“Dinner Date” is the character portrait of Julian: by becoming his subconsciousness you gain a clear vantage point on the worries which take a hold of him. As the wait for the beautiful girl grows longer it becomes evident that Julian’s real problems may not even begin originate the girl: what of his work and his boss? And what of the headhunter, his fascination with Byron and his friendship with Jerry who, all things considered, was ultimately the person who pushed Julian to go on this date?
What We Think:
Would you like beef or fish? As I sat down to this title I expected to be preparing or cooking food or at least go through a series of social interactions to try to get said date into bed.
The story in this IGF Finalist, starts off with Julian sitting at the dinner table in his kitchen, your date is already ten minutes late and you are stuck in the mind of Julian. A 27-year-old man whom over the course of this 25 minute game decides to go over his whole current living situation. While this turns out to be as fun as listening to a guy on the bus try to break up with his long-time girlfriend and knowing you will be on that bus for the next thirty minutes.
Julian really goes on about nothing that really caught my eye or ear as it would be, he complains and moans over his life and how people at work are all younger than him and how life is just so unfair for a man who “hasn’t had sex in a while.”
The dialog can be summed up with the phrase “Life Sucks” and it doesn’t get better from there. When all is said and done his date never shows up and he goes off to drink with his friends, at this point the credits pop up and this is where I thought it just took a while for the opening credits to show up. I watched in disbelief as Dinner Date kicked me to the menu screen, and could not see any reason why anyone would dish out five US dollars for this game.
While I must say the art style and graphics are great and somewhat shiny, I am a person who prefers a game with more substance that just looking at HDR lighting while hitting a button or two every few seconds. The styling of the design does actually look nice but a bad modeling of a hand which looks like it got caught in an old-fashioned wringer is what really threw me off.
While other objects look excellent and contain great detail, it looks like a second-grade schoolgirl quickly traced her hand and they made a model out of it. Where in this game Julian’s hands are about the only thing you really control, except for looking at other things, you would think that they would want to make the hands as smooth and and detailed as possible.
The game felt more of an interactive movie and was decent at that, but the developers need to learn to limit themselves, at points I had so many interaction bubbles that I felt my screen was filled. As well, the story doesn’t develop but just retells the same boring iteration that you get within the first moments; Julian goes on to reiterate the same thing over and over ad nauseum.
Overall, the game’s content is limited at best, but it is a nice proof of concept that video game design can be art, but this as a game does not pass well. If you wanted a nice 3D kitchen screen saver then this game will do for the price. As for a game that you could sit down and enjoy, I must say unless you like watching the paint dry then this game isn’t for you.
[Can’t wait to see Gaspar Noe do a video game port of Enter the Void 😉 – Ed.]