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Visual Novel / Our Life: Beginnings & Always

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"A twenty-dollar bill, four summers, fifteen years, and a one of a kind life."

Eight-year-old Jamie Last (name changeable) is a resident of the sleepy seaside town of Sunset Bird, California. They live with their mothers, Pamela and Noelani, and their older sister, Lizzie. As Jamie returns home one summer evening, they encounter a strange man, who offers a secret proposition: twenty dollars to become friends with his son. This mysterious man turns out to be Mr. Holden, Jamie's new neighbor. After divorcing his wife, he has moved to Sunset Bird with his eight-year-old son, Cove, in tow. Little does Jamie know, Cove will become an important part of their life...

Our Life: Beginnings & Always is a wholesome visual novel created by GB Patch, and was released on November 16, 2020 on both and Steam, then later released on on June 13th, 2022. It is the first installment in the Our Life series. The game follows the MC and Cove's relationship as it develops over the course of fifteen years. The gameplay is separated into four "steps" — Step 1 occurs when the MC and Cove are eight years-old, Step 2 occurs when they are thirteen, Step 3 happens at age eighteen, and Step 4 at twenty-three. Each step represents a single summer, and is divided into events called "Moments." Within these Moments, the MC makes decisions that shape both their and Cove's characters.

The game has several DLC add-ons:

  • Step Expansions for Step 1, 2 and 3, which add five additional moments for each Step, excluding Step 4. The expansions for Step 1 and 2 were released on November 16, 2020, while Step 3's was released on April 16, 2021.
  • Cove Wedding Story: Players can plan and experience their ideal wedding together with Cove, should they be engaged by the end of Step 4note . Released on February 7, 2022.
  • Derek's Story: Unlocks a new love interest for the MC, Derek Suarez, with five additional moments (Step 2) focused on Derek and a new storyline in Step 4. The DLC was released on September 29, 2022
  • Baxter's Story: Unlocks Baxter Ward as a romance option. Like Derek, his DLC comes with five new Baxter-centric moments (Step 3) and a new epilogue focusing on him. It released on May 19, 2023.

A second installment of the series, Our Life: Now & Forever, is in development.

This page contains minor unmarked spoilers.

Our Life: Beginnings & Always contains examples of:

