Dream Daddy (Video Game Review)

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When I first heard of Dream Daddy, I was immediately intrigued by the game’s theme (dating older men, a.k.a. “daddies”) but I was also hesitant. I had not played any other visual novels or dating sims before, and my only exposure to this type of game was through watching a short segment from Coming Out on Top. My concern was that the game would be primarily erotic in nature (Coming Out on Top has nude artwork for the sex scenes) and would lack any real drama but I was pleasantly surprised by Dream Daddy. Its various plotlines are generally well written, offering many genuinely sweet and sexy moments (through without any nudity) and even some beautifully bittersweet moments that make it far more emotionally compelling than a game about dating would be.

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Mr. Vega can lecture me any day …

Without giving too much away, I can say that each of the dad characters have a core conflict that the player can help to resolve. Most of these are relatively minor problems but make for very sweet, heartwarming stories. From the start, I was most drawn to Hugo Vega, or “Dr. Dad” as my husband and I like to call him, initially for his handsome exterior but was utterly sold on his after discovering he writes scholarly papers on 18th century literature. How I would have liked to talk to him about Ann Radcliffe and Charlotte Smith! His plotline is typical for the game and will end very happily if you play your cards right.

Not all the various plots ending happily, however, and add a much-needed element of dramatic, that elements one character story considering and making another rather gut-trenching sad. The better of these two stories is Robert Small’s, a mysterious and potentially dangerous fellow with a heart of gold. His story ends in a poignantly bittersweet manner, appropriate to his character’s history and personal conflict. I ended up loving his character all the more even though I didn’t quite get him in the end (no pun intended). The other dramatic story belongs to Joseph Christiansen, a sweet and perhaps too flirtatious minister with a wife and kids. I won’t go into his story much, because it would give far too much away, but suffice it to say,

“Some men are like chocolate
but most of them are like shit
and if you don’t have the experience
to spot that tiny difference
you’re likely to fall for all of it.”

As wonderful and effecting as the stories are, I found myself a little disappointed by how constrained the protagonist’s character is. While you can determine the character’s appearance (which include “binder bods” for trans men and some make-up for us genderfluid men) and name, the protagonist’s personality is largely decided for you. There are numerous situations where I would have liked to have more reaction options–instead you have no other option but sound like a square.

One other aspect of the game I found disappointing was Mary Christiansen’s character and plot. When you meet her for the first time, she comes across like a mean and hostile person but over the course of the game, the player is given opportunities to provide her some emotional support. They’re wonderful moments because they force you to re-evaluate her behavior and understand that they come primarily from a place of pain. While this does not excuse everything she does, it humanizes her and is important for understanding Joseph’s character. It’s such a pity then that the game never explores her story beyond these few encounters. I would so have enjoyed bonding with her over a few drinks after … oh, well, I said I wouldn’t say anything more about that!

Dream Daddy is a delightful experience through and through despite some minor faults. The romantic moments are sweet, frequently funny, and often sexy, but its more dramatic moments are what make Dream Daddy worth your time and attention (and money). They add a emotional complexity to the various plotlines makes the game more interesting overall and actually intensifies the romantic moments in an unforgettable way.

 

Things As They Are

There can be no doubt about the peculiar nature of my gender
and the appearance it affects;
the curiosity it inspires is something I have patiently endured
and accepted.
Most will merely stare, only to remove their gaze
as soon mine should cross with theirs,
and some will persist beyond a reasonable glance
with dumb obliviousness of their impropriety.
Some are vicious provocateurs
who intrude upon the serenity of their victim’s mind
with a cruel remark or a threat of violence.
Years of experience have accustomed me to their occurrence,
having the dual effect of habituating and sensitizing my mind
to their poisonous purpose,
but the compassionate and comprehending love,
which I have received
in such abundance from my family and friends,
protects and secures my character
from the compelling imposition of petty malevolence.

Despite the strength of my resolve and the low regard
in which I hold my tormentors,
my composure sometimes falters under the weight
of frequent ridicule from strangers
and the fear that someone will one day follow through
on their threat or even take my life.
Though renewing my resolve is easy enough,
I cannot deny the effect these occasions have upon my senses
and the prolonged, and often hidden, impact
they continue to have.

The integrity of my androgynous identity has frequently been
the subject of praise
but it has also been the reason for my rejection.
The very first man who returned my affections did not
seem to mind at first
but over time he admitted to my awareness his discomfort
and his desire for a more masculine boyfriend.

It would be the first of several such disappointments.
Many other men, being heterosexual, can never love me,
so long as I remain male,
yet I have found myself falling for them
despite how bitterly aware I am of their apparent indifference.
The few men who have had any interest in me
will only contact me in secret
and, though they confess to love my body,
their interest stops there;
after all, men such as they merely want a piece of “auxiliary ass,”
a substitute for the girlfriend who refuses to be sodomized.

