Dating can be a truly daunting experience, especially when you’ve just moved to a whole new country. Having just become situated in Portugal from London, Lou believes he’s met the love of his life – Catarina at a bar on a night out. He agrees to meet her in the local park the very next day for a romantic date. Rest assured this isn’t your average date, peculiar events begin to unfold which makes for an uncanny experience. Developed by Cloak and Dagger Games, A Date In The Park is a refreshing point and click adventure game filled with elegant sculptures, sunny skies and contemplation. Will Lou find true love or something more menacing?
A Date In The Park encompasses digitised graphics that’s highly reminiscent of 90’s style video games. You play as Lou – a happy go lucky guy who just wants the real deal. Lou explains how he believes he’s found this in Caterina, who he’s eagerly agreed to meet at the park. When Catarina doesn’t seem to show, you’ll wander the park aimlessly in search of her. You’ll return to the same locations often as there will be new encounters that reveal themselves to you. Whether it’s a mysterious noise, rustling bushes or an unexplained event, A Date In The Park is far from dull. Twists and turns in the narrative are made apparent to you at all times. There’s also a particularly disturbing scene involving a duck.
Lou is given a poorly drawn map that you’ll need to employ regularly in order to navigate your way through the park. There aren’t a whole lot of areas to explore, but traversing the open park can feel confusing at first. Paths will often diverge to new areas or you’ll come across a dead end and have to double back. The first thing you’ll probably notice is that the park is eerily secluded. Lou does interact with some strangers, but unfortunately for him, no one speaks English, only Portuguese. This makes for some humorous dialogue as Lou desperately tries to break the communication barrier.
The point and click mechanics of A Date In The Park are efficient with a few objects that are easily interacted with. Lou will insightfully comment on various points of interests placed within the park as you click on them. There is an inventory system in place where you’re able to store useful objects for use later. Although in theory the puzzle solving elements within A Date In The Park isn’t too difficult to overcome, it does contain some head scratchers. After finally coming across the right item and combining it with the right object, you may find yourself asking “why didn’t I think of that sooner?” The UI can be touchy as well, as names and objects sometimes won’t appear unless hovered over specifically. This can prove tedious at times when you’re stumped with a particular objective and miss an important navigational cue.
A Date In The Park is a short, but altogether fascinating experience. The game is only roughly an hour long, but it’s definitely time well spent. Without giving too much away, It’s such an innocent story that ends rather shockingly. It’s hard to believe that the game is free on Steam. Frankly, there isn’t an excuse to not play A Date In The Park, and believe me, you haven’t had a date quite like this one.
Sunita Osborne is a freelance writer and contributor to PN2. Go say hi @SunitaOsborne.