The unlikely story of how a cat dating game became my favourite game of EGX 2017. The FingerGuns paws on preview with Purrfect Date;
Dating sims have been around since the dawn of gaming. Right back to the 1980’s with Girl’s Garden (in which you must collect 10 flowers in bloom in order to prevent your boyfriend from leaving you for another women – side note: Yikes!) right through to the recent father flirting of Dream Daddy, the dating sim has been through many iterations.
The latest upcoming title in this genre is Purrfect Date, a not-quite-dating sim about finding companionship among a group of talking felines. The game comes from Bossa Studios’ Bae Team comprised of 3 talented developers – Veteran artist Dan Lish, writer Ruby May Roberts and coder Oliver Hindle AKA Oliver Age 24. With more than 84,000 words, Purrfect Date sets you up as a researcher on Cat Island whose inhabitants – 6 dateable cats – are looking for a humanz to snuggle up with.
It looks great, sounds great and, oh, and did I mention, it’s freaking hilarious. It’s easily the best my favourite game I played at EGX 2017.
I chose to date the intellectual Floofybutt during my demo with Purrfect Date. I met the cat companion in a forest where we started to chat quite awkwardly. The lines of dialogue were lazer sharp and witty with all the quirks of first date jitters but also very believable; at least as believable as a conversation between a cat with a high IQ and a confused man in a forest can be. Professor Fluffybutt explained that we were meeting in a forest because he has an interest in bird physiology and, low and behold, a dead seagull dropped into our picnic blanket. A few more awkward lines later and I’m being offered a seagull stomach by the cat – I’m suddenly flashing back to my real world kitchen with my lovely cat Cena who has bought me a gift of a dead bird and is looking very pleased with herself.
I had a decision to make. Do I eat the seagull stomach even though I’m a human and it’d probably make me gag or do I politely decline? Forging ahead, I took the stomach and swallowed it. Or tried to. It lodges in my throat and I end up stealthily spitting it back into my hand without Mr Fluffybutt noticing. I’m outwardly laughing by this point (much to the bemusement of the people around me at EGX) but inside I’m flashing back to high school when a girl I had a crush on offered me a cake she had baked only it was terrible and I ended up secretly spitting it into my hand and carrying it to class in a clenched fist so no one would know (If you’re reading this Laura, that cake really wasn’t good. Did you use salt instead of sugar? I’m sorry I told you it was nice). We’ve all been there… right?
I think that’s the beauty of Purrfect Date. During my 15 minutes with Fluffybutt, I read more intelligent and self aware dialogue that was disguised as absurdist humour than I have in the entirety of other dating sims. It’s obvious that Ruby, Dan and Oliver love cats and have probably woken up to their own fair share of dead bird/mouse gifts from their furry companions. It also shines through they know how awkward dates can be because the snappy dialogue was so on point. Bae Team melded the two experiences together with dry wit akin to that of Peep Show that called to me as a cat lover and a person who has been on far too many awkward dates.
Purrfect Date is also well pitched. The end game here isn’t a sexual relationship like it is in so many other Dating Sims. This is all about getting to know the Cats as people and to find intimacy with a feline companion who you wouldn’t mind nuzzling with on a couch.
Purrfect Date is releasing on PC’s via Steam this winter. Of all the games I played at EGX 2017, from AAA shooters to everything in the Rezzed zone, this is the one I’m most excited about. Don’t ask me why. It just… got its claws into me (hangs head in shame).
I personally can’t wait to take Floofybutt out on a second date.