  • Aerith and Bob: Cove's pet fish are named Dreamcatcher and Mark.
  • Almost Kiss: While on vacation with their families, the MC has the option to invite Cove into the RV's loft to sleep beside them. While there, the MC can attempt to initiate a kiss; but at the last minute, Cove becomes so nervous that he jumps up, banging his head on the roof and waking up everyone else in the RV.
  • Amicable Exes: Despite their divorce, Kyra Preece and Cliff Holden still seem to get along well. To the point that Cliff invites Kyra to stay with him and Cove one summer.
    • This is a possible dynamic for the MC and Baxter if they choose to date him in Step 3, then get together with Cove by Step 4.
  • A Rare Sentence: From Mom in "Sleepover" of Step 1.
    Mom: That's enough. Nobody here is a loser or a rotten egg. You're each farm fresh. ...Which is a sentence I never thought I'd say.
  • Affectionate Gesture to the Head: Can be done to Cove as a form of greeting or a way of showing affection.
  • Anachronic Order: The Moments are written such that it's acceptable to tackle them in any order the player wants, which comes with their own references and callbacks to previous Moments played prior, even in the same Step. For example, playing Sandcastles after Grown Up will have Cove still be angry about his fight with Lizzie if you decide to build a sand mansion
  • Awkward Father-Son Bonding Activity: Cliff has a few of these with Cove, like taking him to the beach when they first moved in or sharing the floor of an RV together, but Cove rarely enjoys them as a kid and young teen. 18-year old Cove starts to come around, though.
  • Awkward First Sleepover: The plot of Sleepover (Step 1) has Cove come over for the night, and is his first sleepover ever. However, he has trouble sleeping, and tells the MC that he wants to go home. Depending on your choices, he either does or manages to stay until morning.
  • Babysitting Episode: The main plot of Responsibility (Step 2), where you help Derek babysit his brothers. How well the MC is able to handle it is up to you.
  • Beach Episode: While some moments take place at the beach, Hang (Step 3) fits this trope the best.
  • The Big Damn Kiss: During the epilogue of Step 2, if the MC is romantically interested in Cove, the MC and Cove can have their actual First Kiss. Cove instantly becomes embarrassed, and clamps a hand over his mouth while muttering to himself.
  • Bonding over Missing Parents: In the Family Moment of Step 2, Elizabeth asks her mothers about her biological parents, and learns that she was born in the Philippines, and that her biological parents are dead. If the MC decides to ask their mothers about it, they learn that their birth parents are also dead. Elizabeth and the MC can later discuss their shared circumstances and deepen their sibling bond.
  • Book Ends: The MC's first meeting with Cove starts on the poppy hill, and Step 3 ends with them sleeping and waking on the hill together. It can also be lampshaded by the MC if they propose to Cove on this step.
    MC: "I found you crying because your life was about to be different, and now we're here again and you're crying for the same reason."
  • The Bus Came Back: Shiloh and Jeremy reappear in one moment (Serependity) in Step 3 and in the Wedding if the player chooses to invite them.
  • Childhood Friends: Depending on the player's choice, the MC and Cove can be very close friends since childhood.
  • Continuity Nod: A key part of Our Life is that characters will remember past events from previous Moments and Steps, from Cove remembering your favorite drink to your winning streak in party games. You can check a list of them documented here.
  • Crush Blush: If the MC becomes romantically interested in Cove, Cove will often blush in response to any sort of flirting or physical contact.
    • Similarly, if you set your affection with Cove (or either of the two DLC love interests) to Crush or Love, the MC's face icon will be adorned with a blush.
  • Dance of Romance: During the Charity moment in Step 3, Cove will ask the MC to dance with him. Later, they have another opportunity to do so if the MC accompanies Cove to the hill behind their house.
    • In Soiree (Step 2 DLC), the MC can invite Cove to a soiree at the country club. The MC can dance with Cove or choose to dance with a stranger, who later turns out to be Baxter.
  • Dialogue Tree: As expected of a visual novel. While some options lead to the same immediate outcome, others may net different responses.
  • Enter Stage Window: Cove climbs through the MC's window several times throughout Step 2 and Step 3.
    • At the end of Step 3, the MC can climb through Cove's window.
  • Everytown, America: Sunset Bird is a tourist town stated to be located in Southern California.
  • Exact Words: Played for laughs in Derek's version of Step 4, upon returning to the Suarez residence after breaking into their old apartment's pool.
    Mrs Suarez: "Hey, welcome home. Did you enjoy the pool?"
    Jorge: "It was a great time at the pool."
    Nicolas: "Exactly, the pool was so good! And that's the truth."
  • Explain, Explain... Oh, Crap!: Played for Laughs during the wedding DLC when Cliff, blissfully unaware that the MC hasn't told Cove about the twenty dollars, casually brings their deal up during his wedding toast. The MC sees it coming from a mile away and is helpless to stop it.
  • Fallback Marriage Pact: At the end of Step 2, Derek proposes that, if both he and the MC are still single in ten years, they should just marry each other. Averted that Derek doesn't bring it up again if the MC is attached to Cove by Step 3, or decides to dissolve the pact in his Step 4 DLC (though the MC can still get together with him if they're crushing on him).
  • Family Business: Cove's father and Derek's father Gregorio own a joint business. During Step 2, Cove and Derek discuss the possibility of one day taking over their fathers' business. Part of Derek's Step 4 lets you and Derek attend a networking lunch together in Gregorio and Cliff's place.
