Sucker for Love: First Date Review: A Love Like No Other

From gore to spooks to getting a smooch, this title is a bundle of fun for anyone brave enough to play it. Sucker for Love: First Date is a refreshing take on dating simulators, and unearths some unspeakable terrors whilst doing so. Look death in the eye whilst dating some of the most intimidating yet adorable Eldritch deities.

Sucker for Love: First Date Review: A Love Like No OtherTo any existing fans of the works of Lovecraft or gothic literature as a whole – it’s hard to believe you’ve ever wanted to date the creatures your imagination runs away with. But to any curious people who would give them a chance, Sucker for Love: First Date provides the chance to do just that. But these lovable almighty beings may not be exactly as you’d imagine. Contrary to the all consuming hell you may believe these gods to bring – Akabaka have developed an oddly enchanting take on them. 

Sucker for Love: First Date takes dating simulators to the next level. Featuring horrendous gore and unsettling encounters with some true nightmare material, it’s filled with fun from start to finish.

It’s time to wreak havoc in the comfort of your own apartment. Maybe you’ll finally get what you’ve been dreaming about.

Sucker for Love: First Date - Official Announcement Trailer

Sucker for Love: First Date is available on Steam.

Story: A Match Made in Hell

Playing as a person who has been obsessed with occult rituals ever since encountering an Eldrich god in a dream, dating has never been so terrifying. The protagonist of Sucker for Love: First Date has taken it as his only duty to summon gods from the most unexpected of ancient novels. But the results have never been so cute. After a suspiciously pink Necronomicon is delivered, an undiscovered hellscape of love is uncovered. By completing a series of rituals, players are tasked with pleasing a cast of unearthed entities from the works of H.P. Lovecraft. 

There isn’t much to the story of Sucker for Love, as you’d expect from a pretty basic dating simulator. But the lack of story doesn’t mean this isn’t an extremely entertaining game for anyone who needs a laugh. Before players go into it expecting some factual Lovecraftian lore, it’s far more beneficial to go into this game completely blind. It isn’t true to any gothic literature, since Cthulhu doesn’t have bright, starry eyes and neat pink hair. It’s important to begin this series of dates ready to expect the unexpected. What seems like an innocent encounter with an omniscient goddess will quickly turn into your worst nightmare. 

Summoning from the depths has never been so easy

Summoning from the depths has never been so easy

What lies beyond the mortal world

Sucker for Love: First Date doesn’t tone down the horror of Lovecraft’s works. Even though they’re sugarcoated in a pastel color palette. Even though you might find yourself experiencing the first few meetings with Ln’eta with your heart skipping a beat, these feelings of infatuation will rapidly turn to panic. The adorableness of these Lovecraftian lovebirds is shattered by echoes from beyond the shadows. Including a spirit clawing at the very pages of the Necronomicon you used to summon this reality in the first place. For a game based on gothic literature you would expect a chill down the spine. Except not necessarily from a dating simulator. This title is a perfect balance of fun and fright. 

There’s a lot of gore within this title as well. So anyone going into it blind should at least expect that. When performing ungodly rituals, sacrifices quite literally have to be made. The protagonist declares at the beginning of the game that he would sacrifice anything for a smooch. Which he definitely does. If gore really doesn’t sit well with you yet you don’t want to avoid having the chance to date some mighty beings, avoid looking in the mirror. Sure horrors are littered throughout your apartment but the real gore comes in your own changes to please your partner. Sucker for Love puts a new meaning behind ‘talk to the hand’. Prepare for the worst. 

The poor protagonist will never trust a mirror again

The poor protagonist will never trust a mirror again

Gameplay: The Face Only a Monster Could Love

Much like a ‘normal’ dating simulator, the gameplay in this title is fairly simple. It revolves a lot around clicking through paragraphs of dialogue and engaging with speech rather than facing any real challenge. The dialogue itself is extremely amusing. Featuring a lot of internet slang and references to already existing dating sims, it feels almost like a dig at those that take it seriously. Sucker for Love is an incredibly amusing, and oddly charming, take on the genre. With it’s fully narrated cast (aside from the protagonist) the gameplay is utterly immersive. Letting the title play as though you’re watching a TV show. 

After reaching any end screen, players are able to re-load from previous checkpoints and try for a different result. In all there are 10 potential endings for the game and it’s three chapters, with chapter two having the most potential outcomes. These are all reachable when paying close attention to what the different Necronomicon books state, so if you see anything stating an action would have consequences, it’s like that there lies a hidden ending. 

A change of pace in the genre

Though to separate it from any other existing dating sim, there is a somewhat refreshing sense of challenge to it. Since you are responsible for summoning Lovecraftian beings, there’s definitely some sort of challenge expected. Summoning gods is no easy feat. The pink book delivered at the beginning of the story is filled with pages upon pages of rituals. The player has to complete these in order to please your new god girlfriend. These range from anything as simple as ‘snuff all lights’ to completing a very intricate sequence or sacrifice. All of which are met with an interaction from the subject to encourage your actions, and reassure you that the end of reality is definitely a good thing!

Rituals seem easy enough... right?!

Rituals seem easy enough… right?!

