As I walk through the town I see so much of my youth flash before me. It’s been so long since I walked these streets and heard these sounds. There is nothing quite like life by the ocean, it’s the smell of the water that breezes through town… it’s just so endearing. I thought coming back would help me with my loss, it’s been a while now and it still haunts me. Every day I can see it in Amanda’s eyes too… that feeling of longing to see someone you know isn’t coming back. Enough with the pity parade though… this was to start fresh from that, a new perspective from a new people in a place where I truly. Felt at home! … now if only I could find the address for this new place were moving into … damn!
Before you even go there, I know what you’re thinking… this is just going to be Hatoful boyfriend without the Pigeons (no! tank dating simulator you do NOT get to come out of the shame box now…) and you know what you’re semi right. Game Grumps have crafted what appears to be a really funny adventure but with a surprisingly high dose of seriousness involved in the world they craft but the important question on everyone’s lips is clear… who’s the best dad and if you didn’t pick Damien then how could you get it wrong: D ??
As the intro suggested the games story is based around a young Dad who’s lost his special someone in an accident. In an attempt to rebuild your life after such a devastating loss you make the decision to move back to the town you grew up in named Maple Bay for a fresh start with your Daughter Amanda. You proceed to move straight into a cul de sac on the edge of town which funnily enough is almost exclusively occupied by young single dads with the exception of Joseph the local pastor but let’s be honest that did not dissuade me in even the smallest way as I am a man who likes a challenge! After parading around town and reacquainting yourself with the local area and its people you bump into the rest of the neighbourhood which is funnily enough ALL the people you ran into in town who have now kindly thrown you a barbecue to welcome you to their community! Its only after this that the real fun and game begins when you are invited to join DadBook and message one of the 7 other dads in the community where you will get the opportunity for THREE dates before committing to a dad’s ending. For the story I’ll give a brief look at each of the seven dads and how I felt about them so here goes.
First to the bat, we have Brian! I instantly felt a connection with Brian as he is of course a fellow member of the glorious ginger master race! But it was also because he has the most gorgeous little dog in the form of his welsh Corgi Maxwell! He is a heart-warming character with a real deep love for his daughter and her accomplishments. Brian is a very outdoors and hands on Dad with his story revolving a lot around being outdoors, fishing and his love of good decking! He’s the most competitive dad of the group with a love to one-up (albeit unintentionally) me at every turn through his amazing fishing skills and lovely daughter who forms a bond with Amanda and helps to bring you and Brian together! Throughout the dates with Brian you get involved in increasingly cringe worthy competitions for Dad supremacy that involve fishing when you have no idea how and mini golf that is the most insane minigame I’ve seen in ages?! By the end I actually grew to really dislike Brian, but I guess… that was the point. In the final sequences before the end you are hit with a very harsh Reality about Brian that leaves you feeling like a bit of a massive dick and I felt that when it happened.
Next up to the plate is Mat, owner of the local coffee shop, baker extraordinaire and world’s biggest music enthusiast Mat is a weird one to try and charm because despite his awkward nature he seems to have all the moves going on you right from the start 😛 ! he’s a dark horse as one of the more shy dads available to pursue but he’s well worth it in the end. Throughout his story you’ll yet another child bonding story between your daughter amanda and Carmanista the lovely daughter of Mat, get involved in some wild nights going to gigs and performing yourself and in the end helping Mat to overcome something he didn’t he could with the power of the human heart! Mat has to have one of the sadder stories of the game with his later date being the focus of something very close to your own heart which makes it all the more touching when you can help him get through that!
Ah Joseph, the town Pastor. I’m sure the irony of chasing after the local religious man to be in a gay relationship is not lost on the makers of the game and to be fair I rather enjoyed it myself but it’s a unique approach I must admit. Joseph is hands down the most straight laced of the Dads you’ll have a choice of with his church background and perfect (ISH) family life going on you just wouldn’t suspect him as a potential interest. Josephs story offers a good look at a man who’s not the happy go lucky guy he seems to pretend he is, well not entirely anyway. Throughout your dates you’ll encounter Josephs eccentric but ultimately charming young twins (we see what you did there with the shinning … clever) and his bottle friendly wife Mary. In the end though Joseph has the most bitter sweet story and it left me feeling a little deflated but ultimately satisfied with how it ended.
Mr Vega the English teacher. I always liked a man that caught my eye to be intelligent and well spoken and Hugo you’re on my Radar as one big red target! (that suit and moustache too I mean come…on !!) Hugo unlike the other dads was the first dad that I encountered that didn’t have the most stellar relationship with his kid which is actually a good thing 😀 (I know how that sounds guys but bear with me please) because you see the harsh realities of what its like to be a single parent sometimes. Hugo starts out as a straight laced lover of the written word until about the second date when you learn that he’s got a secret passion (if you hadn’t played you’d never guess what it is) which leads into the development of his story and ultimately his rebirth from the ashes like a Phoenix! A badass phoenix too! in the end you like Mat help Hugo become the person he always should have been and to be more confident with himsef.