  • Feud Episode:
    • In Talks (Step 3), Cove and the MC's friends, Miranda and Terri have a falling out. Cove and the MC spend the day attempting to get the two of them to reconcile.
    • Depending on the MC's reaction to Miranda and Terri's fight, they might end up fighting with Cove as well.
  • Flowers of Romance:
    • If the MC chooses to invite Cove to the soiree at the country club as a date, he will give them a flower. Specifically, it is the flower that they said was their favorite during Long Day (Step 1). He'll give them the same flower again in Happiness (Step 3).
    • The MC can also propose to Cove with a poppy at the end of Step 3.
  • For Want of a Nail: Choosing a slightly different combination of choices may change the immediate outcome of a situation, and how characters react to other situations later in the game.
  • Fourth-Date Marriage: Double-subverted. Cove and the MC may have known each other for a long time, but it's completely possible to not only get together at the start of Step 4, but end up engaged as well by the end of it, to the shock of many.
  • Friendship Trinket: If the MC tells Cove in Step 1 about the $20 deal, he takes it poorly and bursts into tears. His father, attempting to remedy the situation, gives Cove a twenty-dollar bill. Cove, in turn, gives it to the MC. If they insist that Cove keep the money, his father will instead tear the bill and give each of them half of it. The MC thinks of it as a token of their friendship.
    • In the same vein, telling Cove about the deal in either Step 1 or 2 gives you the option to give Cove the first $20 dollar bill as a graduation gift. When asked about it, the MC admits that they never found anything that would be worth using it on...up until now.
    • A minor one is the windchimes you can get and give to Cove in Mall (Step 2), if you buy one for yourself, Cove will muse that you'll both match, and it's revealed in Boating (Step 3) that Cove still has it.
  • Gameplay And Story Intergration: The choices you make about yourself can carry forward to other Steps - swearing at Jeremy in Birthday (Step 2) for example unlocks opportunities for the MC to swear in Step 3.
  • Good Parents: Applies to not just Cove and the MC's parents, but the vast majority the game's cast.
  • Hello, [Insert Name Here]: The MC's first and last name can be changed upon character creation, and their first name can even be changed between "steps." The game also has a free voiced name DLC where there's hundreds of names that Cove could say in voiced lines.
  • Her Boyfriend's Jacket: After being caught in a sunshower in Escapade (Step 2), the MC goes to Cove's house to dry off. If they request it, Cove will lend them one of his shirts. The MC can later choose to bring said shirt with them when going on vacation in Roadtrip (Step 2), which Cove can potentially notice.
    • If you managed to convince Baxter to wear a swimsuit in Hang, he offers the shirt he's wearing to the MC after playing in the sprinklers.
  • Indirect Kiss: Particularly in Step 2, a Cove who's crushing on the MC has trouble sharing food with them presumably because of this concept, though he eventually gets used to it by Step 3.
  • The "I Love You" Stigma: It's possible to have Cove blurt out that he loves you if you spend the night with him in Step 3's epilogue while in love with him. How Cove takes this differs on how long you've been dating; he worries that he
spoke much too soon if you've just got together in the epilogue, or quietly admitting it if you've been dating for a long time.
  • On the other hand, if you tell Cove you love him in Charity (Step 3), Cove admits that while he'd been in love with the MC all this time, he couldn't bring himself to tell them due to fearing that it would be too much.
  • Internal Reveal: Happens if the MC choses to tell Cove about the deal Cliff made with them. If the MC choses to keep their mouth shut, eventually Cliff himself will inadvertently let Cove in on the secret.
  • Limited Social Circle: The MC, Cove and their friends tend to hang out with each other. Somewhat justified since Sunset Bird is a tourist town, and is stated to have little to no children apart from them.
    • This is particularly so for Cove if his personality is Cold, which makes him unwilling to extend beyond his existing group of friends.
  • Literally Loving Thy Neighbor: While routes can be played in which the player never gets romantically involved with Cove, most routes involve doing so and art for the game shows that the protagonist canonically does.
  • Long-Distance Relationship: The MC and Cove can potentially have this if the both of you are in a relationship by Step 4 but live far away from each other.
  • Love at First Sight: It is possible for the MC to fall in love with Cove at first sight.
  • Love Epiphany: An MC who's feelings towards Cove move from fond to crush/love over the course of the steps will usually undergo one in the time gap between steps. Should the MC have one in the transition between Steps 2 and 3, Lee will mock them relentlessly for taking ten years to do so.
    • This also applies to Derek as well, if you get together with him. Liz in particular snarks Derek about it for never saying anything as children. In particular, she can drop this line at the pool if she knows of the relationship before the end of Step 4:
    Liz: "Vacations, graduations, the blossoming of a relationship after a ten-year slow burn."
  • The Mall: The titular moment Mall (Step 2), takes place at one, and should the MC know how to drive, can take up a part-time job there as well in Step 3.
    • Derek's Step 4 also has you return to the same mall with him and his brothers.
  • Meaningful Gift: The MC's choices of graduation gifts to Cove can range from items they made themselves to presents that call back to previous Moments. For example, you can gift the orange shell Cove was entranced with as children, or buy him an entire box of ice-cream cups if you played Barbeque (Step 1).
