If you’ve ever dipped a toe into the design-heavy, storytelling Indie genre you might be thinking “not another dating sim!”. Well, worry not, Arcade Spirits is far from your run of the mill love story. Far from similar titles like ‘Dream Daddy’ and ‘Monster Prom’, Arcade Spirits focuses on gaming culture over romance. If you enjoy choose-your-own-adventure style games but don’t like too much violence or sex, this could be for you.

The Basics

You create your own (refreshingly androgynous) character, get some vague backstory, and then you’re straight into the game. Your characters’ backstory is pretty simple; you keep losing jobs because you lack enthusiasm, and you live in a plain apartment with roommate ‘Juniper’. Juniper suggests that you use a new ‘life management app’ called IRIS to get your life on track. IRIS tells you that your personality will be tracked based on the choices day to day. This might sound horrifying but it’s actually one of the more interesting aspects of the game. It also forces you to really think about how you would respond to the choices posed to you. So that’s the basic principle; you’re a young adult, tumbling through life with an app that promises it will make your dreams comes true. Whilst, working at an Arcade of course.

The Gameplay

Arcade Spirits IRIS Tracker

Very simple, but funny and charming for the most part. This is not a game for those who love action and giant plot twists. The bulk of the game is your interactions with the other characters, who are very carefully and beautifully constructed. You could play the game several times and have a different experience each time. The complexity of the characters and the backdrop of gaming/nerd culture is something I have rarely seen done so well. You are presented with choices, you make choices. You engage in discussions, you choose your character’s words and responses. That’s pretty much it! There are gaming and pop-culture references everywhere, with some decently parodied game and film titles.

The Design

Arcade Spirits Queen Bee

Well, where do I start? This game is beautiful. The best way to describe it is a mix of Broken Sword and Ready Player One. The classic cartoon style graphics and neon style overlays really appeal to me, but nothing looks too polished either. Because the exact year is never revealed, except that it’s still the 21st century, everything feels familiar but amped up. Kawaii girls in Japanese street style outfits, Athletic guys in cyberpunk sportswear, everything goes! The actual styling of the Arcade is authentic, maybe even retro-80s in theme, and something every gamer will recognise instantly. For anyone who is a fan of Bladerunner and Fifth Element, the aesthetic of this game might be your bag.

Is it worth picking up?

Indie studio Fiction Factory Games are a new name, but their first release has impressed me. I enjoyed the simplicity of the game and found myself getting lost at times in the developing storylines. I am also, as you may have noticed, a huge fan of the artwork and general design work. My favourite part of the game is how in control you are of navigating the game and relationships with NPCs. It’s nice to relax with a game that doesn’t fill empty gaps with violence, sex, or random dramatics. The game is due for release on February 12th, and I predict that the price will be around £9.99. Would I spend a tenner on this game? Honestly, yes. But this game is my kind of thing. I like a chilled story-led game that looks pretty and makes me laugh.


Author's rating

Overall rating

The good
  • Stunning artwork with rich environments that enhance the story.
  • Diverse characters with unique and interesting storylines.
  • Relaxed gameplay that doesn't rely on violence or romance for substance.
The bad
  • Can feel slow in story progression to begin with.
  • Character customisation is bland, especially when stacked next to the design of the NPCs.
  • IRIS app can get a bit annoying in the first few chapters.
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