Review: Kitty Powers’ Matchmaker – A Casual Fling
Developer: Magic Notion
Publisher: Mastertronic Group
Platforms: iOS, Android, PC, Mac, Xbox One (reviewed), PS4
Genre: Puzzle/Dating Sim
When it comes to console games, there isn’t much variety available. Shooters dominate the console landscape, with the occasional hit from another genre. Niche games or indie games that deal with unusual topics are far from available. Understandably, I was delighted when I saw Kitty Power’s Matchmaker had arrived on the Xbox One marketplace. Here was a casual game where players ran a dating agency for both hetero and same-sex couples. Being inclusive in today’s industry is fantastic, but is Kitty Powers’ Matchmaker any fun? I’m glad to say it is.
Matchmaker is presented by the titular Kitty Powers, a fierce drag queen from the UK who you might know from Rupaul’s Drag Race UK and from her appearance at the LGBTQI gaming convention GaymerX. Kitty’s running a dating agency and needs your help to help her clients find the romantic partner of their dreams.
The majority of the gameplay is about your client going on dates with prospective partners. They’ll take your advice through a hidden earpiece, so it’s basically like you’re going on the dates yourself. At the start of the game, you’ll have a tiny building for your agency. As you progress through the game and gain experience levels, your building will expand, allowing you to unlock perks and features you can purchase from money earned from clients. Perhaps more importantly, progressing through the game means you earn even more money from successful dates.
Each client will have turn-ons and turn-offs about certain types of people. There are multiple types of people, such as the edgy crowd (goths, emos, alternatives) hipsters, geeks, sporty types and more. They might be straight, gay, or bisexual, and will prefer a certain eye and hair colour. Occupations, style and interests are also important when considering a match for your client, as is whether they are more traditionally romanctic or, ahem, “spicy”. It’s extremely rare that a date looks perfect on paper, which means that players will have to master the art of the date itself.
Dates are a mix of different puzzles, which will utilise a player’s memory, logic, creativity and more. Everything you do on a date matters, whether it is choosing the right topic of conversation, choosing the right type of meal, or even whether or not you would like to change your personal appearance – and for all that is holy, do not repeat conversations or venues you visit on dates, or things will get stale quick!
Players will have to learn to memorise every single detail about their clients and prospective partners, as they will be asked to couple people with complimentary or identical interests. They’ll also be asked to remember certain details of that person at any given moment. Your client might be asked to make pleasant conversation about interests, and its imperative that you remember this information to even the smallest detail. Does your date like heavy metal music, MMORPGs, or working squats at the gym? You better remember! They might even pop off to the bathroom to make a small change about their appearance. Did they tie their hair up or let it out? Did they change their outfit or make up? Remembering all the details matters.
The gameplay is varied enough at the start of the game, and it only increases in variety as you unlock additional date venues. This helps the gameplay keep from going stale as with each venue you unlock, you unlock an additional mini-game or puzzle. Just as you start to get a little overconfident, Matchmaker throws a new challenge your way, which is a good thing.
It would be a disservice at this point to not mention how charming and funny the game is. I’m quite picky when it comes to humour in games, and what often strikes others as humours has me rolling my eyes so hard they nearly snapped their optic nerves. Kitty herself is delightfully cheeky, and while she might not be as common a name circles as say, RuPaul or Sharon Needles, she has just as much wit and sass as the next girl.
The humour extends to the way characters interact on dates, as well as the venues for dates and other elements of the game. If I had one complaint, its that the dialogue itself can be a little too British. Being Australian I am familiar with every turn of phrase in the game, but I feel some players might not quite understand what “not ‘arf!” and other sayings mean. If there’s a sequel, it might be an idea to feature characters from all over the world, with each of them using different colloquialisms from their own cultures.
Utimately, Kitty Powers’ Matchmaker is a highly entertaining game that is sure to win over casual gamers, as well as fans of puzzle games. The humour is on point, the art style is charming and the fact that is features both hetero and same-sex relationships without it being a cheap gimmick (I’m looking at you Fable) is a big plus.