This 'souls-like platonic dating simulator' is (not so) secretly an Undertale-adjacent RPG with zero restraint, and I need a lie down after trying it

Sometimes, when I sit down to spend some time with a new game for a quick and simple 'hey, this thing exists' news story, I do so with the understanding that I'll be playing a game—or a demo, as is the case here—and evaluating its strengths, its weaknesses, and its promises. Taking a critical and analytical eye, figuring out whether to recommend the thing I'm trying.

I have not been critical or analytical while trying out Athenian Rhapsody. Instead, I have taken a volume of mental damage that has left me certain I won't be able to stand the full game—like how you might get motion sickness in VR. You, however, might have an utter blast.

Athenian Rhapsody's Steam page advertises it as a "a souls-like platonic dating simulator with cooking-mama and WarioWare style battle mechanics", though clarifies: "and by that I mean it's a choose-your-own-adventure action RPG with the ability to trade ENTIRE PLAYTHROUGHS between friends!"

The way I would describe Athenian Rhapsody is that it's Undertale, just in a concentrated form and slammed down your throat raw. Undertale, for all its strangeness, has a general patience to it. It permits you a moment of quietness at times. This is not a thing Athenian Rhapsody is interested in.

When I tell you that I was plagued with irritable bowel syndrome for not eating a digestive biscuit pre-emptively, and that I befriended a fly who added "Blessed be thy health and the health of thy family!" onto every social interaction—when I tell you that I was offered $100 to touch some poop and took that offer, because I am not a coward that caves to social pressure—you might think back to the days of lolrandom humour from the early 2000s. A simpler time where we held up sporks, and "xD" was still an emoticon you could use. A time before the word "cringe" was common parlance. 

(Image credit: Nico Papalia / Top Hat Studios)

As my new mortal enemy Thunder Goober would say, this assumption is "FOOLISH!" Athenian Rhapsody's humour has a throughline to it. There were plenty of gags that got genuine laughs, like when one of my NPC companions gently asked the other to not mention the fact they'd committed tax fraud. 

No, this game is internally consistent with its own logic. It's just that said logic comes from a nightmare dream realm where nothing quite lines up, and I am both a hotdog and not a hotdog. Now dodge this overhead.

(Image credit: Nico Papalia / Top Hat Studios)

In terms of actual gameplay, if you've played Undertale you know what's up here—each enemy's attacks see you running around, trying to juke a wide array of sprites and mechanical minigames. You can either pummel enemies to death or befriend them. The twist? Every adventure—complete with its own set of choices—produces a trading card "Rhapsody." 

Even in the demo there were plenty of routes I could have taken. I went with the fly, because the weirdo in the bathtub and the house salesman both scared me.

I do not think I would enjoy the full Athenian Rhapsody experience, but there's a chance you very well might. There's a ton of charm to be found in its off-the-wall onslaught of every gag it can think of, from the nonsensical to the genuinely hilarious. This thing is clever, but it weaponises that cleverness to baffle and confuse you—if that sounds like your semi-masochistic cup of tea, it's only £10($12.74) until May 28. Personally, I think I need to drink some water and lie down in a dark room.

Harvey Randall
Staff Writer

Harvey's history with games started when he first begged his parents for a World of Warcraft subscription aged 12, though he's since been cursed with Final Fantasy 14-brain and a huge crush on G'raha Tia. He made his start as a freelancer, writing for websites like Techradar, The Escapist, Dicebreaker, The Gamer, Into the Spine—and of course, PC Gamer. He'll sink his teeth into anything that looks interesting, though he has a soft spot for RPGs, soulslikes, roguelikes, deckbuilders, MMOs, and weird indie titles. He also plays a shelf load of TTRPGs in his offline time. Don't ask him what his favourite system is, he has too many.