Speed dating can be nerve wracking for many individuals, because you only have a few minutes to make a good impression. Ten Dates throws you headfirst into that situation, stepping into the role of either Misha or Ryan who are both attending a speed dating event. Their conversation choices and actions determine who they get to know, and who they ultimately end up with.
Ten Dates does a great job going through the awkwardness of speed dating events, as well as portraying the different personalities you encounter. Your success or failure is dependent on your choices, and it’s great to see your choices matter. As a live action dating sim, it succeeds in immersing you in the outcome. Unfortunately, like all simulations and scene games, certain scenes require contradictory personality choices. It makes sense for a completionist, but it can dampen the experience.
Ten Dates is available on PC, PlayStation 4/5, Xbox One, and Nintendo Switch for USD $14.39.
Story – Finding a Date
The story begins with either Ryan or Misha, your choice determining your pool of potential partners. Both of them are best friends going to a speed dating event, and you get to see the event through their eyes. Each potential partner comes forward and makes themselves known to you, with your conversation choices determining what happens.
Similar to other dating simulators, Ryan and Misha have some default personality traits. Some of these exist by default, others exist in the interests you chose at the start. Everything else is determined by your choices, which helps reinforce the concept that your decisions matter.
Ten Dates doesn’t have a unique story from the outset, as it is fundamentally a dating simulator. What is unique are the different people you meet and the journey both of you take in getting to know each other. Neither character is perfect and things will happen outside of your control. As you watch this journey, you cheer at the successes and wince at the embarrassing parts. It’s a strength of the story that you relate to the characters, especially if you have ever been speed dating.
Something that Ten Dates does well is that it doesn’t exist in a perfect microcosm. As Ryan and Misha make progress during dating, reality kicks in and dates start becoming more serious. While the individual stories barely take an hour, it prevents them from wearing out their welcome.
Reality – It’s Never Easy
Some dating simulators go the route of people being together and experiencing the trials of a relationship. Ten Dates takes the angle of confronting some of those troubles before the relationship even starts. Serious subject matter starts popping up past the speed dating event, and it makes you think about the choices you make. Is someone a good fit for you, or are they not the person you thought they were? Up until the last minute, you can be surprised by what you learn. It’s a great way to reflect the realities of dating; no one’s perfect and everyone’s got something in their past.
While Ten Dates is obviously a game and not every conversation leads to a specific outcome in real life, it’s good to see the realities of your answers. Sometimes an answer you think is correct isn’t what the other person is looking for. It’s a story driven game with several twists and turns, similar to Wayward Strand, and it’s fun seeing what happens.
While it can be disappointing if things don’t work out, it accurately reflects the reality of dating. Sometimes it’s great, sometimes, it’s not, and this portrayal works in the game’s favor. None of the stories are very long; either a relationship forms or it doesn’t. That allows you to quickly get back into a new game, make new decisions, and partner with someone else.
Gameplay – What Do You Say?
Ten Dates is simple in its gameplay; all you do is make choices similar to games such as The Dark Pictures Anthology. To ensure that you aren’t stalling for time, these choices have a time limit. When the prompt appears, you must quickly make a decision. You do have time to read all of the choices; it’s not just two options every time. It simulates actual decision making since the other person isn’t going to wait forever for you to pick an option.
You won’t know the outcome of your choices, which keeps you in suspense until you recoup for the day. But there are times where you can tell what the outcome is even before it’s over. The general feeling of the conversation and the vibes give you a general idea of what happened. It’s a great way to remember how a conversation went, and what you might try next time to make it succeed.
There aren’t too many choices to choose from, and there are multiple paths for a positive (and negative) outcome. Choosing the options that you normally would is a great way to immerse yourself and see the outcome. Starting a new game and choosing other options works well to see different outcomes, but it’s also the game’s double-edged sword.
Choices – See Everything Or Be Realistic?
Every character has a certain number of scenes, and viewing them all will require choosing choices that aren’t optimal. This is normal of course, because any simulation game has scenarios where things don’t go according to plan.
Unfortunately, Ten Dates blurs the line between viewing scenes and responding naturally. There are character sheets where you can get clues to view different scenes. What you aren’t told is whether those scenes actually contribute to a positive outcome or not. Without knowing that, it’s easy to lock yourself out of a character’s path because you thought you were doing the right thing.
It’s no surprise that some characters will react badly to actions, and it’s a testament to the game’s realism that those scenes exist. But it’s painful to see a checklist and believe it’s the right thing, only to lock yourself out because it was the wrong action. Deep down, you probably knew it wouldn’t lead to a positive outcome, but you had no way of knowing.
Fortunately, you can skip scenes you have already seen to cut down on time, but you still have to replay the game from the start to do it.
Audio & Visuals – Like a Real Date
Ten Dates uses live-action scenes, as if you are watching a movie. You can’t get more realistic than these scenes, and the actors do an incredible job portraying every scenario. The voices and sounds match exactly what you would hear in the various settings, from bars to local cafés. There’s no graphic work except for some simple phone screens, and it immerses you in the game. You actually feel like you’re experiencing a real date through Ryan or Misha.
Ten Dates was reviewed on PC with a code provided by Homerun PR.