Buddy Simulator 1984 tests you of friendship and trust. Befriend an AI buddy that tries its best to entertain you.
Developer: Not a Sailor Studios
Publisher: Not a Sailor Studios
Release date: 19 Feb, 2021
Buddy Simulator 1984 tries to simulate a buddy in the virtual world. You’ll be playing as yourself, greeted by an AI that is programmed to be your buddy. The AI will then try to keep you entertained with whatever it can come up with.
Buddy Simulator 1984 starts in a text-based interface, similar to those in a terminal with a CRT-like display. People who grew up in the 2000 and never touched any terminal or text-based adventure games will find the interface to be ugly and weird, while those who were familiar with it will feel right at home. Don’t let it discourage you from playing the game if you belong to the first group though – your buddy will try its best to impress you. The environment will change over time, giving you another reason to reexplore the world to see the difference. It doesn’t end up into some high-quality, AAA material though, so don’t get your hopes up too much.
The story is kinda hard to describe. Basically, you are booting up a program that creates a buddy AI, which in turn will try its best to keep you entertained. Most dialogues revolve around friendship and trust between you and the said AI. It’s nice to see how it tries its best to impress you, trying to assure you that you’re okay and letting you know that it tries its best to keep the relationship going. However, this is where the game turns.
The conflict between you and the AI is what keeps the game going. While most dialogues will be similar, your decision will affect the relationship between you and the AI. Everything will matter in the end, branching the ending into four different paths. It’s not until I played the song that is unlocked after I reached the ending that everything clicks, letting me feel what the AI felt from its side.
The gameplay of Buddy Simulator 1984 changes as you progress the game. It starts in a terminal-like interface where you can play a simplistic game that is usually taught to someone new to programming, namely the guess the number, hangman, and rock, paper, scissors with a better visual. The game will improve itself as you play, diving into the adventure genre with its text-based style. It doesn’t stop there though. New features like QTE-based battles and simple lever puzzles will be added later on to keep you entertained.
Although it looks like an ordinary game, things might go out of order sometimes. Anekom Software, the OS that is used in the game, seems to be a faulty one, or maybe it’s the AI that isn’t good at making a game. The game will break a lot of times, mostly in the form of glitches. It’s up to you whether to interact with it or not, but beware – it’s not for people with a weak heart. I don’t want to spoil anything since this is where the game shines best, but let’s just say that some contents are just plain weird and shocking to see. It’s still within my tolerance levels though and I found them to be amusing to see.
The game will shift its focus to combat which relies on QTE later on. There is a set number of enemies that you have to fight which rewards you with nothing after the battle ends. Attacking and defending will require you to hit a certain key on your keyboard within a time limit. Although the game gives you a long time to press the required key for attacking, the same thing won’t happen on defending. You must press a certain key at the right time, and the timing can be hard to execute – your defense position will only last for a short while and enemies have different attack patterns, which also translates to different timing on their attacks.
Battles take a long time to finish. Enemies are tanky, especially if you recruit party members with low damage. There are some items that you can equip to speed up the battles, although it won’t help much in the long run. The whole defending mechanic can also be problematic to people who are not good at QTE. In fact, I even failed to do it several times during my playthrough.
Length and Difficulty
Surprisingly, the game only lasts for 4.7h in my first playthrough. I had to replay the game 3 more times to reach all endings and start another game without finishing it to pick up the last secret. The game isn’t hard to finish as long as you can hold your own on the QTE section, although it can be tiring to go through the same dialogues over and over without a way to skip it or speed it up in your subsequent playthroughs.
It’s nice to see all endings. Every ending will unlock a song that can be played in the main menu, telling how the AI feels about you. You can try to connect it with what was happening in the ending to see what it feels from its perspective. I won’t spoil what the ending feels like, so let’s just say that it was done brilliantly.
Intel Core i5-9300H 2.40GHz, 8GB RAM, NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1650
This game is a weird one. It starts weak with the boring and pointless games, and I didn’t feel anything from the AI that tries its best to befriend me either. However, everything changed after it improves the world. I was always excited to see what the game has for me later on. Some parts of the game still feel boring and repetitive, but the surprise that it had in store never gets old. It surely is a one-of-a-kind type of game that you want to try because of its weirdness. However, since it can be completed in less than 5h, the full price might be too expensive to some people, especially since some parts of the game feel too dragged out.