Getting stood up can actually be fun.
What Dinner Date Got Right
- + Relaxing interactive movie experience
- + In-depth characterisation
- + Short and sweet
What Dinner Date Got Wrong
- - Limited interaction
- - Virtually no replayability
- - Too many action icons filling up screen
Sometimes it's relaxing to just sit down and enjoy an experience that doesn't require much thinking or dexterity. Dinner Date will give you exactly that, a step into someone else's life, problems and emotions as he waits for his date to arrive.
Julian shares his inner-most thoughts and problems while sipping a glass of wine and glancing at the clock. You control his actions and nervous twitches by pushing down corresponding keys. This gives you the opportunity to sit back and listen to his overactive brain as he gives you a glimpse into his life, which is where Dinner Date really shines. In a short amount of time, we get to know this guy really well as he talks to himself. When the experience is over, you're left wondering what will become of Julian and his pursuit of love. That's how deep the game is, as it packs all this into 23 minutes.
Exactly as described, Dinner Date doesn't try to be anything else other than an interactive experience. It can be compared with Dear Esther, another narrative set in a dream-like island. There's slightly more to do here and the dialogue is straight and to the point, but I prefer Dinner Date because what you see is what you get (whereas Dear Esther was a little too symbolic and vague for me).
The Final Verdict
If you enjoy interactive movies and would like a breather from more hardcore gaming experiences, Dinner Date is a good pickup at only $2.99. It excels in deep characterisation and concise storytelling. It's not exactly an experience you'll play again, but it's a light, relaxing experience.
Dinner Date was a 2011 Independent Games Festival Finalist. Check it out on Steam here.
By Jeann Wong