Dream Daddy

Dream Daddy: A Dad Dat­ing Sim­u­la­tor gives love a dad game.

PC GAMER (UK) - - CONTENTS - By Han­nah Dwan

Dat­ing sim­u­la­tors of­ten present an es­o­teric mix of cliches and quirks, and those that in­tro­duce high-con­cept comedy into the mix tend to do so satir­i­cally. DreamDaddy could so eas­ily have been that – a par­ody of the way vis­ual nov­els tend to sim­plify re­la­tion­ships down to di­a­logue op­tions, or a com­men­tary on the us­age of queer re­la­tion­ships in the genre. It isn’t, though. Be­neath the dad jokes, it’s a game about kind­ness and pos­i­tiv­ity.

You play your own, cus­tom-cre­ated dad, who’s mov­ing to a new area with his daugh­ter, Amanda. After his part­ner died, he’s been rais­ing Amanda as a sin­gle fa­ther, and the two have a very close re­la­tion­ship. The cul-de-sac they move to is, con­ve­niently, filled with dads, most of whom are sin­gle (the other is in the per­pet­ual re­la­tion­ship state of ‘it’s com­pli­cated’).

After in­tro­duc­tions, you get to choose dads to go on dates with, which can range from a trivia night with the lo­cal English teacher Hugo, to fish­ing with handy­man Brian. The third date is the kicker, as that de­cides which dad will be your ‘Dream Daddy’, end­ing the game. You can rush through, quickly choos­ing a favourite and head­ing into bed to­gether, or take your time, play­ing the field be­fore choos­ing your match.

For the most part, those dates are won­der­ful. You might say the wrong things, or have to save a girl who wad­dled into the pen­guin en­clo­sure at the aquar­ium, but it’s al­ways a fun time. After each one, you’ll come

back to Amanda and re­lay what hap­pened, usu­ally, fol­lowed by, “I love you,” and, “I love you too, Pops.”

That’s what DreamDaddy is about – healthy, lov­ing re­la­tion­ships where peo­ple are able to speak their mind about emo­tions, flaws and love. Each dad is com­pli­cated and flawed in some way, and you won’t ‘fix’ them but you’ll help them in some way. The re­la­tion­ships you make end up im­prov­ing the lives of ev­ery­one in­volved, as these dads forge a sup­port net­work. It sounds corny, but that’s the where DreamDaddy suc­ceeds. There’s an un­re­lent­ing kind­ness run­ning through it, both in your dad’s dates and in his re­la­tion­ship with his daugh­ter.

There’s an un­der­ly­ing mo­tive given to your dad early on: he just wants the best for his daugh­ter. Much of what he does, he does for her. Above all else, he wants to make sure Amanda is happy. How he goes about that is up to you, but the aim is al­ways to do what’s best. That’s the same across all of the dads. Most ac­tiv­i­ties have some un­der­ly­ing theme of ‘We’re do­ing this for our kids,’ and the dads love it.

Some of the re­la­tion­ships are messy – one dad is mar­ried and has some is­sues he’s bot­tling up, while an­other is look­ing for hookups – but the fo­cus is on com­mu­ni­ca­tion. In the cases where things went wrong, some­one didn’t com­mu­ni­cate their prob­lems and things got out of hand. Love one an­other, re­spect one an­other, and forge healthy re­la­tion­ships where friends aren’t afraid to ask for help, lend a hand, or just say, “I love you.” That’s the core mes­sage of DreamDaddy, and it takes prece­dence over more se­ri­ous is­sues. The game un­for­tu­nately skirts around the cul­tural cli­mate of queer pol­i­tics and only gives brief men­tions to the strug­gles of sin­gle par­ents, the in­nately queer re­la­tion­ships here aren’t even dis­cussed. All the dads are queer in some way, and that’s that.

Dad to the bone

In that re­spect, DreamDaddy fal­ters. As much as the core mes­sage of open love be­tween fam­ily, friends and part­ners re­mains, it avoids the mine­field of find­ing other queer folk in a pre­dom­i­nantly het­ero­sex­ual so­ci­ety. This as­pect feels im­por­tant to DreamDaddy’s mes­sage, and un­for­tu­nately isn’t ad­dressed. Dream Daddy is kind and nice, with writ­ing that’s funny and up­lift­ing, but it ne­glects the greater is­sues it al­ludes to. It doesn’t push the boat out in its so­cial com­men­tary.

De­spite that, what’s here is great. The char­ac­ters are di­verse, well de­signed, and smartly writ­ten. I was smil­ing for pretty much my en­tire time play­ing, and it al­ways felt like a pos­i­tive game. Un­for­tu­nately, though, it’s am­biva­lent about the queer cul­ture it sits on.

There’s an un­re­lent­ing kind­ness run­ning through it

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