As video games evolve further towards their final form of complete domination over all of culture, we can expect more and more niche topics to be adopted by developers. However, I admit that I was surprised to find a (pretty great) game for PC and mobile based around good old-fashioned drag queens. And also mini-games. Lots of mini-games. Describing itself as a “dating roguelike” (and also admitting that it doesn’t know what that means) Kitty Powers’ Matchmaker gives you the job of helping lonely NPCs find love. The titular Ms. Powers guides you with a delightful mix of condescension and tongue-in-cheek innuendo – you might say she makes sure everything doesn’t get too hard, darling. Existentialism and Big Lorries go hand in hand, as anyone who’s been forced to play Euro Truck Simulator will tell you. A selection of randomly generated people come to you to help them find a life-long partner and/or potential stalker. They each have their own interests, preferences and general ‘types’. For example, geeky types are interested in video games, science fiction and scantily clad heroes of either sex, while glam types like celebs, gossip and OMG CELEBS. You can then examine a little black book of the lovelorn to find a date for your client. While it’s easier to match people of the same type, any match is possible. As the game progresses you unlock extra attributes like guilty pleasures and bad habits that can result in some unlikely successful pairings. Then again, it’s depressingly possible to have an utterly disastrous date. As in, “I’ve just remembered I’ve left the dog in the refrigerator, see ya!” bad. To help massage matters towards a successful match, you can adjust your client’s hairstyle, outfit etc. to better suit what you hope the other person will like. You can also bring along gifts, which I think is a bit forward for a first date, but apparently there are people out there who will be overjoyed at the sight of an LED keyfob whatever the circumstances. In hindsight it may have been a mistake to take the lesbian couple out for Swedish meatballs. The dates themselves are a series of mini-games. You always have to match your date’s food preferences to one of the dishes on the menu, and there are three opportunities for conversation, but other than that it’s random. More scenarios are unlocked as you go on, along with more expensive (and more difficult) restaurants for more affluent clients. You will probably recognise most of the games. If your date nips to the bathroom to adjust their appearance, you will play spot-the-difference to let them know you’ve payed attention. If they ask you to phone a taxi, you have to remember a series of numbers for the call. If you are successful, your date is impressed. If not, they consider you less attractive than a swamp monster. A particularly stupid swamp monster. There’s a nice variety here, far more than I expected. For a dating-based game, it’s surprisingly challenging. Kitty Powers has you using all corners of your brain, and it keeps your attention well. I do think that some of the activities are too luck-based, and arguably unfair. The farting mini-game – yes, there is a farting mini-game, if you don’t like that, this game is not for you – takes the form of the old ‘Higher or Lower’ card game. If you are wrong even once you automatically fail, but succeeding requires guessing correctly several times in a row. It was quite frustrating and I felt like I had no control. Not of my bowels, of course. Moving on. It took me years to remember my own phone number unfortunately You can use coins (earned from your fees and tips) to ‘cheat’ in some form in each game, so it never becomes extraordinarily difficult. Still, I did find my patience exhausted relatively quickly. I think ideally you’d want to play Matchmaker occasionally and in small chunks, rather than binges. Kitty Powers herself is fully voiced, but the rest of the characters only make expressive noises. It works well for the randomly generated nature of Matchmaker, but it is slightly disappointing that they all sound the same. The dialogue, given in text bubbles, is all preset to whichever type the person is. It’s cute at first, but it becomes tiring when your 15th hipster client describes the restaurant as “incredibubbles”. *shudder* And they lived happily ever after. I hope. I actually just rushed through this date to get screenshots. Maybe they actually have something in common. Maybe? Anyway, an interesting aspect is that when you create your own avatar, it will fly off into the interwebs to appear in other people’s games (anonymised, of course). This meant, inevitably, that a disproportionate number of match-ups were geeky types. It seems that indie video game players are a little stereotypical. If you have a few friends willing to buy the game with you, I imagine you would have a fair bit of fun matching each other up and competing to have the best dating service. Overall Kitty Powers’ Matchmaker is a solid little diversion game. I doubt it will ever dominate your thoughts and dreams (unless you are drawn to Ms. Powers) but it’s well-made and entertaining. If you often find yourself with a little spare time, I believe this game would fill that hole impressively. Ooh er.