Sucker for Love: Date to Die For is the second game in the horror dating sim series developed by Akabaka and published by DreadXP. The central premise is that the protagonist, Stardust, has been lured back to their hometown of Sacramen-Cho, where mysterious disappearances have been plaguing the town. What ensues has the potential to be one of the most interesting stories in games this year.
After being chased home by strange cultists, Stardust realizes she has been duped into returning home by a forged letter from her parents, after which, out of desperation, she summons an elder god named Rohk-zan (pronounced like Roxanne). Despite the dating sim aspects flaunted in the game’s marketing, the horror elements are much more prevalent at this point. Opening the doors in Stardust’s home is a slow and intentional action, requiring that players slide the door open before entering the next room, and although there was never anything scary on the other side, the human imagination runs wild in situations like this. Even summoning Rhok-zan feels firmly in place in a horror game, and it’s not until Rhok-zan realizes something is off that the facade breaks.
Despite Rhok-zan’s initial appearance, she becomes much less terrifying when Stardust doesn’t melt into a puddle of lust. As the ‘all-mother,’ Rhok-zan’s presence is usually enough to multiply a person’s lust a thousand-fold, converting them into another one of her followers. However, as Stardust says, “a thousand times zero is zero,” because she’s asexual. This creates a unique relationship between Stardust and Rhok-zan, where they quickly come to depend on each other for survival. Rhok-zan’s cult has become exploitative and abusive toward the elder god and Stardust seeks to escape the town and flee their clutches. This is accomplished by completing the rest of the rituals in the supernatural book used to summon Rhok-zan, such as putting together a dinner date.
While the relationship parallels are not very subtle, it’s refreshing to see them handled with such maturity, where it would be simple to write them from a very juvenile mindset. Stardust’s sexuality, although initially confusing for Rhok-zan due to her nature, is not a gag or a joke, and in fact, is her greatest strength in this situation. Additionally, despite being part of the dating sim genre, and Rohk-zan being a goddess of fertility, it’s possible to circumvent scenes that may provoke discomfort. A spray bottle is acquired early on and it comes up whenever conversations might head into risque territory, allowing players to veer back to a comfortable dialogue. Once again, this speaks volumes about the writers’ maturity. They allow the player to control the intensity instead of simply requiring them to power through with their intended scenarios, and it works perfectly in tandem with having an ace protagonist.
Meeting Rohk-zan isn’t the end of the horror elements in Sucker for Love: Date to Die For. One of the subsequent rituals players must complete involves gathering meat, milk, and a large bowl full of blood, and once again, traversing the house is a terrifying ordeal. These instances work well on their own, but they excel in contrast to Rohk-zan’s more relaxing scenes. The game becomes divided into two distinct halves that complement each other, and truly make this one date you won’t want to miss.
Sucker for Love: Date to Die For releases in 2023 on PC.