Review: Strange Loves – Hex Boyfriends / Publisher: Tin Man Games / Platform: Android App / Release Date: Out Now
The urban fantasy/paranormal romance genre is one that has been steadily growing for the last couple of decades or so. You know the drill; modern day settings, supernatural happenings bubbling on under the surface mixed up with the usual “boy meets girl” style story that's been told since stories began. The success of both Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Twilight has broadened the audience so greatly that it’s almost mainstream these days, and can be found in everything; books, TV dramas, theatre productions and of course, phone apps.
Hex Boyfriends is an interactive adventure game book that you play on your phone. Those familiar with Fighting Fantasy and the like should be familiar with the format; rather than a regular linear novel, this is a book that changes depending on the choices that you make. You take the role of a young person at college, who is on the lookout for a hot new boyfriend. (The game let’s you play as a boy or a girl, but your character is a person who happens to be romantically attracted to men; the clue is in the name.) You happen to be a witch, and of course you end up dating someone with a similar interest. Some choices will end up with your death (dating is always tricky) and others will give you a much worse fate. Happy endings are possible, but like in real life, you’ll have to work for it.
The mix of humour, romance and paranormal terror is very well done here. Though light and fun-filled, some of the scenes are genuinely sweet, whereas others work very hard to scare the reader. There is a smorgasbord of romantic and supernatural clichés on display here and that’s exactly what you should demand from this sort of thing; nothing too heavy, but it isn’t afraid to land the odd punch or two. Other Tin Man games have features that emulate the dice-rolling fun of adventure games books, and Hex Boyfriends doesn’t have these, as it is more focused on story-driven results than beating up monsters. This is the right call, and makes the story flow much more smoothly.
This is perfect for anyone looking to get the Twilight or Charmed fan in their lives to broaden their horizons a little more, and will also appeal to those fond of romantic fiction and supernatural stories. It’s deep enough to survive multiple replays and doesn’t have too much repetition between choices. Recommended for those looking for a bit of Halloween fun.