2019 will be known as the year that video gaming changed forever. Move over Minecraft. Be seeing you Borderlands. Fuck off Fortnight. I Love You Colonel Sanders: A Finger Lickin’ Good Dating Simulator has arrived in a meteoric storm of mashed potatoes and lust and it CANNOT BE DENIED. If you can’t get behind that philosophy, may you be swept up in a flood of boiling gravy.
I Love You Colonel Sanders is a dating simulator developed by the evil social media geniuses at KFC in conjunction with creative agency Psyop because we’re just not moving toward the Apocalypse fast enough. In the game you assume the role of an anonymous culinary student who is swept off their feet by dreamboat-incarnate Harland “Colonel” Sanders in a bizarro anime-universe.
When I first heard about the game, I was utterly delighted. Finally a chance for me to finally explore the fluidity of my heterosexuality in an environment that I can be comfortable in: a corporate-branded dating sim created by tweaked out ad executives. It couldn’t be more perfect. Not to mention the professor in the game is a dog and I’m just a sucker for dogs. Anything else on my priority list was obliterated in order to make time for this monstrosity.
After approximately three hours of intense gameplay, I’m eager to report that I Love You Colonel Sanders is in fact a game that you can play on your computer. It’s less of a game and more of a guided animated story with a few choose-your-own adventure bits to break up the narrative. It’s a game in the sense that the Black Mirror episode Bandersnatch is a game. It was also, somehow, the most difficult program my Mac has ever had to run in its seven-year lifespan. The load times and the lag I experienced while playing it were somewhat absurd. Entire worlds have developed and died under this microprocessor when I play Civ 5 but I swear my computer was going to die of a fatal stroke getting through the deceptively simple opening cinematic of I Love You Colonel Sanders. This is an issue I expected because there’s literally no way anyone could have put more than a week’s worth of work into this game while still being able to sleep at night.
I was not going to let a simple thing like a laggy interface dissuade me from my quest of sexual discovery, however. I played through the whole thing and I cannot wait to share with all of you the secrets to this game and how to find success in winning Colonel Sanders’ heart:
Before we begin, we are asked to choose a name for ourselves. I was hoping for a bit more of a nuanced character creation aspect to the game because I really liked the idea of my character having a parrot on their shoulder. That was not the case however. In fact, we never even see our character. We just get to pick a name and that’s it. Lame. In protest, I named myself Ronald McDonald.
We awaken in our picturesque-anime bedroom to the shriek of our alarm clock. It is our first day of culinary school at the excessively named University of Cooking School: Academy for Learning. We are subjected to our first major choice as we have to decide whether to snooze our alarm clock or get ready for school. If you snooze the alarm clock, you go back to sleep and lose. Game over. So don’t do that. Before you leave you grab a BISCUIT. This is, to my recollection, the only item that you ever actually carry in your inventory but it did successfully fool me into thinking the game would be more complicated than what it turned out to be.
We arrive at our equally picturesque-anime culinary campus where we meet our best friend forever, Miriam. Miriam is an overly anxious trainwreck with famous chef parents who saved us from a sandbox when we were toddlers and now I guess we’re bonded for life. Whatever. Miriam starts prattling on about how nervous she is, but the game gives you the option of changing the subject to gossip, which I definitely did because Ronald McDonald is a gossipy bitch. Also, we find out that the culinary school is a three-day long semester which is the most revolutionary idea I’ve ever seen smuggled into a dating simulation.
Miriam brings up the new dreamy student that everyone has been talking about. His name is Harland. On a related note, I had no idea that Colonel Sanders real name was Harland so at least I learned something real while playing this dumbass game. Before we can get too in-depth gushing about this mystery student, we are interrupted by our rivals, the infuriatingly-named AESHLEIGH and her lackey VAN VAN THE MAN MAN who is quite frankly the star of the game as far as I’m concerned and deserves his own spin-off.
Aeshleigh and Van Van begin talking shit but before things escalate, the bell rings and it’s time for class. Everyone leaves but you are distracted by a small stupid boy chef trying to pull a push door. His name is Pop and he is pure garbage. Miriam says that he is cute but that’s because she’s a trainwreck.
