What is not to love about the title “Benthic Love: An Anglerfish Dating Simulator”?
Created by Mike Joffe in 2013, the game claims to be the ‘ONLY LGBT-friendly fish dating sim! and surely only a game creator of ill repute would want to take that title away.
I have been meaning to try this game for a while, since I started writing about games (a few years). My father always said that if he won a sufficiently large amount of money in a lottery, he would buy a deep sea submersible and explore the Mariana Trench. I always thought that this was a great idea.
When looking through my Science and Environment Game List there are always topics that are more popular like others. Anglerfish was not a popular topic. Also most of the online games that are on the list were produced by governmental organisations, museums or educational companies, and not smaller groups of people.
Gameplay: The gameplay is text-based where you are able to choose from multiple options of what to do next. Choices make a difference in the story and may lead to different endings. There are only a limited number of endings (5) so you should definitely give this several play throughs. I always loved ‘Choose Your Own Adventure’ books at school, and this is a nice little example of one.
Visuals: Each piece of artwork in the game has been created by Sonya Halett, a Scotland based science and natural history illustrator. I think I could write at least several blogs about her work. The animals have been recreated in a way that mimics how they might look in real life (if you could see them in their natural environment.)
The game should be playable to anyone who can read the text and make mouse clicks. I would probably say anyone over the age of 10 would be appropriate. It is no more raunchy than watching a David Attenborough documentary.
Music: The music is Erik Satie – Gymnopédie No. 1 (which I felt great for knowing), a lovely choice and it fits the game theme very well. There are some other sound effects, but everything can be turned up or down.
Impact: I learned some facts about benthic food webs, and the ill-fated life of the male angler fish, but what I most ended up thinking about after playing the game were the more psychological elements. Your anglerfish has very human thoughts about love and the meaning of life, and this made me think about my own life, and also how I think about my own death. In gaming characters are constantly dying, but this felt very different.
In your journey underwater you meet a number of sea creatures and gain a glimpse into their lives as well. It is not fast paced, but I that works really well with being in a dark underwater place.
To sum up, if you are in the mood for a short, melancholic game with beautiful artwork, where you learn about the life of the Anglerfish- this game is for you!
Contribution to science: 0/5 (I am rethinking using this category, or changing it somewhat)
You can also check out the work of Sonya Hallett, the illustrator here