Veritable Joy’s ValiDate is a sweet, authentic dating simulator with something for everyone. Now available on Nintendo Switch, ValiDate is a visual novel that follows thirteen singles in their twenties as they navigate the woes of adulthood. A gorgeous game with lovable, realistic characters, ValiDate‘s awkward controls and lack of depth within its numerous routes, unfortunately, make it a flawed title, albeit one with great promise.
ValiDate offers players 30+ routes, with four playable characters: Malik Paterson, Inaya Safi, Emhari Abdi, and Isabelle Morrigan. The game’s full cast of thirteen characters weaves in and out of each other’s routes, with varying levels of success depending on their unique dynamics. ValiDate is chock-full of content for those eager to sink their teeth into a long, winding narrative, or looking to fall in love with a dating sim game. Many in their twenties will relate to the struggles faced by the game’s diverse cast of characters.
Visually, the game looks gorgeous, with engaging, dynamic character art, backgrounds, and CGs. Additionally, the game’s soundtrack meshes well with ValiDate‘s theme and tone, offering a subdued, gentle backdrop to the character’s antics. ValiDate explores a variety of mature topics and personal struggles in an authentic, respectful context.
Unfortunately, on Nintendo Switch, ValiDate‘s controls are somewhat awkward. Players are able to navigate partially through button presses, but most of the game’s menu navigation relies on a mouse controlled by a joystick. Although the mouse can be flicked up and down with arrow keys, it does not lock on to options, requiring players to use the Switch’s joystick to maneuver it back into place. Besides this, little has changed from the PC version of the game. Besides the advantages offered by the Switch’s portable nature, there’s little reason to prioritize the Switch version of ValiDate besides personal preference.
Like in the Quarry, players’ choices matter in ValiDate, impacting the route’s ending. However, if a player encounters a character they want to explore in-depth, the desires and whims of the character they’re playing can limit their options, leading to frustration. Thankfully, ValiDate‘s diverse selection of characters offers players plenty of opportunities to find a pair they click with. Unfortunately, the game’s wide breadth results in a lack of narrative depth within particular routes. Many are short and don’t offer players the opportunity to romantically pursue characters beyond a few early encounters. What the game has to offer is authentic, realistic, and meaningful, but ValiDate fails to instill a sense of ownership within players.
With its gorgeous art and heartfelt characters, fans of the best visual novel games and dating sims will certainly find something to love within ValiDate. Those who are interested in the title, but aren’t quite ready to swipe right, will want to keep a close eye on the game. Veritable Joy has announced plans to expand ValiDate, offering more playable characters and routes in the future. Although the game isn’t perfect, ValiDate remains a wonderful choice for fans of dating sims seeking an experience that offers a more realistic take on the traditionally-romanticized genre.
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ValiDate is available now on PC, Nintendo Switch, and Xbox. Screen Rant was provided with a Switch code for the purposes of this review.