Flash forward and we’re in class and meet our professor, Sprinkles the Dog. There’s a robot student named Clank too. Shit’s wild. Before we can truly enjoy how cute and quirky that moment is, we are surrounded by cherry blossoms as the beautiful Colonel himself enters the classroom. You get all hot and bothered by the Colonel’s southern funk that you become sweaty. The game gives you the “option” of cleaning yourself off, but I would have enjoyed having the ability to not clean myself off. If the Colonel is going to love me, he’s going to love all of me, including my stank. You then get to choose whether to sit next to Miriam or the Colonel. Obviously I chose to sit next to the Colonel because Ronald McDonald knows and gets what he wants.
Professor Dog then gives you a totally softball pop quiz. I got all the questions right because I’m a genius. Colonel Sanders loved it. That’s good. It meant that he’s not intimidated by someone with intelligence. But enough of academics. It’s off to LUNCH!
At lunch, everyone is entranced by the wonderful smell throughout the cafeteria. Sexy Sanders arrives to announce his latest creation – A BUCKET OF CHICKEN! He offers you a piece of chicken and when you bite into a piece you are teleported into an alternate dimension where you learn the secret ingredient of the fried chicken (hint: it’s DMT). If you choose the wrong option in the dimensional portal, you are consumed by the flavor and your mind is erased. Bleak stuff.
When you come back to reality, you confront Colonel Sanders to grill him about his chicken. He is flattered and reveals ANOTHER secret ingredient. Holy shit, now you know TWO of the THREE secret ingredients. It’s at this point in the game that I began hoping that you would have the option of stealing the recipe and starting a rival business but that would have made it an entirely different game. A better game.
You follow Colonel Sanders back out to the quad because it’s his thinking spot or something weird like that. The game gives you the option of making a strong choice to assert your personality to him. I decided to tell him to add habanero peppers because that’s what I would do in Ronald McDonald’s place. Colonel Sanders is mortified because I’m questioning his fragile masculinity but that is interrupted by another class and it’s TIME FOR A KITCHEN SHOWDOWN WOOOOO!
We are now in the spiffy school cooking arena. Miriam is worried and anxious about the upcoming contest, which is a shock. She asks for you to be her partner. I do not do this because Miriam’s feelings are not important to me. I instead partner with Colonel Sanders to get to know him better. Miriam is left to choose between Pop and a robot chef. She makes me pick between them because she has no agency within herself. I tell her to be partners with the robot chef because it’s very important to me that Pop never feel happiness.
The kitchen showdown begins! Once again, I was annoyed to find that the showdown was not a game either, but just more talking and animation. Go figure. At this point I only have myself to blame for buying a ticket on this cruise. What’s worse is that the soundtrack shifts over to what can only be described as Nintendo-deathcore. It made me upset. The music gets intense because your hated rivals are trying to throw down against you and Colonel Sanders. Colonel Sanders asks me what dish I want to make. I tell him that I want to make mashed potatoes because I realize after our previous encounter that he is intimidated by partners with strong ideas. Naturally, he is enthralled.
Upon tasting our amazing mashed potatoes, Van Van the Man Man is seized with jealousy and demands that someone try his dish, which is an octopus tentacle on a battle axe. In a thoroughly objective world, Van Van would win this contest based on creativity alone but unfortunately it kills the only student who samples it. Alas. I began wondering if there was a Van Van Dating Simulator. Because no one cares about random deaths in anime world, we all retire to the quad when the bell rings.
Out on the quad, Colonel Sanders tells you that your mashed potatoes are amazing. It’s the most beautiful thing a corporate mascot has ever said to me in a video game. I am about to confess my love to him when I am interrupted by Van fucking Van the Man goddamn Man. He’s on a mission to blue-ball me and tell a story all about how HE wants to be a famous chef. Before I can tell him to go to hell, we are interrupted by the appearance of a SPORK MONSTER! Hooray! Combat!
