Title: Purrfect Date
Platform: PC (Steam)
Developer: Bae Team
Publisher: Bossa Studios
TL;DR: Cats, dates, and a whole lot of mystery
Release Date: Out now
Price: £7/$9
Family Friendly? Click here for more information

So I’ve done the pigeon dating game.

I’ve done the M̷̡̳̟̐̋̎͘ó̵̡̮̭͇͇n̸͖̪̟͐̅̽́̈́̂i̸̛̛̝̻͙̥͉̒̂͐̆̽̀͌k̵̦̖̩̪̜͌̓̉͐͐̆̾͝a̴̱̠̩̙͙̖͑͂g dating game.

I’ve done Kitty Powers’ dating game.

The next obvious route was the cat one.

Purrfect Date is a visual novel that is touted as a game where you date cats. You play as six different researchers, each who have been sent to Cat Island to assist Professor Pawpur in his research. Only once you rock up on this sunny vista, it comes to light that there might be more than just wooing cats at stake here.

Purrfect Date is your fairly standard point and click visual novel, divided into three main sections. Once your premise – that you have been bitten by the Elder Cats, and you’re going to turn into a cat if you don’t discover an antidote in time – is established, there are three main sections of gameplay to pick from. There’s no deviation from the pointing and clicking, but the three sections are different enough to keep it fresh – Recon, which is discovering more about the island’s mysteries, or doing random work for the scientists, Research, which is furthering the plotline, and Romance, which is, of course, choosing a furry suitor. You’ve also got a heart meter, which you need to refill by resting once it gets down to one, lest you run the risk of becoming overworked.

There’s no time limitations or restrictions like a day/night cycle, bar one thing – once you’ve completed your third and final research task, you leave the island for good, so you need to ensure you’ve maxed out your five romance slots, and your three recon slots, before leaving. It’s a tad simplistic, but it works well enough; I feel the rest feature does become slightly redundant and could really be removed, along with the penalty, but it does kind of make sense plot-wise.

Your five romance options are above; Trixie, Snooty Booty, Kibbles, McMurphy, and Floofybutt. You go on five dates with each, and depending on the choices you pick, you’ll either be successful or be rejected. The correct answers aren’t always clear, and sometimes pretty misleading (Yes, Floofy, I’m looking at you and my 98.6% completion stat), but it’s not particularly aggravating. You can’t romance more than one cat at once, so there’s no chance of you being mauled to death by a pack of angry felines come Valentine’s Day.

The romance in this game is surprisingly touching and sweet – the writing is definitely a lot better than I was ever expecting out of a cat dating simulator. For the entirety of the game, the dialogue feels incredibly natural and genuine; each of your five dates has their own voice and personality, to the point where they become very well fleshed out characters in a very minimalist medium. No two blend together, and if you cover up the names, you can still tell who’s talking, which is so hard to find in games these days. Plus, you aren’t confined to straight romance; date male cats, date female cats, date none of the cats! Though why would you ever do that, you monsters?!

While some of the routes are better than others (Kibbles’ one, for example, felt a bit too much of a jump to romance), this is where the writing truly shines through. Trixie’s is my favourite for exactly this reason; rich, powerful imagery that completely encapsulates everything she wants to say. This is far deeper than I was ever expecting from a game about dating cats! My one issue with the romance is that it feels very rushed; you go from fairly platonic meetings, some backstory, then heartfelt love confessions in five dates. I know your time on the island is limited, but it would have been nice to flesh the routes out some more. But saying that, what content we have already, is lovely; all the cats feel like genuine characters, and manage to break your heart with just a few scant lines of dialogue.

Honestly, I feel this game is underselling itself as a mere dating sim. The other portion of the plot is the mystery of what the hell is going on on this island, and I found that far deeper and more compelling than the romance parts. It has the traditional VN swerve from absurd to creepy, and I was incredibly eager to find out what was going on – I can’t remember the last time I was excited to get home from work to carry on playing a game. The trailer above makes it appear ala Hatoful Boyfriend, but the content couldn’t be further from it. The Steam page describes it as “…a cross between a Visual Novel, a Dating Sim, and a dark British comedy,” which is pretty damn accurate because the humour is absolutely on point. Really, I have no complaints about the writing aside from the odd Americanism, and I can’t remember the last time I said that, either.

Purrfect Date has a wealth of content; in total, there’s 18 different endings, and 32 Steam achievements, which means there are multiple playthroughs needed – again, standard VN fare. My one issue with this, however, is that there’s no way to go back and play individual chapters (the aforementioned 98.6%) or a skip text button, and if you don’t get 100%, there’s no true ending for you. So I was left clicking my way through dialogue for another two playthroughs, until I got the true end. This is a massive source of frustration, which is admittedly partly my fault because I fucked up two playthroughs, but manually clicking through four hours of dialogue to finish the game was a chore. It also tended to run very hard on my machine to the point of overheating, which was surprising for a VN, so check the specs before you buy.

That being said! The devs are very active on the Steam forums, and have said that the skip option is coming in the next update, thanks to fan feedback, and very kindly told my dumbass self how to get the true end, on Boxing Day, to boot, so don’t be put off, because the fixes are coming. And the epilogue I finally got was so heartwarming, those extra four hours were worth it.

Overall, this is fantastic, very sweet, with perfect British humour, better developed characters than I see in a majority of AAA titles, adorable romance, and is a spectacularly written game that I absolutely recommend and thoroughly enjoyed playing.

Oh, and if you’re wondering who best girl is, it’s Trixie.

The Good

  • Very well fleshed out characters
  • Soundtrack is gorgeous
  • Funny, cute cats, and superb writing – I need more than three bullet points, dammit!

The Bad

  • Managed to overheat my PC a couple of times
  • No skip function for read dialogue
  • Art isn’t the best, for some of the sprites.

Family Friendly?

Purrfect Date is unrated by PEGI and the ESRB at time of writing. There’s a few bawdy jokes, consumption of alcohol, and disturbing writing, though nothing is shown. 12+ should be fine.

Disclaimer: This review is based on a copy of the game provided by the publisher for the purposes of this review.