Who You Gonna Smooch?
HIGH Petting Dave the ghost dog.
LOW Not discovering anything about the protagonist.
WTF Not being able to save the ghost of revenge.
In Speed Dating for Ghosts, the objective is… well, to go on a date with ghosts. It’s a pretty clear case of getting what one pays for.
Developed by Ben Gelinas and released while he was still busy on the script for Remedy’s Control, his intentions were to put together a short, positive experience that focused on themes of death and regret.
At the start of each playthrough, the player (a ghost themselves) picks a room and has a short chat with a ghost partner. Then a bell rings, the talk ends and the next begins.
While there are multiple choices during conversations, these don’t seem to affect the ending. There are some instances where choices will opt the player out of a final date, but those are more the exception than the rule.
After two rounds of talking with three different characters, the player gets to choose which one to go on a date with. Of course, depending on the chosen answers and the subsequent chemistry, the partner may agree to the date or refuse.
Even though SDFG may sound like a visual novel with romance choices, it really doesn’t play like one.
Behind every ghost lies a personal story — sometimes funny, other times sad, or even dark and harrowing. The writing doesn’t shy away from touching upon sickness and the afterlife either, doing so in a personal and direct way.
The dates also end up going to varied places, like holding up a bank or playing a football match. Then again, it probably makes sense since ghosts wouldn’t want to go to a restaurant when they can’t eat the food.
Since everyone in Speed Dating is both dead and lonely, it’s heartwarming to meet such a varied cast of different souls, all wanting to be heard. Some will gladly share everything as soon as they’re asked, while others might need more time to unbutton.
To be fair, some of the narratives don’t seem to go anywhere — they’re just the writer having fun with tropes. (The script even goes as far as saying “sorry for that”). While the writing isn’t always top notch, it is very charming and never wears out its welcome. Also, it’s nearly impossible not to shed a tear when Dave the ghost dog relates that each time a dog dies, a part of its owner dies and keeps it company as a wisp in the afterlife.
The art style is simple, but works wonders in immersing the player in the rather peculiar world of afterlife dating. Most of the time the screen is almost bare, featuring only the chosen partner and a couple of details, like a candle or a glass of water. But, those few details are used to great effect, like the sudden font change of a neon sign in the “seance” date.
The ghosts are a mix between scary and cute, with drawings that perfectly define their personality and make them memorable. The sound design also conveys personality — Spooky Peter sounding like a creaking wooden floor, while Vera is smoky and frail. The soundtrack is minimal electronica which works as background, never competing for the player’s attention.
Speed Dating for Ghosts is a gem. It’s a perfect mix of discussions on mortality and love with wit and humor. While some of the stories would have benefited from more length and some room to breathe, it still comes highly recommended for anyone who’s looking for something charming from the other side.
— Damiano Gerli
Disclosures: This game is developed and published by Copychaser Games. It is currently available on PC, iOS and Switch. This copy of the game was obtained via paid download and reviewed on PC. Approximately 2 hours of play were devoted to the single-player mode, and the game was completed. There are no multiplayer modes.
Parents: This game is rated T by the ESRB for Drug Reference, Fantasy Violence, Suggestive Themes and Use of Alcohol and Tobacco.
Colorblind Modes: There are no colorblind modes available in the options.
Deaf & Hard of Hearing Gamers: It is a visual novel. While there are some audio cues, those are usually brought up in conversation. It is also possible to use the vibration feature with a joypad. It is not possible to change the font size. (See examples above.)
Remappable Controls: This game’s controls are not remappable.