I’m relatively new to visual novels; my first experience with one was Doki Doki Literature Club and that was absolutely incredible. But in every way that Doki Doki was excellent (the deep, hidden messages and code that brought a completely different and darker story to the surface for those who wanted to dig) Dream Daddy is excellent in other ways.
Dream Daddy is a visual novel that is primarily a dating simulator, and an LGBT one at that. Dream Daddy lets you create yourself as the dad of Amanda, your child, (adopted or biological from your male or female partner – all your choice) and you can date up to 7 dads in the game in order to find your…well, dream daddy!
This could have easily been an offensive parody of LGBT lifestyles and issues but instead it’s an incredibly well thought out visual novel, with heart-warming stories and fully realised characters as well as being a lot of fun.
Dream Daddy is not just about dating though – a major part of the story is about the relationship between you and your daughter, Amanda. Amanda is in her final year of school and is going through quite a lot of emotional issues. You are given several options of how to parent her, and your choices affect the story slightly. The concept of choices altering outcomes is true for practically all of your interactions with other characters – basically, Dream Daddy is a dating simulator that also explores what makes a healthy relationship – between lovers, family and friends.
Speaking of characters, Dream Daddy has extremely well thought out and fleshed out characters. Each character appears, on the surface, as an archetype – we’ve got the sporty jock, the broody bad boy, the coffee-loving hipster and a total goth to name just a few. But as the game goes on, and depending on which daddy’s you choose to date more than others, we discover that the characters are so much more than what they appear, it goes into the person underneath the first impression and persona they project out to the world.
For example, my chosen dream daddy (my gosh was it hard to choose between Damien and Mat): Damien is a total Goth on the outside, but we learn that there’s so much more to him than that and he even makes a point to tell you that there’s more to him than that and that you need to understand that.
Dream Daddy is very text heavy – especially as you can go on 2 dates with each dad and then a final 3rd with your chosen dad, but it’s incredibly well written and keeps the interest going. It also has some genuinely funny moments as well as some bloody cringe inducing dad jokes. In fact, dad jokes underpin a lot of the dialogue – but it’s endearing not frustrating!
Because there are 7 dateable dads in Dream Daddy, there are so many endings that you can get, and they aren’t all happy. As in life, sometimes things just don’t work out for you no, matter how well you think you’ve done. Sometimes, you make stupid decisions and you fuck things up – that’s just life, and that’s reflected in this visual novel. Even some of the ‘good’ endings can be quite sad.
Dream Daddy is very text heavy, as previously said, and to break this up there are mini-games every now and then! I loved the Pokémon themed one and there was even a fun 8-bit style one!
The artwork throughout Dream Daddy is absolutely fantastic. It’s simple, yet so elegant. Each character, background and transition slide has been well designed and make the story come to life. You can even build your very own custom dad (I very loosely based my dad character on my boyfriend)!
I especially loved the way that key emotions were portrayed by the dateable dads! When they like something, hearts spring from behind them, when they aren’t too impressed a little black cloud comes from behind them and when they really like what you have to say, love hearts mixed with eggplant emoji’s spring from them!
Dream Daddy is so much more than a novelty dating simulator. It’s self-aware and a lot of fun, with brilliant characters and story arcs. There’s very little sex involved (we never even see a kiss happen, but a one night stand is heavily implied and possible, but it’s left to our imagination) so I would say it’s suitable for older teens too.
Ultimately, Dream Daddy is a dating simulator that happens to have an LGBT theme and underlying sub-plots to do with familial relationships, but it isn’t alienating. It’s suitable for those who are familiar with dating sims and these new to the genre alike.
[PLEASE NOTE]: I was not paid or sponsored to write this review – all the opinions are honest and my own.