Later Daters argues that it's never too late to find love. From developer Bloom Digital Media, you take on the role of an ageing pensioner settling into life at Ye Olde Retirement Community, where the prospect of romance fills the air. The game plays out as a visual novel, presenting you with a vast array of choices and dialogue options as you progress through the 3 episodes (we should note that this release contains the first 3 of 6 total episodes, the latter of which will release in October 2020). It's an experience that's over far too quickly, but one that encourages multiple runs to fully appreciate the varied storylines.
At the start of the game, you can choose your character along with your name and choice of pet (oddly enough, we named our pet dog ‘Max’ on the first run-through, which also happens to be the name of one of the characters’ ex-husband, leading to much confusion). You’re then quickly introduced to the residents of Ye Olde, including ageing rockstar Jax, the artistic Waseem family and hairstylist Nelson, amongst others. You can single out certain characters and get to know them better, but you’re also free to play the field a bit and mingle with the majority of the community, depending on your dialogue choices.
The writing, on the whole, is pretty solid throughout; it’s not award-winning prose, and some of the dialogue comes off as slightly unrealistic, but there are some really poignant moments that deal with the concepts of mortality and love. It really tries to put you into the mind of your chosen protagonist and makes you ponder what kind of actions they might take rather than what you, the player, want them to do. Of course, you could also simply disregard this concept and arrange a group date with the three hottest seniors in the building, if you really want. Anything goes at Ye Olde.
With only 3 episodes coming out at around 2 or 3 hours of total gameplay max, we’re a bit disappointed that such a short experience has been split into 2 separate releases. There’s potential here, but the ending really sneaks up on you; just when you feel you’re starting to get to know the characters, it’s over, and we were left feeling rather deflated by the experience as a result. Aside from watching events play out and roughly moulding the story to suit your goals, there’s little else to do in Later Daters, and we feel the experience might have been greatly enhanced with some mini-games to flesh out the overall length. Nevertheless, it’s a cute little tale with likeable characters, pleasant visuals, and an excellent, catchy title theme song.