Although I’ve often played games with dating sim elements, I think this is the first game I’ve played where I went into it thinking about it as a dating simulator, if that makes sense. I’m not sure exactly what I expected, but in more ways than one, for me at least, Purrfect Date fell short.
Here is the most frustrating thing: I made one mistake, and my only recourse if I want the “true” ending is to replay the entire game. Now, the game was only four hours long, but that’s an awful lot of rereading just for .. a cut scene? Some exposition? I don’t know, and I don’t expect I’ll run through the game again to find out.
There is no going back to a save point, no replaying single chapters. There isn’t even a fast replay option; you’ll need to page through all the dialogue, even if you don’t re-read it. If you only want to play the game once, chances are you won’t get the best ending.
Putting that (admittedly not so minor) gripe aside, I liked the game well enough. Although I was disappointed in the inability to date more than one character simultaneously (once you pick a date, that character is locked into that choice for the duration of their chapter), I did enjoy the distinct personalities of all the date-able characters.
That said, the “game play” portion of the game felt very forced. After every three events, you need to rest (and if you forget, the game will remind you). The only reason I could fathom for this mechanic is to toss in an achievement (and potentially an “ending”) for completely ignoring the mechanic, but it’s another thing I really don’t feel compelled to go back and check out.
I managed to successfully romance each character, and I felt like the “correct” response was always pretty obvious. A successful romance, however, only requires 2 of 3 correct answers, so if that’s your main goal, you can actually afford to make an error.
I got the happy ending in five of the six chapters, and I found those resolutions satisfying – an “awwww” or two might have even escaped my lips.
I really hate saying that I walked away from the game feeling very meh, because almost all the pieces were really well put together. Normally, I can overlook a clumsy element or two when everything else feels right, but for a narrative driven game, I feel like a second full play through in which I need to only make a singular different choice is too much of an ask.
While I like a game that is built with an eye toward replay value, I think Purrfect Date swings for that, but misses, and that miss makes it far less appealing for even a single play through. Which is a shame, because there’s a lot of great stuff here.
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