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GAME REVIEW: Matches and Matrimony: A Pride and Prejudice Tale

I was pruning my hard drive when I stumbled across a game labelled Matches and Matrimony: A Pride and Prejudice Tale.

I somehow forgot I bought this game last year. Since I was in the mood for a game set in Jane Austen’s fictional universe, I was all for it. Even when I discovered it’s not an adventure game, but a RPG (role-playing game) or strategy game. I hadn’t played this type of game before but hey, it’s Jane Austen. So I was willing to try.

Right off the bat, the game opens with a tutorial to explain that you’re the heroine in the world of Pride and Prejudice – which includes some elements from other two Austen novels: Persuasion and Sense and Sensibility – and your actions will determine your matrimonial path, and blah blah blah. I was impatient enough to leap over the rest of tutorials into the game.

A big mistake.

Because I somehow ended up marrying someone I didn’t expect to marry. To say that my jaw was on the floor would be the understatement of this century. I’d expected to marry Mr. Darcy himself. Oh no, Matches and Matrimony won’t make it that easy for the likes of me. Well chastened, I went back to the game’s tutorials and dutifully read all before trying again.

Matches and Matrimony: A Pride and Prejudice Tale is essentially a dating sim that revolves around your decisions in how you would pick an activity for each day of your five-day week — depending on your path, there are potentially fourteen weeks in total per game — and how some characters who might like you more or less, based on your responses. And this would affect the percentage of your sum and subsequently influence your matrimonial path.

Each activity has points, plus or minus, for each of nine characteristic traits: Willpower, Wit, Talent, Kindness, Propriety, Sensibility and Energy.

If you select ‘Go Visiting’ for one day of your week, it’ll increase Kindness (+6) and Propriety (+4), and decrease Energy (-10). And ‘Read a Book’ for another day, which would increase Wit and Sensibility while decreasing Willpower. ‘Rest’ for one day would mean Energy 40+ alone.

Note: sometimes it’d reverse unexpectedly. When you might expect more points for certain traits, it’d go in the opposite direction and decrease those much-needed points. (I later figured out why that happened, so you’ll probably figure out yourself, too.)

At the first try, I had no strategy – none whatsoever – so I randomly clicked on an activity for each day and hoped for the best. Oh, I did have a bit of a strategy: I’d made sure that I was nice to everyone. Never rude or confrontational. Good manners, always.

And that, readers, is how I ended up with that dreadfully dull cousin, Mr. Collins, as my husband.

Oh, the horror.

So, how you choose activities for your heroine each week does affect your path. Sometimes, crazily so. Likewise with your interactions with various characters throughout the story as their reactions will influence your path, positively or negatively.

To begin with, you get to name the heroine – clearly based on Elizabeth Bennet – however you like. I found this rather disconcerting, to be honest. I mean, ‘Fia Bennet’ doesn’t sound quite right, does it?

I did later have fun by naming my heroine after my baby brother, ‘Alasdair Bennet’, though. Pretty immature, but so fun.

While most characters are from Austen’s fictional universe, the details of some characters are different. Such as Mr. Wickham, from Pride and Prejudice, is renamed as Mr. Wickeby for this game, but everything he says and does in this game resembles those of Mr. Willioughby from Sense and Sensibility. Mr. Bingley’s first name went from Charles to Edward. For a while, I didn’t notice this change until I vaguely remembered that Edward is from Sense and Sensibility and that his surname is Ferrars. It explains why Mr. Bingley seems a combination of Charles Bingley and Edward Ferrars. I don’t think there are any more significant changes. Not as far as I can recall, anyroad.

Well, not all characters from Pride and Prejudice appear in this game. Younger Bennet sisters – Mary and Kitty – don’t show up. So, along with the Bennet parents, it’s just Elizabeth (you), Jane and Lydia (who’s renamed Lydianne for this game).

Did all those changes mess with my head? Yup. I think the game designers did it to make the game unpredictable for various paths to the nine possible endings.

 

In other words, what you know about Austen’s novels may work against you.

