Kitty Powers’ Matchmaker is a 2015 indie / casual / dating sim game. It was developed by indie game development company Magic Notion Ltd. Magic Notion is comprised of Director Richard Franke and Gameplay Programmer Kieran Keegan. Kitty Powers’ Matchmaker is their first game. It was published by Mastertronic Group, a British software publisher notable for publishing games such as 10 Second Ninja, Over 9000 Zombies, and The Charnel House Trilogy (which I had the pleasure of reviewing recently).
Not being used to playing dating sims, much less reviewing them, I did it it for the sake of diversity and good fun. I was not sure on what I was about to find when I first run Kitty Powers’ Matchmaker. Luckily, I was in for a real fun while.
Kitty Powers’ Matchmaker
The game puts us in the role of the head of the latest branch of Kitty Powers’ matchmaking agency. After crafting an avatar (we’ll get back to that later) and a brief tutorial that highlights the most important aspects of the gameplay by your fabulous boss, drag queen diva Kitty Powers herself, we jump right into the game. There are ten types of characters in the game, ranging from Hippy, Artsy, Practical, to Geeky, Sporty, and many more. There are also personality aspects that contradict each other, namely organised vs. messy, slothful vs. active, introvert vs. social, spicy vs. romantic and traditional vs. modern. Those are the main factors that will affect the outcome of the date. There are other factors to be reckoned such as their facial hair or makeup, hairstyles, hair color, shared interests, their jobs, etc.
Every character is procedurally generated, so you’ll hardly ever pair two characters that are the exact same. Even player created avatars appear in other players’ games as NPCs (although with changed names to protect the players’ privacy) and you can read an excerpt about your avatar’s dating life in the game menu (How fun is that?). After meeting with a customer and getting introduced to them, we’ll get to match them with one of the agency’s candidates so they can go on a date together on one of the many fancy restaurants that the game has to offer and (hopefully!) find true love.
After pairing two characters that “seem” compatible (I’m putting a heavy stress on the word “seem” because no matter what it looks like on the character sheet, things tend to get awry pretty quick during dates) we get to what is probably the most entertaining part of the game: The dates! The dates consist mainly in making the two characters chat and get to like each other. Each part of the conversation opens up a minigame, the minigames often feature using our memory to remember pictures or number combinations or doing simple calculations. While some gamers may regard this as “casual playability”, I was quickly hooked up to the minigames, making Miss Kitty’s customers go on dream dates. When the date is finished, the customer may decide to go on another date with that candidate, start a relationship with them or to dump them. Of course, the candidate may refuse the relationship or another date, so pay attention! After a rough start where I did not understand much what was to be done in the game, I was quickly becoming an expert in the art of matchmaking.
After the first rounds of the game where everything is pretty much a game of trial and error, the matchmaking becomes more and more comprehensive. A while into the game, I felt like I was playing, “Papers, Please” once again, double-checking or triple-checking every fact about every customer and every candidate so that they would get along well and my matchmaker reputation wouldn’t decrease. Of, course, without the stress and the emotional burden that playing “Papers, Please” induces. Everything in Kitty Powers’ Matchmaker is light-hearted and fun. It’s a game that doesn’t take itself seriously at all and I loved it for that reason. The game features plenty of achievements, some of which are really hard to get, for the hardcore matchmakers to grind and get them all.
The game’s graphics are 2D and appear hand-drawn. They look great. The character customization options provide for a plethora of different character design possibilities, although I think such options should have been made more intuitive. The menu and interactions are slick and smooth and luckily I wasn’t able to find any of the issues in the PC version that iPhone or Android users claimed to find. The levels are beautifully designed, each thematic restaurant being a beautiful homage / parody to the country it’s representing. The music is also great, especially in the many restaurants we’ll get to visit. The Jamaican Restaurant has a reggae jingle complete with caribbean steel drums, the British Restaurant has a tune that reminds us of the royalty, the American restaurant has rock n’ roll and, the Spanish restaurant has flamenco and so on. The sounds effects are cartoonish and fun, which adds perfectly to the light-hearted and fun atmosphere of the game. I was particularly amused by the speech of the characters, a kind of nonsense gibberish babbling which reminds me of the Simlish language in early iterations of The Sims game series by Maxis and Electronic Arts. The game is only in English, so it provides no localisation for gamers around the globe.
All in all, I can agree that despite Kitty Powers’ Matchmaker being a “casual” game, a lot of work was poured into it by the developer team. And that clearly shines after having spent several hours playing and wanting to play even more. I know I’ll be playing several hours more after finishing this review. Even if you haven’t played dating sims before, please don’t allow yourself to be turned off by the premise of this game. Several hours of good fun await in it. I guarantee it!