  • Moment Killer: There's a few:
    • Soiree (Step 2): You and Cove get interrupted while dancing together by Pamela, though she's justified as she needs to bring you both home and had to get your attention.
    • Errands (Step 3): Played for laughs. If you're dating Cove, he'll take his sweet time saying goodbye to you, only to be interrupted by Pamela tugging at his shirt. If you defend him, he'll try again...only for Pamela to tug his shirt again.
    • At the end of Step 3, if you decide to spend the night with Cove, you end up being walked in on by Cliff.
  • Multiple Endings: With Baxter's and Derek's DLC, you have the option of playing one of three epilogues after Step 3, though it's noted that each of them takes place at different times, albeit in the same summernote .
  • My Own Private "I Do": If you choose to start Step 4 married to Cove (only possible if the MC decides to propose in the Step 3 ending), and decide to play the Wedding DLC, the game will note that you and Cove had a civil marriage and are now deciding to host a ceremony for it.
  • Nosy Neighbor: Step 3 starts off with Cliff and a reluctant Cove staking out the empty condo next door to catch a glimpse of its new tenant moving in. The MC can potentially take Cliff's place when he's forced to go into work.
  • Offscreen Romance: This can happen between timeskips, such as getting together with Cove in between Step 3 and 4 after having a platonic relationship with him for the entirety of Step 1 to 3.
  • Parents Walk In at the Worst Time: If the MC sneaks into Cove's room in Step 3 and decides to spend the whole night there, Cove's father will walk in on them the next morning.
  • Pen Pals: The MC can tell Lee that while Cove is staying with his mother, they keep in touch via letter.
  • Platonic Life-Partners: If the MC's affection level for Cove remains at Fond throughout the later Steps, the two can become incredibly close friends without ever dating. As the MC puts it, they practically share a language of private in jokes.
  • Puppy Love: MC and Cove can be this if they're crushing on each other during Steps 1 and 2, much to the amusement of the adults around them.
  • Relationship Upgrade: Starting from the end of Step 2, this can happen for Cove and the MC, whether it happens in a Moment or happens during a timeskip. This also applies to both Baxter and Derek, if you decide to get together with them in their DLC.
    • Terry and Miranda also undergo one by Step 4, with them becoming an official couple.
  • Right Behind Me: The MC can walk in on their moms discussing their relationship with Cove, questioning the possibility of their child causing trouble with Cove if the latter wanted to. The MC can choose either to stay quiet or call them out on it.
  • Shared Universe:
    • Shiloh and Jeremy are from XOXO Droplets. Other characters either appeared offscreen (Nate) or are mentioned (Pran). You can also run into Cala in Derek's Step 4 when Nico calls her for her fortune-telling services, and you can briefly learn about what the Jerk Squad are up to from her.
    • Lake Of Voices also exists as a game, with a phone charm being available for your MC to use.
    • While he makes his first appearance here, Baxter is also a character from the second installment in the series, Our Life: Now & Forever, albeit with a more minor role. Baxter also made mentions of his friends in his DLC.
  • Shout-Out: Early on there's a choice where you can say you hate sand and how it's coarse and gets everywhere.
  • Suspiciously Specific Denial: Played for laughs with Cove's text messages to the MC at the start of Happiness (Step 3) as he tries to plan outings for them.
    Cove: Don't think too hard about this talk. It doesn't mean anything.
    MC: I promise not to try figuring it out.
    Cove: Good. There's nothing to figure out, of course.
  • Stacy's Mom: The MC has to option to admit to themselves that they find either or both of Cove's parents attractive. You can take it further in Sightseeing (Step 3, Baxter DLC) where you can not only tell Baxter that your first crush was Kyra or Cliff, but also whether you admitted this to Cove, much to his mortification.
  • Time Skip: Each Step is five years apart from each other, with the MC being 8, 13, 18 and 23 chronologically.
  • That Came Out Wrong: During the road trip in Step 2, the MC can ask Cove what he likes to see other people wearing. He panics and says "Nothing!" The MC can laugh at his poorly-worded deflection, and he grumbles that they know what he means. Gets a Call-Back in Step 4 if the MC is romantically involved with him and asks him if there's anything he wants to see them in.
  • There Is Only One Bed: When the MC and Cove spend the night at Kyra's apartment, there is only one bed. They can offer to share the bed with Cove, but he insists on sleeping on the floor. If they're dating, Cove will hesitantly agree to it, only to avert the trope when he gets too flustered. Though by the end of Step 3, he's able to muster the courage to go through with it.
  • Through His Stomach: There are several opportunities to share your food with Cove, but Errands and Happiness (Step 3) lets you gift food to him yourself (buying him fudge in Errands or making him foodnote  in Happiness), with both instances absolutely delighting him.
  • Twice Shy: Cove has some reluctance when it comes to certain romantic gestures. The MC can be this too, if the player decides to play them that way.
  • Visit By Divorced Mom: At the start of Step 2, the MC and Cove learn that Cove's mom will be staying the summer at his house, at Cliff's invitation.
  • "Wash Me" Graffiti: During Hang (Step 3), the MC can draw this on Cove's car when they notice how covered in sand and dirt it is. Cove eventually notices it, much to his amusement.
  • Water Guns and Balloons: Part of Lemonade (Step 2) involves a water balloon fight between you, Cove and Derek.