My sketchy recollections of the novels had clearly worked against me because I kept marrying the wrong suitors, from Colonel Brandon (Sense and Sensibility) to Captain Wentworth (Persuasion), or ending up alone as “an old maid”. I mean, I was left pretty nonplussed when I somehow managed to marry Mr. Bingley as well. And that cad, Mr. Wickesy (a.k.a. Wickham from Pride and Prejudice and Williboughy from Sense and Sensibility). I also ended up being well liked by the dreadful Bingley sisters and thoroughly disliked by my supposedly best friend, Charlotte.

The competitive cow in me was annoyed enough to replay the game to correct all that as well as to achieve the ultimate goal: marry Mr. Darcy.

Although the game itself was easy to master, finding the Darcy route wasn’t that easy. In fact, it was so challenging that I ended up playing the game repeatedly for a couple of hours, trying every possible route.

If you play this game just right, you’ll be involved with all main key plot points of Pride and Prejudice including the awesome confrontation with a certain snobbish Lady and the famous first proposal scene with Darcy and Elizabeth (you).

I oddly felt thrilled whenever the red line in Darcy’s ‘attachment’ bar increased. He likes me, he likes me! And I let out a little cheer when I finally married him. I admit I did feel a little pathetic afterwards but hey, I nabbed that surprisingly elusive bloke.

 I don’t think I’d have enjoyed replaying the game so much if it wasn’t for the game’s Skip function, though. This function allows you to speed through all dialogues and scenes you’d already seen until a new dialogue line or scene appears.

So you can replay the game until you reach your chosen ending.  I read somewhere online that three endings involve Darcy, but I had managed to reach just six out of the nine endings so there are two more Darcy endings I haven’t tried yet. Gah. At least it shows that this game’s replayability value is pretty high.

The game also has an option to save a spot any time throughout the game, up to 10 slots. And believe me, readers, you will definitely need this option.

Because when you realise you don’t like where your path is heading, you can’t return to change your selection of activities for that week. Once you’ve made your choices, your path is determined. So each time your heroine says “Now is probably the best time to save your game” before you could make your selection of activities, do it! You can save a game over a previous save when you run out of the save slots.

The game’s options page is pretty basic as it has functions for you to control the Music and Sound Volume, ‘After choices’ (stop skipping or keep skipping), Display (full screen or windowed mode), and Text Speed.

Also, bundled with the game are Austen’s full novels: Pride and Prejudice, Persuasion and Sense and Sensibility, that you can read within the game.

And of course, it has information guides (mostly to explain each character trait) and character profiles.

While it’d grown on me during the game, I found the general art rather frustrating. This sort doesn’t usually bother me, but since we  see the background art repeatedly throughout a game? And when we see Darcy’s supposedly magnificent home? It can make one wish the game makers had invested in a better artist.

Some dialogue exchanges – especially the ones involving Mr. Collins – were a tad long-winded. I did wonder if this was intentional, though. Occasionally, some parts felt repetitive but I can’t tell if it was due to my impatience or the pacing of the game itself.

It’s quite a short game, too. Perhaps between twenty to forty minutes per game, I’d say? Well, it depends on each path. The ‘best’ path lasts roughly fifty minutes while each of ‘bad’ paths varies between twenty to thirty minutes. The shortest – and the worst – path is the Mr. Collins route, which typically lasts twenty minutes. Of course, it also depends on your pacing preference. I’m a speedy gamer, so it was a quick play each time. Well, except for that damn Darcy route.

And I really don’t understand why the game creators set Jane Austen’s novels in “Victorian times” (see left for the ‘TALENT’ screenshot). I don’t know much about period costumes, but I’m pretty sure some background characters are wearing 1880s-era clothes and hats, too.

Anyhow, the competitive cow in me quite enjoyed playing the game repeatedly so it deserves a B from me.

Suitable for all ages and ideal for players who are looking for a fun dating sim. Also for those who like simple RPGs with a bit of a challenge. Some parts of the game might have Austen purists twitching, but Matches and Matrimony: A Pride and Prejudice Tale is honestly a gentle fun and sweet-natured game.

Available in Windows and Mac at all major online retail stores including Big Fish Games ($2.99), Amazon US/UK/etc. ($6.99) and iWin ($6.95).

