PC Release Date: 20th July
It’s here, it’s queer and it wants to buy you a beer. The debut title from Game Grumps, “Let’s Play” YouTube icons turned game developers features you, a fresh faced Dad in the town of Maple Bay, ready to get downright Daddly with a host of potential parentals. With your daughter in tow, who will you choose to crack dad jokes with till death do you part?
“Welcome, you’ve got Dads.”
The cast of dads available to woo is wonderfully diverse, from straight-laced Joseph Christiansen, the local Youth Minister, runner of church fetes and neighbourhood barbeques to leather clad “Bad Dad” Robert Smalls, mysterious, brooding and ruggedly handsome. Each are unique and being fathers, naturally come with children that flesh out and compliment their character. “Goth Dad” Damien Bloodmarch drips with Victorian elegance and grace, whilst his rebellious teenage son Lucien rocks eyeliner, stick-and-poke tattoos and is just about ready to join the Black Parade. This dynamic really brings the characters to life, Teacher Hugo Vega, lover of books, fine wine and cheeses has a son by name of Ernest Hemingway, a vaping, trouble-making hoodlum in contrast. Each father just wants what’s best for their kid, and you’re no exception.
Whilst there’s a whole paternal parade to fall for, the character you might find yourself adoring the most is none other than your own daughter, Amanda. With you from the outset, your wisecracking kiddo supports your ventures as you support her on her way to college to study photography. Whilst juggling parenthood and the world of dad dating, she helps you set up your own “Dadbook” page, from here, the rest of the game unfurls.
The crux of the game is picking who to date, by selecting a dad’s profile and sending a message. This then leads down an interactive narrative based path, where you follow the date and occasionally pick dialogue options. Each of three dates with each father is different and often features a mini-game, such as rebuilding one of Damien’s gargoyles, hopping through a moshing crowd whilst Canadian Punk Rock band PUP make a cameo on a date with the musically inclined Matt or catching fish with burly, braggart dad Brian. During a date, the aim is to build upon the connection you have with the dad of your choice, by selecting the most appropriate answer when prompted. This releases a shower of hearts, complete with infamous eggplant emojis if you’ve done especially well at father flirting.
From the absolute outset the game bombards you with dad puns and jokes, and it’s inspired. The script from beginning, to end, through every route is lovingly laden with witty quips and horrible puns, woven into a narrative that’s so earnest, wholesome and genuinely sincere you can’t help but melt in its strong Dad hands. For a game where the difference between earning “Dad” and “Daddy Points” couldn’t be clearer, it remains strikingly pure. Every aspect of the game evokes warm feelings, from the playful dialogue between dads and kids alike, bright visuals that carry the same flavour of light-hearted fun and a similarly smooth soundtrack, Dream Daddy is far from a Freudian nightmare.
With different dads to pick and a grade for every date, dictating the route of each story branch as well as plenty of secrets and achievements to eventually uncover, Dream Daddy is something to gleefully revisit time and time again. Each dad successfully wooed at the end of his route unlocks a pinup in the Gallery, each rendered by a different artist in a unique style. How you interact with Amanda whilst dating also affects her relationship with you and her fate, best be sure to earn those Dad points.
Dream Daddy, as sweet and as fun as it is, is also massively important. It’s rare to find a game with such positive LGBT+ representation, done with such simplicity and finesse. The dads cover a range of ethnicities, body types and backgrounds and the sexuality of characters is never focused upon or seen as anything less than normal. The incredibly robust “Build That Dad!” feature allows users to create an avatar that represents them from a great host of features, including “binder bod” options for trans characters. It’s an immensely inclusive feature and is further proof of the love and care that’s been poured into the game, which oozes out from its every pore.
It’s rare for a game to evoke such a warm sense of sincerity. In a similar way to indie hit Undertale, Dream Daddy is both silly and refreshingly resolute in its purity. From the lilting, soft serenade of the opening title theme, to the pun-derful names of bars and shops like “Vinyl Fantasy VII” or Irish bar “Irish I Were Drinking”, the ludicrous lengths it goes to assure a genuine Dad tone of humour is impressive, as is everything else it manages to achieve.