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If you're a lover of science fiction, anime, or basically any geeky subculture that involves space in some way, there's a good chance you're aware there are people who really like the idea of being grabbed by some seductive, powerful tentacles. From the sexual to the dramatic, scenes of people being grabbed and held up by writhing wiggling arms, held in place unable to escape those suction cups, have been a part of genre fiction for basically as long as the idea of tentacle-covered aliens has been a thing.
While we at SYFY FANGRRLS don't often talk about board games, we thought we would make an exception for this one, because it's about playing through a consensual female-focused alien encounter with some sexy tentacles, and if that's not our area of expertise, I don't know what is.
Consentacle is a co-operative board game set in space, where the whole aim is for players to communicate as best they can with a language barrier in place. One player takes on the role of a curious blue-haired human astronaut, while the other takes on the role of a sensitive and caring feminine tentacle-covered alien. Neither of your species shares a spoken language, and as such the players are not allowed to use words to communicate their plans during the game. Both players and characters establish consent, then attempt to fumble their way wordlessly through a sexy space encounter, keeping each other's needs and wants in mind.
Different acts between the pair will produce different "satisfaction" resource tokens, and the players have to work out what each other needs, and try to anticipate their plays, for mutual resource building in tandem. Each player has their own deck of cards, which have various effects when used solo or in combos, with some cards better used one-sided or in tandem.
Staring longingly into your partner's eyes, if done as a one-sided act, may allow you to generate one trust token, but if you both use a gaze card at the same time, you get two trust tokens, and the ability to put up to two trust tokens in a shared resource pool, accessible by the other player. Restraining a player, if done as a one-sided act, allows for three pairs of trust tokens to be turned into satisfaction tokens, but you don't want both players fighting to restrain each other, as that only allows for two trust pairs to be converted. When it comes time to "release," you both want to do that at the same time ideally, as only one person experiencing that positive moment gets three satisfaction tokens to that player, whereas both players experiencing that moment together allows for all of the Satisfaction tokens currently in play to be shared out among the players, which is the best way to get to a good end state.
Consentacle is ultimately designed to be played co-op, as emphasized by the fact that when scoring at the end of the game, not only do individual players get rated for their amount of satisfaction, and the pair's combined score, but you're also given a rating on how close your scores were to each other. If one person has a bunch more satisfaction tokens than the other at the end of the game, you've ultimately not played well as a pair, as the whole point of this consensual space encounter is for everyone to have fun together.
While the game's silent unspoken co-op setup may sound a little unusual at first, because obviously verbal communication is a core part of how most co-op games are played, it's honestly the core of what makes Consentacle such a neat game to play. There's a degree of trust and intimacy involved in playing, and you have to be able to intuit complex feelings and best interpret them without saying a word, which can be tough. While on easy mode you can make physical actions, like winking or stroking your arm or mimicking a bite to explain the card you want your partner to play, if they don't have that card it can be tough to articulate what you were hoping to get from the exchange, what to avoid, and what to do instead. It can be easy to mistake someone's request for a partner to do something for a message that the player will do that action themselves. Things can get tough, and you need to be on a shared wavelength and develop a shared language between yourselves.
In hard mode, you're expected to communicate intent purely through your eyes and expressions, which is really difficult, and is the kind of thing that only really works if you know the person you are playing with pretty dang well.
No matter how you play, Consentacle really forces two players to stop and pay attention to each other, which can be a really rewarding experience. Sure, it's through the lens of consensual alien tentacle sex, but being able to recognize what your partner needs or wants without speaking is a fun skill to practice via a sci-fi-themed game. The art is adorable, queer, femme, and kinky. The game pieces are all really nicely made, and it's pretty unique in the board game space.