It’s Valentine’s Day, and for many of us that will mean spending a day doing nothing more than showering our special someone with affection. For many more of us, it will mean a bucket of rocky road ice cream to mask the Garfield-level bitterness flowing through our veins. For those lacking in lust or love on that day of romance, video games have you covered.
If you play your cards right in Seduce Me (PC, Mac) you could be living out sexual fantasies you didn’t even know you had. The game, quite literally, runs off a card system, so the metaphor goes a little deeper than most games would have it. Various mini games determine how conversations play out as you enjoy the luxuries of a palatial coastal mansion filled with stupidly good-looking residents.
In one instance, you might try to play cards of a similar talking point or suit, and in another, you may be competing for higher value in a strange cross between Pictionary and poker. It is an interesting game, but the, ahem, visuals are gorgeous. Characters, ranging from hunky man-whores to sexy twins with questionable intent, are drawn to suit a variety of tastes. Hardly realistic, but hey, these are fantasies—are they really supposed to be?
It’s a tough game. I got thrown out of the house a few times before I got the knack of the card mechanics, but it pays off with steamy, sultry rewards that should satisfy your baser urges. Whether those urges be sex on the beach with two bikini babes, or ending up someone’s plaything in a dungeon somewhere, you can decide.
To some, Valentine’s Day represents a time of love more than lust, and while you might think, “Sure, a porn game or two is fine but it can’t simulate anything greater,” well, you’re wrong. Gaming has been rife with romance for years. Games like Mass Effect and Dragon Age (generally anything made by Bioware) will have you romancing everyone that walks, from blue alien babes to gay elves. Whatever way your heart sways, there’s a romantic subplot in there somewhere for it. But those ultimately boil down to “who will I be extra nice to until they love me?”
Katawa Shoujo (PC, Mac) is another creature entirely. Literally translating rather unfortunately to “Cripple Girls,” Katawa Shoujo is what is known as a visual novel. Largely consisting of reading (hence the moniker), you make key decisions that will move the story along, like an old fashioned choose-your-own-adventure novel.
Katawa Shoujo’s plot has you, a young man with a heart condition, shipped off to a school for youth with special health needs. There you meet a wide assortment of lively characters ranging from a girl who suffered severe burns on half her body, to a pair of best friends, one blind and one deaf. It may sound like some bizarre fetish game, but you go to classes with these people, study with them, attend events with them and grow with them. Far from focusing on the disabilities of these girls, the game humanizes them, and while you can play the entire “game” without romancing a single one, I challenge you to not find yourself falling for one of them in spite of yourself. It is a game about finding love in places you’d least expect, and it’s a genuinely heartwarming experience.