tender-loving-care,-the-fmv-erotic-thriller-that-wanted-you-to-think-it-was-intellectual-smut

Tender Loving Care, the FMV erotic thriller that needed you to suppose it was mental smut

From 2010 to 2014 Richard Cobbett wrote Crapshoot, a column about rolling the cube to convey random video games again into the sunshine. This week, a visit again to a time when it felt like multimedia may do something. And would usually give it a strive, whether or not it was a good suggestion or not…

Villains like to try to get inside your head. Tender Loving Care simply does it for kicks. It’s a game! It’s a film! What does that imply? That it is higher to not get too excited, even when it did come from the creators of Uncle Henry’s Mindblowers—a game mentioned to have solely bought 176 copies worldwide, and thus within the operating for least profitable business game of all time. Oh, and so they additionally made The seventh Guest. That was cool in its day. This erotic thriller, although? Not a lot, although it will at the very least hate so that you can suppose it is simply dumb smut. It’s very mental dumb smut, rattling it!

Tender Loving Care is the story of a struggling couple, Michael and Allison, within the wake of their daughter’s loss of life. Allison is incapable of even acknowledging the tragedy, insisting that little Jody is in her room and fairly fantastic thanks very a lot. Michael is all too conscious of the truth, however helpless to really do something. Enter John Hurt, the actor most well-known for taking part in the comedy barman in Privateer 2: The Darkening, haunting their now lengthy deserted home with the assistance of a bit greenscreen magic.

Hurt is Dr. Turner, a powerful contender for the worst shrink ever, in addition to each narrator and quizmaster for the game, asking deeply private questions on every thing from whether or not you want being watched throughout intercourse to what a cartoon bear ought to do when its cub poos in its nappy. That shouldn’t be a joke. That is a factor that occurs. All of that is carried out in-character although, with the large aim being to assist him discover out why Michael and Allison’s story resulted in tragedy.

“It’s as much a mystery to me as anyone else,” he sighs. “Perhaps you can help…”

Well, sure, Dr. Turner, I do consider I can. A struggling couple got here to you for help, and your fast suggestion was what I consider is referred to within the commerce as Sexy Nurse Therapy.

Somehow, I suspect all will be revealed before too long.

Somehow, I think all can be revealed earlier than too lengthy.

Specifically, a live-in nurse known as Kathryn is dispatched, shortly takes a liking to Allison, might or might not have an equal sexual curiosity in Michael, and for one cause or one other this results in homicide and psychological collapse. Eventually, that’s. Not quickly. TLC is longer-winded than a runner who completed a marathon solely to be punched right within the abdomen, and most of it’s spent having variants on the next dialog:

ALLISON: “Kathryn is helping me!”

MICHAEL: “Kathryn is not helping! I hate Kathryn!”

KATHRYN: “I am so helping, and I will prove it with logic.”

MICHAEL: “Your logic is surprisingly sound, but I’m still not buying it.”

KATHRYN: “I also have boobs.”

MICHAEL: “I find myself temporarily convinced by your arguments.”

ALLISON: “I’m so happy Kathryn has finally given me a reason to live again!”

MICHAEL: “GET THAT BITCH OUT OF MY HOUSE!”

DR. JOHN HURT: “Goodness, how intriguing. I had no idea. What do you think about all this?”

Rinse and repeat over a number of discs and hours of treading water.

John Hurt isn't the only actor who doesn't get naked, but is the one for whom that's the biggest relief.

John Hurt is not the one actor who would not get bare, however is the one for whom that is the largest reduction.

It’s additionally probably not an journey game as such, although there’s a plot and there are selections that have an effect on it. They’re disconnected from the motion although, taking the type of normal feedback on the characters and what you suppose’s occurring (not a lot, normally) and a set of “Thematic Apperception Tests”, TAT for brief, which take the type of limitless questions that attempt to construct a profile of your psyche as you play. 

The incontrovertible fact that we all know getting into that it ends in tragedy and there’s nothing you are able to do about that maybe speaks a bit of the creators’ personal frame of mind on the time. Or maybe not. What would I do know? I’m not a psychological journey game. I’m nevertheless pretty certain that for many gamers, the combination of ‘erotic thriller’ and ‘interactivity’ meant that Tender Loving Care’s try at an exploration of the human psyche really grew to become an epic quest to get the attractive nurse’s bra off. Tits for TATs, if you’ll.

Or, typically, two for the value of 1.

That would possibly sound a bit cynical, however no. It’s about two minutes earlier than Kathryn is pushing Michael out of her room by pointedly taking her shirt off in entrance of him, in addition to acknowledging that whereas therapists do not go round in slinky nurse outfits, she’s going to be sporting one as a result of… um… this case… actually… calls for it. Honest. Sigmund Freud would have worn a brief skirt to take care of it too.

