This is a rather fascinating topic for romance type games.
I think I could easily start off my thoughts with something stupidly dramatic like "Romance is dead
today!" but that rather misses the point. Firstly, Visual Novels are still games
, and gamers tend to like goals (I'm speaking from a place of visual novel specific ignorance, but general gamer knowledge, caveat emptor). I'm not saying it can't be done, but generally if you just meet a person and then start humping, what precisely is the goal? How many people have just been turned away because they've gotten what they were after? Or, how many people will dismiss that character because they already "won" them? At that point, if enough people are dismissing that character is it a valid gameplay choice to keep them in there, rather than scrapping them for someone more "interesting". I think Aleema also makes very salient points about also considering the various social/cultural influences that might be impacting the characters.
The narrative might resonate more strongly with early kisses, etc, but it's fairly easy for the writer to throw in an excuse or barrier. "I'd totes kiss you right now, but my lips were stolen by an ogre. Grab those smart quick, would ya love?" And once the narrative explains why
they aren't kissing, it makes sense that they aren't necessarily.
For the record, I'm not going to get into the weirdly puritanical reactions I've seen around various games to characters who enjoy their bodies a bit too much a bit too early. Suffice it to say, it weirds me out, but I'm aware of it as a vector of reaction.
All that said, I agree that this stuff can feel a bit formulaic encompassed over an entire genre.
(Though if I may, having some characters get engaged at the game's end is a bit of a poor plot move--it's a more than a tad cliche, and since the characters are--to the extent of my knowledge--young university students, then planning to get married isn't a great plan. Moving in together off campus would seem like a better idea.)
Don't worry, the main characters are college freshmen. They're not marrying anyone yet. Not that it doesn't happen irl, but... it's probably not going to happen here (excepting in a possible post-script: "With their first year over, they went to college for another three. Afterwards, they got married and had six kids, four dogs, two gerbils, an ostrich which they lost in a sports gambling accident and two more kids that they stole from their neighbors. Y'know, like you do.")
That said, because this is supposed to be a more modern depiction, the romance won't be all held to the end (as Jack mentioned). It also probably won't be given out right at the beginning though, either. I still want people to know the characters a bit before they start pursuing and getting, etc, etc. And I think it makes sense for most of the characters as well. Many people do fall at first sight (or first beer), but many also take their time