds at the end allows Cole, Horatio and Tara to see the recordings he made while drunk out of his mind.
  • Who Would Be Stupid Enough?: In Chapter 17, after unsuccessfully getting Mark to confess to Dani, Cole (along with Amir if they are dating) decides to cheer up by conning a stupid rich guy for more app pitching. Seven minutes later and some smooth talk, Martin already took the bait.
  • You, Get Me Coffee: Chapter 7 has Sereena taking coffee orders during her very short time as an intern at ClickIt.