30 Comments

  1. Jody W.
    May 14, 2012 @ 12:10:05

    Sounds like the kids and I have a new summer game to look forward to :). We did the first Tiger Eye last summer. Or was it the summer before?? Oh, dear, I think I lost a year.

  2. HK
    May 14, 2012 @ 12:14:31

    LOL I was checking for Big Fish availability before I finished reading the review. I love Big Fish and am sure the competitive cow inside of me will force me to see all 9 endings. :)

    Thanks for my newest time waster!

  3. HK
    May 14, 2012 @ 12:16:45

    @Jody W.: LOL The kids and I have 2 Nancy Drews loaded and ready for the first day of summer vacation. We’re 3 behind!

    :) They won’t be interested in this one, but it’s nice to have something to play without them.

  4. Isobel Carr
    May 14, 2012 @ 12:19:54

    Hmmm, I’d rather marry Capt Wentworth.

  5. Lou
    May 14, 2012 @ 12:35:03

    This looks wonderful. I’m not a casual gamer, but every so often I get the urge for either a Hidden Object Game or a puzzler. I did enjoy the game based around Tiger Eye by Marjorie Liu. I’m definitely giving this one a shot.

  6. Suzanna Medeiros
    May 14, 2012 @ 13:00:52

    I’m with Isobel. I will admit that Persuasion is my favorite Austen novel, though. :)

  7. Sunita
    May 14, 2012 @ 13:06:42

    Great review! I’m not a gamer (I bailed back in the Space Invaders days) but this makes me want to give one a shot.

  8. Little Red
    May 14, 2012 @ 13:13:39

    Captain Wentworth isn’t a wrong outcome by any stretch of the imagination. He’s right up there with Darcy in my book.

  9. Little Red
    May 14, 2012 @ 13:14:05

    @Little Red: Awesome review of the game, I laughed my way through it.

  10. ReadingPenguin
    May 14, 2012 @ 13:25:36

    Yep, I would probably play until I got Mr. Darcy too! Great review!

  11. Charlie
    May 14, 2012 @ 13:42:56

    This looks pretty simple (I’m an rpg gamer) but the set up sounds fun and rather addictive, will definitely have to give it a go. Surprised I hadn’t heard about it before, and interested as to who the company behind it is. Thanks for telling us about it!

  12. Isobel Carr
    May 14, 2012 @ 13:48:50

    I admit I’d be more interested in as an ap in the under $3 category.

  13. cecilia
    May 14, 2012 @ 16:51:28

    I’m surprised marrying Mr. Wickham isn’t the worst outcome.

  14. Tabs
    May 14, 2012 @ 17:47:06

    Someone once bought me a “Jane Austen: Choose Tour Own Adventure” book and I totally tossed it after I realized that marrying Captain Wentworth was considered a severe disapointment. Not on my planet. That man makes me swoon.

  15. Maili
    May 14, 2012 @ 18:24:01

    @Jody W. @Lou: I know I’ve already said this in other thread, but in case you haven’t seen it yet: Don’t get the sequel, Tiger Game: the Sacrifice. It’s nowt like Part 1. Shame, really. Anyhow, hope you’ll enjoy M&M.

    @HK: LOL! Oh, I’ll die if your competitive cow has somehow managed to achieve all nine endings within a couple of hours. I’m willing to bet you a book you can’t. :D Until then, good luck.

    @Sunita: @Little Red: @ReadingPenguin: Many thanks. Hey, ReadingPenguin, beware: Darcy is surprisingly elusive in this game. Getting him to show up is almost like getting the sky to rain on a painfully dry day. At least that was how it was for me.

    @Charlie: I generally avoid RPGs because of the stats issue. I’m really not good with numbers and such. So when I realised M&M is sort of an interactive book with a strong RPG element, I wanted to cry as I thought I wouldn’t be able to play the game well, but surprisingly, it wasn’t that difficult. So, yay for me. According to the credits, the game producer is Reflexive Entertainment (http://www.reflexive.com). Never heard of them, either. Heh. Anyhow, thanks!

    @Isobel Carr: @Suzanna Medeiros: @Little Red: @Tabs: I haven’t read or seen Persuasion so Captain Wentworth doesn’t mean anything to me. To be honest, when I think of Wentworth I think of actor Ciaràn Hinds, thanks to photos of him across Romancelandia. :D

    @cecilia: Well, considering Mr. Collins’s utter devotion to that grumpy hag, I’m happy to have Wickham/Wickeby any day.

