Love Island is a British reality TV show in which several glistening, muscular men with sleeve tattoos and unaddressed anger issues are sent to a sunny island villa along with several glossy-haired, incredibly basic women who I’m pretty sure have their perma-bikinis sewn onto their skin, and are then expected to “couple up” in order to avoid being evicted.
Disclaimer: Brace yourself, folks, because today’s sexy game review is going to be painfully British. I’ll try to include a glossary as we go.
Love Island is the fever dream of someone whose two interests are A) making people bone on live TV and B) gladiator fights. Love Island is near-parody levels of vapid nonsense starring a group of people who have jobs like “Social Media Influencer” and “Amateur DJ,” with hobbies like “tanning” and “is prosecco a hobby LOL.”
Love Island is glorious, my friends, in the way a Final Destination movie or a 20-car pileup is glorious, and now, it is also a mobile video game, a visual novel-style gossip-and-blowjob festival which I have been playing for the last few weeks.
It began as something I was doing for your entertainment, something I could write about so scathingly that you would chortle happily into your morning cereal, and my job here would be complete.
But since playing through the copious amounts of episodes—there are five episodes per day in the villa, and I’m already on day nine — I’ve actually grown to love it. Unironically. Next I’ll be getting a butterfly tattoo and talking about my favourite Instagram filter. It’s a slippery slope, folks.
There is a character creator at the start, in which you may choose between skinny bodies with different colours of hair. Love Island is not about uniqueness, you see, it is about “grafting.” This is a word possibly invented just for the purposes of this show, despite meaning “flirting,” which is the word we already have for that activity.
My avatar, named Emma, because she definitely does not look like me, was introduced to the men—a hazy smear of six-packs and smug grins—and then sent off to explore the villa.
Occasionally, she would have to change outfits, but if I didn’t want to pay gems—and of course I didn’t, because gems were also used for vital conversation branches—I would wear the same basic-arse outfit every day. Sorry, lads, I’m a stinky one.
But I knew what this game wanted from me. It wanted me to thirstily lust after whichever of this incredibly forgettable boys has the biggest ego—I mean, six-pack.
So, I went for Tim.
By Love Island standards, Tim was the scrawny, malnutritioned runt of the pack; by real-life standards he was a buff boy who’d skipped one week of crunches.
Luckily, he also had the worst personality, being the only guy who specifically mentioned how much he loves “banter,” which is the calling card of idiots who have to transplant pranks and “lads’ holidays” into the hole where a personality should be.
It’s YouTubers who make videos like “Pretending To Be Poor For A Day!!! LOL!!” and respond to criticism with “It was just a joke, mate” like it’s your fault for being such a colossal square. So that was Tim.
The game did not want me to date Tim. It kept shoving me into scenes with Mason, the buffest boy who loves — let me check my notes, here — working out, and very little else.
Allegra, the girl who wanted to chomp on Mason’s buns the most, kept threatening me in order to keep me away from her beefcake beau, and no matter how many times I chose the option “Girl, I am not interested in that towering pile of steaks you call a boyfriend,” she would not take “no” for an answer.
Eventually, I gave up on all the men. They were all so focused on lounging by the pool and having testosterone-fuelled punch-ups, as British lads are wont to do because of their fragile egos and, presumably, the near-toxic amount of steroids they take to keep those pecs perfect, that I just was not interested.
I ended up hooking up with Talia, the only bi woman in the villa, and the sex scenes — illicit as they were, since Love Island is the most hetero show out there, even more so than The Bachelor(ette)—were rather satisfying, albeit in a coy fade-to-black sort of way.
I’m really enjoying this game, even if it is based on a TV show that encourages strangers to fuck like rabbits after 24 hours of knowing each other, like Big Brother but the actual 1984 version, except instead of government surveillance and punishment it’s enforced sex.
The branching narrative is surprisingly slick, and well-hidden enough that I can’t always tell what the game was expecting me to do.
Unfortunately, the Love Island episodes are not yet done. I have about ten more episodes to go, and they unlock every week, so I’m fully expecting Talia to pull a one-eighty on me, where it turns out she was secretly a robot or something, and then Tim will yell “BANTAAHHHHH” and we’ll have to get married and go on a honeymoon to Ibiza, where he will do shots of tequila out of my belly button, because that’s just how Love Island works.