I’m going to preface all of this by saying that I’m 90% sure that I am not the target audience for this game. Raised in rural Georgia under the wing of a semi-strict southern Baptist community, my initial attitudes and feeling towards homosexuality were certainly influenced by my upbringing and environment. It was not until I was grown that I thought of it as anything more than a joke or something that broken or sinful people participated in. Getting out of town and meeting new folks helped give me a new perspective on things and I understood that my previous attitude was wrong.
Dream Daddy: A Dad Dating Simulator is a visual novel game that I knew little about going in, other than it had a collection of dads and that they were dateable. The game centers around you and your daughter during a move to a new town in the weeks leading up to her high school graduation. The entirety of the game is a series of still images sliding around the screen and seemingly endless lines of text providing the dialogue between you, your daughter and the denizens of a town called Maple Bay. Everything that follows will contain spoilers. Proceed at your own risk.
Building a Better Dad
Right off the bat, Dream Daddy asks you to use its character creator tool to build up a dad in your ideal image, also known as your “dadsona”. Admittedly, the choices available for body types, haircuts, eyes, and the like were limited, but I was able to find a combination that felt like me. A two-dimensional representation of what I was as a person and father was birthed from the creator and inserted into the game world.
Dream Daddy opens with a scene between you and your daughter Amanda designed to provide some exposition against the backdrop of packing up belongings for the moving truck that takes the both of you to Maple Bay. You are a single dad that is very close to his daughter. Your wife passed away some undetermined time ago when Amanda was still fairly young. You are given the option to decide if Amanda was born to you or adopted. I rolled with the first option and I assume that some parts of the experience could differ if the adoption option is chosen. No direct mention or any hints of another relationship for you in the years since your wife’s passing are presented.
Wasting No Time Getting on The Horse
You and Amanda arrive at your new home in the afternoon and unload your belongings. One of your new neighbors, Joseph, a handsome man with a chiseled jawline, stops by to offer some cookies and welcome you to the neighborhood. After a conversation with your daughter, you decide to go out into town to pass the time and end up at a dive bar. Within 8 seconds of sitting at the bar, a attractive suburbanite wino lady attempts to put it on you. You resist the advance quickly only to be propositioned by another patron before you can get your first drink.
This guy is tall, dark, and handsome. Wearing a black leather jacket like he was Bryan Adams in 1983, he gives you “the look” and offers to buy you a drink, which you inexplicably accept without hesitation. His name is Robert, or so he says, and before I can swallow the first drop of my buttery nipple, he asks me to come back to his place. Prior to this moment, I was provided no indication that I might be leaning gay or even have the slightest interest in men, and yet, within two hours of arriving in Maple Bay, I’m barebacking this greaser within 3 hours of pulling into town.
Not the Reaction I was Expecting
I wake up in Robert’s bed butt-ass naked wondering how I ended up in such a position. Robert is standoffish, but kisses me on the lips and lets me know I need to GTFO. I stumble back into my house early in the morning to be confronted by Amanda. She wonders why I never came home last night, and rightfully so. I explain what happened last night to her and she shrugs it off. Apparently, this is not the first time I ghosted her and ended up getting plowed by some drifter. She seems genuinely happy and expresses excitement for me.
I have an appointment at Amanda’s school to meet her english teacher, Hugo. Upon meeting Hugo, I can’t help but notice that he is a beautiful man, looking like an young, olive-skinned Dennis Farina. Hugo also has the romance novel cover jawline that I noticed on Robert. Hugo is also a single dad and appears to be a bit awkward around me. The conversation and vibe turns playful awfully fast and Hugo says he hopes we run into each other again. Amanda reminds me that we were invited to the neighborhood cookout this evening and we should get going.
This is More Than a Little Peculiar
Amanda and I arrive at Joseph’s beautiful home for the cookout and he takes the time to introduce me to the neighborhood. As it turns out, Hugo and his daughter live on the same cul de sac as Joseph and I and we exchange pleasantries. We keep moving along and Joseph introduces Brian, Mat, Craig, and Damien. All of them are dads, all of them have the same chiseled jawline, and all of them live in this cul de sac. Out of the corner of my eye, I spot a fellow in a leather jacket in the corner of the yard. Joseph introduces him as Robert, the final dad who also lives in this cul de sac. We pretend we haven’t met. This shit is starting to feel twilight zone as fuck.
Thoughts are racing in my head about how all of these scorching hot dads ended up in this one cul de sac. How did I become an occupant in this neighborhood. I’m 100% dad, but I don’t have the jawline sported by the other dads. Is this a setup? Am I the focus of some full-on gay experiment? Am I not gay but something in my drink made me gay for Robert? Is Amanda in on charade? A woman approaches us in the backyard. It is the same broad that tried to steam up my shorts the night before in the bar. Joseph introduces her as Mary, his wife. Oh shit. She does not look happy to see me and stomps off. I thank Joseph for inviting me to the party and he begins flirting with me! WTF. I would have run out of their in a hurry had I not felt so attracted to him. We exchanged goodbyes and I crossed the street back to my house with Amanda. She is glad I am making new friends so quickly.
