Tusks is a laidback visual novel about queer orcs in which you get to be one of the characters, create friendships and relationships, and learn about orcish culture as you go on a journey from one place to another with a group of fellow orcs.
Tusks: The Orc Dating Sim focuses on a newly-formed family of gay orcs who are travelling from the annual orcish assembly to the Highlands of a semi-mythical Scotland! Along the way, the player can begin friendships and relationships with the various members of the group, including a selkie a long way away from home, a gentle-giant orcish warrior, and a polyamorous trio of orc chieftains. You can get updates and ask questions about Tusks over on the Tusks tumblr page, and you can support Tusks’ development by pledging via Patreon or buying some extended universe fiction! One-time donations and payments via itch.io also go a long way to helping me keep working on Tusks!
You can get more info and buy the dating sim here!
I talked about Tusks recently in one of my blog posts, but then I figured, why not just do a full review?
First off, what is Tusks? It’s basically a choose-your-own-adventure book, only more technologically advanced and with static pictures of the characters and a few settings. There’s a story, but you are one of the characters, and you get to make some decisions. They’re never big decisions though, usually just which character you want to talk to, which path to take, etc. Depending on what you choose, you might get to sleep with this orc or that orc, you get to learn some stuff, etc. And from what I’ve seen in my playing, no decision is actually bad, so it’s all very chill. It’s also a “name your own price” thing, with $2 being the suggested price, and I think that’s beyond fair.
And now, the reasons why you should try Tusks:
1) Orcs are the new vampires! Seriously, have you noticed they’re popping up everywhere? You don’t want to be left behind when the orc craze hits ;-)
2) There’s so much inclusivity/diversity! There are no female main characters since it’s a gay dating sim, but… One character is trans. One character is physically disabled (amputee) and mentally ill (depression), although the missing limb and depression are not related. One character is older. A few characters are in a polyamorous relationship. Almost all the characters have bodies that are not your average 6-pack “perfect.” One character, a human, is used to teach people how to be a better ally. And there be may other representations I haven’t even realized.
3) There was clearly A LOT of thought put into the orc culture/society/backstory. I found it really interesting.
4) You can have sexy times! I have to admit, the first time I played through, I failed! My love life is so hopeless that I didn’t even end up with anybody in an orc-based virtual dating game! But that’s ok because I tried some more and finally managed to romance me some orcs :-P I’ve found the romance routes for Ferdag, Ggorom, Sithig, and Ror/Malgom/Cennedig. I’m not sure if Aed, Brocgin, and Domnol have romance routes, I just may not have chosen the right answers. The romance routes aren’t full-length HEAs, but rather one or two somewhat explicit, somewhat fade-to-black sexy times with the character (unless I did something wrong). Honestly though, despite this being called a dating sim, the sexy times are just one small part of it. You can definitely still enjoy this without them.
5) It’s just fun! There are no negative outcomes to worry about (from what I can tell, though I suppose I could be wrong). The characters are all super nice and accepting. Like I said, it’s a very chill and stress-free way to pass the time.
*This game is fully accessible for blind and visually impaired players (I checked on PC, I don’t know about Mac). Just press V once the game window has opened. Text will be read aloud, and you can navigate using the keyboard, including menus. There’s no notification on choice screens, but you can tell when you reach one because text will stop until you navigate to a choice. There’s also no sound or music, so it’s tricky to tell when the game has loaded up; you just have to wait a moment and then start pressing arrow keys (assuming self-voicing mode is already on, which it will be if already turned on the last time you played).*
– All about orcs
– Diversity among romance options
– Cool world-building and lore
– Sexy times
– Stress-free kinda game
– Fully accessible for blind players
– Overall fun!