Game: Later Daters 1 + 2
Genre: Visual Novel
System: Nintendo Switch (also on Steam)
Developers | Publishers: Bloom Digital
Age Rating: EU 12+ | US Teen
Price: EU €7,49 | USD $7.99 | UK £6.79 (Part 1)
DLC for Part costs extra
Release Date: April 15th, 2020 (Part 1, DLC part 2 recently released)
Review code used, with many thanks to Stephan Meijerhof Video Games PR
Later Daters is a visual novel, but a very different one from the ones we usually feature on the site. It’s a special kind of game, or rather, it is aimed at a special audience. There aren’t any hot hunks to ogle at. There’s no overpowering romantic tale to swoon away with. But there is a touching tale that is warm and kinda sad at the same time. Curious? Read on!
Ye OLDE Retirement Home
At 80 I found myself alone, playing as Ms. Laurie Lasalle. Laurie just lost the love of her live to the Grim Reaper. So what to do? Keep on living in the house she was so happy in, but that is now way too large? Or find a new place to live in? The decision is ultimately sort of made for her, as her health dictates it’s time to go in a retirement home.
So she is the latest new resident at Ocean Living Domicile for the Elderly, or Ye OLDE Retirement Home. Esther Katz, president and founder of Ye OLDE Welcome Wagon meets her at the gate, clipboard in hand and efficient as ever. What will Laurie say to her, is she going for the open and friendly approach towards her new neighbours? Or is she going to be very clear in that this isn’t her first choice for her last years on this earth? Of course, I chose for a civil first impression, after all, let’s not antagonise people at first.
Pretty soon Laurie gets to know the other inhabitants. Like Crystal, who arrives at the same time that Laurie does and seems to harbour a secret. Salema and Haroun, still together in the home, but with their own challenges. Jax, a vintage rock star who hasn’t lost his celebrity status and Blair, a very questionable individual. Or like nature loving Mariana and Albert with his Parrot. It’s a very diverse bunch and they all have their live’s story to tell.
Later Daters is about Inclusion
Canadian developers Bloom Digital brought the original Later Daters game with three chapters to the Switch in April this year, and have now added three new chapters in a DLC set and a mini game of Cribbage. If you played the first part, you can just continue your adventure. Or you can go for a new main character.
In making your character you can choose to be a Ms, Mr or a Mx. Your background story can be about your very successful marriage or partnership, or about your life alone, dedicated to art. And you can take either a dog, a cat or even a little robot with you going into the home.
I must say the developers have taken pains to be very diverse. You will find your neighbours to be from various corners of the world, racial backgrounds, religions and represent LGBTQ+ as well. The developers took great pains in striving for inclusion and the romantic pursuits know no boundaries of bias.
As a visual novel this means you have choices to make in how you will proceed. Will you go for a steamy adventure with one of the other residents? Or will you find comfort with a very close knit group of friends? Or are you going to play it safe and be just friends? The choices are yours!
Love the Golden Girls?
The story lines focus on a life gone by, on new friendships, on mourning together, on feeling guilty for choices in your life and on helping each other out. On accepting that not everyone has the same interests and passions. The first screen with a poem by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow sets the scene.
This makes Later Daters a poignant game at times and calls for a chuckle as well. And I don’t think the developers strived for this, but the older you, the player, are yourself, the more recognisable the game is.
Really, the first thing that came to mind when I started play Later Daters was The Golden Girls. The same brand of humour and the way the developers show us that yes, older people are interested in sexual relationships too. They aren’t shut away in the likes of Shady Pines (thinking of you, Sophia) but they go to live in a fun place like Ye OLDE. Golden Girls always manages to make me chuckle, as does Later Daters. For me Laurie very much channeled Dorothy and I loved choosing like that formidable lady would choose. Which of course meant that my second play through was very different, putting myself in Blanche Deveraux’ shoes!
Which brings me to this: I’m a bit surprised the game is rated Teen (or 12+), with the content with loads of innuendo and even blatantly referring to sex, I would have suspected the rating to be higher. Not that it bothered me: it’s good that we don’t act like elderly people aren’t interested in sexual pursuits any more. Let’s just say that Blanche would be very pleased!
Very Catchy Tune
Often the background music in a video game is just that: background. But the theme music of Later Daters is surprisingly catchy. Find it below if you want to have a listen.
The rest of the music is quaint, but not there constantly. Parts of the game are played in silence, with only a few sound effects here and there.
The controls work well, there’s an option to fast forward text, and you can also reverse your last choice. The visual style is pleasing, drawings in pastel colors and in a simple style.
Visual novel Later Daters will not be for everyone. It depicts the feeling of being old, having to live in a home and trying to find some fun in the last years of your life very well. I think you’ll appreciate the game more when you yourself are more advanced in years.
This isn’t your average Visual Novel, no over the top romance with hot guys, but a more realistic approach to friendships and potential relationships in old age. Though in some of the chapters, realism is far away! Poignant, sad at times, and with some dollops of sarcastic humour Later Daters makes for a special game. A pity that it’s so short, even with the DLC added.
Final Verdict: I Like it a Lot