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You’ve no doubt heard the old saw about going to the fights and a hockey game breaking out. I had a similar experience with Seduce Me, the erotic adventure that was too steamy for Steam: I downloaded a sex game and ended up playing Hoyle’s Old Time Family Favorites.

I’m not really sure what I expected from Seduce Me, but the one thing I certainly didn’t expect is that it’d be so hard to get to the T&A. Fair warning: If you’re looking for some kind of interactive spank material, you may as well look elsewhere. Seduce Me is unquestionably pornographic, but it lives on the arty side of that dirty street, graphic but (relatively) tasteful, with the naked mambo doled out in tiny bits, interspersed by long stretches of attractive but mostly-clothed women and not a whole lot to do.

The game opens, in classic porn style, with a chance encounter with Pietra, a wealthy celebrity socialite who invites you to visit her sprawling luxury mansion on the Mediterranean Sea. Upon arrival, you discover that the place is crawling with attractive women, four of whom – the sexually aggressive divorcee Cecelia, her daughter Lilia, Esper the maid and of course Pietra herself – are “accessible.” The objective is simple: hit it so hard that whosoever can pull you out will be crowned the rightful King of England.

You’ll be rated by each of the primary characters in two categories, attraction and intimacy, which can be boosted by playing various mini-games as you wander around the mansion. There are five different game types in all, based on real-world card games like Euchre, Go Fish and Rummy, but the catch is that in the context of Seduce Me, winning is just as bad as losing because it makes you look like a bully. The object thus isn’t to win, but to keep your score as close as possible to that of your opponent’s.

Alas, your potential bangpals have no such compunction and appear to do their level best to beat you soundly at every opportunity. They’ll also run into occasional streaks of bad luck, leaving you with an overabundance of victory and proof of the adage, “Lucky in cards, unlucky in love.” Translating the concept of social engagement without domination into a casual gameplay mechanic is an interesting idea and while it can sometimes be frustrating, needing to keep your score as close as possible to your partner’s adds an unusual tactical twist to the minigames, since knowing when to tank a play is just as important as knowing when to drop the hammer.

There’s also an overall “Popularity” rating, which is increased by engaging in small talk with the many folks flitting around the mansion, as well as by occasionally getting into confrontations with people like Hamed, the houseboy stud of the week who doesn’t seem to care much for your presence. You’ll need to engage in these chit-chats every now and then because failing mini-games reduces your popularity and if it drops below zero, you’ll be told that nobody likes you and tossed out on your ear. (It’s a very Darwinian form of hedonism.)

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As you increase your rating with the ladies, you’ll be able to engage with them in different sorts of fantasies and activities, each of which requires a minimum ranking in one or both attributes. Like all of the game’s character interactions, these erotic payoffs are hand-painted images that zoom in on a particular part of the “action” across two or three overlapping frames. Once you’ve gawked to your heart’s content, it’s back to the mansion to move on to the next encounter. For a game that’s ostensibly about sex, it’s not terribly exciting.

The character art is competent but a bit spartan, laid over a cel-shaded representation of sun-drenched European excess, and the smooth, synth-driven soundtrack, while admittedly just a slightly-higher-than-normal class of porno-cheese, is actually kind of nice. The interface couldn’t possibly be simpler: A click of the mouse “unlocks” the screen so you can look around to decide where you want to go next, and movement is accomplished by clicking on either a location or one the windows along the bottom of the screen that represent adjacent rooms. There’s no inventory or puzzles of any sort; Seduce Me is pure sightseeing on every level.

The funny thing is that aside from all the T&A (&C&P&BJ&GB), this is very much the sort of game that your mother, if we may indulge in the casual gaming stereotype for a moment, would enjoy. The card games are very basic, and they can be infuriating – I’d swear the AI cheats, although designer/programmer Miram Bellard insists in the Seduce Me forums that this is not the case – but once you get the hang of things, they can be amusing, if not particularly stimulating, little time-wasters. If the name of the game was just to make friends with everyone and Cecelia wasn’t riding the chef like a stolen moped every time you turned around, Seduce Me could very well be a semi-popular game on Facebook.

Unfortunately, like a lot of Facebook games, the actual gameplay is shallow and dull, a bit reminiscent of an X-rated Minesweeper. And like that Windows classic, you’re likely going to lose a lot, which can make the single, automatic save point a real irritant. It may more accurately reflect the “reality” of human interaction than a conventional save system – you don’t get a second chance at a first impression and all that – but unless you’re knowledgeable and dedicated enough to track down the save file and make backups, there’s no way to quickly and easily recover from a string of bad luck.

Seduce Me‘s greatest failing, however, is simply that it serves neither casual gamers nor serious porn hounds with any degree of enthusiasm. The gameplay wears thin in a hurry and the sex scenes, while graphic, are entirely non-interactive and, to be blunt, just not worth the bother. I didn’t expect Seduce Me to be a very good game, but it turns out that it’s not a very good show, either.

Bottom Line: A porn game that’s unfortunately short on both the porn and the game, Seduce Me is dull, uninteresting and eminently forgettable.

Recommendation: Unless you’re gripped by some bizarre compulsion that drives you to own every single pornographic item your eyes fall upon, don’t bother.

[rating=2.5]

What our review scores mean.

Game: Seduce Me
Genre: Simulation
Developer: No Reply Games 
Publisher: No Reply Games 
Platform(s): PC

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