New development studio Passionfruit Games contacted me the other day about beta testing their new puzzle/adventure game Tiger Eye Curse Of The Riddle Box. Passionfruit is made up of many HER Interactive veterans — the team who worked on Nancy Drew Dossier: Lights, Camera, Curses! and NDD: Resorting To Danger.
TE: CotRB is based on the paranormal romance novel Tiger Eye by Marjorie M. Liu. Look, I’m not the world’s biggest fan of paranormal romance, despite the best efforts of a certain college roommate who really loves Laurel K. Hamilton, too (you know who you are), but two things drew me in to Tiger Eye anyway. First, the game should avoid a lot of the usual spinoff pitfalls by staying pretty faithful to the book. Liu wrote the game’s script, and everyone on the dev team read the novel.
And second, a lot of the story is set in Beijing! It’s not breaking my NDA to point out that Passionfruit uses real Chinese characters in the background in environments in China. I love seeing actual Mandarin in places where pretty red and gold squiggles would have been just fine.
Plus, one environment has my favorite hutong-and-skyscrapers composition:
I’m excited to help out with the beta, of course, and I’m really interested in seeing what Passionfruit does with a romantic premise. Romantic games and dating sims are pretty popular in Asia, but in the US, they’re hard to find and usually pretty second-rate games. It’s dangerous territory because poorly done romance can easily turn laughable or creepy. (Kind of like dating.) But at the same time, a good game with an engaging, romantic storyline can really stand out between find-six-hearts HO games and save-the-world epics.
I’ll have more to share when the game comes out next month.