Review: Nudge and tweak fate to pull off the perfect dinner in Save the Date
At a Glance
Let's go grab some burgers. Or maybe Thai food sounds good? If everything else is closed I'm sure we can go for some tacos. It's just important that we get some dinner and have a really good time—and you can certainly try in Save the Date.
What starts as a silly dating simulator—the kind where you play as a school kid trying to score a date with the hottie in homeroom through different dialogue trees—quickly turns into a surprising, absurd, deep-thinking experience that I guarantee you weren't expecting.
The premise seems simple enough: Take your friend Felicia on a dinner date and have a good time. At first, the corny dialogue will make your head will hurt from eye-rolling. The deliberate corniness grows more comical after playing through a few times, and it actually drives home the point of the game. And the deeper you get into the game, the deeper the dialogue gets.
As you get more involved in the story, the dialogue evolves, too: It gains substance and real meaning. You ponder Felicia's words and wait for the next tidbit of information she has to share. It feels like your responses really will make an impact. The key is to just get through that first play-through.
Save the Date isn't a one-trick pony. There are multiple outcomes that vary greatly. Taking someone out for a simple dinner becomes a laborious task of quick thinking and making logical decisions. Fate also plays a starring role. I won't say too much more on the subject, because it would venture far into spoiler territory.
Your first game will be quick, most likely under three minutes. However, it'll leave you playing for hours as you restart again and again. As early as your second play-through you'll begin to notice subtle changes that morph the game in different directions, and it quickly becomes obvious that each play-through is not an isolated occurrence.
If you made a decision that ended the game prematurely, it will make a nice cameo with a new option that uses this knowledge to your advantage. Are you psychic? Some sort of meta user? Or maybe you're just thinking clearly this time.
Don't be afraid to poke around. The best strategy is to get your nose in Felicia's business, her personal life, and her history. On the next play-through you can use this to your advantage to both surprise her and change the game to go on just a little longer each time. Even the game files have some fun Easter Eggs, such as one that lets you hack the game by changing one value. If you know where to look, you'll find some pretty simple hacking instructions.
Save the Date is free, bite-sized, packed with content, and manages to surprise you time and time again. It could have been a lame, run-of-the-mill dating sim but instead experiments with multiple story lines, combining the past and present, and blurs the lines between playing a character and being the character. If you're looking for a good laugh with some interesting surprises, Save the Date is worth the time it takes to install and play through a couple of times. Just don't be surprised if you find yourself still playing in a few hours.
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