We’ve all heard of the tale of the youngsters going to an archaeology camp for two months. They travel to further their studies, to discover themselves, and maybe find love. Okay, maybe none of us have heard this story, but its concept is familiar. It forms the basis of many a cheesy romantic comedy and works well when applied to the Visual Novel (VN) genre. C14 Dating explores this plot and takes you on a journey of friendship, love, and history.
Developed by Winter Wolves Games and published by Ratalaika Games, this VN adds to the increasing library that the publishers are supporting. A genre that has a niche following in the West is slowly becoming popular. Will an Americanised Rom-Com be well received, or will it need to be buried deeper than the discoveries the young adults find in this lighthearted tale?
A new country, new people, and new experiences in C14 Dating.
I’m going to open by saying Romantic Comedies are not my thing. I find them too wholesome, and their gooey plots pain my icy cold heart. But, for the sake of a fair review, I went into this with an open mind. The story is viewed through the eyes of Melissa Flores. She is a 3rd-year anthropology student who takes the chance to travel from California to Belgium to take on a two-month archaeology internship. She has never travelled this far from home, but she couldn’t turn down this exciting opportunity. With new sights to see, people to meet, and history to discover, she’d be a fool to let this opportunity pass her by.
If you’ve ever played a VN, you’ll be familiar with its setup, and C14 Dating adds nothing to the standard formula. With 5 romance options, archaeology based mini-games (though these can be switched off), and some beautiful Manga/Anime style art. It’s a game that follows comfortable game mechanics while looking fantastic. The well-written dialogue will keep you interested throughout, even if it made me cringe. The different characters’ personalities are well presented, and how the group evolves across the 2 months is interesting to see.
The mini-games offer a welcome distraction from the many dialogue choices that are presented. But I felt they added little to the plot or the outcome of each storyline. However, I was glad they were used as they supported the theme with their quirky archaeological ways. If you plan on trying over one playthrough, I’d recommend having them on at least once.
Set your workload, form bonds, and try to fall in love.
The story plods along inevitably. Your decisions influence the path that the plot takes and impacts how the surrounding group of students view you. You are free to choose how you wish to spend your days, each one affecting your personality and the bonds you form with others. Unlike other themed VNs, C14 Dating demands you pay attention to your responses. Your decisions influence the intimate relationships you have, and one bad choice can seriously ruin your chances.
No matter what you choose, the story rolls on to its finale whether you like it or not. As the credits roll, you will discover if you have reached a good or bad ending. For this game, a good ending is Love, and a bad finish is Friendship. It’s as simple as that, and if you wish to see each one, you’ll have to manipulate your answers to impress your desired target.
By attempting each of the storylines you’ll see a variety of locations and parts of the tale that you’d otherwise miss. Running through the same sections was tedious, but when you discover an unseen area, or part of the plot, it was genuinely exciting. If you then combine this with; the additional dialogue and the new elements of characters’ personalities you’d otherwise fail to see, it made the effort worthwhile. The story was richer for the experience, and relationships had more depth.
Beautifully presented, but nothing new.
One of the striking areas of all VNs is the vivid and distinct graphics you are treated to. If you love Japanese inspired art, you’ll love this. Bold colours, slick lines, and distinct character models all await. Emotion is shown with OTT reactions, and movement is expressed by the images fading from the shot. It’s a basic form of animation, but it works well with the genre. The text is remarkably easy to read, and the use of a distinct colour and a star symbol to highlight options made it easier to make your choices. C14 Dating doesn’t break the mould! But it delivers what is expected of it to a very high standard.
You know when I mentioned wholesome and gooey? Those are the words that I’d use to describe the audio. Its upbeat, cheery disposition was sickening. Its positive vibes run through every aspect, and though there are sorrowful moments, the music somehow pulls you out of a glum state. The audio wasn’t my style, but it worked with the romantic theme and will make you warm inside.
Sit back, relax, and allow the story to take over.
What I love about Visual Novels is the relaxing nature of the setup. Even the titles that introduce mini-games to the fold are straightforward to play. It’s rare that you can simply sit back with a drink in hand, watching the plot unfold before your eyes.
VNs usually contain limited replay value, unless the plot is exceptionally good. What C14 Dating does well is its choice of multiple endings, hidden locations and use of mini-games. All these things combined give you a good reason to return if you wish to see the alternative endings. Achievement hunters will have to watch every romance blossom. It’s a rather time-consuming task, but a skip text function can speed things up.
Will you love C14 Dating?
The million-dollar question is, will you love C14 Dating? I wasn’t keen on the theme, it’s too sickly sweet for my taste. But if you adore rom-coms, you’ll lose yourself in it. A well-written script, interesting characters, unusual locations, and glorious graphics make up the bulk of the charm of this game. It’s a lengthy, but enjoyable read and I recommend you buy it here! Enjoy another culture, educate yourself, discover who you are, and finally fall in love.