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Dream Daddy: A Dad Dating Simulator Review (PC)

I’m Currently Stalking Craig Cahn TBH

Okay. So.

When I heard about Dream Daddy, I thought it would just be like one of those crazy dating sims that are funny for a minute but you don’t actually need to play because they’re not super good – just worth a reaction. Games like Panzermadels and that one pigeon dating sim were just okay in my book. Even that one where you date your printer was just bizarre – not worth playing but definitely worth looking into for its sheer absurdity. At first, I figured that this would be the case with Dream Daddy, so I shrugged it off and thought nothing of it.

I was doing research for another article that I had to write when I stumbled upon Dream Daddy again (there was a correlation there, I promise). I clicked on a let’s play for Dream Daddy and saw my future husband – Craig Cahn.

Dream Daddy Craig Cahn

Holy sh-

Okay sorry. I’ll get to why he’s important in a bit – I promise this won’t be me just fangirling (although it may be me fangirling a lot).

Dream Daddy is the dad dating sim of your dreams – created by the legendary Game Grumps, it’s currently being sold on Steam for $14.99. It features seven date-able dads with interesting stories that will be sure to keep dating sim fans entertained. Be forewarned, though – you will definitely catch feelings for these darling daddies.

The game starts with you, a single dad, living with your soon-to-be-in-college daughter. You’re able to choose the sex of your late spouse (male or female) and also how your daughter came into your life (through birth or adoption). You’re then able to choose your customizable Dadsona, picking out important things like face shape, body type, and clothing style (egg nips shirt, yassss). After choosing your Dadsona, you’re thrown right into the story – you’ve just moved into a new neighborhood with your daughter, and wouldn’t you know it, your entire cul-de-sac is full of single dads just ready to mingle, and it’s up to you to find your Dream Daddy.

The art style is SUPERB – the characters are all very well drawn and the backgrounds are detailed, but not overly so. It makes the character more of the focus point and doesn’t distract from the delicious dads. The music is subtle, but upbeat and fun. It’s…strangely dad-like. Like, this is music that I can honestly only see in this game. It just…works. The voice-acting is slight, but appreciated – each character may only say a total of five or so different phrases and sounds, like laughs or sighs.

The point of the game is to go on dates with the eligible dads, and during those dates, there will be some dialogue and prompts that will dictate your path to either a good ending with your before-married beau or a bad one. There are some mini-games sprinkled throughout the dates, depending on your dad of choice, which can range from a Pokemon-style battle using daughters to fishing or fixing a radio. Go on three dates and end them on good terms to unlock a typically “happy ending”, an endearing epilogue, and a secret photo of the flirty fathers. Choose carefully, as you want to end each date with an “S” ranking to ensure a satisfying conclusion to your dad-ventures!

While there are many possible relationships with dashingly good-looking dads, there’s an additional relationship that you have to foster – the one with your daughter, Amanda. She’s just about on her way to college, and your relationship with her is a quirky one based on a plethora of inside jokes and pizza. They’re still figuring out what their relationship will look like in the future, but right now, they’re more focused on taking things day by day. It’s clear that Amanda has nothing but respect and love for her father, and she knows she has him wrapped around her little finger. If they keep up the communication, they’ll be just fine.

But despite the light-heartedness of the game, there might be something totally sinister going on behind closed doors. Googling “Joseph Cult Ending” will result in a mysterious script that will have you questioning things like “why are there all these single dads on one street?” and “why is it that the only dad not single is the guy who appears too good to be true?”. There’s a lot of depth to Dream Daddy – more than meets the eye – and we’re sure to see answers to this as time passes.

So let’s talk about why Craig is so important.

Although he’s one of several dads that are all worthy of your attention, Craig stood out to me immediately because of how different his character was in comparison to your standard fare when it comes to portraying Asian men. In movies, Asian men are typically cast as the butt of the joke, if they’re ever cast at all. They’re certainly not cast as Hollywood hunks, and rarely do they get the girl (in this case, guy). So to see this literal Asian Adonis grace my screen was a mind-blowing surprise that I couldn’t have imagined possible – here’s a stellar human being who is a fantastic dad of three, raising his girls as best he can and just really setting the bar high for dad (and daddy) goals. And those abs? I could wash my laundry on those.

So to see this atypically positive portrayal of an Asian man was a huge sign – because of the specific, afore-mentioned problems that Asian men are facing in society – that this was something the devs had to be attuned to in order to make this exact character. A swole af Asian daddy with rippling abs and perfect pecs who is also the best male role model out there, constantly being hit on by thirsty women? Yeah, someone on the team is woke to Asian male issues, and I was very here for that.

There’s another dad whose simple existence is important, and that’s Damien’s, aka “Goth Dad”. Although it’s not explicitly said in-game (from my understanding), he is, in fact, transgender. While this is already a game centered on LGBT characters – yours included (I made my Dadsona demisexual, I suppose – he was straight before but only has eyes for Craig) – trans people are often left out. There are very few games that even feature trans people, and even fewer where the trans person is a main character/love interest. We just wish they’d be a little more transparent (dad joke) and say in the game whether or not Damien’s trans – you know, to make it official.

The inclusiveness might be enough to make some people roll their eyes – “we don’t want this liberal agenda shoved down our throats” types – after hearing about why characters like Craig and Damien are important. Quite frankly, if the name Dream Daddy didn’t raise any flags that this wasn’t gonna be your standard fare, then I dunno what to tell you. If you’re going to make a dating sim centered around dating sexy ass dads while you yourself are a dad, might as well go balls to the wall, right? But despite the diversity, there wasn’t a lot of fanfare about it. Craig’s character never mentions he’s Asian, and you have to do your own research to find out that Damien is trans. But that’s what makes this so great – they wrote these characters as people – humans – first, and their race/gender combinations second. THAT is the mark of good writing, and it was definitely appreciated.

It goes without saying that this is not your average game or even your average dating sim. It really encapsulated what dating as a parent can feel like – most conversations gravitating towards talking about your kids, trying to figure out when to meet based off complicated visitation schedules and softball games, and even just generally feeling tired due to the cold, dark hand of time creeping up on you in your twilight years (these dads are no spring chickens, after all). Everything was based around their kids and their joys, frustrations, failings, and successes as parents. In all the relationships, the kids were made a priority, and the romance came second – as long as it worked out for the families as a whole. And it’s these strong, positive, family values that made the game so much more wholesome than your average dating sim – even though Craig was half-dressed the whole time, I didn’t feel like I had to play this in the dark at 3 AM to hide my shame; instead, I found it charming and relatable (my ultimate sexual fantasy is also to sleep in on a Saturday…Craig, call me). This game achieved the unachievable, and I feel like I’ll be talking about Dream Daddy for a long time.


Final Verdict: 5/5

 

Available on: PC (reviewed); Publisher: Game Grumps; Developer: Game Grumps; Players: 1; Released: July 13, 2017; MSRP: $14.99

Editor’s note: This review is based on a retail copy of Dream Daddy purchased by the reviewer.

Heather Johnson
Born at a very young age; self-made thousandaire. Recommended by 4 out of 5 people that recommend things. Covered in cat hair. Probably the best sleeper in the world. Still haven't completed the civil war quest in Skyrim but I'm kind of okay with that. Too rad to be sad.

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