  16. cecilia
    May 14, 2012 @ 18:38:41

    @Maili: I don’t know – Wickham is a totally selfish ass, and one who doesn’t care enough about convention to make sure he doesn’t let down people who are depending on them. Mr. Collins might be devoted to Lady Catherine, and he might be insufferable, but at least he’s not a destroyer of lives.

  17. Marian
    May 14, 2012 @ 18:39:54

    Cool review! It looks like a fun game. I have a feeling if I played it I would end up with an undesirable husband. haha

  18. nasanta
    May 14, 2012 @ 22:54:20

    What a fun(ny) review! Thanks so much. When I saw it was obtainable from Bigfishgames, I went running. I’ll be trying out the preview. :)

  19. nasanta
    May 14, 2012 @ 22:56:44

    @nasanta:

    Just a note but on BFG the game shows up as $9.99 (non-members) and $6.99 (members), not $2.99.

  20. HK
    May 15, 2012 @ 00:08:13

    @Maili: Oh, no! A challenge! I must use willpower. I have an all day field trip with a bunch of 5th graders tomorrow, I can’t stay up late playing games. How will I resist??

    (My family knows once I start a game I will finish it and all of its achievements – no matter how long it takes…. I feel I’m teaching the kids perseverance.) :)

    @nasanta: BFG is having a deal for new users and you’d be able to get it for $2.99. For the rest of us, we’ll have to use credits we already have. (and hopefully bought during their half-price sale this weekend) :)

  21. C. R.
    May 15, 2012 @ 01:00:50

    What you know of the Regency and/or Victorian era and its manners can work against you too. ^^; They oddly stressed how they researched into the era and seemed to laugh behind their fan at actually doing what a young lady of quality of the time would have.

    After getting Mr. Collins and Old Maid endings for all three of the times I played the game, I didn’t play it again because I was grinding my teeth too much. I keep meaning to play it again, just to get my money’s worth out of it, but every time I look at the icon of Miss Bennet, I just get irritated. xD;

    If you like this style of game, you might want to try other Ren’py engine games. You can find a lot of freeware here: http://games.renpy.org/

    But specifically, I recommend:
    re: Alistair++ http://www.sakevisual.com/realistair/ (Their pay games of Kansei and Jisei have good reviews, but I haven’t played them yet.)

    Ristorante Amore http://risamo.cyanide-tea.net/ (I haven’t played their other games yet either.)

    I can’t remember any others off the top of my head that I really enjoyed, but at least I recommend two freeware games. ;)

  22. Maili
    May 15, 2012 @ 07:08:00

    @cecilia: Fair enough.

    @nasanta: Thanks. And I’m sorry about the price confusion. Apologies. Many thanks, @HK, for the explanation.

    @HK: Ooh, you’re as bad as me. I’m the same – once started, I must finish. I’m like that with a novel, too. Gah. Anyroad, good luck with that challenge when the day comes. :D

    @C. R.: Heh! Thanks for sharing your view as I know some will appreciate it. For what it’s worth, I must admit some parts of the game’s information pages almost broke my teeth but, since quite a few novelists doing the same (claiming they’ve burrowed into their research so deeply that they came out the other side of the world), I let it go. It’s Lydianne who distracted me with her odd hair colour. Shallow, but hey. Thank you so much for suggesting those games. Well, I feel I shouldn’t thank you as those will dominate my life, but…yeah.

  23. LG
    May 15, 2012 @ 07:12:27

    @C. R.: Thanks for the recs! It seems like a lot of the pay games I’ve come across are meant to be played on an iThing, Android device, or something else I don’t own, so I’m happy to see stuff I can actually play.The only other game of this style I’ve played has been “don’t take it personally, babe, it just ain’t your story.” The main character in that one is kind of a loser (on purpose, but still). Actually, I just remembered I haven’t even finished that one yet. I had been a little worried about what the ending I was nearing was going to be like.

