Dream Daddy Login Screen

WARNING: MILD SPOILERS FOR DREAM DADDY TO FOLLOW BELOW!

DREAM DADDY: A DAD DATING SIMULATOR is a wonderfully diverse, entertaining, and touching game that refreshingly breaks through the standard heterosexual dating sim model.

Developer: Game Grumps

Publisher: Game Grumps

Format: Mac, PC (Reviewed)

Released: 7/13/17 (Intended) 7/20/17 (Delayed)

Price: $14.99

Copy: Purchased by ComicsVerse

Dating simulators are the hopeless romantic’s dream, but their target audience has always been small. Typically, dating simulators, especially those made in Japan, are aimed at heterosexual girls and boys. Occasionally, indie dating sims will include one same-sex romance option, but that is rare and more common in games targeted towards girls.

Games like STARDEW VALLEY, DRAGON AGE, and MASS EFFECT have more inclusive romance options, but are not necessarily “dating simulators.” These games stories do not revolve around romance. All things considered, DREAM DADDY: A DAD DATING SIMULATOR is the first dating simulator of its kind. Hopefully, it is the first of many more diverse, interesting dating sims to come.

The Story

Going through Amanda’s baby photos

In this game, you play as a dad moving into the seaside town of Maple Bay with your daughter, Amanda. Your goal, like in any other dating simulator, is to meet and date the romantic candidates! In this case, the candidates are several hot, single dads; the only exception being Joseph, who is married.

DREAM DADDY follows the standard dating simulator principle: choose your type and pursue them romantically! However, it already diverts completely from your typical dating simulator by focusing on LGBT+ characters! Plus, it takes the term “Daddy” seriously, as ironic as that may sound. A big part of the game is maintaining your relationship with your daughter.

Diverse Dads

From left to right: Robert, Damien, Hugo, Joseph, Craig, Mat, and Brian

The cast of DREAM DADDY is diverse in both sexuality and race. While the game is focused on pursuing and building romantic relationships between dads, the player can choose whether their character is gay or bisexual. At the beginning of the game, the player can choose whether Amanda’s other parent was a mother or a father, and also whether she was born into the family or adopted. The player can also customize their character extensively in the beginning, from skin color down to nose shape. So, from the outset, the game allows the player to represent diverse families to whatever extent they want!

The dateable dads are also sexually and racially diverse. As the player goes on more dates with each character, they will discover more about those dads’ pasts. Some characters are widowers or divorcees. Some of those exes have been women, others have been men. The game does not make a big deal out of the characters’ sexualities because it does not need to be a big deal. No one has to explicitly “come out” as gay, bisexual, or pansexual. Each dad will discuss their past relationships when they are ready, like in real life.

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Each dad is unique, and the relationships you forge with them are intimate and dynamic. The dating is very straightforward, but that is characteristic of a casual dating sim. There is no need to raise a “love meter” with gifts and courtship; the player chooses the dad they would like to pursue and then goes through their story. Like most games with multiple endings, there are good answers and bad answers. However, little else than a bad date score will prevent you from pursuing happiness with your romantic interest!

Amanda, Your Wonderful Daughter

Amanda meeting Pablo

Another significant part of this game is your relationship with Amanda. Your romantic relationships are not the only ones that are important in this story. As a dad, you have to balance your role as a parental guiding figure with your personal life. The game can make you feel the pressure as a single dad when it comes to taking care of Amanda, your only daughter.

She is a senior in high school waiting for college admission letters. While many people know how that feels, players who are not parents might not know how it feels to be the parent in that situation. Throughout the game, Amanda deals with her personal issues and does not always want your help.

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This is also where this game diverts from your typical dating sim. While most dating sims usually have a secondary storyline, this one puts you in an entirely different mindset. In this game, you are not the teenager or young adult going through drama; you are the parent of a teenager going through drama.

Very realistically, you can feel shut out. The game also does an excellent job of making you adore Amanda, therefore actually making you feel responsible as her dad. She is fun-loving, cute, a little troubled, and as good as the relationship is between your dad and Amanda, she can shut you out. This is one thing the game does very well: it makes you feel like a parent at a loss for what to do.

So… Many… Puns…

Mat making puns at the neighborhood BBQ

As expected of a game featuring many dads, there are are many, many dad jokes. There is truly no end to the puns, jokes, and pop culture references. While the jokes can be incredibly cringeworthy, they are the kind of bad humor the average dad might make.

