I’d like to believe that H.P. Lovecraft is rolling in his grave at the idea of Sucker for Love: First Date, a dating sim where you invoke big-boobied Eldritch gods by performing unspeakable horrors in order to get a smooch from them.
While his body of work is undeniable, Lovecraft was a virulent racist, so there’s a special kind of satisfaction to be had while playing through Sucker for Love. Lovecraft certainly didn’t write Cthulhu with the intention of gender-swapping the tentacled entity into a busty sex object, and that’s what makes Sucker for Love all the more enjoyable – it is equal parts hilarious, horrifying, and horny. If you’re so intrigued by Lovecraftian notions of unspeakable horror that it kinda turns you on, Sucker for Love may be the game for you.
A dating darling
Dating sims are only as good as their writing, and Sucker for Love delivers. The story is fresh and fun, offering three chapters for you to play through that are each centered around a different Eldritch god. You play a character known only as Darling, a very handsome dude who is absolutely desperate for some Cthussy (I’m sorry). Bankrolled by a mysterious woman named Missy, Darling has spent time and money trying to (unsuccessfully) invoke the denizens of R’lyeh. But when a mysterious pink book shows up on his doorstep that isn’t the Necronomicon he ordered on what looks suspiciously like Amazon Prime, he’s handed the literal guidebook to dating a world-ending, tentacle-faced god. Hot.
The threat of reality unraveling into gory chaos lingers throughout Sucker for Love as you perform rituals to invoke these gods so that you can smooch some tentacles (the game is surprisingly PG aside from some suggestive language). Messing up a ritual will cause you to be driven mad by the unspeakable horrors you’ve set in motion – I learned this the hard way after accidentally opening up the curtains midway through a ritual that required complete darkness. I was able to restart from my last checkpoint, which required me to sacrifice my turtle one more time as an offering to Ln’eta (sorry, turtle man).
Sucker for Love isn’t like other dating sims in that it stretches beyond the typical visual novel format where you make choices that determine who you end up with. Instead, you’re tasked with following the directions to complete a set of rituals, with several different endings available depending upon how successfully you complete them (or how badly you screw them up). After completing the first chapter and tearing apart the fabric of reality for a single kiss from Ln’eta (AKA simping taken to its logical conclusion), you can move into the second chapter, which focuses on Missy – who is a lot more than the woman funding your occult habits and is actually Estir, another Lovecraftian god.
It’s here that Sucker for Love opens up a bit more, forcing you to make the difficult decision: do you open your window and let the light of a distant planet shine in so Estir can enter your room, or do you let Ln’eta wash the ocean stink off of her impossibly proportioned body in your shower? Whatever you do, don’t try to pull back the shower curtain to creep on Ln’eta like I did – or your eyes will burn out of your sockets and you’ll have to start from the last checkpoint. A just punishment, IMO.
While wooing Ln’eta requires you to take part in a series of rituals to grow closer to her (rituals that ultimately result in the destruction of your lived reality), Estir is a bit more dramatic. And I mean that literally: she wants you to act out an entire play with her titled ‘The King in Yellow’, which well-versed Lovecraft fans will know references the god Hastur and the city of Carcosa, themes the writer pulled from Robert W. Chambers and Ambrose Bierce.
At a certain point in Estir’s chapter, Ln’eta shows back up and reveals an interesting connection between the two (no spoilers here). It’s here that you’ve gotta make a decision, as even the Eldritch gods have a rule against double-dipping. No matter who you pick, however, Sucker for Love lets you go back to important checkpoints in either chapter and replay them, giving you ample opportunity to worship both women.
But, there’s a third option on the table if you’re so inclined, and it’ll take you messing around in both chapters to unlock it. The third, locked chapter requires you to find three “secrets” in the other stories to gain access to it, so you’ll have to go back into those checkpoints in order to find them. I didn’t find a single one in my first playthrough, and was so curious about the third chapter I immediately went back to the start of Ln’eta’s story to try and figure out how to trigger it.
Sucker for Love is a fun, fresh take on dating sims that can be both surprisingly chaste and shockingly violent. Its humor is well-written and elicits some genuine laughs, like the several Worcestershire sauce jokes that imply the condiment has Eldritch ties. You won’t see any cosmic boobies (hell, you won’t even get past cosmic first base), but you will get stabbed in the chest and bleed out while pledging fealty to an ancient god who’s projecting her presence from a planet that’s light years away. In this game, you really are a sucker for love.
Sucker for Love is available on Steam (opens in new tab)and itch.io for $9.99 (opens in new tab).