They say that a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush, but TINDER has the audacity to give you the whole damn flock. Likewise, Hatch Labs knew it was entering a saturated market when it decided to tackle dating sims, so it shot for the stars with their latest release. It’s bigger and badder than its peers on an unprecedented scale, and challenges the preconception that this is a genre reliant on heavily scripted sequences and kitschy visuals. TINDER reinvents the wheel for the genre in many ways, but does that necessarily make it the killer app that it’s cracked up to be?
TINDER opens innocuously enough, presenting a spartan, minimalistic menu that can easily fool the player into thinking this is yet another dime-a-dozen Sakura title. This preconception is quickly turned on its head once the character creator opens up. Hidden here is easily the most robust and flexible customization system yet designed, surpassing even those found in THE SIMS, MASS EFFECT, and FALLOUT 4. On top of expected options like facial features, body type, and race, TINDER includes selections for species, such as cat, dog, or horse. I even came across some NPCs with avatars like a slice of toast or Jim Carrey from THE MASK.
Even more impressive is the ability to play as multiple people at once
The other core revolution is the sheer size of TINDER’s cast. The most ambitious dating sims might boast a harem of a dozen or more potential partners, but TINDER has over a million unique potential mates for you to select from. Thanks to user-created content being shared over the cloud a la DRAGON’S DOGMA, that insane number is only increasing in the form of free DLC. This might seem a bit overwhelming, but the game does include filters to help narrow your options. Even then, however, you’re still unlikely to stumble across the same NPC twice.
That’s where the plus signs end. Sadly, this vast selection creates a true paradigm of quantity over quality. Though great in number, the same cannot be said of the thought put into each character. While some have detailed backstories and beautiful graphics, too many more are lazily designed or are rendered in abysmal resolutions. It’s a shame then that even the appealing NPCs sport spotty AI. When you attempt to engage in dialogue with a character, their triggers often fail to activate, making it impossible to actually date them. Worse still, most don’t even reply back when you input a command! What is marketed as a dating game turns out to be a puzzle far worse than anything THE WITNESS can dish out.
The final nail in the coffin is TINDER’s awful programming and optimization. Technical errors abound and the game crashes more often than not. The online-only requirement is infuriating, as you cannot play if the servers are down, similar to the recent HITMAN connection debacle. If you thought the matchmaking in RAINBOW SIX SIEGE was torture, you haven’t even begun to know pain. The UI is incredibly unresponsive, occasionally causing mistaken swipes and endless frustration. Top it off with a platform that is generally prone to crashing and you’ve got a one way ticket to an existence of misery.
Yes, but where is the icon for ‘close this shitty fucking app’?
For every hurdle TINDER clears, it falls flat on its face and eats shit twelve more times. While it tries to rival the subversion of the dating genre seen in HUNIE POP, it lacks the clever design and self-aware existence that set that title apart. Save yourself the pain and swipe left; TINDER is a hard pass.
Verdict: Do Not Recommend
Reviewed on Mobile.