Lots of Heart, Not Much Game
HIGH The unique premise of elder romance.
LOW It’s an extremely short experience.
WTF A catchy song about senior citizens dating.
I knew nothing about Later Daters until I saw it on the list of games my editor had available to review. After reading the basic premise, my interest was piqued! Unfortunately, the experience didn’t last long enough to keep that interest piqued!
In Later Daters, players take on the role of an octogenarian who’s recently moved into an assisted living center. Players are tasked with searching for new love (or possibly just a quick hook-up!) as they spend their golden years with several like-minded senior citizens.
This project is a visual novel delivered with cartoon-style graphics that pop with color in both scenery and characters. A diverse cast remains static in the background as players select from a list of dialogue options. Players hoping to explore the senior center like a point-and-click adventure, will have to look elsewhere — interaction is minimal.
As for the dialogue, I played through Later Daters a single time, choosing friendly, outgoing options which resulted in direct responses from the other residents. Responses were varied, sometimes serious, like loss and death, but often times humorous, as many of the characters have not lost their libido in their old age and just wanted to flirt!
The developers, Bloom Digital Media, should be commended for their inclusivity. Beyond the racially diverse cast, Later Daters is also LGBTQ friendly and even allows for poly relationships. The options are presented in a matter-of-fact way and other characters always respond in a civil, uplifting manner. However, while the seniors are civil in matters such as these, the script still hints at the troubles people in these groups often face.
The story path I chose had me interacting with a character having difficulty with a family member accepting their transition to living as a woman. This isn’t a common themes often found in videogames, and it’s obvious the devs wanted these interactions to play an important part in the experience. However, the problem here is that the story is too short!
I finished Later Daters in less than two hours and wasn’t sure that I experienced the entire game. After doing some follow-up research I discovered that this release is only the first half of the full experience. It’s good to know more is coming later, but this content is just too brief and the chapters offered don’t come to any strong conclusions.
Unfortunately, this brevity hurts Later Daters in its current iteration. I suspect a full review of the entire game would be positive, but this ambitious visual novel simply feels incomplete at the moment — I suggest anyone interested wait until later this year when they’re able to experience the narrative in its entirety.
Disclosures: This game is developed and published by Bloom Digital Media. It is currently available on Nintendo Switch and PC. This copy of the game was obtained via publisher and reviewed on the Switch. Approximately 2 hours of play were devoted to the single-player mode, and the game was completed. There are no multiplayer modes.
Parents: According to the ESRB, this game is rated T and contains Suggestive Themes. The game focuses on looking for love, including physical aspects of relationships. Based on the story options I chose, all suggestive themes are mild innuendos and nothing more. The game is safe for anyone who is mature enough to handle a dating game.
Colorblind Modes: There no colorblind modes available in the options.
Deaf & Hard of Hearing Gamers: The story is delivered completely via text. When a character is talking, their name is clearly labeled on screen with a picture of the character who is talking. Text size cannot be changed. The game is fully accessible.
Remappable Controls: No, this game’s controls are not remappable. There is no control diagram. Players will use the control stick for choosing story options and use the A button to select that option. The R button can be used to fast forward, while the L button can be used to rewind the story.
When he does find time to play, Brian’s preferred games of choice are platformers, beat-‘em-ups, or a good adventure game.He still enjoys the retro gaming scene, could talk about the Nintendo 64 more than he might like to admit, and misses playing in actual arcades. Brian also gets to pass on his love of gaming, as his oldest son is just now starting to join the fun.
As for that GameBoy - it’s sitting in Brian’s nightstand, waiting patiently for four AA batteries.