Tender Loving Care ruffled some feathers upon its original release in 1998 for two major reasons. First, the game was irritatingly difficult to classify–it looked like other FMV-heavy point-and-click adventure titles like the Gabriel Knight and Phantasmagoria series, but there weren’t any puzzles to solve; it featured multiple endings, but a randomizing element thrown into the code ensured no two games played out the same way, frustrating efforts to both achieve a specific ending or write a walkthrough. It was a little too game-like to be called an interactive movie, but with enough cut-scenes to make it difficult to classify as a ‘game’. Reviewers of the day didn’t quite know what to make of it, Trilobyte sank millions of dollars into its production which it was never able to recover, but the game has a cult following, so acquiring a physical copy will set you back $30, or more if you want a complete boxed copy.
Second, it dared to feature nudity in some of its FMV cut-scenes. Since bare breasts never fail to enrage a small but statistically-significant subset of the world’s populace, lots of stores either refused to sell it, or only carried the tamer censored edition. Heaven forbid a game dealing with issues like a husband and wife’s relationship after the death of their child have any other sort of ‘adult’ themes present. *eyeroll*
But now, forget dropping thirty bucks. Forget dropping twenty bucks. GOG.com has it available now, fully uncensored, for a mere $5.99. What’s more, they’re offering it at a 75% discount until July 6th. Is Tender Loving Care worth six dollars? Hard to say. Is it worth a buck-fifty to figure out if it’s your kind of game? Hang on, where’s Stone Cold. I need a few “Hell Yeah’s” dropped in this joint.
Basically, Tender Loving Care attempts to do what Silent Hill: Shattered Memories tried about ten years later. It’s a game that plays you as much as you play it, using a Q-and-A format with Dr. Turner (a psychologist, played by John “Chestbursters Suck” Hurt) to analyze your thoughts between segments, and it changes up the storyline based on your answers. These are ultra-simplistic questions, usually with only 2-3 answers, so you can’t get too heavy-handed with the head-shrinking, but it’s fun to see all the different ways the game can get you to interpret the same scenario. Fans of FMV games, adventures, or the flat-out weird ways developers came up with to use multimedia technology owe it to themselves to grab this one right away. It’s hard to beat both “DRM-Free” and “Cheap” when it comes to software in this day and age.