Craig is the one character that I feel would be the most relatable to a lot of people and it’s the College best friend. As we soon learn though totally gone are the days of ‘Keg stand’ Craig and now in his place stands the leanest and meanest Softball coach and gym bunny this side of Maple Bay! Take note of this transformation and craigs daughters as these are the core aspects of his story. You will witness how the once fearless Craig is now saddled with the weight of trying to put everyone else before himself. In the end though this can only really end one very predictable way, but it doesn’t detract from the emotion of it all when you reach the conclusion at the end of your third date. His happy go lucky attitude and constant drive to be better for his girls makes his dialogue charming and inspiring and I found this being one of only two dads that I wanted to play through their dates a second time around
I wont even try to hide this here Damien is my FAVOURITE DAD IN THE WHOLE GAME! … when we first met Damien during our trip around town before the BBQ we found him in the teen shop filling a vocal complaint with the store clerk about some clothing he claims wasn’t as described. Throughout your dates he will hands down be the most eccentric dad you’ll chase after. Forget DadBook you’ll be exchanging hand written letters sealed with wax with this one as he pursues his utter love for Victorian style and culture (his clothes are sublime) but under this desire to live like the elegant Victorians of old hides a totally different man with his own child issues much like Hugo and a hidden side that is really not what’s expected. Like Hugo you’ll in the end see this Dad revealed as something totally different to their persona but I suppose I felt more for Damiens reveal as it struck a chord with me. I related to wanting to hide that side of myself for a long time out of fear of rejection. You’re acceptance in the end ultimately frees Damien from the prison of his own self doubt about himself and if that doesn’t touch your heart then I don’t know what will 😀 !
This guy is by far the most roller-coaster ride you’ll take on this man chasing adventure. Robert is eccentric, bold as brass and outright just brave in his willingness to do anything and take on any situation. He’s got a confidence you won’t find in any of the other das not even Brian. Robert is also unique in that you have to Reject him first in order to date him. During the pre-BBQ sequence you’ll meet Robert in a bar and get to know him slightly and discover your first encounter of the ever lovely Mary (Josephs wife) who happens to be Roberts bestest buddy in town. After a few drinks hell put the moves on you and you have to say no and leave in order to woo him later. Through his dates you’ll be taken on crazy adventures such as wood whittling in the hills and gate crashing a ghost tour with the craziest story you could possibly have imagined. By the end you see the reality of it coming that Robert like ALL the dads has an issue. Something wrong with his life that only you can help with. This sounds belittling but in reality Roberts issues related to me as I know a man just like that. Those feelings and issues and I’ve seen it face up. Its extremely rewarding to see his conclusion and know you helped that happen!
Normally with a dating sim id love to rip into the lack of gameplay and mechanics here but frankly I had to eat my words this time. underneath the dialogue and art sprites hides a real treasure trove of rather enjoyable mechanics. After going through town and meeting the dads at the BBQ youl’ll begin to invite them all on dates across town and through these dates you’ll get access to a wide range of mingames from fishing puzzles, the worst radio repair job ever, my frankly AMAZING keyboard Ska Solo (forget the boo’s guys they don’t understand the mastery of my talents) and penultimately the most infuriating mini golf game that I’ve been forced to play since my dad brought his driving iron the course when I was 10 (you’re still not funny old man) throughout the games you’ll get success frustration and ultimately enjoyment from each one as you progress through for that high score at the end of the date!
The score system is like QI in that I have no idea how it works but a good rank is fairly easy to get!
You’ll only get three dates with each date and the third date locks you in to their ending but in reality, the third date is not actually the third date, more often than not you’ll get text saying about how much more you’ve been hanging out and doing stuff so I suppose its your third important date. You have auto saves at regular intervals and manual saves at any point. To plough through all seven of the romantic choices will take maybe 10 hours if you’re a little impatient with the text but each dad could be completed in an afternoon of short play which is fun as you can do one, and come back to the others (seven dates in a week I wish I was so lucky)
Big grievances with this game are, firstly I want to talk about the Sprites for the Dads. Now the artwork in this game is very well done and enjoyable to look at BUT and it’s a big but… there isn’t enough of it sprite wise. Every time you make a right or wrong decision instead of getting a display of elation or contempt from the dads you get this weird and to me very tacky display or hearts, aubergines and sweat drops for great calls and a black sinister cloud for wrong ones. Yes, it does convey that the response is good or bad but it’s doing it at the expense of a more natural feeling flow of the game. This strikes me as something that would be so easy to fix and, yet it was left? Is that on purpose and if so why?
Second major complaint is actually with my own daughter in the game and its that no matter how many runs I made of this game her story just didn’t change. Now this is fine for the first two or three dads but by the seventh its just not as endearing and heart-warming as it was at the start. Could she not have had more dad specific interactions with my character depending on the road I chose to walk?
Lastly, I know this is a very minority complaint but I felt the overall endgame was a little … weak. In the end of each dad’s story you’ll receive an art card for them and that’s kind of it. they’re nicely done but ultimately, I feel they’re a little unrewarding for the game. Id have liked an animation maybe or some additional dates after you’d won their hearts. Even some text on what happened in your future with them?
Also, I just want to throw this in here because it really confused me… why does EVERY gay dad in the town live in one cul-de-sac?? Is this like an LGBT coral that I’m not aware of XD ? it’s just confusing
In the end I have to recommend this game. Its got HUGE amounts of heart and charm to it, its funny, well written, full of pop culture references and deep down examines some really tough issues that I didn’t expect a game of this type to touch upon. If you can id give even a single dad in this game a chance to win your heart and I know that one of them will. Despite the lack of art work for emotions and Amanda having after a while a very tedious story that drives you along I know I’d definitely want this in my steam list this Christmas.