The resurgence of full-motion video games, particularly from publisher Wales Interactive, has been a lot of fun to see over the past decade. Not only have these games retained the signature charm of the genre, but they’ve also been solid gaming experience rather than falling into “so bad it’s good” territory. The pandemic dating game Five Dates became a surprise hit for the studio and now serves as an intriguing time capsule of virtual dating during the times of COVID. Now the publisher is back with a more ambitious successor called Ten Dates, which features two protagonists, same-sex relationship paths, and more variety thanks to the move to in-person dating.
Director Paul Rachid, who previously helmed Five Dates and The Complex, returns for the sequel, which largely retains the format of the original game. Playing as either Misha or Ryan, you go on a series of speed dates, make connections with potential suitors, and then determine who to pursue. It makes the game quite replayable as there are ten relationships that can either go well or awry depending on your choices.
Both Rosie Day’s Misha and Charlie Maher’s Ryan are incredibly charming and likable, which is a key component in the player actually wanting them to find the right match. There are lots of ways to play Ten Dates, whether you use the protagonists as a self-insert and go after your own type, want to role-play as a jerk, or are just there to see all of the many interactions. Yet no matter how you play, it’s all enjoyable due to the well-framed shots and charming dialogue.
While it’s full of entertaining moments, it’s the more emotional and harder-hitting story beats that make Ten Dates an interesting and rewarding experience. Each of the dates typically fall into a trope — there are female athletes, jocks, tech geeks, etc. — but each character is properly fleshed out. As the dates progress, you’re able to learn more about each person’s backstory along with some surprising revelations, such as the crude Bash having dealt with more heartbreak than most could imagine. Uncovering the layers to each character is one of the real joys of the game and serves as a reminder not to place people into convenient categories since everyone is unique.
Ten Dates also thankfully has many quality-of-life upgrades when compared to Five Dates that make getting through the game and seeing all of its content much easier. For example, scenes you’ve already seen before can simply be skipped with the press of a button and you can easily avoid unnecessary dates if you just want to go down a specific person’s path on a subsequent playthrough. These are all thoughtful additions that make Ten Dates a better game than its predecessor, even if exploring post-pandemic dating isn’t quite as unique as what came before.
While Ten Dates loses some of the novelty of the original due to it escaping the confines of pandemic romance, it still manages to be a worthwhile exploration of dating through the lens of an FMV game. The acting is great all-around with Day and Maher really pulling their weight as charismatic protagonists with entertaining banter. Wales Interactive has once again delivered a solid interactive movie with plenty of replay value, which helps expand its ever-growing library of FMV gems.
As ComingSoon’s review policy explains, a score of 7.5 equates to “Good.” A successful piece of entertainment that is worth checking out, but it may not appeal to everyone.
Disclosure: The publisher provided a PS4 copy for our Ten Dates review. Reviewed on version 1.01.