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About the Story
Is a kiss about the kiss itself—or the moments leading up to it? Explore all sorts of smooch-moments in this experimental interactive story.
55th Place - 24th Annual Interactive Fiction Competition (2018)
Number of Reviews: 4
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This game's blurb describes it well: smooch.click is an experimental kissing simulator. And it's focused on the moments that lead up to the kiss.
Gameplay is choice-based. I played through a handful of times. (The game is quite short, and so it invites multiple playthroughs.) During each playthrough you are presented with a few scenarios, most of which give you three options. After three or four (or maybe five) of these scenarios, there is a final scene featuring a kiss.
I got mostly different scenarios on each playthrough. Once I saw a scenario at the beginning that had appeared near the end of a different playthrough, though. So the scenarios must be (mostly?) randomly selected each time you play.
The way the kiss scene plays out appears to depend on your previous choices. When I tried more romantic choices I was generally rewarded with a more tender kiss scene. The one time I tried choices that were more indifferent or dismissive toward my date the final scene featured a "bad ending," with (Spoiler - click to show)a spider, me hitting my head, and a trip to the hospital.
The choices aren't presented to you in list form. Instead, they cycle through at the choice's location in the text, on a timer of some sort. I don't in general like text on timers like this, but in this case I think it works. It felt like it emphasized the split-second decision of some choices (if I don't click this now, I'm going to have to wait until it cycles through!), as well as the almost arbitrary nature that choosing sometimes has. Romantic situations where you're trying to feel out the other person particularly feature this. Sometimes "the moment" passes, and you're aware that you've missed something that you won't be able to get back. (However, in smooch.click, if you wait long enough, you will be able to get "the moment" back.)
The text doesn't feature capitalization, which can sometimes come across as an artificial affectation. But I think it fits here, with the work's experimental nature.
I find the choice of the word "smooch" in the title interesting. Why not kiss.click? "Smooch" feels a bit informal and a cozier word than "kiss." It's also somewhat like the sound you make when you kiss. "Kiss" is a more generic word and so feels more bland. So, yeah, I think smooch.click is a better choice than kiss.click.
The game's long list of content warnings made me think that this would be a much racier, darker game than it is (although maybe I missed those endings). In fact, based on what I saw, I would not put smooch.click anywhere near the erotica or adult interactive fiction categories. The choices that you're presented with are more about how you treat people in general or whether you are bored or uninterested or emotionally attracted to them.
Overall, this was an interesting experiment, but it felt slight to me. I think a lot more could have been done with potential story arcs.
A game of smooch.click consists of three to four small vignettes, each of which ends when you make one of three choices; and then… a kiss! Of varying quality. Immensely varying quality, if you take into account the most negative ending, which is certainly worse than any real kiss has ever been. In the accompanying walkthrough the author explains the underlying mechanics, which I appreciate (and which motivated me to seek both special endings).
The vignettes are taken in random order from a pool of possibilities, which means that the emerging narrative is quite disjointed. In most cases, I would not be a big fan of such an approach, but for smooch.click, it works. What, after all, do you remember from the date leading up to that first kiss? Some moments, not a coherent story. And it really brings home the message that that delicate thing that maybe we can call ‘mood’, and that determines how our kiss will be received, that this mood depends on the smallest of events, barely noticeable, often indeed unnoticed.
This theme reminds me very much of Railways of Love. But that game worked towards a more serious, more profound conclusion, where smooch.click is happy to remain as fleeting as a kiss. Which is, in its own way, appropriate. Light but recommended
A cafe serves a bagel-centric spin on avocado toast, a party has an analog radio playing in background, and a cousin’s loft is decorated with a shiny new vitamix. After this, a moment of hesitation, of anticipation, or of self-doubt. A bit of pretentious banter about jazz from him, a flirty line about ears from her, or a smile from them. And finally, after a moment of consideration, there’s a kiss, clean and smooth, or close-lipped and awkward.
smooch.click is a procedurally generated game in 5 extremely short acts covering various settings, moments, and feelings leading up to a fateful kiss. The progression from one act to the next appears to be fairly random, with each act containing three or so possible links that are drawn from a larger pool and are cycled through in real time. These UI choices support and enhance the themes of anticipation and possibility in the game.
While simple, the game is effective at creating a sense of place, time, and feeling in a very small package, with the short length encouraging replayability. After several playthroughs, additional themes emerge: the commonality of human experience and desire across infinite possible permutations, the serendipity of chance encounters, and the delight in making the most of the cards you happen to be dealt in one potentially special moment.
This is a simple game. It's a random kissing simulator. Input gender, then make some atmospheric real-time twine choices about your feelings, then kiss. Over in 5 minutes.
Reading the documentation and looking at the game structure, though, it's clear there's a bit more here. The game does some state tracking and the best endings are hard to find. Reading the source code, I find the worst endings (found by (Spoiler - click to show)Making choices that increase anxiety) highly amusing.
But finding these endings isn't even possible sometimes due to RNG, and the game doesn't do a stellar job of giving you feedback on your choices.
But perhaps this is an intentional choice? A way to model the inherent uncertainty in romantic relationships?
In any case, this is a fun game to poke around with, especially if you look under the hood. Good styling, too.