Though it does not entirely ameliorate my pain,
I feel far more comfortable in the androgynous category
than in any other
and have determined to embrace it bravely.
Strangers call me she but my friends call me he;
I often find my self-perception shifting freely between the two
and take delight in the intricacy of their interplay—
free to feel whole … and wholly myself
without the traditional gender dichotomy.

Cause and Consequence

A relationship never ends on formal terms alone.

With false fortitude, I listened politely as he eagerly recited
the various praises and fine attributes of his new lover
and secretly felt an intense, sickening sensation,
in the pit of my stomach,
far worse than any other pain I incurred on his behalf.
For fear of exciting his resentment, I forbore all protestations
and suffered the final injury he would ever inflict upon me.

In a moment of jealous rage!,
I drove the knife as deeply as its short length could allow
and brought forth from the wound a steady stream of warmest blood.
Despite the horror of my actions, I felt neither pain nor distress,
and was gladdened to be sequestered within the sacred confines
of a psychiatric ward—
though it hardly felt like a home, the absence of my former lover
and his dominating presence brought great, unparalleled relief.

Old lovers simply do not make good friends.

Denied

It is strange how a single memory can disappear
from conscious awareness for years,
seemingly bearing no apparent sign that it was ever there.
Then, as if it had never been forgotten,
it returns with every detail and emotion intact.

So it was with some surprise that I suddenly remembered
the handsome Marine who once, and briefly, befriended me.
If it had not been for his effort, that first email he sent to me,
we never would have met;
we never would have known that we, so apparently different,
would have had something in common and something to share.
If it had only been up to me I would have sided with fear
and passed him by—bitterly assuring myself
that someone like him
would never want to know someone like me.

For weeks everything went well but then,
suddenly and without warning,
he ceased all communication with me
and set his profile to private,
forever cutting me out of his world.
If I had not feared confirming my suspicions,
I might have asked for an explanation,
but, as I have done with so many opportunities,
I sided with my fears and forgot about him.

Venus Envy

My right leg is covered with approximately thirty
1/4 inch holes,
supposedly made by burrowing insects;
when I apply pressure to the skin
a thick, dark red liquid oozes out from them.

* * *

As fever develops with annual germination,
and revives feelings I thought were well-contained,
nature once again proves that it has the upper hand,
and thus reminds me that this thing I hold in my hand
is more than just an elaborate urethra.
Short, handsome, and good with impressions …
he sedates my bitterness with a joke
and arouses a smile.
I delight in the stories he tells me about … his cock,
fully knowing that it, and he, are far beyond the reach
of my grotesque affections.

Sheltered within the pretense of a stoic ideal
and the bitter lessons of my failures,
I force the greatest indifference to the world and myself,
and make light of lust to hide its familiar face.
Inactivity alone makes me forget
how much I enjoy the warmth of another man’s flesh
and the relief his company promises to bring.

Now, hear me out:
To many my appearance seems a conspicuous contradiction,
of qualities and characteristics that do not mix,
yet I rarely perceive this supposed incongruity anymore.
In fact, such distinctions between the proper man
and proper woman
are now almost irrelevant to me
yet despite my usual comfort
and the cavalier indifference I effect,
a small but vexing desire manifests itself
from some old, unused unconscious waste.
Its demands can only be suppressed and denied,
not relieved but forgotten by distraction,
and inevitably returns in dream.

(Scene: His chamber, a large apartment bedroom
decorated with black, modern furnishings.)

Again … I saw him in a dream, this time embracing,
his body undressed and mine,
although it technically was and still is a secret to me.
My mind filled in the necessary details
and guided our actions with remarkable ease and skill,
fulfilling the longstanding desires I tried to forget.

On most occasions I manifest as female
to better fit his parts
but on some I become the crude invader of his needs.
He resists my hands, my humble offer of affection,
and cries out from the pain of penetration;
I panic, feel shame and guilt for the crime,
but at the height of the drama the characters vanish,
leaving only their wretched yearnings behind.

I’m told: “Breasts won’t grow quite as large
once the body reaches thirty years,”
yet I do not feel that this is who I am.
I am neither man nor woman,
and no manner of magic divining rod
will assuredly lead me to the well of vital necessity.
This is the same old moral I am forced to recall
after each and every painful cycle:
What some might believe to transcend all
does not, in fact, pervade all!

The path on which my course is seemingly set may not be
the only route open to me,
for I can never know what new and more promising avenues
I will find on my way
yet in spite of my periodic doubts I can reasonably assess
what direction is ultimately best for me
and the meaning of my destiny.

* * *

My right leg is covered with approximately thirty
1/4 inch holes,
supposedly made by burrowing insects;
when I apply pressure to the skin
a thick, dark red liquid oozes out from them.
I hear their threatening buzz but do not fret;
their instinctual task amuses me.