When I first read the brief synopsis of Don’t Make Love on Steam, I knew it would be special and I knew I had to experience its…specialness for myself. Picture this – you play the role as a praying mantis, male or female, and your ultimate goal happens to be using charm and sincerity to take your relationship to the next level.

Yes, boys and girls, by “taking it to the next level” I’m addressing a conversation transpiring between two praying mantises about sexual relations. A little fun fact about the praying mantis’s sex life is that it’s actually kind of morbid. The female aggressively bites the male’s head off while they mate and then she proceeds to devour his body for nourishment. Ah, the circle of life.

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She’s a Maneater

Developed by Maggese, Don’t Make Love is an intriguing and comical simulation concept, to say the least. I began my journey by choosing to react as a female praying mantis. Moments later, I stood with my hunk of a mantis (we’ll call him Harold) in a serene patch of what I assumed to be grass, his exquisite bug eyes gazing ever so deeply into mine. Confusion riddled me at first. Lined at the bottom of the screen were varied reactions I could choose from. If he called me beautiful, a kiss might be an appropriate response. In retrospect, a frown could easily signify my distaste toward something he said. Ugh, boy bugs can be so immature.

An embarrassing amount of time later, the realization of typing any response my little mantis heart desired revealed itself. As the romantic soundtrack amplified the atmosphere, I began communicating with my very emotional bug boyfriend. “I love you’s” and “let’s be together forever’s” began to spam the screen, along with my projectile vomit. The dialogue proceeded to get cheesier until I finally reached an unbearable level of cheesiness and exclaimed via keyboard, “HAROLD, JUST STOP.”

Apparently, Don’t Make Love recognizes when you’re obnoxiously using the Caps Lock and assumes that you’re yelling at your partner. Harold was not a fan of my shouting. Oops. Naturally, I continued entering my responses in all caps due to curiosity on what would come to light with my mighty bug roar. Merely moments later, my relationship with Harold had ended. I’ll never forget his last words – “You’re not a mantis worth dying for.” Ouch.

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It’s a Bug-Eat-Bug World

Luckily, though, the option of restarting my entire heart to heart with Harold flashed before my watery eyes. As I wiped away my tears of heartache, I challenged myself to overlook the corny dialogue and convince Harold to get it on. It is an achievable goal, folks. The male praying mantis will literally put his life into your little insect hands, but only if you tell him what he wants to hear.

It’s a lot more difficult than one may presume. If the responses I typed back to my sweetheart constantly looped between “yes”, “no,” or any other monosyllabic word, he’d become extremely annoyed that I wasn’t putting more effort into the conversation. Fortunately, bouncing back from minor mistakes or typos is a breeze. An “I love you” or a “You’re beautiful” goes a long way, ladies and gentlemen.

Terminating my relationship with my significant mantis as soon as the discussion began presented to be surprisingly satisfying. Forcing Harold to dump my unappreciative bug butt definitely produces the most enjoyable experience, however. Responding with crude humor embellished Don’t Make Love’s gameplay a significant amount and resulted in an ugly combination of snorting and laughing to myself. Where’s the fun in being lovey dovey all the time, anyway?

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Love Bites

Assuming the role as the male praying mantis pretty much plays out the same way. The huge difference involves sweet-talking the female (we’ll call her Brenda) to take part in intercourse. In a nutshell, my objective revolves around finding the right string of pretty words to persuade Brenda to bite my head off. The entirety of the male’s perspective plays out incredibly strange in the most amusing way. If I even so much as mentioned to Brenda how she would literally end my life in one fell swoop, she’d get defensive and gloomy. Fortunately, I was blessed with the opportunity to die for love. How bittersweet.

Of all of the bizarre video games I’ve played over the years, Don’t Make Love definitely threw me for a loop. It definitely isn’t an experience for everyone, but more for those who have a strange sense of humor. The amount of appropriate responses to even the most obscure comments I’d type proved to be impressive. A conversation between the two love bugs can last for twenty seconds or twenty minutes, depending on the determination to virtually get laid. Though brief in gameplay, it’s an eccentric change from the imaginative worlds I typically delve into.

Ultimately, Don’t Make Love goes to show that love surely is complicated for all species.