Rituals to relish in

Sucker for Love is divided into three chapters. All of which come with their own interpretation of the Necronomicon. Subsequently, they also come with their own timeline of events to complete. The rituals differ massively between each character you encounter. Making for an exciting take on each date rather than repeating the same actions. Ln’eta requires a lot of cult-like chanting and candles. Estir massively revolves around reciting a play fabled to cause madness. From the second you begin the game you can explore the room and fill your pockets with items, but read each book VERY carefully. There are environmental hints and clues as to how to appropriately perform these acts. There are certain elements that are necessary to remember throughout each chapter, so a lot of information to retain, but everything feeds into dictating which ending you receive. 

As for chapter three, the book you are given isn’t like the others. Neither are the challenges. Whilst in Ln’eta and Estir’s presence there is a feeling of security. Despite facing some pretty terrifying, looming dread, it feels like nothing compared to facing Nyanlathotep. Aside from this being an amusing play on Lovecraft’s ‘Nyarlathotep’, it’s the most challenging part of the game. After uncovering three secrets hidden amongst the timeline of Ln’eta and Estir, the third chapter becomes available to play. Where you are introduced to the final eldritch God, Nyan. Though she also promises a smooch, there isn’t anything you can do to please her. Instead if you contradict or fail to complete what she requires the depths of hell are unleashed. Suddenly there are more threats to your health and sanity than ever before and you have limited time to save yourself. 

Talk to the hand, because the face... is listening. Just can't respond.

Talk to the hand, because the face… is listening. Just can’t respond.

Stop, look, and listen closely

When dealing with Nyan, the audio and visuals are key to chasing the final ending. There are a multitude of sounds and signs to take into account. And what feels like hundreds of pages to siphon through. It feels impossible to keep on top of the hellscape engulfing the screen. To be honest it doesn’t even pay off in the end. Although Nyanlathotep is a sought after chapter whilst meeting the other two gods, all you see of her is a single sprite and then she disappears. For the sheer amount of tasks you have to complete, even a smooch doesn’t feel worth it.

Unfortunately the game faces a lot of technical errors when you try to complete these tasks as well. Although it doesn’t state what is causing the errors, it is detrimental to gameplay and more often than not will cause death to the protagonist. Arguably Sucker for Love: First Date would almost benefit from not having this final chapter.

Yes your highness...

Yes your highness…

Audio and Graphics: Whisper Sweet Nothings

Sucker for Love has an adorable art style for such a dark and horrifying game. Utilizing soft yet bright colors in the beginning, it appears as really wholesome. Which you’d expect from a game about falling in love. Even after the depths have been summoned, there’s still a romantic air to the title. Depending on which chapter you’re playing also depends on the color overlay for your surroundings. For example, as soon as you summon Ln’eta everything has a pink tint to it. Estir brings a bright yellow, but once again it doesn’t really change the room. Nyan dampens everything and engulfs it into a harrowing darkness. The use of color is an incredibly clever way to show how much risk one of these gods is causing you. 

Due to not having much movement that isn’t illustrated as separate sprites, there isn’t much cause for lag. So everything moves smoothly and it’s easy to understand what needs to be done since you’re pretty much stuck in one room. Any animation is usually from expressing emotion or the flickering of candles, but aside from that the graphics are simple. Even though everything may appear bland due to a lack of movement, it definitely benefits the game. If there was too much happening on the screen when players perform rituals, it would easily become overwhelming. Plus, dating sims are renowned for not having much going on in the background. Especially not when you’re interacting with the subject so players can invest their undivided attention to them. Sucker for Love is no different. 

Don't think twice about what's being asked of you

Don’t think twice about what’s being asked of you

Spooky yet sweet

In terms of audio the cast is fully narrated. There are three main voice actors, with the protagonist remaining mute so the player can fill in the gaps. The eldritch gods are surprisingly soft spoken, and echo the subtitles exactly how you’d imagine. It’s all reminiscent of typical overly exaggerated anime dubs. Which once again feeds into the amusing charm of the title as a whole. The game feels like it’s making a joke of itself, which is one of the reasons it’s so playable. If it were any other dating simulator, players would get bored going back through every timeline to unlock hidden endings. The completely new and niche aura of this game and the interesting (albeit unsettling) subjects means that you don’t really get bored of seeing the outcomes. 

There’s a gentle soundtrack to accompany the title as well which also matches up to which characters you’re playing with. Ln’eta’s is jolly and easy to listen to, Estir’s is grand and operatic, but Nyan’s is empty and haunting. Which you’d expect from something trying to kill you. When a concept for gameplay is so simple, audio is necessary to fill the gaps between dialogue or tasks. Plus, sound effects play into the cutesy style of it being a dating sim. Although it would be easy to play without, it’s definitely something that is noticed when you’re doing a ritual. So much detail has gone into the sound design of Sucker for Love. Even down to the Eldritch incantations – which are somewhat ‘narrated’ too. 

Sucker for Love: First Date was reviewed on PC with a key provided by ÜberStrategist.

Sucker for Love: First Date is a perfect experience for anyone unfamiliar with dating simulators who want something with a bit more substance. This title is amusing for anyone who plays it and doesn't focus on the dating element to the point where it's uncomfortable. It's got a good few hours of gameplay and despite it's lack of story it's still got several mechanics which will no doubt keep you coming back until you've seen every possible ending.
  • Charming art style and cast
  • Fully narrated to enhance the characters personalities
  • Amusing dialogue throughout every chapter
  • A perfect balance of horror and charm
  • Third chapter seems fairly empty and pointless
  • Several technical difficulties when completing third chapter
  • Game crashes during a few of the final rituals for Nyan

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