I love an FMV adventure. It is genre that certainly has its phases but as gaming grows up – FMV adventures and stories continue to branch out into new and exciting arenas. A product of its time, Five Dates is about one guy chatting to five girls on a dating app during the UK lockdowns for Covid. I’m sure this scenario will age over time but right now, this current affairs issue is fascinating and Five Dates handles it excellently.
When you join the app as Vinny, you pop in some initial stats and choose from five profile pictures three girls to take forward. Bouncing off your best mate Callum for advice, you then plunge into a virtual Blind Date style rom-com app chat. The first round will see you talk to the three girls and see if you get on or not. As conversation flows, you choose the options and dates can either have a cheeky or sweet spark or utterly crash and burn. A quick recap with Callum after see’s you then take two forward to stage two for a game to play like truth or dare (of course that’ll go well) or a quiz. The girls have the final say in whether they want to see you again though so if you didn’t pass the initial grade, they’ll ignore your request!
If things continue to go well you can then choose your favourite to take forward to a final date before agreeing to take things offline and chatting for real off the app. Lockdown is still a thing – you won’t be meeting them any time soon. Replayability is high here as there’s about 800 scenes to discover depending on your answers and you’ll want to see various endings of crashing and burning or romance blossoming for each.
Each girl has their own unique characteristics. Maya is a fun loving European who wants to explore the world but seems on the rebound. Shaina works as a nurse and has to juggle responsibilities of tough job conditions with her competitive gaming streak. Grace is high class and guarded. Paige has internet fame but a secret she’s hiding. Saffron is free-spirited and new age but suffers with crushing anxiety. They all play their part well and have a balanced personality. You can warm to all of them too, although I personally found Grace to be just a bit too snobby to really feel convinced that Vinny was interested. I’d argue Callum is the star of the show though, living his best lazy lockdown life on furlough whilst he can alongside throwing quips at you from all directions.
The game is playable in about 90 minutes tops for each run through and it’ll take about 5 or 6 hours to work your way through ‘winning’ with each lady. Being able to quick skip scenes you’ve already seen helps speed this along but I wanted to keep playing to see various permutations of your answers and there are some gems hidden around the game.
If there was one thing I found a bit meh, it was that just before you get to choose your final date, each one will have a contrived drama. As you have a dinner date with them, ones a vegan, one has been also matched to Callum, one says their kid comes first. They almost always feel needlessly dramatic to add in some additional conversation points for you to ruin your final date with. If you just use common courtesy, it is resolved but it felt a bit needless.
All in all, Five Dates is far better than I expected. I was worried it might be cringy or a bit sleazy but the game takes a largely mature and sweet approach and doths a cap to the NHS in the process. Add this to the growing list of excellent and diverse FMV experiences worth watching and playing over the last five years.
Five Dates offers an interactive rom com for the lockdown age.
Well acted and relatively realistically written.
Plenty of choice and options for things to go right or wrong.
Callum is funny.
Sometimes the narratives spear off down avenues you didn't think they would by the choices given.
Some of the 'drama' feels a bit forced between stages 2 and 3.
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