Tender: Creature Comforts is a mobile game about dating online

I am presently texting 6 prospective dates on a phony dating app called Tender. Not all of the discussions are working out, however a few of them are. I have actually a date arranged with Jessie, a 37-year-old lionlike animal that dislikes yellow starbursts. (I take place to like them.) I’m likewise talking with Willa, a humanoid ox (?) with great deals of piercings and a damaged horn, in addition to Jackie, a punk mouse who simply exposed to me — after days of talking — that she has a partner who doesn’t understand she’s on Tender.

Tender: Animal Comforts, a narrative mobile video game by Gideon Lazarus, Jie En Lee, and Kenny Sun, is essentially like Tinder, the real-life dating app. (For the record, I felt the requirement to inform my own partner that I’m playing a video game that includes a phony Tinder-style app, so it doesn’t appear like I’m the one wandering off.)

After I’ve established a profile (which inquires about texting design, which is very important — I tend to utilize all lowercase letters and choose “hahahah” over “rofl,” to name a few choices), I can begin swiping left and best on several galaxies’ worth of characters with all various type of inspirations. These prospective dates are not in fact other gamers; they’re characters produced by the advancement group.

If I match with somebody, which feels random, we’ll have the ability to message each other backward and forward, utilizing Tender’s innovative discussion system. There are several methods to respond to texts, which I select and after that “type” in utilizing a keyboard, as if I were texting this myself. Whatever reaction I select — normally from 3 choices — will appear in my picked texting design.

Chatting with a creature named Jamie

Image: Gideon Lazarus, Jie En Lee, and Kenny Sun

The mechanic is basic, however feels creative and impactful in a comparable method to Annapurna Interactive’s Florence. In Florence, finger motions and mechanics (like physically moving puzzle pieces to simulate simple or tough discussions) stimulate the nature of the relationship, while in Tender, the mechanics are actual: I’m doing actions that simulate texting.

Conversations circulation in and out over days; Tender is not a video game I can play in a single sitting. I’ve provided Tender the capability to send out push alerts to my phone, therefore it does, sending out a ping when I’ve matched with a possible date, or when they’ve messaged me. Simply while composing this, Ben, a frog using trousers and strolling a doberman, matched with me — I messaged him for more pictures of the canine. (He stated he’ll send me more, however hasn’t yet. Rude.)

Jackie, the punk mouse, in a dating profile

Image: Gideon Lazarus, Jie En Lee, and Kenny Sun

Tender’s gameplay is these conversations happening over text. Sometimes they’ll lead to a date, held in real time in the app, and sometimes it won’t go so well, and I’ll get unmatched. For instance, one potential date unmatched me after I revealed I was a Scorpio. (I get it.) If a conversation does progress to the date stage, you’ll have to schedule it for later. Each date pops up as a black-and-white text adventure, and you have to show up on time. The date plays out in text, and I can choose actions and text from a few options. If it goes well, there may be a second date.

In fact, I have a date with Remy, a bird creature that likes memes, in 15 minutes. We’re going to cook a meal together — I’m bringing the garlic and onions.

I’ve yet to find love on Tender, however I’ve enjoyed the experience a lot more than I’ve enjoyed actual online dating. The narrative feels unique but also effortless, and I’m getting to know these characters in a way that’s similar to how I would in real life. I also like that it feels personal to me — that no one else will have the experience on Tender that I have. Of course, that may not be true; there could be some narrative beats that happen regardless of who’s swiping left or right. The small bites and timing make a ton of sense, but it’s also not overwhelming in a way that a game with push notifications can often be. I’m not frustrated when I see my phone illuminate with an alert from Tender. Rather, I’m delighted to see who’s on the other end of the line.

Jobber Wiki author Frank Long contributed to this report.