Tender Loving Care continues to plant its flag with the choice to poke round the home in a approach that is much like The seventh Guest, solely with out the horror components or being randomly requested to chop up an evil cake into items for no obvious cause. Its largest oddity is that regardless of having an precise set for the film parts, exploration is all 3D-rendered. Even extra oddly, the characters are nonetheless round, regardless of this being a narrative advised through flashbacks. Going into Kathyrn’s room, she’s standing there on a greenscreen taking notes, and confusingly conscious of your presence however not her upcoming potential loss of life.

“Who are you?” she calls for. “And what are you doing in my room? Oh. Wait a minute, I see. You’re the… viewer, right? I didn’t realise you could just sneak up on me like that. You never know what I might be doing… You’re probably going to snoop around my room, aren’t you? Guess there’s nothing I can do about it. Oh well. You probably won’t find anything… too incriminating, I hope.”

What’s bought a badly rendered cowl and nothing to do with the plot? That’s right…

Not. Suspicious. At All. And nor are the little particulars you will discover when she leaves, together with her conveniently unprotected diary. I’m unsure precisely how a lot particulars change primarily based on choices all through the game, however I attempted two radically completely different units of solutions to the opening questions and her opening entry did not. 

First, she complains a few taxi driver: “He waited until we were on an isolated country road and out of nowhere he said that he noticed I wasn’t wearing a bra and was wondering if I had any panties on.” OK. Fair sufficient. What’s the following paragraph? Oh, it is about Michael. I’m wondering what her skilled opinion of him is after the three or so minutes they have been conscious one another exists… an encounter which, keep in mind, she ended by forcing him out of her bed room by beginning to take her shirt off. Not essentially the most efficient tactic, however nonetheless the one she selected.

“The way he looked at me,” she begins. “Watching his eyes wander over my breasts and hips filled me with an unexpected rush of excitement. Part of me wanted to encourage those eyes. But the better part had sense enough to shut the door. I have to watch myself. This case is too important… too rich an opportunity to risk losing it over an attraction for my patient’s husband.”

You're never told if you're right. Like, with a flashback to her in a lobster costume, going

You’re by no means advised if you happen to’re right. Like, with a flashback to her in a lobster costume, going “Kathryn, explain.”

Uh-huh. Like most of these things, this is not actually introduced up elsewhere as a result of TLC would not preserve observe of what you have learn. This implies that plot components like this, or Kathryn’s marriage collapsing after she slept with Dr. John Hurt, go utterly unremarked on, with the characters virtually bouncing between personalities each time the director yells “Cut! That was crap, but better than the ending of 11th Hour!”

Sometimes that is OK. Michael is confused and responsible sufficient over, say, sleeping with Kathryn about 70 completely different instances that it isn’t too stunning that he does the deed, then storms again into her room to try to kick her out of his life. Often although, scenes simply do not join that properly.

Pulling issues again to the psychiatry that Tender Loving Care longs to suppose it could possibly do, it is time for the primary correct TAT: gazing a duplicate of the (pretty) Hopper portray Nighthawks and being requested surreal questions on drawings and paintings that solely often tie straight into the story. An image of two bare lovers as an illustration providing the potential title “Michael and Kathryn”, together with “Mum and Dad” and “Mulder and Scully.” In your goals/fan-fic, Tender Loving Care…

Here’s a few examples. How would you react?

Oh, and this is the primary trace that this game has forgotten half the inhabitants. There are others.

If it isn’t apparent, it is a weird game. Tender Loving Care is about 60% absolute boredom, through which Michael and Kathryn focus on Allison’s state of health, remedy, and customarily attempt to keep away from mentioning that the daughter she thinks is in her bed room is useless, with numerous ranges of sniping and passive aggression. Mostly, it is a forwards and backwards of wills, or to be extra correct, Kathryn’s will and Michael’s willy. 

Whatever choices you select, the psychology shortly provides approach to scenes of her doing issues like crossing her legs in her nurse’s uniform, or him heading exterior and spying on her standing bare in her window. Early on, that may be substituted along with her merely being in her underwear. Later, it could possibly step as much as her squishing herself towards it whereas licking the glass with malevolent pleasure, adopted by John Hurt asking numerous extremely private questions on your intercourse life.

Tender Loving Care, the FMV erotic thriller that needed you to suppose it was mental smut

“Well, at least I’m doing better than that guy in Phantasmagoria 2.”

But after all, Tender Loving Care is finally the story of a struggling couple making an attempt to return to phrases with the loss of life of a kid, essentially the most painful expertise {that a} father or mother can presumably undergo, and their sluggish, agonising restoration. It’s not merely about Michael wanting to place the O into Obamacare. That could be extremely cheesy and—

“The next TAT will be given in the bathroom,” growls Dr. John Hurt. “Look for… the book.”