WTF is Amanda’s Angle Here?
Amanda explains that she wants me to be happy and overheard me being a little more than friendly with some of the dads. She tells me about this internet app called DadBook, a social network for dads who want to get in touch. She creates an account for me and seemingly pre-loads my home screen with profile pages of the cul de sac daddies. The app shows their likes and desires and displays how much they are currently digging you. Why is she so gung ho about this? How does a 17-year old girl know so much about Dad Grindr? She is like a teenage terminator with a neural net processor programmed by Hitch and her mission is to make sure I get my dick wet in some dad.
I immediately discard those thoughts and start DadBooking hard. I lock in on Joseph. He’s married with 3 beautiful kids and his wife came onto me and I see that he is the youth pastor at the local church. Why in the hell is he on DadBook? Is Mary a beard? He is so handsome, though. Pursuing him would be wrong on so many levels and could potentially destroy his family. Everything that makes it wrong causes my desire for it to intensify. Yep, I’m definitely going to try and banana his split.
Let’s Get On With This Big Romance Already
I send Joseph a message via DadBook and he invites me over to his place to make brownies for the upcoming church bake sale. An attempt is made to include his younger children in the process, but they grow disinterested, leaving me and Joseph in the kitchen. The mixer goes a bit haywire and slings some batter onto Joseph’s nose. Being the flirt that randomly came into existence once I moved into the cul de sac, I wiped off the brownie batter with my finger and then licked it off and made some sort of moaning noise. Joseph reacted weirdly, yet would not break eye contact with me.
We finished the brownies and started the bake sale. We made lots of money for the church over the course of the afternoon. Towards the end, Mary approached and acted very cold towards Joseph and I. Does she know I’m trying to queer off with Joe? At the end of the sale I head back home and we exchange DadBook messages. He invites me to help him chaperone a youth dance at the church and I agree to come along. More casual flirting occurs at the dance and Joseph opens up to me about being overwhelmed with how his life has ended up and how he often feels trapped. This could be a real nice opening for me and something to use to emotionally manipulate him into sex.
The next day, I converse with Joseph on DadBook and he invites me to go fishing with him on his yacht. Apparently, youth ministering in Maple Bay pays rap video money. I excitedly agree and we leave the marina together. Lots of small talk about whales ensues and Joseph once again confides in me about his struggles. I let him know that I will be there for him and can be his vacation from this suburban prison he finds himself locked into. The yacht runs out of gas and we are stuck overnight on the boat alone waiting for a coast guard rescue in the morning. I grab some wine from under the deck and we get buzzed. I banana Joseph’s split.
The coast guard saves us in the morning and we kiss before separating. For the second time in a week, I arrive home in the early morning after ghosting Amanda to get my freak on. Once again, it seems as if she could not be happier. I head outside and I’m confronted by Robert. He is pissed at me, saying that our thing was just a thing and that love was never supposed to enter into it. Apparently, our one night stand made Robert real thirsty for my loving and he couldn’t handle it.
Joseph messages me and asked me to come see him. He explains that while I lit up his life on the yacht, he must stay with his wife and kids, but that he hopes I will remain his side bitch going forward. I agreed and we parted. I was again confronted by the perpetually angry Mary who explained that she knew what was going on and implied that Joseph had previously been sleeping with Robert. I guess that’s why Robert had his panties in a bunch.
I returned home to celebrate Amanda’s graduation from high school and preparation for moving off to college. I invited over all the dads to her party since I never actually saw her hanging out with any high school friends her own age. Amanda and I spoke about how much we loved each other and hugged. This must have been the end of my experience in Maple Bay as the credits began to roll.
Just Dating Dads or More Under the Surface?
I’m not sure if Dream Daddy is just a simple visual novel or a commentary on some social issue. Is it all a fever dream? Was there some nefarious explanation for the weirdness and coincidence of the proximity to all the hot gay dads? Did I let my mixed emotions about losing touch with my college-bound daughter drive me to explore a sexual side of me that I never knew existed? Was I secretly gay beforehand and masterminded the entire move to Maple Bay to satisfy a kink?
I only played through the game once and it took around 90 minutes from start to finish. I did not pursue dates with the other dads and wonder if things would be better explained had I made different choices. Considering I’ve already written 2000 words on a game with no gameplay that lasted less than two hours, I would say I’ve probably seen enough. Did I learn anything about myself? Would I have enjoyed it more if these people were gay terminators as part of a weird government social experiment? Probably, yeah.