Dream Daddy: A Dad Dating Simulator (DDADDS for short… Nice one.) has been making waves since it was announced this past Father’s Day. Brainchild of Vernon Shaw and Leighton Gray and produced by the popular gaming Youtubers Game Grumps, I was sold on this game as soon as I read through its description on Steam. I mean, “So many Dad puns. Like, to the point where it made us all uncomfortable” is listed as a feature and that’s a-ok in my book.

NOTE: Screenshots taken by the author

You play a widower whose only daughter, Amanda, is in her last months of high school and is about to head off to college. You are downsizing; leaving the family home for a smaller house in a cul-de-sac and, surprise, all your neighbors are hot eligible dads. Your daughter pushes you to make friends so that you’re not so lonely when she leaves. You do just that and sparks start flying. Or not. Depends on the choices you make. Trust me, the right choices are not always obvious in Dream Daddy.

Pun Intended

The humour in Dream Daddy is on point. I hadn’t even properly launched the game that I was already giggling at the graphic settings.

You want to play on Dad, Daddy or Daddiest?

Game tips on the loading screen are replaced with dad tips, real life advice such as “pet every dog”, “drink enough water” and something about proper tire pressure helping you save gas.

This game has a great art style and soundtrack but the writing is where Dream Daddy really shines. It truly is laugh out loud funny; there are moments where I had such a giggle fit, my laptop almost fell off my lap! The banter between yourself and your daughter is glorious. She groans at your dad jokes or eggs you on when you start making up tall tales. Your dad doesn’t take himself too seriously and that’s what makes it great. The dialogue is also peppered with pop culture references. One of my favourite moment is when you ask Amanda to explain what a meme is. Priceless.

The voice acting is also on point even though it’s pretty minimal as it consists mostly of “dad grunts” as the creators of the game call it. However, at the end of each date, make sure to wait before clicking continue as the dad will let you know just how they felt. After a bad date with Robert, hearing Dan Avidan’s scruffy voice say “Lose my number” just had me roaring with laughter.

But dad jokes and puns aside, once you go through a few dates, you start to realise that this game isn’t really about bumping boots with hot dads but really about feelings. All sorts of feelings. All the feelings really.

All the Feels

Dream Daddy’s creators do a good job of hiding their true intentions: the art style, their marketing, all the way down to the musical score fully embraces the kitschy side of dating simulators. Although it is not a lewd game per say, Dream Daddy is an very mature one as it touches on deep and complex subjects: love, sex, parenthood, responsibility, identity, self-hate and self-love and everything in between.

As you get to know the dads, you discover their intricate stories: divorce, death, estrangement, adultery, marital problems, children acting out, self-destruction… No subject is taboo for this game. The writing in Dream Daddy is too real. Unless you’ve been blessed with a life free of sorrow, Dream Daddy is bound to touch on your personal experience and revive some strong feelings. Even if I did find some of the dad’s stories to be more boring than others, I attribute that to personal preference rather than to a fault in the writing, as the characters in Dream Daddy are really well fleshed out. In the end, Dream Daddy surprised me. One of my favourite stories was Damien’s, aka Goth Dad, and he was my least favourite when I originally saw the line-up of eligible dads. Without giving away too much, his arch touches on self-perception and alter-egoes. As I dated all the dads, I saw how their stories intertwined and was even pleasantly surprised by the depth of secondary characters, like Mary.

Between dates, you will play through events with Amanda. Her grades are dropping, she might lose her chance at a scholarship, something is clearly wrong and you can’t get her to talk to you about it. As her story unfolds, you have to teach her about not only about the meaning of growing up but also how it may affect your relationships. Her story rang true to me as I went through something similar in my teenage years.

Something’s not quite right with our dear daughter…

Get on My Level

Don’t think that you just need to click the right option to land the dad of your dreams; Dream Daddy throws you a few curve balls with some choice mini games. Whether it’s mini-putt, whittling or making your way through a concert crowd to find that dad, get ready to take on the challenge. I’ll be honest, the mini-games threw me off during my first playthrough. I often had to figure out what to do in a state of haste and borderline panic. Thank god for autosaves, am I right? Successfully completing the mini-games will help you achieve the S rank during your date.

Growing Up Loved

Dream Daddy: A Dad Dating Simulator has exceeded all my expectations. Vernon Shaw, Leighton Gray and their contributors brilliantly balanced humour and emotion in their writing and created a diverse cast of well fleshed out characters. Pair it with amazing art direction, a great score and just enough of that dating simulator campiness, and you’ve got yourself a winner of a game.

The Game Grumps recently celebrated their 5th anniversary. While each member shared their favourite memories from the past years, it was Arin’s that really stood out to me. In the short Twitter video, he mentions that his favourite thing is being able to say “Yes to things” and fostering that creative excitement.

I can’t wait to see what are the Grumps’ next creative endeavors; especially if they are fueled by the same excitement, care and passion that helped make Dream Daddy a reality.