Written by  :  Unicorn Lynx (181363)
Written on  :  Dec 10, 2002
Platform  :  Windows
Rating  :  2 Stars2 Stars2 Stars2 Stars2 Stars

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Movie and game? Not much of either, actually

The Good

The concept of a full-blown movie with adventure-like interactivity has fascinated many minds, but produced surprisingly few results. Tender Loving Care is, in fact, a fairly rare example of that concept fully realized. Some were quick to dub games like Phantasmagoria "interactive movies" despite the fact they were actually games with movie sequences. Tender Loving Care is the exact opposite: it's a movie that is interrupted only several times to let you play.

I have no objections to mature themes such as psychological disorders, believable sexual tension, etc., finding their way through the realm of interactive entertainment. The "quiz" parts are quite interesting, and the questions are generally fairly smart. That was actually the only part I kind of enjoyed while playing (watching?) the game. In addition, the quiz parts are accompanied by very intriguing erotic paintings, photos, and other works of art, which fit very well both the questions and the general nature of the game. The idea of having a branching movie depending on your actions in the game sounds good on paper - until we are confronted with its realization.

The Bad

Tender Loving Care is far from being good as a game. In fact, the paltry amount of gameplay hardly makes it qualify for being a game in the first place. Suffice to say that there are hentai games that seem like a highly interactive experience compared to this title. All you do here is click on places that allow you to be invited to the next series of questions, which you then must answer in order to trigger the next part of the movie. I'm not sure whether such an activity can be really called "gameplay". There is zero challenge in those parts, and they feel horribly dead and disjointed when you are torn away from watching.

Although the quiz parts are interesting, they are interesting only as such. There is no way to tell in which direction your answers will push the game. Of course, you can always restore or restart the game and give another answers to the questions, but then the quiz parts will lose any importance as such, because you will be actually "lying" in order to see a different scene. Instead of giving you some branching decisions to make during the game, they give you those quiz parts just to distract you from the plot, since they have no connection to what happens in the movie and only evaluate you, the player. What we have here, in essence, is a couple of minigames with no relation to each other and no gameplay value whatsoever.

But maybe Tender Loving Care is good as a movie? No, not at all. Take any component of cinematography and you'll see how lacking it is in this product. The plot is cheesy and pretentious; the acting is average at best; direction and camera work leave a lot to be desired. Even the aforementioned Phantasmagoria beats it fair and square in cinematic value - not to mention it's a better game.

The Bottom Line

Tender Loving Care tried to be a movie and a game at once, but failed on both fronts: as a movie, it fails to captivate, and as a game, it is disastrously shallow and non-interactive. It is a curious relic of an era that had high hopes for what, in essence, could probably never work.