  24. Estara
    May 15, 2012 @ 07:24:28

    Aww thanks for another game review, Maili. You managed to infect me with the casual gamer HOD bug when you did those reviews here first – I still enjoy Vision in White and the first Tiger Eye – I’m not so happy with the second Tiger Eye game which just came out this April.

    “I oddly felt thrilled whenever the red line in Darcy’s ‘attachment’ bar increased. He likes me, he likes me! ” I played Tokimeki Girls’ Side on a DS Emulator with an English translation and that really got me to react the same way (not to mention the excellent voice acting by the guys strengthens the impressions).

    Have you played Love and Death:Bitten yet? That’s a lovely if short HOD and puzzle game with great voice acting about a vampire and the girl who saves him – or does she?

  25. Estara
    May 15, 2012 @ 07:37:32

    Addendum: I liked the game play but missed the HO scenes without puzzle play and I loved that they used the original voices – but I REALLY didn’t care for the graphics style they are using now.
    However, since a lot of previous commenters enjoyed it, I thought I’d emphasize again that the second game, which finishes the story of the novel (but takes out some side characters) is out now – direct from Passionfruit Games or at Bigfish Games, etc.

  26. Maili
    May 15, 2012 @ 09:37:15

    @Estara: Aw, thanks. Yes, I’ve played Love and Death: Bitten when it was first released. Loved it! What’s still stopping me from writing a review is the ending. Because I didn’t expect that kind of endings, my reaction wasn’t exactly polite, which doured my enjoyment of the game somewhat. Not many people like cliffhangers. I certainly don’t.

    For me, that is the game’s biggest flaw. There are rumours that there’s a sequel in the works, under Love and Death: Eternal, but the game makers still say they don’t know whether to go ahead with it. I hate that. So I’m not sure if doing a review for something rather incomplete would be a good idea, even though the game itself was great.

    That is also the reason why I didn’t review Tiger Eye: the curse of the Riddle Box. Game creators, please tattoo this to your foreheads: “cliffhangers are not good.”

    I’m not so happy with the second Tiger Eye game which just came out this April.

    Oh, I found the second Tiger Eye game such a disappointment that I’m still in denial. So you’re not alone in thinking that. Some puzzles were fun (I loved the fish and doll puzzle), but the story itself? So disjointed and odd. Graphics? Blegh. Interactions? Disappointing. Narrative gaming? Patchy and disconnected. Shame, really.

  27. Estara
    May 15, 2012 @ 11:22:14

    @Maili: Well, there are still fun HOD games out there, just not romance based. And I’ll check into those Visual Novel games, too – I just downloaded that Ristorante game.

    I SO hope they get the money and drive to release a second Love and Death game – one where Celeste gets her full come-uppance. Until then I can play the the Dark Parables or the Drawn or the Awakening or the Magic Encyclopedia or the Spirits of Mystery series games and enjoy myself – no real romance, but lots of fantasy which works for me as well ^^

  28. HK
    May 19, 2012 @ 02:17:42

    @Maili: You are evil. Pure evil. I thought I could just play through to my first ending (denial – I am good at it!) to see what it was like. And now, here I am, I can barely see (exhausting week with the kids) and I’ve been an old maid 8 times. I finally got to marry Col. Brandon, but I really wanted to marry the Captain, so I continued to play until I did so.

    Now, I’m off to bed. I’ll try for more outcomes in the morning. LOL

    Oh, and I totally agree on the ending of Love and Death. Fun game. Crap ending. But then, I wasn’t happy with the way Drawn ended either. It seems a lot of games are broken up into multiple games. I need closure. I want real endings. :)

  29. Maili
    May 19, 2012 @ 07:23:10

    @HK: Eight times as an old maid? Oh, dear. LOL! Want a tip on snagging Wentworth? I agree with you on endings. Actually, I’m thinking of doing up a top 10 list of games with strong romantic elements. Yeah, I think I’ll do that. =D

    @Estara: I love the Dark Parables series. It’s a well-crafted game series with simple but strong stories. I’m not that keen on the FROG (fragmented object game) aspect, but as a whole, I loved each game. Gorgeous art work, too. I really liked Drawn, but wasn’t keen on the sequels. What’s up with the last one? So short and rather pointless. Tragic.

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    Jun 12, 2012 @ 02:07:01

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