Being in lockdown has taken its toll on everyone, and with social gatherings being a huge no-no, how can a young, single guy expect to find love (in a hopeless place)? Wide-eyed and brimming with optimism, twenty-something Vinny tries his luck with an online dating app in hopes of finding 'the one despite the odds seemingly stacked against him.
What’s Five Dates’ gameplay like?In Five Dates, you control Vinny’s choices surrounding everything from setting up your online profile to picking out which woman you want to go on a date with. You can only choose three out of the five matches you get (because going on more dates means paying for “Premium” app prices). Once you go on a date with each of those three girls, you then pick two to go on a second date with. Depending on how the first date went, they can either accept or decline your request for a second date. Eventually, if the second date goes well, you can ask your chosen lady out on a third, and hopefully, you can move on out of the app and start dating for real (even if only virtually because of the pandemic).
You get little nuggets of hilarious back-and-forths between Vinny and his best mate Callum in between dates, which amps up the fun factor of the whole experience. The choices you make with Callum don’t really impact the game’s outcome too much, but it’s still a refreshing change of pace for when you need to let off some steam.
What’s the story?Obviously, the narrative of this full-motion video (FMV) game will depend entirely on the choices you make with every date. You can either hit it off with your top pick or fail miserably, but what impressed me most about Five Dates is that the acting is so darn good that it actually makes you believe that the choice you make is the real story. Of course, playing it again using different choices will have a different turn of events, but that’s entirely up to you. You can go through the game picking the choices you would genuinely make IRL, or you can just find the “correct” answer by getting a feel of the woman’s vibe.
The script flows naturally with every conversation, so much so that I felt like these were real people going on actual virtual dates. Scenes are believable mainly because the actors give such stellar performances when it comes to delivering their lines and embodying their characters.Five Dates, an interactive rom-com, is out now on iOS
Of course, every so often, there’s still the occasional unrealistic reaction, and a forced line or two here and there. I recoiled at cringe-worthy moments but felt giddy when sparks were flying all over the place. Good Gate Media and Wales Interactive really did a bang-up job of giving you a sense of the treacherous waters of the online dating world, as one seemingly harmless side-comment might make or break a potential budding relationship.
What’s the appeal?To be honest, I found myself thoroughly enjoying the game during times when I didn’t have to make decisions. I loved watching the video clips themselves - it almost felt like I was watching a rom-com, and I actually had to bite my lip a few times to keep from grinning like an idiot. The constant choose your own adventure-esque questions kept ruining the magic for me. The Complex review - "Greater than the sum of its parts"
Personally, though, I feel like my second playthrough was the more “accurate” one, as the woman I picked, Shaina, really connected with me with natural chemistry. In my first playthrough, I ended up with Maya, and while she was pretty cool too, I just felt like things were easier and felt less forced with Shaina when I played the second time around.
All this just proves how difficult online dating can be, because I hadn’t picked Shaina during my first try. If this were real life, I could have missed out on that opportunity to meet “the one” - and the fact that this happened in the game just means that Five Dates is a realistic sim. Of course, being married for a while now might mean I’m a little out of touch when it comes to the online dating scene these days, but I still think the game is pretty accurate (though I'm confident saying that).
I’m currently on my third playthrough, mainly because I just want to see what else would happen if I picked other choices. It’s a little odd that Vinny is basically a chameleon whom you can customize to suit a specific girl - for instance, he can be a meat-eater or a vegetarian depending on whether or not you want to pick the right answer just so you can get the girl, so to speak. In that sense, it does feel unrealistic at times, but for my own personal playthroughs, I mostly just tried to be my real self and see how things would end up.
Overall, Five Dates paints a vivid picture of love during lockdown. It’s a nice change of pace if you’re looking for something lighthearted, and the replayability is just insane. There’s a stat chart you can check from the main menu where you’ll see just how many scenes you’ve unlocked and how many achievements you can score with each run. If you’re a completionist, you’ll no doubt spend countless hours on this game just trying to unlock all those scenes. And really, with such entertaining acting, watching all those clips definitely won’t be a chore.