Today we’re disappointing our parents! Not our real ones but our virtual Chinese parents! Today we’re taking a look at 中国式家长 / Chinese Parents, a casual Indie-Simulation where we become a random Chinese couple’s child, grow up and become a parent in the next generation – in hope of being better than our former parents!
Developer: 墨鱼玩游戏 (Moyuwan Games)Co
Publisher: Coconut Island Games
Genres: Casual, Simulation, Indie, RPG
Reviewed on: PC
Available on: PC
Copy was purchased.
As already mentioned, you are born into a Chinese family. The game follows a “Spore”-Esque gameplay formula in which you’re living through different stages of your life. At first, you’re a baby/newborn, then you enter kindergarten, different stages of school and later you need to get married to a partner you’ve met along the way which starts a new playthrough with a new generation where you’re a child again!
Along the way you’re trying to accumulate different stats, knowledge, skills, and traits, while also making friends along the way, meeting your parents’ expectations (or not), working, participating in fights, competitions and other events as well as maybe even finding love. It’s a mishmash of way too many aspects of the Simulation-genre which results in an overall enjoyable experience.
To accumulate different stats, you need to play a little minigame in which you spend action-points to remove a variety of bubbles in different shapes and colours. The colours determine what stat these bubbles are raising. There are different stats that can be raised through these from Memory to Imagination to Constitution to IQ and some others. There are also bubbles that give you more knowledge which is needed to learn skills. Some bubbles cost more action points but have special effects like revealing the whole stat-map, giving you more action-points, collecting all bubbles of one colour or collecting the bubbles around it. There’re also bubbles that grant you more stats per round, which is quite neat, I’d say.
These stats determine whether or not you’re good at certain tasks like Sports (Constitution) or Arts (Imagination)! The other way of increasing them is by planning your schedule for the day. To do that you need to assign tasks that have to do with the skills you want to increase into a time-table. Most of the time these increase multiple stats but also increase your stress-level which has to be kept minimal by mixing in some entertainments into the schedule. If your stress-level increases too much, your character becomes anxious, depressed or may even die, which you don’t want to happen, right?
Once your time-table is all set, your stats increase and a new day starts with new events and more stuff to do!
Overall this gameplay loop would be quite repetitive if it wasn’t for different events that are occurring. Every now and then there are events that involve you and other people. Sometimes your dad comes home drunk and keeps shouting insults at you, other times you are rewarded with a flower from your kindergarten teacher and your imagination and mood becomes better.
By learning new skills and using them in your schedule, you unlock traits… but what are they for?
Well, actually traits are for bragging rights. Your parents sometimes get involved in “Face Fights” with distant family members, neighbours and strangers. There they brag about their child to decrease the “enemy”‘s HP to win the fight. Your traits are basically your “attacks”, which I found quite hilarious. The rarer your trait is, the higher the damage!
There are also talent shows called “China Got Trait!”, an obvious parody, where you show off your trait in order to earn better stats, some money and more “face”.
So, your parents are quite proud of you when you unlock traits but what about the aforementioned expectations?
Now and then you are faced with a “mission” of sorts where you need to reach a certain amount of stat-points in a certain amount of turns or where you need to learn a certain skill. The race for that is quite interesting and I found it rather enjoyable to strive for appreciation and acceptance! For once, I tried to not disappoint my parents and most of the time, I failed. It takes at least two to three runs to figure out what to do in what order to achieve one’s goal in Chinese Parents. Hence, there’s a learning curve that I found rather enjoyable, too.
But enough of the gameplay, what about the presentation?
Overall it’s relatively simple. The art style makes use of meme-ish and toddler-like drawings for comedic relief while using a bright colour palette in most settings. Usually, you see one type of scenery per stage with your character in the middle of it. The character models also change in every run, which is quite interesting. Quite lovely, I’d say.
But then there’s the music and it’s… the same in all cases. Sometimes there’s a different tune mixed into the game here and there but overall you get to hear one tune over and over and over and over again and it might as well drive you into insanity. After around 4 hours of gameplay, I noticed that the music still hasn’t *really* changed and that the main theme is super obnoxious, resulting in me turning the music off and playing some other games’ soundtrack in the background. This was quite disappointing, as I had a blast playing the game overall.
Chinese Parents is a casual game in its core.
You play it now and then but you don’t play it for too long. It’s not stressful. It’s rather relaxing. It’s a game you can return to whenever you feel like it. There are achievements that can be unlocked, as well as a few different careers you can go for and a treasure hunt to complete as well!
I had a blast playing it as it plays with different stereotypes of (Chinese) parents and as it has this interesting art style and a lot of different funny moments. The events that seem to be procedurally generated also brighten your day whenever you play it, I’d say,…
and I’d say I recommend this game as well.
Anyways, have a nice day and try to call your parents once in a while. I should try to do that more often, too. …