Plus, the bad puns are even funnier because they are expected to be bad. The game also makes references to My Chemical Romance, Naruto, and Pokemon, which, in the context of a dad dating simulator, is pretty hilarious. I mean, come on, what’s not funny about a dad calling a random emo teen a “low rent Gerard Way?”

Meeting Damien’s son, Lucien

The Gameplay

DREAM DADDY pretty much follows the standard visual novel-type dating sim interface. There are many positive aspects of the gameplay, like the quality of the artwork and being able to customize your character. However, most of the drawbacks of the game have to do with the quality of the gameplay.

Customize Your Dadsona

Character creation screen

Very few dating sims allow the player to customize the main character. Typically, dating sim developers try to make the playable character as generic as possible so that anyone can project onto them. This will not always work unless the player fits a particular racial and physical profile.

DREAM DADDY allows players to customize the body type, skin color, face, nose, and more on the character creation screen! Players can also choose whether their character is trans by selecting the “binder bod.” The customization is incredibly inclusive, offering an incredible variety of physical features.

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Unfortunately, there are two drawbacks to this range of customization. First, there are no full-art cutscenes of your dad with your romantic interest. During the romantic scenes with your love interest, the game will fade to black so the player can imagine what the couple looks like.

Since the game is not 3D, the artists would have to draw a new art cutscene for every possible combination of dad if they were to include scenes of the player’s dad with the love interest. Still, while it is an unrealistic expectation, it would have been nice to see actual hugging or kissing scenes between your dad and his love interest.

The second drawback is that the customized dad looks nowhere near as visually appealing as the romantic candidates. While this is negligible, it can affect the player’s ability to imagine their dad with the other dads considering the disparity in art styles.

The Art And Voice Acting

DREAM DADDY Photo Gallery

One of the more obvious pros to DREAM DADDY is the amazing artwork. The backgrounds and dads are all very colorful and visually appealing! Plus, the S-rank ending artwork ranges from adorable to sexy. There is no question that the game’s visuals are stunning.

The voice acting is also a fun part of the game, however, not exactly as flawless. The audio for two dads is noticeably different. Both have slight static compared to the other dad’s crisper audios. While it is there, it does not ultimately detract from the game experience. Most of the time, the voice acting performances are great and flirty in the right ways.

The Interface

Fast forwarding through dialogue

The interface is probably the biggest drawback of the game. While playing through works perfectly fine, it is difficult for players to go through the game multiple times for achievements. There is a fast forward button in the top right corner, which helps for re-playing; but, you can also accidentally skip through scenes you have not seen yet.

It would be better if there were a feature that would prevent players from fast forwarding through scenes you have not already read. The game also doesn’t allow you to go back to read what you might have missed. This would also be a useful feature, especially if players are not stopped from speeding through scenes. It would also be helpful for achievement hunters if there were a feature where the player could skip to the next choice instead of wait through previously read dialogue.

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The save/load feature is also difficult to use. While the autosave feature is helpful, the format of the load page is unhelpful. When you want to go back to a different scene, you have to scroll through all your saves.

Other dating sims often have save or load pages where you can jump to whatever page you need. Games like CINDERELLA PHENOMENON included have all the above features.

Minigames!

Dad Brag Battle with Brian and his daughter

On many of the dates with the various dads, the player will play minigames! Often the outcome of the minigame will affect the story and the outcome of your date. For example, during the first date with Mat, you play a minigame where you have to avoid getting trampled by the crowd at a concert! If you lose, you cannot find Mat until the end of the concert. If you succeed, Mat praises you for moshing in the pit and thinks you are cool (which you later tell Amanda, excitedly)!

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The minigames are pretty fun interjections that can break the monotonous visual novel play style. However, they can be frustrating to the point where players are not sure if you are supposed to be able to win the game. One example is the minigolf game you play on Brian’s second date.

The golf arrow swings back and forth pretty fast and doesn’t seem to go where you want it to when you click. There is also no way to control the power you are putting into the ball. Still, there is an achievement for making all 18 holes, so it is somehow possible to win. Fortunately, the rank of the date does not go down if you do not beat Brian.

DREAM DADDY: The Verdict

So, is DREAM DADDY worth it is $14.99? While there are games of this quality that go for less, DREAM DADDY is one of the most enjoyable dating sims out there. No matter who you are, if you are looking for a lighthearted, funny, and visually appealing dating sim, this game is a top recommendation.

Dating sim veterans may find this game a refreshing break from the cookie-cutter tropes and those who have never had a dating sim geared towards them will enjoy this as a first. Hopefully, this game is the beginning of a new trend in dating sims that do not focus on straight couples.

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