Well worth the 90 minutes of finger lickin’ fun.
It wouldn’t be a huge stretch to assume that the key audience of KFC would also be single, looking for love and enjoy dialogue-based gaming. With the release of I Love You, Colonel Sanders!, the company has naturally expanded its empire of chicken into new, titillating territory. Now, it’s catering to both the culinary and sexual needs of their ever-so-hungry audience.
The game follows the heavily Japanese-inspired conventions of a dating game: klutz best friend, weirdly hot rivals, adorable professor’s dog, fugly classmate that farts and a sentient robot, to name a few. It’s glaringly obvious someone on the KFC marketing team went to Tokyo for an Eat Pray Love experience and came back with a Naruto tattoo.
As someone from this target demographic who enjoys whimsical commercial crossovers, I was excited for a new way to disappoint myself. From a young age, KFC positioned itself as a luxury cuisine and treat for special occasions. This expands over into Japan as well, with the country booking out buckets of chicken months before the holidays for a tradition created by the corporate colonel himself. The grip this company has over East Asian groups is scarily strong.
The gameplay itself is surprisingly polished for a company that always has wet flour behind its counters. You mechanically click through the dialogue options which makes the whole thing feel like a cute storybook you read to yourself because your parents are ignoring you. They even blend in a Pokemon-style turn-based battle as a garnish on their Asian pandering.
Throughout the familiar narrative, you attend a prestigious culinary school while simultaneously fighting for the affection of Colonel Sanders himself. He’s younger, hotter and more Asian-looking than you can imagine. You learn that this is before he has established the KFC company, so it all weirdly adheres to the canon. If you’re attracted to authority figures like I am, he’ll be particularly sexy once those power dynamics come into play.
Based on my aforementioned cultural influence, I played the game based on some worrying oriental preconceptions. I was coy, hard to get and exhibited the type of classy demure my KFC-eating self could never be. There were times when I was sitting in front of Colonel and a real, genuine flush of sexual energy surged through my body. This is a testament to how good their chicken is — or how much I need to be held by somebody.
Despite throwing everything I had, my sexual efforts were not enough for the elusive Colonel Sanders. No romantic kiss and no steamy affair. At the end of the game, I was literally given a coupon. It jolted my last scrap of suspended disbelief for the game. Was this simply an ingeniously sneaky marketing ploy from the KFC corporation? For the past 90 minutes, my mind could only think of fried chicken and how close I was to risking it all for Colonel Sanders.
When companies give out something for free, you’re typically paying the price with your attention. Cafes don’t just offer free wifi for customers to enjoy, but to lure people in the hopes they’ll spend enough time to buy a $10 iced coffee. This feeling of dissatisfaction immediately surfaced, much like the one you get after eating a zinger box in a food court on your half-hour break.
Once the feeling of regret subsided my body, I wanted another taste. While it was hurtful to lose another man in my life for unknown reasons, it’s better to have loved and lost Colonel Sanders than never to have loved him at all. I couldn’t help but wonder: what was the mysterious 11th herb and/or spice? Hope? Hope that we feel special, experience real love and that someone amazing will sweep us off our feet with some fried chicken? It certainly seems that when you combine loneliness with Colonel Sanders, you get the original recipe for success.
I Love You, Colonel Sanders! is out now on Steam.
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