Flix and Chill

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Put on some charm and woo your date in the age of Internet television.

PC Release: February 27, 2017

By Ian Coppock

Oh yeah. Spring is almost here, ladies and gentlemen, and guess what that means? It means warmer weather. It means shedding all those heavy clothes and going outside to meet people. It means longer, warmer days of fun that can last well into the night. It means that love is in the air. With spring just around the corner, Flix and Chill has arrived to inject some charming romance into the video game scene. The snow may not have melted quite yet, but Flix and Chill has arrived to win dates in the spirit of pop culture’s favorite innuendo.

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Flix and Chill is a romantic comedy adventure game created by Jason Lovett, a one-man team whose last name lends him immediate dating credibility. Flix and Chill is an ensemble romance adventure split across five episodes, each one driven by a combination of mini-games and dialogue choices. The gist of the game is simple: in each episode, the player simply meets up with their date and tries to win their heart.

Actually winning that heart, though, is a bit more complicated. Just like in real life, being successful in Flix and Chill requires a careful amount of charm. Say the right thing, at the right time, without too much or too little confidence, and the protagonist will likely head home with their date on their arm. Be too lax or too impatient, though, and it’s back to swiping right for a while.

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Oh boy. Careful, dude. Careful.

Wait a minute… we’re all on the same page about what the phrase “Netflix and chill” means, right? Maybe it needs to be parsed out for some readers. It means taking a date home and, well… y’know. In Assassin’s Creed it’s referred to as upgrading the villa, in BioShock it’s called taking a Plasmid, in Dishonored it’s called whiskey and cigars, in Call of Duty it’s called knifing the watermelon, in For Honor it’s called breaching the gates, so on and so forth.

In Skyrim it’s called taking an arrow in the… well, anyway. Everyone got it? Yes? Good.

flix5Sooooo…. wanna play checkers?

Each of Flix and Chill‘s five episodes follows a different couple on their first date. The dates don’t get more difficult as the player progresses, and will allow players to continue even if they fail their latest attempt at romance. The game’s first episode (and prologue) starts off with an in-game rendition of the developer, Jason Lovett, and his girlfriend Marta, in an apparent retelling of their first date. From there, the game follows a spate of young couples all looking for chemistry in the age of the Internet.

Most of the gameplay in Flix and Chill is driven by dialogue choices. Player characters can talk to their dates and will get a roster of different response options every so often. As with a real date, players have to take care with what they say and when they say it. Dates might get turned off by overly aggressive behavior. Contrary wise, they may also lose interest if the player seems aloof or bored. A measure of interest, not too much and not too little, is key.

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Unfortunately, a terrible mustache is insufficient reason to punch random passerby on a first date.

Even with the occasional spelling error, the dialogue in Flix and Chill is remarkably believable. Jason Lovett did a good job characterizing the couples in each episode and going for a more realistic approach to a dating situation, instead of the stylized substance one typically sees in a romantic comedy. To his credit, he also does well at making it difficult to anticipate how a date might respond to one dialogue option or another. Just being a nice person or telling the date what they want to hear won’t cut it. Players have to pay attention, and it pays to do so.

Even though Flix and Chill‘s episodes are only about 15-20 minutes long apiece, Lovett also succeeded at infusing each episode with mini character development arcs. The couples in Flix and Chill undergo minute but charming changes as the episode progresses, and react believably to different dialogue choices. Some of these episodes stretch the suspension of disbelief a bit, but these two elements of writing give Flix and Chill a lighthearted, uplifting atmosphere, peppered with a few jokes for good measure.

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Oh my God, Bridget. You gray seductress, you.

At this point, it should be made clear that Flix and Chill isn’t some hypersexualized adventure game or creepy dating simulator. Despite the salacious undertones of the title Flix and Chill, this game is actually a charming glance at the magic (and absurdities) of dating in the Internet age. Despite its short length, Flix and Chill does a good job of smashing together contemporary dating etiquette with the rigors of millennial life, making for a game that many people, especially young people, can relate to.

Lovett has demonstrated a talent for writing these scenarios, but their scope seems to be restricted to straight millennials. True, millennials are far and away the most prolific connoisseurs of dating apps and all that, but what about a gen x or baby boomer relationship in the Internet age? What about a gay relationship?  Flix and Chill isn’t lesser for not portraying these ideas, but there’s a lot of opportunity for adventure games to go deeper with idea of what a relationship in the information age is. Lovett’s demonstrated that the adventure format works wonders for romance and romantic comedy stories.

 

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My goodness, your trapezoid face is so lovely…

To make itself even more charming, Flix and Chill is decked out in that low-poly, faceless style that all the indie devs seem to be doing these days. The game’s episodes are presented in a cute cartoon world with lots of bright colors. One small drawback is that Flix and Chill has little sound design and no spoken dialogue, and its music, while cute, loops quite obviously.

Flix and Chill‘s sound design is not a deal-breaker though, and thankfully, neither is the game’s tiny Unity engine options menu. Flix and Chill is so visually simple that players will likely encounter few problems, but a resolution option is not an options menu. The greatest strength of the Unity engine, simplicity, is also its greatest weakness, as reflected by the small size of its options “menu” when players boot up the game.

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Pro tip: In real life I only dance if there’s a strobe light, so the ladies can only see about an eighth of my “dancing.”

Even though Flix and Chill has some spelling errors and could’ve gone much deeper in its examination of dating in the age of the Internet, it’s still a surprisingly endearing adventure game. Its cutesy romantic comedy vibe and believable dialogue make it a novelty in the gaming world. It’s a romance game that doesn’t sexualize characters (which makes it one-of-a-kind right there) and its heartfelt little vignettes of budding love cause smiles to crack and hearts to soften. Pick up a copy of Flix and Chill and get into the spring love spirit. It’s the best kind of romantic comedy: one that takes an innuendo and turns it into something substantive.

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You can buy Flix and Chill here.

Thank you for reading! My next review will be posted in a few days. You can follow Art as Games on Twitter @IanLayneCoppock, or friend me at username Art as Games on Steam. Feel free to leave a comment or email me at ianlaynecoppock@gmail.com with a game that you’d like to see reviewed, though bear in mind that I only review PC games.

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