App Reviewed on: iPhone XR
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Hey Turtle is cut from the same cloth as something like Bury Me, My Love. It’s a game completely based around text messaging, and it explores the relationship between you—the player—and Dana. While the game isn’t particularly long, it definitely feels more than worth the $0.99 asking price.
In Hey Turtle, you role play as someone who just started a relationship with someone named Dana. After working together for years, you both finally expressed feelings for each other and decided to start dating. The entirety of the game takes place via text message, where you decide what to say to Dana during notable conversations in your relationship.
The way you participate in these conversations is by choosing between one of two pre-written dialogue choices. Depending on what you pick, the story changes somewhat. This isn’t particularly groundbreaking gameplay design, but the story Hey Turtle chooses to tell is unique and interesting enough to support such simple gameplay. Since the game is so short and the story is its main draw, I won’t be covering plot details, but just trust me, this game’s story goes places.
Outside of the intriguing story, Hey Turtle manages to make all of its conversations feel like real people texting each other. The text in this game is full of pet names, teasing, flirting, and even misspellings. The tone of all these messages stays on target for the kind of story being told, while also never getting too tidy when explaining things or further developing the plot.
By having realistic dialogue, Hey Turtle allows you to really get into character. With Dana sending messages that resemble actual texts you might actually receive, it’s a lot easier to have a genuine emotional response to them. It’s just bad that this response ends up having to be channeled into one of two prewritten replies.
Your relationship, your choice (sort of)
The bummer of Hey Turtle is definitely its lack of dialogue options. There were many times when playing the game where I either felt like a response wasn’t true to how I would actually react, or a response that I initially chose railroaded me into saying things I didn’t want to end up saying to Dana.
This wasn’t a constant problem, though. In fact, Hey Turtle somehow allowed me to choose dialogue options that felt true to the character I was trying to portray in the places where it mattered most. In particular, the game’s ending allows you to have a pretty nuanced conversation about a complicated situation, and I never felt like Dana’s messages or my responses were being reduced or oversimplified in the process.
The bottom line
Hey Turtle is one of the more impactful conversation-based games I’ve played. It’s not a particularly long game, but uses its time to share a unique perspective and does a decent job of giving you the tools of engaging with it on your own terms. For a buck, you can’t ask for much more than that.