Supple is a premier magazine for single, urban, professional women. Arin works there as an Associate editor, but she has bigger aspirations. In this life simulation game, your goal is to get Arin the coveted position of Style Editor, which has recently come up for grabs. Hugh, Arin’s co-worker, also has his eye on the job, so expect a bit of competition. You have to achieve your goal by Friday, and beat out Hugh by passing your daily performance reviews.
The game opens with Arin in her office on Monday morning. Arin and Hugh’s game performance meters (GPM) each have a red, yellow, and green area. If Arin’s performance is in the red when the boss, Margot, comes by, she is in danger of getting fired! Yellow is okay, but you must get it into the green to pass your daily review.
The GPM moves in response to the six smaller meters above it, which relate directly to her relationships with Margot and Hugh; specifically, her confidence, how much Margot likes and respects Arin, and how much Hugh likes, respects, and desires Arin. Every performance review counts, and Arin will not be able to continue if she fails her daily review. The higher the meter, the more cash she will receive as a bonus.
Arin works more efficiently if she has a high energy level, so you might want to get her some coffee and a snack from the vending machine. If Arin drinks the same coffee or eats the same snack too often, the effectiveness becomes reduced, so it’s worth it to vary her food choices.
That brings you to your first crisis – Arin is wearing jeans. Her boss, Margot, loathes jeans, so you need to help Arin to change her clothes before Margot arrives. Clothing has attributes and affects both Margot and Hugh, and should be changed frequently for the best effects. In the shop, you can examine some of the outfits and find a suitable one within your budget to buy. In the closet, you can select an outfit to change into.
In order to shop, you need cash. To help Arin earn money, you click the monitor on her desk and select “work.” To earn money, Arin must beat Hugh at obtaining stars. The stars represent researched information that Margot might require later in the day. Each successive star is worth more money than the last. You must keep track of the answers Arin has researched. When Margot asks Arin a question, you can answer if she knows the information, or evade the question if she does not. If Arin is overworked, her efficiency will start to decrease. Arin’s life needs to be kept in balance. Taking courses will also boast Arin’s efficiency.
Three vertical measures indicate Arin’s energy level, how many drinks she’s had, and how angry she is. As you play, you’ll see word capsules floating down across the screen. These tell you how a game event has influenced one of Arin’s meters. If Arin is angry, her other meters will start to fall. You can alleviate this by being nasty to Margot or Hugh. Of course, being too nasty will backfire, so balance is called for. Energy is assuaged by snacking.
As Arin interacts with people and her environment, the experiences she has may have different effects on her, but you control how she ultimately reacts. For example, you want to keep Hugh happy, but not TOO happy or he will win out. Flirting with Hugh will increase his desire for Arin, but doing this in front of Margot makes her jealous. Likewise, if Arin catches Hugh and Margot flirting, her GPM will suffer. Arin can buy lingerie to impress Hugh, which is needed to get intimate with him. Intimacy occurs in the “boom boom” room, or bedroom. It’s not overly graphic, but given the sexual situations, as well as adult banter, dirty jokes and occasional harsh language, Supple is not something you might choose to play with the kids.
Gifts can also be bought for Margot and Hugh, and given at the right time can really boost GPM. Arin can get fired for dressing inappropriately, slacking off (red GPM) for too long, or for not working enough. Drinking at the bar can result in intoxification, another big office no-no. Before Arin gets the axe, she will generally get a warning from Margot. Being fired ends your game.
Although the graphics and animations appear much like The Sims series, the dynamics are different. Both games include emphasis on relationships, and allow the user to manage different aspects of the character’s life. However, while The Sims has many goals to choose from, Supple focuses in on one goal – getting Arin the promotion she wants, which requires passing her daily reviews. And, communication between characters is much more pivotal then in the Sims and other life simulation games (like Ciao Bella for example).
Supple is very complex, and the learning curve means you should expect to play the game a few times before you’ve mastered it. It’s not a casual game that was designed to be played, well, casually. Sometimes, especially in the beginning, it is a bit overwhelming to meet the demands of Arin’s job.
As far as sims go, Supple offers a great deal of depth and relationship focus. The AI, music, and dialogue are all very good, and respond reasonably to events as they unfold. The production value is impressive for a casual game. While you have a set goal of becoming the Editor, you can also compete for higher scores, leading to greater replay value. If you’ve gotten very good at the game, you should be able to beat it in a couple of hours. However, getting good enough to do this will take you quite a few hours to start, so it’s a good value for money. Kudos to the developers for focusing on the emotions of the characters and their relationships instead of just the usual external factors