To say 2020 has been a normal year is a major understatement. It has been anything but normal. A global pandemic and 2 lockdowns are enough to drive anyone crazy. That being said, the medium of video games has come as a welcomed relief to all during these troubled times. Never has the escapism factor been so important. Not just to pass the time, but also for our mental health.
Now it has been a mixed year in regards to gaming. There have been a lot of great releases, however, due to the pandemic there have been a ton of delays, see Cyberpunk 2077 for example.
However, I have never seen a game take the worst of what has been going on in current events and turn it into something enjoyable and a testament to the good that we have been seeing coming out of all this.
Five Dates is the latest interactive movie game to come from studio ‘Wales Interactive’. Their previous works include the stellar thriller ‘The Bunker’, heist thriller ‘Late night’ and the amazing (and topical) ‘The complex’, all of which I thoroughly enjoyed.
The initial premise for ‘Five Dates’ is simple, you (or the character of Vinny) sign up to an online dating app and choose to go on dates with either Maya, Grace, Saffron, Shaina or Paige. Now what makes this game relevant to what is currently going on in the world is that it is set during the first national Lockdown in the United Kingdom.
Once starting a new game you are set the task of setting up Vinny’s dating profile. You have the choice of what profile picture to use, his profession, 3 interests and his star sign. Depending on what choices you pick affects the game narratively. For example, if you pick that your profession is in health care, your best friend will commend you for doing an amazing job as a key worker, all your dates will reference this as well.
In terms of gameplay, there are five characters in total to choose from to date, yet you can only choose 3 to pursue. You then go on a series of dates with each character. On your first date you get to know the characters through a choice of dialogue paths, then follow up with a debrief with your best friend/wingman. You are then told to select the 2 you would like to have a second date with and leave one behind. Once the second date is over you then have to make your choice on who you like the most.
This adds so much replay value as you feel the need to find out more about these characters with each playthrough. Once you reach the end you will find yourself in a new game and selecting a different starting 3.
This is what I love about wales Interactive and their games, the replayability and branching narratives. Each playthrough is different, and the characters are so well written and interesting you find yourself connecting with them (as if you know them personally) and wanting to know more about them. I found this when playing ‘The Complex’. I replayed it over and over to find each different story path and the same goes for ‘Five dates’. There are over 766 scenes to view within this game and I’ve only viewed 377 during all my playthroughs. So there’s your reason for playing it over and over again.
I thoroughly enjoyed this game. Mainly due to its narrative and cast of interesting characters, but also for how it made me feel. It has made the best out of a bad situation. This year has been crazy, there’s no denying it. Yet it’s a year we’re all going to remember for the rest of our lives. Who remembers standing outside your front door clapping for the NHS for all their hard work? This game addresses that directly by including it within a scene. It makes you feel that even though this year hasn’t been the best, it’s found a way of bringing everyone together.
Now if that’s not the message of a good video game, I don’t know what is.
Five Dates gets a solid 10/10 and is available on Xbox One, PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch, Windows PC and Mac for £9.99.
Five Dates is available on PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch, Xbox One and PC
This review is based on the Xbox version of the game and can be purchased here for £9.99.
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