Oh, right, yeah. Thinly disguised softcore porn...

Oh, right, yeah. Thinly disguised softcore porn…

To the TATmobile then!

Unconstrained by ridiculous questions, Kathryn units about integrating into the household as cryptically as attainable. She begins ordering Michael round in odd methods, like telling him to not mow the garden as a result of Jody is sleeping, and that Michael additionally wants to start out taking part in alongside. His response, not too surprisingly, is to drive right all the way down to Dr. John Hurt’s workplace to ask, in a nutshell, “What the shit? Why did you send that possibly literal witch to my house?” Dr. John Hurt’s is to politely, very tactfully, level out “What I did, I did without choice. In the name of peace and sanity.”

“But not in the name of the Doctor!” snarls Michael.

“Well, no,” agrees Dr. John Hurt. “It’s 1998. I won’t be doing that for another decade and a half.”

And then it is again to exploration, where he proves what a medical skilled he’s by letting you randomly poke round in his affected person recordsdata for a bit, after which doing one other TAT.

Dinner-dinner-dinner-dinner, TAT MAN!

Welcome to the… no, no. I’m certain they knew what they had been doing…

With Kathryn nonetheless rocking the slinky nurse act, Michael resolves to turn into the largest dick within the universe. Everything Kathryn appears to realize solely annoys him, whether or not it is getting Allison sufficient out of her depressive funk to assist put away the groceries (gasp!) to respiration. We discover out that there is guilt on the root of this, that Jody died of getting ketchup splattered onto her head throughout a automotive accident, although whether or not Michael or Allison was driving on the time stays a matter for a pop-up query.

Michael's not as horny as he seems. He just has a thing for badly compressed video ladies.

Michael’s not as sexy as he appears. He simply has a factor for badly compressed video women.

The struggle continues although, with Kathryn always pushing for Allison to get a pet for Jody, for Jody to have a TV, for Michael to learn the way his mouth closes and observe it every day, and different issues that are supposed to be a bit bit suspicious however really appear affordable sufficient. Michael is so cross, he would not even hassle pausing for a choice level earlier than charging again to Dr. John Hurt to accuse her of being clueless… discovering too late that she’s within the room, with a brand new haircut, and overheard your complete accusation. Both level out that no matter Kathryn’s doing appears to be working, Allison’s temper adjustments being represented by a) smiles and b) not sporting a bra, and Michael has to reluctantly agree. And then immediately declare that it isn’t sufficient! After all, Kathryn’s been in his home for, what, an entire three days and nonetheless his spouse’s sophisticated, two-year-long trauma is not mounted.

“Would it cheer you up if we added a little lesbian subtext?” asks Kathryn.

“No!” pouts Michael. “OK, maybe. A little. But only if I don’t get to see anything good!”

Tender Loving Care, the FMV erotic thriller that needed you to suppose it was mental smut

“Thanks.” “No problem. All part of the fan-service.”

Meanwhile, again within the Valley Of Endless Padding…

Goodness. It takes a lot to make Peter Venkman look professional, but you just did it.

Goodness. It takes lots to make Peter Venkman look skilled, however you simply did it.

“Why don’t we dabble a bit in the realms of the psychic?” declares Dr. John Hurt, presenting a minigame through which you need to focus and use ‘all of your psychic skills’ to work out which card is hidden. When you get it unsuitable, presumably as a result of psychic powers don’t exist, he growls “Concentrate!” and “You’re trying too hard!” Is it at the very least a part of a extra normal level that truly entails psychiatry or the human mind in some precise approach? Nope, as a result of whenever you get it right, he declares it “Magnificent.”

And then it ends. And is rarely introduced up ever once more.

Dr. John Hurt, I hereby revoke your fictional medical license.

In truth, I revoke it twice.

The major cause for issues like that psychic check is that bizarre filler at the very least has an opportunity of obscuring how little is occurring in the primary story. There aren’t many massive secrets and techniques to be revealed, and the characters are too locked-down early on to develop in fascinating methods. 

Tender Loving Care tries to combine issues up with the addition of components like that foolish psychic check and the sound of a kid crying in Jody’s empty bed room, however it’s clear that there is not any supernatural stuff happening in any respect, with the attainable exception of the truth that Michael’s boss seems to be evil Henry Stauf from The seventh Guest.

The most intriguing factor is its unusual mixture of boredom and PG-rated naughtiness, like the way in which it casually has Kathryn name Michael as much as her room for a boring, pants-optional speak on his spouse’s psychological progress that is way more awkward than it’s attractive.

