by James Toal
I’m not what you would call an “expert” on the dating sim scene. It’s never really been a genre that has interested me, so what could be done to entice audiences who aren’t into the premise? How about making it seem like the most ludicrous experience they’ve ever heard of. Taking a look at the market right now and you’ll find that you’re able to date pigeons, tanks, and even dads (weird, right?). But, a new team has thrown its hat into the ring to show that you can go even further. Ladies and gentlemen, there is now a game in which you can date a variety of cats. With puns out of the wazoo, I present to you, Purrfect Date.
You’re on your way to research with a professor on an island until one action leads to another and you’re on a date with a cat named Floofy Butt. This my friends, is one of those strange encounters when you decide to play Purrfect Date. A dating sim in which there are several feline suiters for you interact with and be seduced by. If you couldn’t guess already, the game isn’t meant to be taken all that seriously.
The basic premise of the game is you’re on a scientific job with a professor after one thing leads to another, you are bitten by an unknown assailant and if you don’t find a cure soon, you’ll turn into a feline yourself. Like I said, this is an unusual one. While packed into RTX London, I managed to get my hands on a twenty-minute demo. What I’m about to tell you, maybe the quirkiest couple of minutes I’ve spent with a video game
During my gameplay, I was introduced to the five main cats and later given the chance to go on a date with one of them for the rest of the demo. Not every day you’re put into a situation like this, but with my judgment, I decided to spend my time with a fluffy ginger cat named Floofy Butt. Don’t know what this says about my standards, but here we are.
It was during this date I noted how the romantic aspect could become very unnerving, Floofy butt appeared to be making a move on me. But, just before it seemed like he was going to do something un-family friendly, it was revealed that he was just setting up a picnic area for me. The game was quite witty with its dialogue, leading to a few moments where I genuinely chuckled to myself when someone delivered a cat pun. Puns aren’t the only source of absurdity, however. During my chat with the cat, a seagull collapsed between us after hitting a force field which led Floofy Butt to declare that lunch had arrived. I was not prepared for this.
Like most dating sims, choices affect who you will want to be with at the end of the game. What was the big choice for this Catanova? (Yeah I did a pun, come at me!). Whether I would eat the fatty liver delivered by a dead seagull. First impressions matter on a first date, plus I’m hardly one to turn down a free meal. My character ate part of the liver, only to seem polite and hold back the gagging from fresh bird organs. The date then concluded with Floofy Butt sad to see me leave but wanting to meet again. All in all, not a bad first date. Again, probably says a lot about how my dates outside the game have gone in the past.
My partner in crime, Lee Hazell, managed to get some alone time with a kitty of his own. Here’s his experience after describing to me in graphic detail of his date;
“Ok. My memory is a little hazy, so I can’t be sure of all of the facts, but I think it went like this: The cat I went on a date with was one of the more lively and boisterous animals. Up for a good time. Its idea of an ideal date was to keep everything casual and sneak a hip flask filled with whiskey to the meeting place. We proceeded to get drunk, mostly at the cat’s insistence and it was heavily implied that in our drunken stupor we may have gotten more intimate than I might have been comfortable with. Frankly, the whole experience was invasive and uncomfortable, and I never felt respected. I cannot wait to see how this relationship plays out and if what I’m certain was happening, was in fact happening.”
The simple storybook-esque art style compliments the warm and welcoming tone that the game presents to the player, which also subtly works with the dark and mysterious undertone that lurks beneath the surface. An aspect of the game that is pivotal to the narrative is when your character goes searching in the woods at night, but with a purposeful screen glitch and unnerving text, you suddenly awake to the news that due to the bites and scratches found on your person, you may, in fact, turn into a were-cat. I know, even I think that sounds adorable. Even so, the contrast between the light and dark aspects blend very well and even led me to ponder on what else could be going on behind the scenes. What other secrets does this island hold?
Purrfect Date is being published by Bossa Studios, developed by Bae Team, and currently still in development.