Review: Chinese Parents

At a Glance

ESRB Rating: NR - Not Rated
My Rating: Adults - 18+
Genre: Visual Novel / Other
License: Commercial
Release Year: 2018
Review Published On: May 20th, 2020
Played on: Thaddeus

Available from:

Steam

Save System:

Your child's progress is saved automatically after each turn, and you have multiple save slots to work with. This allows you to raise several families at once, if you really wanted to.

With the exception of the Lunar New Year and Writing Contest minigames, everything waits for you to act before continuing, making pausing largely unnecessary. If you'd still like to pause the game, click on the gear in the upper right corner to bring up the pause menu.

Summary of
Major Issues:

The main issue with this game is that it depicts growing up (and life in general) very realistically.

Things like questionable parenting, sexism, and puberty can be encountered during the life of any child.

Screenshots

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A typical mind map

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Baby having fun

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A "Face Duel" between friends



Game Overview

As you'd probably guess, Chinese Parents is a game about raising child in modern day China. However, the title is a little misleading, as you don't control the actions of the child's parents. Instead, you play through a few different minigames to control and guide the child's growth.

The gameplay itself is broken into turns. Each turn, you need to complete one of two minigames, spend knowledge points to learn new skills, and witness different events in the child's life. As the game progresses and your child gets older, you'll also guide them through writing contests, help them manage their time with friends, and optionally do some chores for extra pocket money.

Once you've completed the day's activities, you select six ways for them to spend their free time. Which options are available depends on their age and what skills you've taught them, but every activity is useful in some way. In addition to boosting stats, every activity has a chance of teaching the child a new Trait. Traits are used during a form of social combat, called a "Face Duel". Rarer traits do more damage to opponents, so it pays to find them!

Eventually, it will be time to worry about the Gaokao exam. This is a grueling placement test that all students take, and it's unlikely that your first several generations are going to be able to earn high marks on this test. However, it's important to try hard, as the results of this test strongly influence the child's future.

Once the test is over, you'll need to choose someone for them to marry. However, this is not a forgone conclusion. Courtship is a risky business, and if you didn't direct your child to spend time building a relationship with someone while they had the chance, they can end up marrying a total stranger. This isn't a terrible tragedy, but your family's bloodline will get a permanent stat boost if you can arrange a successful marriage. As it is, your child's career will change the family's stats for the better, allowing their bloodline to build on the successes of previous generations, making each generation more capable than the last.

Unfortunately, the fact that this game handles growing up realistically works against it to some degree. Serious topics come up from time to time, and children might not be ready to talk about or face them. Puberty, for example, is discussed fairly openly, especially if the child you're raising is a girl.

Ultimately, this game isn't going to appeal to everyone. It's slow, quiet, and requires some attention to detail, but since you never really know how children will turn out, it's fun to watch them grow up. Despite the occasionally problematic topics and events, I'd still say I've enjoyed playing it, and would suggest it for older fans of casual games.

Points of Interest

Meme humor is EVERYWHERE
While this is a fairly simple and straightforward life simulation, the graphics used to represent many events are silly and often remind me of the sort of random silliness I see on social media. Somebody certainly had fun putting this game together, and if you're total meme trash like me, you're going to get a laugh out of these scenes too.
Many, many possibilities
How you raise your child determines their eventual career, and there are dozens of options available. Your child could be almost anything: a doctor, a 5-star chef, a fashion idol, or even an indie game programmer! This effectively gives this game a huge number of possible endings, and as your family's stats increase, it become easier to follow more obscure career paths and see more of the game.
A different sort of collectible
In this game, you earn "traits" by practicing your skills. Some traits are rare, while others are easy to earn. These abilities are primarily used in "face duels" (a form of social combat) and China's Got Trait, a parody of America's Got Talent. Rarer traits tend to be more effective in both situations, so it pays to try and earn them. Additionally, collecting every trait is treated a challenge in and of itself, as you'll need dozens of generations to master everything.
Steam community features
There are a total of 23 achievements to earn while you're busy watching over each member of a family's bloodline. Many of these are simply earned by playing through the game once, but some of them require careful choices and a lot of careful planning.
Not all fun and games
Life comes in all flavors, and unsurprisingly, this game reflects that. In particular, you'll occasionally need to take a virtual exam rather than play through a mind map, and in my opinion, this minigame is a bit of a slog to get through. Of course, making the exams the most boring part of the game is hilariously realistic.

Concerns and Issues

Everyday life
I'd be hesitant to call this offensive, but this game does discuss things that children deal with in real life. This includes mundane things like worrying about having the popular toys, getting sick from cheap food, or getting bored during long days at school, but it also includes more serious things like failing to get to the bathroom on time, losing a family member, or girls experiencing their first periods. It's all a part of growing up, but not everyone wants to be exposed to that level of reality.
Parents can be an issue
Unlike the previous point, there are some situations that are definitely not okay. If you let the child's parents become dissatisfied with the child's behavior, they'll likely scold the child. Some of these statements are very harsh, and may even be seen as abusive.

Some of the daily random events are also pretty big red flags. For example, the father might come home drunk and act out, he might attempt to slip the baby a sleeping pill, or he might leave some naughty magazines where the child could find them.
Sexism
China has a pretty negative reputation when it comes to how women are viewed in its society. While this is improving, you'll still see shades of it in this game. If your child is a girl, their grandmother regularly remarks about how none of her granddaughter's schooling matters since she'll just be someone's husband anyway. One the plus side, the grandmother's remarks are generally treated as offensive by the other adults, so the attitude is clearly not welcome.

But this attitude isn't entirely rejected, as the father will occasionally comment that certain subjects (eg, computers) aren't for girls, implying that sometimes a little sexism is okay.
Asian religious practices
Since this game is set in China, it's not surprising that there will be the occasional reference to various Asian beliefs. The most notable example is a possible visit to a local shrine, where your child can pray for good luck on the Gaokao. In this instance, you have the option of going through with the traditional prayer or not.