Preparing to write a review for Ten Dates was challenging. This was primarily because it didn’t feel like I was playing a game, but rather a mini-series following two single friends on their speed dating adventure and what happens next. Given that all scenes presented to you are real actors, some of whom I recognized from previous films and television shows, it would become quite jarring when a “gaming prompt” appeared. Far too many times, I’d put the controller down and just watched this rom-com.
Ten Dates follows Misha and her best friend Ryan, who, after you create their dating profile, attend a speed dating event and meet five potential partners each, equaling ten dates. From there, any successful interactions can then lead to a second date and even a third, should the second be a success too! It is up to you, as the player of Misha or Ryan, to navigate these dates and make decisions based on questions, reactions, and topics to either have the perfect date or one you’ll surely want to forget!
One aspect of these games that I love is the sheer number of scenes that must have been shot in a single location. Especially since each decision you make changes the outcome of that scene, whether positive or negative. Publisher, Wales Interactive, has confirmed that over twelve hours of footage have been filmed for this game, with ten successful endings. This unique aspect allows for a lot of replayability, most notably when you want a date to go well and say something that may jeopardize it. Unlike most real-life scenarios, you can always restart and hope for a better outcome next time. If only real dating was like this!
Like similar games, every now and then between conversations, a timed prompt will appear where you can make a choice that will alter the current conversation. Allowing the timer to run out has led to whatever option is highlighted being selected. Sometimes it’s fun to let the timer run out, as the awkward silence or conversation filler before confirming a decision is pretty funny! Especially when opting to interrupt someone’s rambling (sorry, Brandy!).
It’s not only what is said that changes when you make a choice. Your dates’ opinions and feelings about you change with each decision you make. You can check how you’re doing with someone or study what characteristics they’re judging you on by selecting the “-” button at any time during your date. On this screen, you can also check out previous dates, as well as certain criteria to meet or unlock, and how many different scenes you have viewed with that person. A useful tool for anyone who wishes to witness all twelve hours!
An area I do want to highlight and praise is the wide array of characters and people you encounter on your ten dates. I’m pretty confident that most people will come across at least one person they feel compatible with or, at the very least, want to pair up with Misha or Ryan. Some are a little more out there than others; however, that only adds to the charm and reality of dating! You never know what interests, jobs, or words people are going to say at any point. I think it’s also important to highlight that there are same-sex relationship options too, meaning that at some point, you have the chance to decide who Misha and Ryan are attracted to.
One thing that became annoying quickly was all the COVID talk. Wales Interactive’s previous game, “Five Dates,” was an all-digital dating experience during the UK lockdown and the global pandemic. Ten Dates is somewhat of a sequel, where we find restrictions lifted and in-person dating returning, which is great! However, COVID, coronavirus, the pandemic, and lockdown are mentioned a lot throughout the conversations, and after a while it becomes grating. Pro tip: if you do plan on speed dating anytime soon, leave the COVID talk at home.
Another issue I found, especially on a replay with Ryan, was how similar different runs felt, or it at least felt like the game or narrative was pushing it in a certain direction. For example, I knocked it out of the park with both Brandy and Toni—like, my stats were off the charts. But when I went back in from the beginning again, I chose the opposite for every interaction and still ended up with their “handles” (apparently, nobody gives out their phone number anymore). This was frustrating. My only thought was that date number one is meant to go smoothly and be more linear so that the game doesn’t end too quickly, and that dates two and three have more varied paths.
As I touched on earlier, the first dates for many felt like they leaned toward success, which I had four out of five times. However, once you select who you want a second date with (a maximum of two), it becomes quite hard to get a third! One wrong selection can end a date immediately. I tried to follow the criteria listed on most attempts, and for example, tried to secure a kiss on date two, which backfired horribly. If anything, this adds a layer of realism because what you say matters when things get serious, and I suppose people are more open-minded on their first interaction?