Video Game Review: Dream Daddy: A Dad Dating Simulator

by Brittany B. | 12/16/2020

Are you someone who enjoys men-loving-men content? Are you someone who enjoys dating simulator games? Do you enjoy beautifully rendered art? Or more dad puns than you throw a football at? Well, if any of that sounds like a thing you’re into, then you’re probably going to enjoy Dream Daddy, developed and published by Game Grumps and written by Vernon Shaw and Leighton Gray:

Dream Daddy: A Dad Dating Simulator is a game where you play as a Dad and your goal is to meet and romance other hot Dads. Are you ready? Hi ready, I’m Dad. 

You and  your daughter have just moved into the sleepy seaside town of Maple bay only to discover that everyone in your neighborhood is a single, dateable Dad!

Will you go with Teacher Dad? Goth Dad? Bad Dad? Or any of the other cool Dads in this game? With minigames, sidequests, and a variety of paths and endings, Dream Daddy: A Dad Dating Simulator is this year’s most anticipated Dad-based game.

As the summary indicates, you play a dad who has the chance to romance other dads and the dad puns overfloweth in this short dating simulator. You and your daughter, Amanda, move into a new part of Maple Bay and move into a cul-de-sac filled with attractive neighbors who are eager to get to know you and mostly all of them are single (contrary to the synopsis).

The game itself can run anywhere from four hours to about ten, depending on how you play the game and there’s a daddy for everyone! All of the dateable dads are unique and have drastically different personalities and story arcs. 

From Left to Right: Robert, Damien, Hugo, Joseph, Craig, Mat, and Brian.

Now – I will be the first to admit that I haven’t played this game exhaustively and have only gone through a few full playthroughs and haven’t experienced every single storyline or outcome that Dream Daddy has to offer. So my observations for this review are based off of my limited playthroughs (I have just under 30 hours logged on the game) and brief conversations I’ve had with three friends who have also played this game. 

Overall, I really enjoyed this game. It’s funny, witty, diverse, and beautifully drawn. I’m not the target audience (as a gender indifferent human who is only attracted to women) but this game had me laughing along with the jokes, feeling the emotional ride alongside the characters, and made me want to play the best dad possible for Amanda (the playable character’s 18 year old daughter). I liked that of the seven dads, only three were white, the others being Black, Asian, and I think Hispanic. I do wish, though, that the body diversity of the dads was a little more varied.

In the character creation screen, there are six body types to pick from but it’s only really three – the main difference it seems is picking between an “athletic tank bod” and a “athletic binder bod,” which I initially missed when I first played the game. All the bodies are somewhat muscular in their own way and I only wish that there were less muscular bod options available to give a better range of body diversity in the game. But other than that, I have no complaints about how the characters are drawn or portrayed. And one thing that I appreciate is that you never actually see the chest of your player character; I think that makes the game accessible to non-binary and trans-masc individuals, because the other features of character creation aren’t intrinsically gendered one way or the other. Regardless of how you build your playable avatar though, your pronouns will be he/him and you’ll be called dad, but there’s nothing in the dialogue or romantic scenes that explicitly states that you’re cis (again, in what I’ve played). 

On the topic of nonbinary and trans representation, there is a dad who refers to wearing comfortable binders! So there’s a trans-dad! I won’t spoil which dad it is but their character story was probably my favorite without knowing that about them. When I’d played their romance I actually missed the binder conversation because I hadn’t picked the right option that leads to that. But upon talking with someone else, they explained the scene to me and I replayed that romance and read it myself. It’s a minor scene but it’s there and that is awesome!

The prologue of the game, right after you create your character, you’re going through photos with your daughter. In the game you can choose whether or not you used to be married to a woman or a man and whether or not you were there at Amanda’s birth or if she was adopted. I like that the game gives the player the option of not being strictly gay in their sexual orientation, but bisexual or pansexual, too. In fact, many of the dads in the game have been married to women and have been either divorced or widowed. And while there is flexibility in characters’ sexual orientation, it isn’t a discussion point in any of the playthroughs that I’ve gone through. I can’t say definitively yet if there’s a moment where a character concretely defines their orientation, but the fact that it isn’t something that has to be justified to each character is great! The player gets to play a man who is interested in other men and all the men are cool with it. 

