ValiDate is a romantic visual novel about 13 adults that are navigating new relationships and the harsh realities that come alongside them. Let’s take a look at this new dating sim from Veritable Joy Studios.
A copy of this game was provided for the purposes of this review.
In ValiDate, you choose a character to play as and get an introduction to their life before entering the dating scene of the fictional Jercy City. Much like most visual novels, your choices will determine how your relationship progresses with varying individuals. Every character you interact with has distinct looks, personalities, and circumstances that add depth to the scenes and stories.
While their realities are true to life, I do find that some of the characters come off a bit overexaggerated in moments which was a little off-putting initially. Especially when the character you are playing is that way and you can’t control it. This is the main reason why I’m not a fan of the fact you play as a ready-made person instead of creating a new character. It also wasn’t clear that that was the case when choosing your character at the beginning. To me, I thought I was choosing who my character would be pursuing, not who I would play as. I’m certain that my opinion of this format would have been different if I knew what I was actually deciding at the start. Even just a simple “Choose Your Character” on that screen would fix all of that.
My one other complaint is that when you reach the point where you actually choose who to date, there is nothing stopping you from replaying the storyline you just did and you don’t know that is what you could be doing. Again, a simple explanation would help, be it with a small pop-up tutorial or using words to explain the buttons over just imagery. Yes, it is a Tinder-knockoff app with a swipe left or right thought process, but it was annoying to choose a date again thinking it could be a continuation of the story since the date I had prior had what I felt was an open ending. And without an autosave, I had no way to go back before the choice to try a new person. I think that, if you want to replay a date, that option needs to be clear/elsewhere.
I have my complaints, but I also have praise. The gameplay is smooth and easy to understand when in the actual scenes and stories. The art is fabulous and fits perfectly with the overall vibe ValiDate has. Even with the over-the-top moments, the diversity in characters is great, and the fact that the diversity goes beyond appearance and sexuality is worthy of commendation.
Overall, I appreciate ValiDate for going in a slightly different direction with a visual novel than I am used to. However, the choices you make can be clearer and that would improve gameplay for me. Those issues don’t stop me from recommending the game though, because I do think the inclusivity in characters and realistic circumstances are well-done and worth exploring.
This post is an Indie Game Collective Showcase