You join this reviewer as he’s undergoing a bit of an identity crisis. You see, for the past three hours he’s been a struggling waitress by the name of Deirdre who takes her meagre income (supplemented by a handful of tips) to pay for acting classes, in the hope of making a break into the big time.
Only it’s not all going to plan. Deirdre, you see, can’t really afford to get a job too far away as she can’t drive, and the better paid acting positions seem to involve a bit of a journey. Also, without the tips that the waitressing provides, there’s a pay cut involved.
And given Deirdre’s lack of talent in certain areas of acting, and lack of overall kudos, she’s hardly barnstorming the auditions. The solution? She’s now learning cookery, has bought a dog and nobody is her friend.
Welcome then to Kudos, a game that takes the graphics and the frivolity out of The Sims and instead delivers a strange concoction that effectively strategises human relationships. The idea is that you create a character and live their life for up to ten years. Each day is a game turn and you can do one voluntary activity on top of going to work. This might be staying in and watching telly, hunting for a job, going to the gym or meeting up with friends.
To build up your overall ‘kudos’ score (although the game actually leaves you free to do what the Hell you want), it’s a good idea to socialise a lot and to suggest activities that match the interests of those you invite. Do well and they might even invite you out too.
Should relationships develop, love may well be on the horizon too, and that will make your character a very happy camper. However, socialising costs money and to earn money you need a job. To get anything other than a basic job you need skills that you pick up at night school, which again has to be paid for. And should you then find you have the necessary requirements for the job of your choice, it’s a good idea to be in a good mood when you go. There’s plenty to consider.
That said, there isn’t an awful lot to actually do. Given that the game is primarily text-based, you make your decisions and see the aftermath of them: your friends may like you more or less, your happiness gauge (one of a number of sliders that controls how your character feels) may have altered or you may just have had a rubbish time. You never really get involved, beyond clicking a few buttons.
It’s a system that worked well for developer Positech’s previous release, Democracy. That was a political strategy game where your decisions had ramifications, and effectively they’ve tried to apply a similar model here. And although it’s certainly interesting for a while living a virtual life and watching the domino effect of certain choices you make, it’s ultimately too remote to be successful for anything other than the short term.
It’s a brave, interesting experiment though, and the modest price tag means that even the mildly interested can support a piece of software that hasn’t – and couldn’t have – come from a major games publisher. But we’d recommend you give Positech’s excellent Democracy a whirl before you try this one.