Dinner Date Review

Screenshot of Dinner Date
Decisions, decisions. Do you eat some bread, stare at the clock or stare at the candle?

  • Developer: Stout Games
  • Publisher: Stout Games
  • Release Date: 17 November 2010
  • Time played: 25 minutes

I've always been curious as to what the game Dinner Date was like. I understood that its general premise was to be a game which simulates a dinner date (or lack thereof) but how could that possibly be a good setting for a game? Was this an avant-garde game that had something profound to say or was there some other reason people were buying this game? Ultimately my curiosity got the better of me and I just had to discover what all the fuss was about. Thanks to Mix-Master, I managed to nab a free copy of the game and after less than half an hour, the game was finished. Time for the review.

Plot (4/5)
Dinner Date apparently has you play the "consciousness" of a man named Julian Luxemburg. He's waiting at his home for his date to arrive and during this time you'll get what some might consider an awkward but nevertheless, honest look into the mind of an anxious sensitive New Age guy (SNAG) as he wonders if he's getting stood up by his date.

I quite like the writing in the game; it's brutally honest and you'll hear Julian wrestling with his thoughts, between the positive and negative, the optimistic and pessimistic aspects of his personality. Another thing that Dinner Date has going for it is that unlike some pretentious walking simulators, you can at least understand what's going on here.

Gameplay (1/5)
In Dinner Date you basically advance the plot (i.e. Julian's soliloquys) by pressing some keys on your keyboard – and that's about the extent of the gameplay. So the game is a bit like so-called "kinetic" visual novels – i.e. visual novels where you don't really interact with the story. In terms of gameplay, it's probably even less interactive than walking simulator games like Dear Esther although to be fair, this game preceded the current crop of walking simulators (and may have even inspired them, who knows?)

Ultimately, I don't like the fact the game isn't much of a game (i.e. interactive) but if you don't mind kinetic visual novels or if you ever wanted to experience being stood up by someone then this game is for you.

"...if you don't mind kinetic visual novels or if you ever wanted to experience being stood up by someone then this game is for you."

Sound (4/5)
The voice acting is good and so are the sound effects. The only minor quibble I have is that the intro and menu sound effects are far too loud compared to the rest of the game.

Music (4/5)
The music complements the game well (as it was developed specifically for the game) and is composed by Than van Nispen tot Pannerden.

Graphics (3/5)
There's quite a bit of detail in the game but the graphics look a bit old, with good reason, considering this game was released almost half a decade ago (that's a long time in the world of gaming). Some of the animations seem a bit off (such as when you're stretching your arms) and despite the game being old, I was experiencing what seemed like framerate drops occasionally.

Replay (1/5)
The game was mildly amusing although it's terribly short at only 25 minutes. Since the game is linear there is no real incentive to go back and play. There are also no Steam achievements or trading cards.

Polish (5/5)
Besides what's been already mentioned, I didn't experience any major bugs or issues.

Score – 6/10

While Dinner Date has some redeeming qualities such as its good soundtrack, voice acting and script, the "game" is far too short and feels more like a first-person kinetic visual novel. If you like that sort of thing or you've always wondered what it's like to be stood up, this is the game for you! Otherwise, your money and time could be better spent elsewhere, even if the game is only $4 USD and 25 minutes long.

Dinner Date is available from these retailers:

Is the game worth $3.99 USD?: No. The game is only 25 minutes long with limited interaction. I think a fairer price would be $1.99 USD.

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[ LINK: Official Dinner Date Website ]