Tender Loving Care, the FMV erotic thriller that needed you to suppose it was mental smut

“…and that’s why your wife… what do you mean I forgot something?”

To compensate although, the TATs lastly go all the way in which into the completely insane:

Kathryn’s game plan can be lastly revealed: to convey Jody again to life in Allison’s thoughts, bodily represented by a doll, then recreate the accident by smashing it—hoping that this time the loss of life will stick.

“Theoretically, I think it’s brilliant,” declares Dr. John Hurt.

Wow. I imply… wow, severely? That’s the plan? That’s… Wow. I’m no psychiatrist or something, however that does not appear to be a plan with flaws a lot as a set of holes related with dumb. But then, that is what you get when your therapist spends as a lot time writing lesbian erotica as doing her job.

“And then we totally do it.”

As seen in her diary although, spending your complete game screaming and shouting and exhibiting full contempt for Kathryn on a private {and professional} stage doesn’t suggest Michael is not in with a shot. Depending on selections, he will be invited to ‘meditate’ along with her, in a scene that deserves its ironic punctuation. It’s meant to be attractive, and is essentially the most graphic scene on provide.

It’s arduous to deal with that facet of it although although, when it is staged… properly, like this.

I think the Kama Sutra calls this one

I feel the Kama Sutra calls this one “The Paperclip”. Ouch

“It was only sex, everyone makes such a big deal of it,” scoffs Kathryn subsequent time you meet, explaining that the one cause she slept with Michael was to keep away from being fired and thus unable to assist Allison. Unfortunately for her, that is additionally the purpose that the story tends to determine she’s a full on demon somewhat than merely a staggeringly unprofessional therapist with a style for exhibitionism. 

Michael goes from performing just like the sufferer to really dealing with off towards an arch manipulator, with the tone switching to full-on thriller mode—the main points various primarily based on choices. One of the three major characters kills the canine, although which is left imprecise. A darkish evening later results in homicide most horrid… precisely who being up for grabs. A hammer is usually concerned. Other instances, it is an unintentional tumble down the steps that takes one of many lovers out. In one, Kathryn finally ends up killing Michael and turning Allison into her puppet. In one other, he lands the blow. In none do issues work out properly, as defined in the beginning.

Even so, with the variations usually feeling extra a query of explicitness than precise content material, issues can get severely bizarre. One of Kathryn’s last gambits entails encouraging Allison to take management, initiating intercourse with Michael for the primary time for the reason that accident… and that is a bit creepy, because it’s purely to forestall him sending her away. It will get creepier when she follows it up by bursting into the room and telling him that Jody has been calling for him… then climbing into Jody’s mattress bare, calling him Daddy, and making him promise by no means to ship her away. And then telling him “You smell like a woman” and cheerfully ambling bare again to her room to roll round in manipulative triumph.

But who cares about that more and more strained plot nonsense? More questions! More TATs!

It’s arduous to know what to make of TLC. On the one hand, it did strive one thing genuinely new, even if you happen to by no means really get a lot management over the story past the way it ends, and the way usually you see Kathryn’s girl components. On the opposite, it is a staggeringly self-defeating game, making an attempt to be good and intriguing whereas telling a Cinemax-level story that appears painfully conscious its actual promoting level is having an actress prepared to disrobe at a second’s discover. 

The relaxation is an absolute tangle of apparent plot twists, issues revealed in notes round the home which you could’t really use (not least Kathryn admitting that she’s slept with Dr. John Hurt, which would appear one thing price mentioning throughout his common appearances), and a perspective that always obscures the little management you do have. You do not inform Michael what to do, and even inform the game what you suppose ought to occur. You inform Dr. John Hurt how you’re feeling a few vary of random crap, and for essentially the most half issues simply roll alongside on the identical observe till one of many scenes where they could get specific, or all of it ends. Though by no means quickly sufficient.

It additionally appears considerably irrelevant how you’re feeling, because you begin the game figuring out that dangerous issues occurred, and every thing is advised in flashback. Despite you often bumping into Kathryn, useless on the finish or not. Hmmm. Maybe she was secretly a ghost all alongside. That would be a twist.

The major functions of the TATS is that when the story is over, TLC will construct a private profile of you primarily based in your feedback—a deep psychological investigation that might make astrologers mock the shortage of element. All you actually need although is certainly one of two issues. Either a) You purchased Tender Loving Care within the hope of an grownup journey, and had been dissatisfied. Or b) You purchased Tender Loving Care within the hope of seeing boobies, and possibly weren’t. If you performed your playing cards right. 

Either approach, you most likely ended it feeling a bit depressed, and that is clearly a win given the kind of story it tried to inform.

Pity it needed to be so rattling uninteresting about it.