We Should Talk. Finds the Right Words
Whitethorn Digital's latest game all hinges on your next response
A dimly lit bar, drinks with strangers, and endless possibilities. Though most of that is off the table these days, We Should Talk. lets you live the nightlife from the safety of your computer or favorite console, and was released on July 12, 2020. At its heart, it's a short-form narrative game that operates like a choose-your-own-adventure book and a dating simulation.
Created by Carol Mertz, a St. Louis-based developer, the game garnered awards and distinctions from IndieMEGABOOTH GDC 2020, WordPlay 2019, NYU Game Center Incubator, Independent Games Festival 2019, Different Games 2018, and Babycastles "IGF x NYC" exhibition. The game was then picked up by the Erie-based publisher Whitethorn Digital.
Like many of Whitethorn's games, it's cozy, quick, and accessible. The gameplay relies on an extremely simple concept. You select your responses to the people you talk to in bite-size interchangeable chunks. Each response has two or three sections where you have three choices to pick from. Each permutation you pick determines how other characters will react to you. You can do things like flirt, be aloof, or apologize, and get a dialogue going as such.
Hunkered down at the Getaway, a pink and purple color scheme sets the mood [potential spoiler alerts ahead]. You interact with four main characters, the bartender Steph, Dante (your ex-boyfriend), Jimmy (a stranger), and Samantha (your girlfriend). The lion's share of interactions take place on your phone, to the mostly-unseen Samantha.
The first time I played through, I found myself instinctively trying to console her and ease any tensions that might arise, explaining why I'm out by myself at a bar and chatting with my ex. Like many shorter games, it was over before I knew it. Finding myself relegated to couples counseling with Sam, I was viewing the game's credits in about 20 minutes. I set out to go against my instincts. Easily taking to my character's pansexuality (or at least bisexuality), I flirted with everyone I could. Despite becoming friends with Jimmy (aka DaddyBaeCare), I couldn't seal the deal. Over a few sittings, I navigated some different scenarios. The point of this game is not to beat it, but to play it through differently multiple times.
The selection of words gives you enough variety, without the more obvious demarcations that these sort of games sometimes have. There's subtlety in what you say, even when you're being over-the-top. That being said, the game is far from oversexualized or even terribly romantic. We Should Talk. deals with realistic emotions with consequences and repercussions of how you say things; it literally helps you choose your words carefully. Understanding the importance of tone and the particulars of language will help you immensely every step of the way. You'll no doubt feel tinges of reality and lived experiences shine through deeply.
We Should Talk. is available for download on Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and Microsoft Windows, Linux, macOS, and Macintosh operating systems for $6.99. Rated M for audiences 17 and older.