My biggest most glaring complaint about the game is that there are simply too many dead spouses. Three characters have a dead spouse and two of them are canonically women (the third spouse is the player’s spouse, but you get the pick their gender). I understand that the death of a spouse is tragic and absolutely nothing to belittle and is absolutely something that happens in real life; but with only 8 dads (player included), that’s almost a third of your cast with a deceased partner. I felt that there could have been more divorcees or more dads who adopted a child because they wanted to be a dad, damn being with someone else to make that dream happen, or even someone who is still technically married but very much separated, or someone who is married and poly or in an open relationship. There is a character that is married, but a relationship with him is very much an affair. It would have been interesting to see what a poly or open relationship would have done to the dynamic of the game. But killing off a spouses for the emotional turmoil or growth of another will never be something I enjoy and will always challenge writers to find alternatives to that. 

Dream Daddy takes the dating simulator genre and turns it on its head. Not only is it giving exclusively men-loving-men content and relationships, it also does a lot of things to subvert the genre and make you think about what you’re doing as well as bring new interesting ways to play the game. The ultimate goal of the game is to cement a relationship with one of the dads. But, for some of the dads, that’s not possible because of their situation. I don’t want to say who or why because it will spoil those plot lines, but I will say that it was an intentional decision by the writers according to an interview I read where they talked about the fanbase being displeased with one of the dad’s endings. The writers want the players to assess how they’re playing and the ramifications of what a relationship between certain dads would yield regardless of the fact that they’re playing a dating sim. 

The game also includes mini-games like a Pokémon style battle where instead of fighting Pokémon you’re trying to out-brag about your daughter to another dad, or a game where you have to pieces of a broken statue to fix it before your date comes back, or having to navigate your way through a crowd without being trampled, and more! With the inclusion of mini games it genuinely makes the game feel harder because for most dads you can’t get a perfect date unless you do really good on the mini game instead of just ensuring that you’re picking the correct dialogue option which can easily be found online. But there is no cheat code for the mini games, which for me, translated to the effort that the player’s character is putting into the date. I’m not sure if the game developers were going for something so meta, but I really enjoyed it when I looked at it that way. 

I’ve looked into this because during my playthroughs, I haven’t had any actual sex scenes, explicit images, or even explicit writing. There are scenes about kissing, disrobing, but when it gets past that, it’s a fade to black. For some avid dating simulator players, that might be something they dislike, but for me, I liked it! It kept the the game open for individuals who don’t want to play a cis male or individuals who are ace who may enjoy the hugging and kissing but may not want to read about sex happening. It also gives ample room for fan content creation in way of fanfiction or fanart. The most explicit thing in the game is when you make a choice that the dad you’re speaking with “loves,” an explosion of hearts, water droplets, and eggplant emojis erupt from behind them. It’s not explicit, but most people know what eggplants and water droplets in emoji speak stands for. Honestly, it was just another thing in the game that made me laugh and go “niccce” as I feel the writers intended. 

Overall, I really enjoyed this game and the laughs that came with it. This visual novel dating simulator is smart, unique, and will absolutely make you laugh – whether you’re laughing with the dads because the puns are great, or laughing alongside the kids because the puns are awful. Regardless, laughs will be had by all regardless of how many times you replay the game and each dad has a unique story to pull you through emotionally. 

Rating:
4 out of 5 rainbows

Recommended Player: Anyone looking for a fun men-loving-men dating simulation game with dad puns aplenty. The game is relatively mild with minor lewd humor but nothing shocking or out of the norm for a dating sim.

Follow more from the Dream Daddy team on Twitter:
Writers Vernon Shaw and Leighton Gray, Artist Shanen Pae, Game Director Tyler Hutchinson, and the Game @dreamdaddygame.

The Game originally launched for Windows & macOS, but is now available on Linux, PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch, Android, and iOS devices!

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