Human beings are a social bunch who form friendship groups that last a lifetime. Yet, we choose to settle down with one or more partners, sharing our most intimate details while becoming dependent on each other. We are also an irrational species that fear countless things. I think we can all agree that dying is scary, but how about dying alone? Surely, no one wants that! (Wow, how to bring down the mood already.) Later Daters explores this idea, allowing you to experience friendship, love, and mischief as a representative of the older generation.
Developed and published by Bloom Digital Media, this is a colourful and quirky visual novel. It’s set in a vibrant and thriving old people’s home with the acronym ye OLDE! (Oceanview Living Domicile for the Elderly!) You build relationships both positive and negative with the surrounding residents, making new friends and possibly more. How you wish to live out your final days is up to you. Do you wish to be the outgoing, happy granny/grandad, or are you a cantankerous old fart who hates everyone, and is destined to be alone?
Later Daters explores some deep subjects.
Later Daters is a relatively short visual novel that spans seven chapters. During your time as the protagonist, you’ll build bonds with everyone you meet. With a choice of three dialogue options, you’ll be positive, neutral, or negative in your conversations. Though the selections were basic, it was nice to influence those around you. The story sets out to prove that life doesn’t end after you turn sixty-five. If these oldies are anything to go by, the older you get, the more promiscuous you can be.
Though the script wasn’t a masterpiece, it was an enjoyable read from beginning to end. I particularly liked how friendships influenced conversations and the different activities that occurred. The residents are an eclectic mix of ex rockers, hippies, criminals, nosey busybodies, and so forth. This random combination of people makes for an amusing read and who you choose to be with depends on your interactions.
You set the scene, but it doesn’t alter the story.
I enjoyed the freedom to create my character and their backstory. It made me feel that I had influenced part of the plot, making the outcome personal to my choices. Disappointingly, this was a mere illusion! The freedom to choose who you fall for, and how you interact with them counteracts the opening creativity. Ultimately no matter your character’s background, you get the same options, regardless. It was strange that one of Later Daters key concepts stifled its creativity.
This was clear from the gender-neutral responses that form the spine of many conversations. It was weird that the lead characters referred to each other as they or them instead of gender-specific phrases. This gave the impression that many characters were gender-neutral which isn’t an issue, but you decide on both gender and sexuality from the off. It screamed “lazy” writing and I wish the developers had scripted specific responses. The nondescript answers undermine any emotional connection, giving a cold and heartless end product.
Emotionally misdirected but enjoyable interactions, nonetheless.
I may have found the lack of direction uncomfortable, but I enjoyed the interactions, nonetheless. Many of the characters have interesting backstories and probing each one for further information developed well rounded three-dimensional characters. You’ll fall for the charms, smarm, and comical elements of their personalities. How this was tied in with the everyday activities that occurred in ye OLDE was ingenious and helped the story flow at a comfortable pace.
The topics that are covered are considered taboo by many. It was refreshing that the developers matter-of-factly delivered these touchy subjects, allowing the individual personalities to influence the approach. Discussions about sexuality, death, loss, love, illness and more are covered. How you choose to respond will build or destroy any bonds you’ve formed. I liked this element of the visual novel and Later Daters presented this side of its script tastefully.
Later Daters has a wholesome appeal and hand-drawn imagery.
The aforementioned neutrality of the responses was at odds with the games overall wholesome appeal. With pastel tones and beautiful backdrops, Later Daters is nice to look at. The hand-drawn portraits stood out against the varied backdrops, forcing you to focus on the minor facial changes. Like most games in the genre, movement is shown by the characters simply disappearing from the scene and emotion is conveyed with different still images. It’s a basic approach, but it works extremely well.
The audio takes on a similar style by keeping things simple with some classic 30s and later era music. The old-school vibes matched the retirement theme and there was a blend of touching songs and upbeat rock tunes. It was nice to listen to the odd combination as it matched the eclectic personalities you encounter. The sound effects focussed on atmospheric noises and animal sounds. This created a realistic setting that added depth to the story.
With many relationships to choose from, this has plenty of replay value.
Reading a book shouldn’t be difficult. It’s a relaxing time where you can take it at your pace. Fortunately, Later Daters takes this approach. With a simple control setup and well-paced gameplay, you’ll enjoy absorbing the plot while consuming some snacks.
Unlike many Visual Novels, this one has a considerable amount of replay value. With many characters to woo or upset, you can relive this tale and alter your experience countless times. The overall plot will not change, but you’ll enjoy the different interactions and how each friendship blooms. There is a large achievement list that requires multiple playthroughs to complete, so completionists have their work cut out for them.
Later Daters is a wonderful tale of retirement and taboo subjects.
The idea that old age is boring and lacks sexual chemistry has been debunked in Later Daters. The pensioners are full of life, love, and stories. The taboo subjects are covered tastefully, and the plot flows at a nice pace with a consistent style. I was frustrated by the neutral tone of the dialogue, as it was at odds with many elements of the gameplay. However, it’s a fascinating tale with many twists and turns and I recommend you to buy it here! Retirement isn’t just beige clothes and liquidated food, it’s more than that! Moving to the home isn’t the end, no, it’s the start of a new chapter in your life, so grab it with both hands.