Army of Tentacles: (Not) A Cthulhu Dating Sim is a supernatural parody visual novel with RPG elements by Stegalosaurus Game Development. It features a female or male protagonist by the name of Perry Hollycraft who is tasked to lead the Deep Ones (subterranean dwellers living in a remote volcanic island) to conquer the inhabitants of Innsmouth, a small coastal town in New England.
The New Game+ DLC features romance and dating sim elements. In this expansion, Perry Hollycraft is in a dream where he/she enrolled in Miskatonic University during summer. Perry gets to know a cast of characters, some of which are variations of characters from the main game. Perry will complete quests for some of these characters and can also start a relationship with one of nine possible characters (Baldur, Cthulhu, Hamlet, Hamlet's Ghost, Hollywood, Keziah, Riley, Thatcher and V. Raptor) across three semesters.
Although the title of this game suggests it is a weird game catering to a certain fetish for tentacles, this game is a spoof of the Cthulhu mythos with plenty of parodies on various pop and geek culture for teenage audiences and above. Sadly, a lot of the jokes and humour are in the game's battle system where the protagonist has to choose one out of four possible dialogue choices to counter an opponent's remark or insult. Some of them are good trivia which challenge the player's knowledge on the subject, but most of the time, I ended up guessing through trial and error. This caused me to load up the game many times because it is very easy to get defeated and return to title screen after about two to three wrong answers in a battle. Rather than attempting to memorize the answer to the dozens of correct dialogue choices for every battle segment, I decided to rely on the Cheat Mode DLC that allows Perry to skip and automatically win every battle after a while.
The New Game+ DLC has considerably fewer battles, although there are also a few instances which require guesswork, trying out different answers and having to load from a save after being defeated. Thankfully, only one of them is hard.
Although the artwork in the game is cartoony, they are cute and sometimes funny especially for the characters in the New Game+ DLC. In terms of the voice acting, some are okay, some are comical, and some are slightly jarring. It is a mixed bag.
There are also a few cons for this game. First, there are instances where the game time and menu is hidden and it is not possible to toggle it to check the date and time in the game, bring up the menu to save/load game, or to check on Perry's list of allies and armies.
Second, there are instances where dialogue options for certain characters are not available for some reason. This can affect the storyline, ending, and some Steam achievements in the game.
Third, I find that some DLCs are close to being superfluous. The Charity Pack DLC only gives one stat point and doesn't add anything else. The Halloween DLC and San Diego Comic Con DLC offers in-game weapons and armour. Unfortunately, the game doesn't feature Perry holding that weapon or wearing that outfit to render them as cosmetic DLC items. These DLC items are also needed for some Steam achievements and 100% completion, and the item stats in the DLC to confer any advantage in battles are redundant. Especially when the Cheat Mode DLC is also needed for a Steam achievement and cheat mode enables the player to simply skip every battle as long as cheat mode is turned on.
After reading the text (including every battle and their possible answers), listening to the voiced dialogue and obtaining every achievement in 10 hours, I can recommend this game with the New Game+ and Cheat Mode DLC when they are discounted at an attractive bundle offer. For achievement hunters who want to collect all achievements for this game, the Halloween and San Diego Comic Con DLC are required for a few achievements.
As a supernatural parody with humorous scriptwriting and dialogue, Army of Tentacles is funny in some parts with a cute cast of characters. The game's battles, dialogue options, comical artwork, large variety of romance options in New Game+, and the developer's responsiveness to bug reports means that I can forgive the faults in the game and recommend this game with the listed DLC when they are in an attractive bundle offer.
Initial gameplay video with author narration and commentary on YouTube by Daara's Morbid Thoughts