Combat mechanics against the SPORK MONSTER are intense and strategic. You are given two options. ATTACK or DEFEND. Both have their advantages and disadvantages. If you DEFEND, nothing happens. If you ATTACK, the monster eventually dies when Colonel Sanders steps in and saves you in true chivalrous fashion. You are given the option of showing it mercy at the end but I chose to kill it because Ronald McDonald takes no prisoners. After it dies, the Spork Monster leaves behind a book of spells. You pass out from the adrenaline of combat and wake up in your bed. Time for day 2! Woo!
We find our protagonist back on the campus quad with good buddy Miriam. Turns out my ingenious scheme of having her not hang out with Pop backfired. Now she’s got the hots for Clank the robot chef. Damn it. We’ll have to address this later. You let it slip that you know one of the SECRET INGREDIENTS to the Colonel’s DMT Spirit Chicken. She asks what the ingredient is but I choose to lie to her. This has nothing to do with loyalty to the Colonel, I just don’t trust Miriam. I tell her that it’s eye of newt and she buys it because she’s a fool. None of this matters because soon the Colonel shows up on a horse.
Back in the classroom, Aeshleigh and Van Van are plotting some shit and have Pop nailed to the wall with knives. I do nothing about this because my feelings on Pop need to stay consistent. Class begins and it’s all about chicken conveniently enough. You begin daydreaming about hunky Colonel Sanders. When you come back to your senses, Professor Dog is all up in your grill with a plate holding a pepper, a glass of water, and a dog biscuit. I panic and eat the pepper. This is a mistake as it sends me on yet another DMT spirit out-of-body experience. I am concerned because back to back psychedelic trips like this cannot be good for my character’s long term mental health.
After class we have another COMPETITIVE COOK-OFF. Cue Nintendocore music! This time I’m up against arch-nemesis AESHLEIGH. In this game, we have to answer a bunch of rapid fire nonsense questions posed by Professor Dog, Harold Pinter-style. I will admit I died a couple times because the answers make no fucking sense. It was very frustrating. It was also around this time that I began wondering what more successful people than me are doing on a Saturday afternoon. But I couldn’t get existential. I had a Colonel to bang.
After making it through the contest, it ends on a technicality because you get your hand accidentally crushed in an electric mixer. Not great form, Ronald. Aeshleigh tries to kiss up to Colonel Sanders with her clearly superior chocolate dessert but Aeshleigh doesn’t know the Colonel like I do. She doesn’t know that he will be scared away by those bold, non-traditional ideas. He wants comfort. He wants Ronald.
I go outside to be alone with my bullshit feelings. My dashing Colonel follows me outside. He is impressed with how I am able to control my emotions like a zen cooking monk. He begins to tell you all about how he is motivated by his failures but he is interrupted by ANOTHER SPORK MONSTER! Hooray! Another fight sequence! Unfortunately, I am not able to kill this Spork Monster, who is the twin of the yesterday’s spork monster. Instead I fight it with the power of love by giving it my day-old biscuit from earlier in the game. He is touched by this kind gesture and becomes my friend. Good morals are at the heart of I Love You Colonel Sanders.
After this harrowing and emotionally wrought episode, Colonel Sanders invites you back to his place. Cue the sexy coleslaw sax music.
We find ourselves in Colonel Sanders’ rustic mahogany love dungeon. To assert my dominance even though I’m in his sphere, I tell him about an exciting new side dish that I’m developing. When he asks about it, I tell him that it’s a secret. He responds by confessing that the “secret ingredient” that he told me in confidence yesterday was a LIE! SCANDAL! If I really had free action in this game I would have walked right out for this clear deception. I lied to my best friend! Who means nothing to me! For you! What’s more, I don’t even need to know your dumb ingredient anyway because I learned it during my DMT trip so screw you buddy.
Unfortunately I couldn’t do any of that in the game. I just had to keep playing his bullshit games. The game makes me reveal my secret side to Colonel Sanders because nothing is sacred. It’s a coleslaw. I eat it with Colonel Sanders to consecrate the sin I’ve made upon my values. We eat the coleslaw, Lady and the Tramp-style, until a single bite remains. Colonel Sanders asks to keep it for sentimental reasons. That’s the most fucking mutant request I’ve ever heard anyone make but I guess Ronald McDonald is cool with it.
