Dream Daddy Review
The buzz for Dream Daddy reached me before I knew anything about the game. It’s a dating sim, where you yourself are a single dad, who can exclusively date other single dads. Twitter was on fire. People were freaking out. Was this simple dating sim the next big thing? Through an abundance of charm, humor, and heart, Dream Daddy absolutely earns the hype and is strangely affecting in ways that games seldom are.
There are a lot of games about romance, and a lot of games about fathers and daughters, but rarely are they such heart warming wish fulfillment. After creating your dadsona, and customizing your dad-bod, you take the role of a recently widowed dad, moving into a new house with your 18-year-old daughter Amanda. The new cul-de-sac is populated by other conveniently available dads. Once you set up your Dadbook profile, it’s a go, and you can court each of the wonderful dads in wonderfully dad-ly ways.
The main protagonist in Dream Daddy is a schlub, defined mostly by a lack of talents and interests. This is what makes the game’s charm all the more impressive. While all of the other dads are extreme and obsessive – no one is better at fishing or mini-gold than competitive Brian, Mat is unbelievably cool, Damien gets into fights about Victorian authenticity in a Hot Topic – you are simply pure dad. You make puns, you can’t really bake, you love to nap. These are the defining characteristics of your main dad, and they do a lot to make your player character simultaneously relatable and vivid.
“Dream Daddy absolutely earns the hype, and is strangely affecting in ways that games seldom are.”
The other masterstroke of Dream Daddy is Amanda. The different dad dates have their charm, but Dream Daddy remembers that the most essential part of being a dad is having a kid, and Amanda is like, the perfect kid. She’s funny and smart and cool. She gets into trouble, but not too much trouble. By centering the game around your interactions with your amazing daughter, Dream Daddy makes being a dad a big part of the fantasy.
If the game were only a visual novel with some fun dialogue choices, that would work well enough. As it happens, Dream Daddy is filled with mini-games, most of which are silly but do wonders for the pacing. Turning a fishing trip into a match-three game doesn’t really make sense, but the game plays everything so tongue-in-cheek that I didn’t really question it, I just tried to match those trout.
Put that quirky gameplay together with a vibrant art style, and a minimalist palette of sounds, and you have yourself a game. Compared to a AAA release, or even another indie game, Dream Daddy doesn’t have a lot of production values, but the trade off is for quality over quantity. Characters aren’t fully animated, but the five or six poses each character has expresses what they need to in the moment and tells you a lot about each character. You’ll hear Amanda say “daaaaaad” way too many times, but the voice line is charming enough to make you smile.
“Between the delightful little flourishes, this is a game that wants to make you think. And feel.”
There are those who would write Dream Daddy off as a parody. While it’s true that this is a comedy game, it is also one of the most earnest game experiences I’ve ever had. Beneath the puns, and the many My Chemical Romance jokes is a story about love, family, and masculinity. Where other dating simulators go for steamy, sexy fun, Dream Daddy has other priorities. Between the delightful little flourishes, this is a game that wants to make you think. And feel.
** A Steam PC code was provided by the publisher **
- Laugh out loud punny
- Digital daughter will make you want to be a dad
- Well paced dad mini-games
- Simple graphics, simple sound
- Gameplay doesn’t always reflect the story