If I had a time machine, it would not be a tool for bettering the world. It would be a way for me to see how people from the past might react to modern-day weirdness.
I would go back to show Alexander Graham Bell that his invention of the telephone somehow morphed into nudes on Snapchat, and watch his face as it contorts into confusion. I would find Henry VIII to see how he would feel about going down in history as the world’s worst fuckboy. But most of all, I’d love to see what Mary Shelley thinks about her seminal science-fiction work Frankenstein being used as the catalyst for the smutty grave-humper visual novel Dr. Frank’s Build-A-Boyfriend.
You, dear reader, are probably smart enough to figure out—from the context of knowing Frankenstein and knowing the title of this game—what Dr. Frank’s Build-A-Boyfriend is about, and you would be right, because this is 2018 and everyone is horny.
The player takes the role of the titular Dr. Frank, a recently-dumped sad boy cum mad scientist who decides to combine his latest project with his need to be the little spoon, digging up limbs and body bits and stitching them together to create Boyfriend.
The boyfriend I chose to build had large, sparkly anime eyes and the kind of floppy white hair that only the most angsty JRPG villains get to have. He also (per my choice) had some kind of weird tentacle penis, but I never got to actually see it, so I guess I’m taking the game at its word on that one.
For a free-to-play Steam game, Dr. Frank’s Build-A-Boyfriend is pretty good. The writing is silly and sweet, the art is endearingly sketchy, and although the rewriting of Doctor Frankenstein as the type to own an anime body pillow is weird, it works. Unfortunately, Boyfriend—bless his re-animated heart—insists on calling Dr. Frank “papa,” which is unsurprisingly a bit of a mood-killer (apparently he’s not into that) and his ex-boyfriend, Dominik, is unimpressed rather than jealous. Safe to say that Frank’s ambitious and weird plan is not a successful one.
The game is a relatively on-rails experience about getting over heartbreak in terrible ways, and though I’m personally more likely to deal with a breakup by building a Spotify playlist filled with Sinead O’Connor than I am to go grave-robbing for fresh hot boy corpses, it still makes for a nice metaphor.
It’s okay to spiral a little bit when someone breaks your heart, especially if said heartbreaker also steals your life’s work. It’s okay to want to make the rotten bastard jealous with a new piece of arm candy. It’s decidedly not okay to find an actual arm for that arm candy by desecrating graves, but chances are that no one is actually taking that as the moral of the game.
Dr. Frank is on such a blinkered mission to craft The World’s Sexiest Nature Crime that he fails to notice the people he’s pushing away: his assistant, Iggs, and mysterious sexy stranger, Sylios. By the end of the game—spoilers—Dr. Frank will have realized his error, finding himself in the distinctly fresh and living arms of Sylios. Even mad scientists deserve happy endings, and that’s a lot more than Shelley’s Frankenstein ever got. If my time machine were a reality, I’d like to think that Mary would approve of her creation finally finding love.