After my unholy coleslaw feast, I am free to snoop around Colonel Sanders mansion while he goes off to the little Colonel’s room. I attempted to steal one of his jackets but he comes back out eventually and I have to lie and say I took it because I was cold. He unfortunately takes this as a flirt and invites me to sit with him by the fire. He hints that he wants me to help him with his business. I am overcome with emotions and run out of the house but he calls after me. I tell him, hysterically, that I want to take things slow. He agrees and we stay up all night, just talking. What a gentleman.
You awaken in Fort Sanders where the Colonel is magnificently making you breakfast. Before this romantic scene can go in to fruition, he hints that he would like my help with his business. It’s all too much to bear. This time I run out of the house, for real, pursued by my feelings. Unfortunately I can’t get any break because fucking Miriam is at my house, waiting to surprise me. Turns out she went on a skydiving date with the robot chef and it wasn’t great. Go figure, Miriam. That’s why she’s a trainwreck. She doesn’t take kindly to finding out I was at Colonel Sanders last night and we part awkwardly.
We arrive back on campus where Aeshleigh and Van Van are once again picking on poor Pop. I’m looking to get out some good misplaced aggression when once again cherry blossoms appear along with Colonel Sanders. Aeshleigh leaves behind another magic book of spells, of which there are approximately a hundred lying around this campus, which contains a spell that would allow me to Eternal Sunshine myself out of remembering Colonel Sanders. I choose to not use the spell because I trust that Ronald McDonald has the strength to make it through this emotional test. Also, I don’t want to do anything that might extend the length of the game. After all, it’s already the last day of class!
Before we can have our FINAL ULTIMATE SHOWDOWN, we have to settle our shit with Miriam. She ends up getting into a big fight with Clank in the middle of class and it’s very awkward. I follow her outside to give her a pep talk and assure her that she’s a strong enough person that doesn’t need another person. I then reassure her that I would never ever abandon her despite knowing full well that her ass is grass as soon as the first friend chicken check comes in. With that resolved, it’s time for the FINAL ULTIMATE SHOWDOWN.
I get to the Iron Chef Arena early to practice my patented Chicken Pot Pie recipe. Colonel Sanders appears and tries to distract you from your culinary mission. At first, I didn’t want to admit that I was there to practice out of pride but ultimately I admit to him that I am there. He is touched by my dedication and is dazzled and impressed by my chicken pot pie. I do believe in this moment that I have truly won the Colonel’s heart. I don’t have time to savor this moment though because the contest BEGINS!
Once again, there’s no actual game to be found here but a shitload of text. The cooking scene is pure anime chaos as all the characters are screaming out special moves and chopping ingredients. Clank the robot chef nearly overloads and kills everyone but we are saved when Van Van, the true hero of the story, unplugs him. Aeshleigh, knowing that her scrub desserts are useless against my Jesus comfort food, tries to use her patented book of evil spells. I decide NOT to use my own book of spells because I know that no amount of magic can substitute for a shitload of butter. I am also assisted by the Spork Monster and Miriam despite my having given her no emotional support earlier in the game.
The game helpfully gives me the option of just giving up. I’m filled with more determination than that and chose to push forward because I’ve already dedicated so many hours to this horseshit already. Finally, Colonel Sanders adds his own fried chicken to the dish and it turns out to be some horrible mac n’ cheese with fried chicken dish that was so ugly that I wouldn’t take a screenshot of it. But I can only assume that it’s a real dish at KFC and that fills me with a lot of personal pause. Everyone presents their dishes at the end but mine is the clear victor.
As is customary, the end of the semester is marked with a dance. Colonel Sanders shows up in a white t-shirt and khakis like he’s Justin Bieber or something. I am repulsed but I want to be done with this game. He stares deeply into my eyes. We dance. Eternity fades into forever. Mashed potatoes and gravy for life.
The End. You’re Welcome.