Dream Daddy is a new dating sim where you play as a father and date other fathers. On the surface, it looks like a light game about hot dads and the dad jokes they make. It is that, but it’s also a sincere look at what it’s like to be a father.
My dad is incredibly proud of me. I know this, because in my first few weeks of working here, one of his co-workers left this comment on one of my articles:
My first few hours of Dream Daddy, a new dating sim that’s tearing up the Steam charts, has given me some insight into his life, strangely enough. In this game you play as a father moving to a new neighborhood with your teenage daughter, Amanda. Your partner has died, and the two of you are downsizing. You dad is entirely customizable: the character creator comes with a wide range of skin tones and hairstyles—even Goku’s hair—and during the opening moments of the game, you can decide if your past partner was a man or a woman, or if Amanda was adopted or your biological child.
The game mostly plays as a standard dating sim. You click through a lot of dialogue and choose some options during conversations. Dream Daddy peppers this with a few cute mini games. When you first meet one of the dads, for example, the game turns into a Pokémon homage while the two of you brag about your daughters.
While the game is pretty horny—you can have a sexual encounter with a fellow dad on your first night in town—a lot of your conversations have to do with what it means to be a father. At the neighborhood barbecue, you and your fellow dads talk about how to balance being an authoritarian with being cool and approachable to your child. In my playthrough so far, I’ve also had to make some choices about how I’m going to be a parent to Amanda. If she comes back a hour and a half after curfew without responding to my texts, how do I respond? If she’s clearly upset over something but refusing to tell me, do I give her space or get pushy? The parts of the game that really force me to get in the mindset of a parent are quite touching. As the dad I created, whom I named Dad Jackson, recounted a story of bringing Amanda home from the hospital, tears came to my eyes. He really, really cares about Amanda.
The other fathers are all well-drawn characters who I want to get to know. There’s of course romantic subtext, but even though I’m totally ready to bone down with Mat, the hot barista, I’m also enjoying just learning more about him. He’s an awkward guy, his coffee shop is covered in band puns (I ordered the Godspeed You! Black Coffee), and he used to be in a band. In fact, the first time you hang he invites you to a PUP concert, which is one of my favorite real-life bands.
The game stresses that these people all have more going on in their lives than just being dads, even if fatherhood takes up a lot of their time. Just like your own parents, none of the characters emerged fully formed the moment they became a father. They all have experiences from their youth that has made them the dads they are today.
There’s a lot more going on in Dream Daddy than just bad puns and jokes about stereotypical dad interests. Yeah, your dad likes grilling and the History Channel, but there’s way more to him as a person. As a young woman who has a close relationship with her father and was once a lot like the distant but funny Amanda, it’s made me realize how hard a job being a parent is. Dream Daddy is $15 on Steam. Oh and dad, because I know you’re reading this, I love you very much.