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Save the Date

by Chris Cornell

Dating Sim
2013

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Reviews and Ratings

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Number of Ratings: 19
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Is this real or is it a game? What's the difference?, May 21, 2019
by deathbytroggles (Minneapolis, MN)
Dating simulators are inherently unsatisfying, in part due to the nature of choose-your-own-adventures. It's hard for the author to tell any kind of cohesive narrative as choices are often so disparate that the endings all require the reader to rewrite the protagonist in their heads to fit that particular branch. And even if one accepts that the player character is a cipher for your personal choices, this only works for one playthrough (assuming you like any of the choices). After that, one is tempted to just read the other branches for completionist sake, which devolves into tedium.

Add all of the above problems onto a dating simulator is even more problematic, as in real life, successful dates are so much more complex than decisions; my wife was drawn to me because of my looks, my sense of humor, and that I accidentally had sunscreen showing on my face when we first met. While I had some agency in all of that, I honestly wasn't trying that hard. I just was who I was. So dating simulators have a difficult time with immersion even for a second. It all just feels like playing with dolls without the ability to use my imagination.

Chris Cornell definitely gets this. Save The Date explores these themes over what makes a story immersive and satisfying. The player is tempted to play this like any dating simulator and constantly struggles against the author who pushes back.

I want to like this more than I did. Given how thoughtful Cornell is about the theme and style of the game, I wish the writing was more lush. There's a lot of stilted dialogue and a lot of clicking past short sentences, which is one of the primary problems with actual dating simulators. But mostly I was annoyed by the ending, as I found it ultimately negating my experience playing the game rather than enriching it.

Others have felt differently, so play it if you enjoy metafiction.

- dgtziea, April 1, 2018

- doodlelogic, July 17, 2017

- The Xenographer, February 21, 2017

- PVince81 (Germany), May 8, 2016

- corvidia, April 5, 2016

- E. W. B., March 2, 2016

- verityvirtue (London), January 26, 2016

- Onirim (Argentina), December 24, 2015

- Indigo9182, May 31, 2015

- hoopla, March 2, 2015

- Trif (Germany), November 30, 2014

- Johnny, September 23, 2014

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
Both funny and deep, but a bit hard, September 22, 2014
This is a great game and I highly recommend it. Graphics are good, the music is catchy, and the premise is very interesting. It's one of those games where you have to restart frequently, but the experience is pretty streamlined so that you keep hitting the "restart" button to discover more. It is also a pretty funny game; the writing is very good, and your date is a very nice character, believable and, interestingly enough, not a damsel in distress.

The game's concept takes it in a place where it's able to make a commentary on CYOA/dating sim games, games in general, and stories, and it does that really well, raising some valid points (although some I kinda disagreed with). This is also done in an accessible manner, which is a plus, and I liked that the author grasped the full implications of his mechanics.

The first time where you discover what is going on is a real "a-ha" moment, and so I won't spoil it. Unfortunately, getting to the end of it requires a bit of lawnmowering (and the branching structure is not trivial either), and there were some times when I felt I had done enough, but it was not enough for the game (because that wasn't exactly the right branch). I ultimately resorted to a walkthrough to get to the end quicker, and I finished the game in about two hours and a half.

Anyway, give it a try, you won't be disappointed!

- Sig (Olalla, WA, US), May 16, 2014

- Sam Kabo Ashwell (Seattle), February 19, 2014

- streever (America), January 6, 2014

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful:
You will arrive at your Final Destination on Groundhog Day, January 3, 2014
by Hanon Ondricek (United States)
This game is brilliant, and you should play it before reading a review. No really. Play blind. Then come back. It's in Ren'Py? I think? That's the dating simulation engine where the anime characters slide in shrewdly from the sides...but this game doesn't do this - it's not annoying at all. Install this and play it. There's enjoyable music and graphics and it all works perfectly.

(Spoiler - click to show)I'm not sure I got everything out of this game, but I am a HUGE fan of meta and I love intricate recursion. So when I figured out this game was going to let me actually use save and reload to affect the story, I was hooked. It's got a lot to say about the contract between an author and a reader, and a gleeful sense of absurd humor. I almost think this even does a better trick than THE STANLEY PARABLE because there is no narrator and the author colludes with you wholeheartedly. It's almost got a bit of INCEPTION in its world-controlling aspirations.

Brilliant.

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
Saving the date is harder than it sounds., January 3, 2014
The phone rings. It's Felicia, calling to arrange your dinner date for tonight. But this is no ordinary dating sim, and it will be no ordinary date. Some sort of cosmic force/evil wizard/time-murderer/computer game designer wants your date to end in disaster.

Despite not really being a dating sim, I'd still describe this game as "cute". The writing is funny, with touches of surrealism and a few pop-culture references thrown in. The game seems bug-free, and the graphics are retro but effective. It's played in multiple small doses, though you will find playthroughs are interconnected, and each gives you more of a clue as to your aim, and how to achieve it. It's ultimately a form of Choose Your Own Adventure, but with enough branches to feel your choices matter each time. Well, sort of matter.

Talking too much about the game, however, runs the risk of ruining the experience, so I will put the rest of these thoughts into spoiler tags. (Spoiler - click to show)I played through the game several times, and found no good ending. I have a feeling that the only good ending is still bad for you, which made me find a surprising emotional and philosophical element to an otherwise straight-ahead funny game. Sometimes the best course of action is selflessness, and sometimes things are just not meant to be.


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