Camp is a word that will keep popping into your head while playing Kitty Powers' Matchmaker. In fact, this reviewer's confident in saying that the only way this title could possibly be more camp would be if it suddenly decided to start pitching tents. Innuendo and the sort of humour that would have Sid James laughing in his grave are the primary weapon employed by this surprisingly amusing dating sim, and everything about its presentation evokes an era of British comedy synonymous with the likes of Benny Hill and the Carry On films.
Tasked with running a dating agency by Kitty herself – who interestingly happens to be the drag alter-ego of the game's developer – you'll need to find the perfect match for the singletons coming through your door using Kitty's little black book. Each of these randomly generated customers come with their own archetype – sporty, glam, edgy, etc. – as well as information about their preferences, occupation, and sexual orientation to help you with your search. Whether your client is gay, straight, or bisexual will determine how many people from your black book will be open for a date, and it's from this list of potential suitors you'll need to find a suitable candidate by digesting all of the information available and deciding who has the most in common with your customer.
Once you've settled on a choice you'll guide your charge through each stage of their date and help them make the best impression possible. This can range from trying to stack the deck in your clients favour by styling them in a way more appealing to their date right through to helping them decide how to handle a variety of situations that might surface during their evening looking for love.
These inflection points affect how much your date will end up being attracted to your client and vice-versa, with each opportunity to impress playing out via a number of simple mini games. Frequently these challenges will ask you to recall some information from memory, but in others you might, for example, end up playing pachinko to decide how to split the bill, spin a wheel to see if you've pulled off a convincing lie, or play a card game to see if you can hold in a particularly loud fart.
It's enjoyable to try and successfully negotiate the social minefield of each date, especially when you manage to get two people who have very little in common to fall for one another. The only downside to lying and deceiving your way to success is the knock your reputation takes when the inevitable stream of letters arrive pronouncing that each relationship has fallen apart in spectacular fashion. So at the end of the day you're better off doing the best job you can to find suitable long term partners for your customers.
While it's a lot of fun in the early stages of the game, you'll soon start to feel like there's very little challenge to pairing people off successfully, and any missteps you're making are either as a result of the luck involved in a few of the mini-games, or your initially limited selection of dates. As you grow in reputation, though, things do get a touch more testing as everyone involved gets increasingly picky, and you'll need to visit the more challenging restaurants to give yourself the biggest chance of success. Despite its best efforts, though, the difficulty ramp remains gentle throughout and you'll be hitting way more than you miss when helping people find love.
Despite the sedate challenge on offer there's an undeniable charm at this title's core that'll help even the most cynical person have a good time. With humour sat firmly in nudge nudge, wink wink territory, the game knows exactly what it's doing and commits to it so genuinely that you can't help but want to go along for the ride. Whether you're sending a customer for a hot date at Mother's Tucker restaurant or witnessing a glam couple babble away like the punchable stars of Made in Chelsea, you'll find enough to amuse yourself for at least an hour or two.
While there are attempts to keep you engaged longer – such as an unlock system giving you access to additional restaurants, black book pages, and pre-date styling options – there just isn't quite enough here to take the edge off the inevitably repetitive gameplay loop. As a result, it's a title that feels best when played in short bursts – which shouldn't be all that surprising given its origins on mobile platforms – and when you also realise you could be tapping away at Kitty Powers for a third of the price by playing it on your phone, it makes this PlayStation 4 version a much less attractive proposition.
Kitty Powers' Matchmaker is a frequently enjoyable dating sim that nails its charmingly campy tone while providing a refreshing change of pace for those who fancy making love not war. It comes close to being a keeper, but the high cost of this version over its mobile counterparts and a gameplay loop that struggles to keep it up for more than a couple of hours means that Kitty Powers' Matchmaker just isn't quite relationship material.