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Dinner Date (PC)

Once in a while in the gaming universe, you will come across some games that clearly stand out from the rest. Games that looks totally different or that use completely unique mechanics to bring you fresh experiences. While some of them succeed in bringing great new experiences, some other titles are just too special and just miss the mark. Diner Date, a game developed by Jeroen D. Stout (the man behind Stout Games), is that kind of special games. Does it deserve your attention?

Diner Data puts you in the head of Julian Luxemburg, a young man who is about to have a nice date with a girl. You don’t control the character’s actions very much; you act as his subconscious, which means you only “suggest” Julian into doing certain actions. Like Jeroen D. Stout explains, you “make Julian do the small unconscious actions we all do: that is your role in this game.”

The problem in Julian’s date is that the said girl is late to it. Julian starts to have thoughts about why his date could be late. His thoughts then deviate to other subjects. You start learning more about the character, why he wants the date to work so bad, etc. The game story develops around every thoughts going on in the character’s mind, which is an interesting storytelling approach. I won’t talk much about what happens throughout the game, but the plot is really interesting if you are open-minded to new experiences.

Gameplay wise, Diner Date lets you know when you can “suppose” something to the main character by making bubbles appear. Each bubble is linked to an action and a keyboard key. While Julian is sharing his thought, you can propose that he eat some bread, drink some wine and do some other actions. It does not feel like a proper game: you are the witness of what happens and you can interact a bit with what’s in front of you. It is a little bit like Heavy Rain in this way (you watch more than you actually play).

Diner Date’s visuals are good enough graphics for the type game it is. It’s nothing mind-blowing but still very nice to look at (and far from being crappy graphics). As for the audio aspect, the game truly shines. The sounds of the items used by Julian, the voice acting and the music perfectly fit together to create a strange but great atmosphere. You really feel the anxiety of the main character as he is waiting his date.

Sadly, like I mentioned in some way earlier, this game is not for everyone. Some people will get bored after a couple of minute since it plays totally differently than any other game. Also, the game doesn’t offer much replay value. When you complete the game, there is almost no reason to play it again except to hear more of what Julian has to say. Finally, the game is a little bit pricey (about 5$) considering that you can experience absolutely everything it has to offer in about 40 minutes or less.

I would categorize Diner Date as being more of an interactive movie than being a real “game”. While it is not my intention to judge whether this type of experience should be judged as this or that, players should keep in mind that this game is very different from what you have experienced so far and that you might not like it. As for the people who are more open-minded, Diner Date is a game you should keep an eye on. The game has a great story and offers an experience you won’t find anywhere else.

Dinner Date is available on the PC for 4.95€ (about 6.69$) or 7.25€ for two copies (about 9.80$) at http://thestoutgames.com/:Purchase. It is also available for 4.99$ on Steam.


- The atmosphere is great
- The voice acting is remarkable
- The experience is one-of-a-kind...

- ...but it is not what you can call as a proper “game”
- There is almost no point in playing the game for than once
- The price is a little high for the length of the game

Story: 9
Gameplay: 2
Visuals: 8
Audio: 9.5
Lasting appeal: 1
Innovation: 7.5

Final Score: 7

Game experience at time of redaction: Game cleared once
Redacted on: March 12th 2011
Uploaded on: March 12th 2011