What did the daddy tomato say to the baby tomato? Ketchup! Just like the baby tomato, I decided to ketchup on Dream Daddy: A Dad Dating Simulator to see what it was all about. While clearly meant to be a somewhat tongue-in-cheek play on the dating sim genre by those jokesters at Game Grumps, the premise was interesting enough to get my roommate interested. Intrigued, I embarked on a pun-filled journey with several dreamy dads for an odd experience on the virtual dating scene.
The premise is simple: you’re a single dad whose husband or wife passed away and you’re moving across town for a fresh start. Your daughter Amanda is heading for to college soon, and you hope her dream of studying photography will pay off. After moving in, dateable dads of all stripes come out of the woodwork to introduce themselves and to check out the new guy who just rolled into their neighborhood. The dads vary from the cool, mysterious Robert, who’s also a bit of a delinquent to suave Hugo, who loves books and wine, though not always in that order.
I didn’t have high expectations going in, though dating dads turned out to be an interesting experience. I expected the dads to be generic cookie-cutter stereotypes who would shoot me cheap puns sprinkled with romantic dialogue. What ended up happening is not only did I end up playing through each Dads’ storyline, but made an emotional connection with a few of them.
Robert had the storyline that grabbed me the most, which involved getting in trouble and making up stories about his encounters with the supernatural. Naturally, I loved Robert! Setting up the actual dates involved using Dadbook, Dream Daddy’s version of Facebook. Here dateable dads list their profiles, letting would-be romantics view their likes and dislikes. It also works as a hint system to become friendlier with the other dads and thus win them over a series of three dates.
I adored the premise of Dream Daddy, but after a few playthroughs the writing did start to feel less than fabulous. Some of the dads lacked substance while others were so well thought out it made it easy to think they were real people. Two dads I loved the most, Robert and Damien, had well-thought out storylines and distinctive personalities. They were multi-faceted like real people and it was hard not to do another playthrough with either them. Other dads, like Brian and Craig, felt shallow and superficial when I explored their storylines.
Another drawback is the time spent with each dad is way too short, especially for someone like me who went in wanting to do multiple playthroughs. The parts where your chosen dad helps out Amanda are some of the strongest in the game, but as an individual character she’s lacking. Her storyline remained largely unchanged between scenarios, leaving me to fast-forward through to get to the next dad date.
Even then the storyline for each dad played out in about forty-five minutes, often leaving me with an unsatisfying conclusion in most cases. I also wish there had been a greater end goal for the characters to focus on, like saving the town or improving the lives of the citizens living there. Don’t get me wrong, Dream Daddy – when done right – was an emotional roller coaster for me. There were parts where I teared up a little bit and found myself admiring the fact that so many of these dads were dedicated to their kids. It was a breath of fresh air to see and this is coming from someone who isn’t particularly close to their own father.
While it feels incomplete, I still ended up loving many of the virtual dating dads in Dream Daddy: A Dad Dating Simulator. I didn’t bring this up before, but games with LGBTQ themes shouldn’t be controversial anymore, and there aren’t many like this out there (and this is coming from someone who recently played a dating sim with dragons). It’s hardly perfect; the actual dates should be longer and a few of the daddies lacked substance. Still, I say give it a try if the premise at all grabs your fancy, you won’t regret this dad dating experience.