Ute is an entrant in the IGF Student Showcase from a German group of students. In it, you play a woman who is told by her grandmother to be as promiscuous as possible before marriage. You walk around an abstract environment, pulling various men (including Che’ Guavara) into corners to fornicate in a variety of NSFW quick time events. If you are spotted by another man during said quick-time event, both men know your secret and their hearts break. Once only one man is left in the eligible pool, you marry him and the game is over.

It is a very cynical take on relationships and I wonder if part of that is due to the differing cultural mores between here in America and there. Although Lea’s previous game Ultisa Dimitrova is far more cynical, it is also playable in only one way. Ute can be played as if its subject matter was completely abstract or rethemed in any number of permutations. In fact, the cultural payload would change greatly if you rethemed the game to a man seeking out women. Would it then be a game about power struggles and gender roles? These thematic assignments are done wholly on the framing of the game and not the mechanics of the game. What do the mechanics themselves say about the game’s theme?

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