HUNIEPOP / HuniePot / PC

HuniePop would be the ideal "freemium" mobile game if it weren't for the whole strict "no adult content of any kind" thing on the Apple and Google app stores. It's centered around inherently addictive match-3 gameplay, but you need to grind to gain special items and abilities to surmount increasingly stiff challenges. Probably could have made a fortune in grind-skipping micropayments if the app stores were viable.

Instead, it's a digital distro single-payment game through Steam and GOG and such. And as far as "adult content" goes, it's still pretty tame as those platforms have what would be seen as quite Puritanical policies anywhere in the free world outside of America. It's a throwback to '90s bootleg arcade titles and PC hentai games in that you're putting in a ton of work for some static nudie pics. The main difference here is that the core gameplay is actually enjoyable, and that and the overall polish help this whole thing come off a lot better than you would expect.

The game puts you in the shoes of an unseen, unnamed incel loser. A loser so pathetic that they are visited by a "love fairy" to help get their dating life on track. Somehow this all centers around playing a match-3 game on dates to impress girls, don't think too much about how that part of it works.

The trope of a sad sack's quest to get laid is a standard dating all the way back to Leisure Suit Larry. This one comes across as uniquely cringe, though, at least at first. The "love fairy" talks like a stereotypical internet PUA, and you're given a "Hunie Tracker" to creepily monitor the movements of girls you meet and know where they are at all times. The dialogue also alternates between sounding like it was written by a horny 15 year old that has never been on a date, and ... well, actually sometimes it's pretty accurate for America at least.

As the game wears on, though, this stuff is so relentless and over-the-top that I really began to feel it was all self-conscious self-parody of dating sims and hentai fandom. I just get the feeling that the dev and writers enjoy tweaking the corners of the world that take things like video games and the internet far too seriously, a pleasure I cannot say I am unacquainted with.

While the dating sim aspect of the game is simplistic and unremarkable (you basically just ask the girls a bunch of questions about themselves and then repeat the answers back to them when prompted later), the match-3 game played on dates is actually quite enjoyable and well-designed. It's more self-paced and strategic than most of the games of this type, asking you to consider the long-term impact of your moves carefully. There is also some strategy in terms of overall resource management, as each successful date makes completing future dates a little harder. You'll have a limited amount of cash and "hunie" (basically experience points) to work with, both of which have to be spent judiciously. You'll also pick up items over time that can be used to grant benefits during the date puzzles, and your selection of these (you can only bring six into a date) and timing in deploying them needs to compliment the play style you've been building through your upgrade choices.

So the fact that the core gameplay is actually fun really helps the game's cause here, as does a very nice overall level of polish. It has a good interface, zero technical hiccups, looks nice and has a surprisingly nice soundtrack. It's all pretty impressive for a Kickstarter-funded project from a first-time developer that was made for the modest sum of $53,000.

So what is there to complain about? Well, the game is not exactly what one would call "culturally nuanced." It often feels like it was written by a 15 year old not only unfamiliar with dating and sex, but also the world in general outside of internet forums and their Midwest city. Again, as to how much of this is intentional or unintentional I'm not sure, but after some play time a lot of it appears to at least maybe be self-parody.

More of a problem is that the shine wears off of the match-3 gameplay fairly quickly, probably within a couple of days for most players. The issue is that you eventually max out the character traits and get all of the date items, and at that point the date score requirements are so high you have to kind of play in a fixed and tedious way that makes each puzzle feel like a series of nearly identical steps.

It's actually fun while it lasts, though, and probably worth a few bucks when on sale. I was surprised at finding very little Oof and Yikes about this game from the usual sources when doing my standard pre-review cursory skim of gamer sentiment about it; if you can appreciate crass humor and deal with some (possibly intentional) tone-deaf stereotypes here and there it really leaves you with little to complain about. The sexual content is all about full-grown women with full agency and no weird stuff going on (no loli or sexual violence), and culminates in no more than a couple of nudie pics and the sound of their VA fake-orgasming as you complete their final date puzzle.

Videos :

* Gameplay Video