I can't say I'm enormously into dating simulators. I reckon they'd either make me sad because I'd realise how lonely I was without a partner or make me feel strange flirting with a PC considering I had an actual partner I could be talking to. But Kaichu was the exception. It's the exception because I don't think I'll ever get the opportunity to date a kaiju in the real world, right?
Kaichu - The Kaiju Dating Sim is a simulator that looks at love at a macro level. Kaiju for the uninitiated refers to the giant monsters popularised by their own genre of Japanese films, TV and animation: the most famous being Godzilla, but there are bajillions. In Kaichu you play Gigachu, a massive pink reptilian kaiju with heart motifs on the search for a new partner. The story isn't too mysterious and it's told from the perspective of two news anchors, Brevity Ormes and Lucky Cole, who are watching your relationships unfold on screen and explaining the romance to viewers.
You pick another kaiju on the world map to go on dates with, and through a series of personality questions work out how compatible you are for one another. It's about working out which of the monsters likes what, and at least in my case, hoping and praying they also like rock. The material, that is, not the music as I thought when I first played.
Gigachu has several monsters to choose from but the first I picked was a poisonous mushroom alien kaiju called Megaricus. It simply didn't understand most human concepts like romance, so was pretty focused on intellect and exploration, as most aliens would be. And the aforementioned poison meant no physical relationship could happen between Gigachu and Megaricus but hey, that's no problem when we've got poetry to read together.
Though considered an alien monster, Magaricus is referenced as neurodivergent and has very specific barriers (literally and figuratively) for you to work out and respect. Not all monsters are the same and the game is really about respecting what people like about relationships and all the forms it could take. Physical, intellectual, maybe asexual, it's all good baby (as long as you like terrorising humans too).
Oh yeah, how could I forget to explain the way that kaiju flirt! It's by destroying human things like power plants and Big Ben. Your average date consists of questions about your personality and, if you answer correctly, it'll mean your kaiji and their date will batter human architecture more enthusiastically. It's a highly amusing concept and by the end of each date your two monsters might vibe enough to share a smooch as well as destroy the western seaboard.
The vividly coloured artwork and animations are reminiscent of 2010s Cartoon Network animations like Adventure Time or The Amazing World of Gumball. The animations are energetic and fun for conceptually a dark concept of destruction, making this fun juxtaposition between the subject matter and the actual gameplay. The army makes an appearance to stop the smooch-fest between the kaiju and yet the news anchors and world are entirely unfazed by the murderous monsters on a romantic rampage.
Kaichu isn't a deep game by any means, and you'll have seen most of what it has to offer after a few hours. But it's cheap (£6 on Steam), pretty adorable and innocent. The best thing about Kaichu is how it delivers on the hilarious concept, such that you can have as fleeting a relationship as you like with it and still have a good time.