Game Reviews

DREAM DADDY: A DAD DATING SIMULATOR Review

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If you’ve got an ear to the ground of internet and gaming culture (which isn’t hard, considering how often those two grounds intersect and overlap) you might be tangentially familiar with DREAM DADDY: A DADDY DATING SIMULATOR and how it’s quickly becoming one of the most popular games on Steam. The title explains all you’d want to know about the game; it’s a dating simulator, built specifically around the concept of dads dating other dads. Considering how much of a meme the concept of a “daddy” is becoming (Research at your own risk), this almost seems like the logical conclusion and explains some of the game’s appeal. The rest that isn’t fueled primarily by fans of dating sims and visual novels can be owed that this is the first game to come out of developer nee Let’s Play channel Game Grumps.

dream daddy gg

Tip to Dads: Neither of these guys are Pewdiepie or Markiplier

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The Game Grumps started out five years ago with the basic premise of two dudes–at the time Arin “Egoraptor” Hansen and Jon “Jontron” Jafari–playing video games together and making witty banter or talking about whatever was ailing them at the time. By now it’s grown into almost a full-blown network featuring the members of the team that have been added over the years. At the time of this writing they have almost 4 million subscribers, which isn’t much compared to the 18 million fans of Markiplier, and nowhere near the 56 million subscribers to Final Boss of the Internet Pewdiepie, but is evidently still enough to make DREAM DADDY one of the biggest games on Steam at the moment.

dream daddy coffee

Can you find another game that has puns based on coffee and Godspeed You! Black Emperor? Exactly

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The plot centers around the player daddy, who has recently moved to the town of Maple Bay with their daughter Amanda. To their surprise they discover their new neighborhood is full of hot, (mostly) dateable dads. After meeting each of them throughout the intro you have a choice of which one to date using the premier social network for fathers, Dadbook. There’s no narrative limit on how many dates you can go on, but the dad you date three times ends up being your dream daddy. Seven different dads means the player has 14 dates before they have to choose someone to make dad puns with for the rest of their life. Certain dates have minigame challenges that have to be met, as well as the occasional recollection of information important to that character.

The characters themselves are all very fleshed-out and have a unique “type”: Damien, as his name would imply, is the Goth Dad obsessed with taxidermy and Victorian fashion, Hugo is your daughter’s teacher and always looking to help his students learn and improve, Robert is the Bad Dad (Or Knife Dad) who is always down for a night of drinkin’ and fightin’ and texts you “u up” at 11 pm, and so on and so forth. If the bulk of the enjoyment of dating sims comes from experiencing each character, then DREAM DADDY has certainly succeeded in making many unique and interesting characters.

dream daddy ncis

Your dad wanted us to let you know that he thinks that NCIS is also full of really unique characters

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Additionally, the game’s writing is very well-done, as one would hope coming from a studio based around dudes making jokes while playing video games. The dialogue and narration are consistently funny, full of groan-worthy Dad puns and jokes to set the record straight in case anyone was confused by the title whether this would be a Dad-centric game. The only issue I have with the writing is that at times it feels like a Tumblr post; certain jokes and dialogue are written in such a distinctly millennial/Buzzfeed sort of dialect, which is fine except most of the characters should be in their 30s and 40s. It didn’t, however, ruin the game by a long shot and if you’re averse to the twee stylings of most Tumblr posts, chances are you don’t even want to play this game.

dream daddy park

This precedes a Pokemon-style minigame where you have to out-boast this dad, so I don’t know why you wouldn’t be interested

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Another thing that stands out about DREAM DADDY is that for a game where the point is to have gay dad sex with a hot dad, the rest of it is surprisingly wholesome. Most of the dads are good dads with healthy relationships towards their children, and even when they don’t they’re usually resolved in a mature, healthy way. When the concept of the game was released it seemed like this would be a dating sim in the nature of HATOFUL BOYFRIEND or even HUNIEPOP; something overtly silly or absurd to match the sense of irony that must go into a game based solely around dating dads. But it truly isn’t. The drama is earnest, each character has an honest exploration of their motivations and personality, and there’s no sense of “look at how ridiculous this situation is because we’re in a dating simulator”. It is, to use the phrase, very pure.

dream daddy deck

As pure as a freshly-stained deck

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I was also very impressed in how inclusive the game strove to be in terms of representation; when constructing your Dadsona, there’s the option to make your character transgender. Similarly in the first interactions with your daughter the player can choose to establish whether their spouse was male or female, and then if their daughter is their biological daughter or not. One of the dads, Damien, is also confirmed to be transgender. None of this bogs the game down, and it’s hardly called attention to; it’s just part of the dad.

There has been a pushback against the game’s popularity from those that see it as nothing more than a cash grab by the Game Grumps and those that see the dad-centered gameplay as a gimmick. Both are short-sighted, as DREAM DADDY feels very genuine and crafted with care and respect. It’s just a nice game; nice looking, nicely written, and just feels nice. So if you’re into that and also interested in banging dads, you might want to make DREAM DADDY your new strong male influence.

Verdict: Recommend

Reviewed on PC

Steven Porfiri
Steven Porfiri is a Merry-Go-Round contributor that grew up on the dusty streets of Bakersfield, California with nothing but a dream and horrible anxiety. He hasn't seen a movie from the current year since 2008 and hasn't played a new game since 2012. You should trust his opinions. You can also find him over at Hard Drive.

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