You know, I like jokes. Making jokes, laughing at jokes, acknowledging that a joke has been made but refusing to laugh, I love the entire joke process. But when jokes don’t go smoothly, there’s a problem. For example, your rampant autism has caused you to laugh at a joke that wasn’t a joke at all. Instead, it was a completely serious proposal that you misinterpreted as humorous. People look like they’re looking for an excuse to move a table away. Your misinterpretation has ruffled some feathers and made you sound like a dickhead. You get home, still thinking how it couldn’t have not been a joke. Then, the next day, the ‘joke’ is lost on you and you’re suddenly left with an empty and guilty emptiness.
Dream Daddy is a bit like that.
First and foremost, I’m not calling Dream Daddy a game. I do this because I prefer to call a spade a spade. In this case, I’m calling a dating sim a dating sim. It could be a spade if it tried hard enough though. Follow your dreams, kids. Dream Daddy is a dating sim about romancing one of seven sassy wise-cracking fathers with sassy wise-cracking children in your new home. You play as a fully customisable sassy wise-cracking father of your very own (not your real dad, that’s just weird) with a sassy wise-cracking daughter. You’ve moved into a new place, and it is your job…nay, your duty… to make friends with the other dads and give your daughter a good home. But mostly, you’re going to flirt with dads. In true dating sim style, Dream Daddy features many different endings and some fun-for-one-time minigames.
When it comes to the dating part, Dream Daddy has it down pat. Each dad fulfils their ‘role’ in the story, and what you see is what you get. ‘Cool dad’ Mat loves alternative music and owns a coffee shop. The names of the beverages he sells are full of musical references that would make Hirohiko Araki nod his head coolly in approval. ‘Bad dad’ Robert is a Hell Bent for Leather hard-arse with more baggage than a packed airliner. He also loves knives and has a hot daughter that you can’t romance. Sad face. ‘Fitness dad’ Craig is your former dudebro college roommate who’s cleaned up his act and is now a [dream] daddy of three daughters. He frequents the gym and still calls you ‘bro’. Yes, this part of whimsical suburbia has many dads that are down for dick. Sorry for being crude, but I can never resist wordplay. Actually…I’m not sorry, good use of words must be encouraged.
Man, the first gen of daughters was the worst one.
Yoshikage Kira wants to live quietly.
Dream Daddy’s writing ranges from fun to average, but it never quite dips below that level. I noticed mid-way through my first playthrough that the writing has that Homestuck feel to it, where each character is superficially defined by how they speak and not by what they speak. Every character is equally as sassy as each other and has many a witty remark to say, and that gets old really quickly. Then again, I read Homestuck – the second-longest English-language text behind a Super Smash Bros. fanfiction – the whole way…so there’s a charm to it that can be lapped up and enjoyed. Those that want more meat to their characterisation may be left disappointed though. If I had to use a word to define it, it would be “lovely”. Not something you’ll remember, but absolutely a good time if you’re not a living embodiment of wank like me. The art style is just about as good as dating sims get as well. Simple realism with some shading liberties taken: the master race of art.
Each route has mini-games, some more fun than others. After playing through (almost) every route, there was only one that I’ll recall in about a year. They serve as more of a joke than a distraction or a change of pace, which comes across as unnecessary. A Pokemon inspired game where you try to out-boast another dad about your child has no impact on the game regardless of if you win or lose. A keyboard-playing segment is literally meant to just be you mashing at keys without any idea about actually playing. Other details manage to disappoint as well, for instance text you haven’t read before can be easily skipped while fast-forwarding, the voice acting is used too frequently and therefore lessens its impact, the portrayal of a squeaky-clean suburbia is detrimental to the more serious moments, and there’s a lot that I could say about Dream Daddy‘s problematic decisions about where to draw the line at player choice. I’m not particularily in the mood to be burned at the stake for it, so I’ll just leave that up to your imagination. It’s these smaller niggles that bring down an otherwise okay visual novel.
The neighborhood didn’t roll quads. They couldn’t stop him coming.
Dadbook’s dad-vasive privacy policies are a big turn-off, personally.
Dream Daddy comes from a nice idea, but is often hard to take seriously. It’s good fun for at least a couple of hours, but if you’re playing for the ‘novelty’ you won’t be playing much longer than that.