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Orcs have long been the whipping boys of fantasy - faceless, cultureless beasts for the heroes to cut down while shouting quips. They're creatures I've wondered about since I started reading books and playing games. What kind of lives do orcs live outside of combat? How is their society built? What are their feelings toward one another? It's rare that any media delves into these aspects of orc lives, but Mitch Alexander is diving deep into orc life and culture to tell a heartwarming story of friendship and gay love in a fictional version of the Scottish Highlands in Tusks: The Orc Dating Sim.

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Tusks puts players in a newly-formed orc clan as they're making their way to an annual orcish assembly. During the day, you'll travel with the group and experience the game's storyline, but at night, you're free to pursue friendships (or more) with the various members of the clan. They're a welcoming, friendly bunch, allowing humans, selkies, boars, and orcs of all colors and abilities into their cheerful group, giving you lots of options about who you'd like to get a little closer to every night. NPCs have their own thoughts and feelings on things as you speak with them as individuals or act as a group, so expect your relationships and conversations to have consequences.

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Eschewing stereotypes about gay lifestyle, Tusks seeks more to tell a story of everyday life for a group of queer people all sharing the same journey despite differences in appearances and desires. This journey means something different for all of them, but they are all strengthened by taking it together, holding each other up with care and friendship. They feel more real in their ordinariness, and it's hard not to smile along with them as they cross the Highlands together. It may be a long time before you can see where your relationships go with these men, but in the meantime, you can try out the demo Alexander released and start your whirlwind romance with creatures most games and fiction have denied all love from.

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The demo for Tusks: The Orc Dating Sim is available for download on Itch.io. For more information on it and developer Mitch Alexander, you can head to the game's site, the developer's Patreon page, or follow them on Twitter.