Edited 6/20/2022 12:06 PM to update some incorrect pronouns for the characters and fix small typos
Sometimes a game jumps out at you because the premise itself is so wild or so unique that it doesn’t matter if it seems like something that wouldn’t normally be up your alley. This was the case for me with Kaichu, a kaiju dating sim that was shown off during the recent Wholesome Direct and which received a demo during the Steam Next Fest. I’m not a big kaiju guy – I never watched Godzilla or anything like it growing up, and my experiences with games that feature kaiju-like monsters such as Into the Breach or 13 Sentinels has not been enough to grow a passion for kaiju within me. But the idea of a dating sim pairing these massive, destructive creatures together is a fun one. How often do you get to try to make Godzilla and Mothra kiss? Kaichu also seemed like a demo I could run on my laptop for times when my partner was using our main computer, so one evening while they were streaming I busted out Kaichu and got to smooching.
The premise of Kaichu is simple enough. You play as Gigachu, a pink Godzilla-like kaiju monster than lands on earth looking for love. You also choose Gigachu’s pronouns and honestly this is the most expansive pronoun list I’ve ever seen for a video game – usually you’re already doing pretty good if they/them is an option, but there were multiple sets of neo-pronouns included in Kaichu as well, so while your look is set in stone your gender at least is quite customizable. The game is filtered through the lens of a news show hilariously called World Breaking News which has two hosts, Lucky and Brevity. These two characters watch the kaiju go on dates and convey their actions to the terrified public, serving as the mechanism through which you understand the questions your kaiju partners are asking and providing the answer options.
In the demo, you’ve got six different monsters to choose from. During a particular run of the demo you can only go on dates with one monster, but the dates are very short and it’s easy to replay the demo to try out all six partners in a single sitting. You also cannot progress the game after the third date, so while you get some idea of what the interactions will be like you never get far enough in a specific relationship for things to get really serious. Once you choose a partner, you then can move with them along the map to choose a location to have a date. All of the locations are major landmarks or buildings for you to wreck, and outside of their aesthetic it seems like there’s not necessarily a big advantage to picking any particular location for any particular date. There are plenty of options though – I think I just managed to visit all of them once by playing the demo through six times, one for each available partner.
On a date, your partner of choice will ask you questions which are interpreted to you the player via the news broadcasters. You select an option to indicate your answer to the question. The demo shows two main question types: sentiment-based questions where you can respond in the positive, negative, or neutral, as well as multiple choice questions where you can pick option one, two, or three. Your partner can have one of three reactions to your answers: very positive, positive, and negative. Saying things your partner likes contributes to the destruction of the monument you are visiting and if you give enough very positive answers, your partner will ask you a dealbreaker question that gives an opportunity for a significant boost in affection. Answer strongly to the dealbreaker question and the date ends in a satisfying smooch; a standard positive answer ends with a blown kiss from you to your partner, while a negative answer will cause the date to end in rain and disappointment. While individual questions contribute to the overall vibe of a date, one bad answer can’t ruin a date unless it is the dealbreaker question, and only if the date ends badly does your heartbreak meter increase instead of your love meter.
Different partners have different expectations and prefer different answers to questions. In my playthrough I did my best to give consistent answers every time to see how different characters would react, and while my responses were well-received by the extra-terrestrial mushroom and the volcano woman, I didn’t really impress the muscular bird man and even had a date that ended poorly with him. Generally speaking, the dealbreaker questions have very obvious responses you should choose but the less important questions may not be as simple. Does Mossra, the plant-like moth being, like piercings for example? How does the scorpion-tailed turtle feel about it if you share a compliment about zir looks? You hope to be rewarded with destruction and havoc instead of awkward faces.
A big part of Kaichu’s appeal are the quippy remarks made by the commentators as they broadcast the destruction on the news. They usually have a fun one-liner after your responses to your partner, and the banter between them during the scenes between dates is both informational and silly. Whether it’s Lucky french-kissing everyone from his barista to his plumber or Brevity making a snide remark about Tephra’s ex when trying to woo the volcano queen, the game’s witty wordplay does a lot to add character and fun to the experience. For this reason – plus the fact that you get silly animation moments such as a pink dinosaur kissing a grassy green moth – I can see Kaichu being an excellent choice for a stream game on a night where you want to keep things light and fun. What the game lacks in mechanical complexity it makes up for in personality.
Kaichu doesn’t bring as much to the table as other dating sims I’ve played in recent years but it is great for a few laughs with its goofy animations and clever writing. If you like the concept of kaiju dating and want something short but pleasurable to dive into for a bit, I think Kaichu certainly delivers on its premise. While it’s not a game I see myself playing on my own time once the full version comes out, I think folks who are more passionate about dating sims or streamers who want something low-stakes and interesting to show off will find a lot to love in Kaichu.