Operation Backlog Completion 2024
Feb 082023

Today we’re going to talk about an unusual indie game I picked up in a bundle, Doodle Date.

Doodle Date has a unique central gimmick: you draw the character you’re dating.

After being pulled into the world of your sketchbook, you are asked to draw your ideal date. You draw several different expressions/poses for this character, who is then named Sketchy and goes on a date with you. At certain points in the game, you have to draw other things, as well, like your waiter at a restaurant.

The drawing gimmick is entertaining, and I liked seeing how it was implemented at various points. My terrible artwork just made it funnier.

On the other hand, I’m not sure I’d actually call this a romance. It’s a short game, taking about 30 minutes for one playthrough, and the romantic development generally consists of being told you’re going on dates with Sketchy and growing closer. Instead of developing a romance, it spends more time playing into the darker implications of entering a world of sketches and creating someone to fall in love with you.

Click for Doodle Date spoilers
In the Sketchy route, you become upset that Sketchy won’t have sex with you and learn that Sketchy is distressed over every aspect of their existence being created for your benefit. You get a divorce.

It’s also possible to instead end up with Claire, the pre-existing sketch who tells you how the sketch world works. In that route, you get her pregnant, and the implications of a human-sketch hybrid baby are apparently so horrifying that she tries to kill you, so you kill her. Then the baby shows up years later and kills you in revenge.

Doodle Date is a romance game in the same way Doki Doki Literature Club could be seen as one, except that game devotes a greater amount of time to developing the character relationships first.

That’s a shame, because drawing your own love interest for a visual novel is a fun idea that I would have liked to see played out in earnest instead of from this meta perspective. It’s still interesting, but not what I was expecting.

Update: By popular demand, I’ve uploaded my drawn Sketchy.

So far this February I’ve reviewed a Nekopara game that focuses more on personal growth, and now a meta horror take on visual novels. At least Wintertide Miracles was a good romance story! Friday’s post has a good chance of being supplanted by Nintendo Direct news (fingers crossed), so let’s hope I manage to find another genuine romance for our review on Monday!

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  15 Responses to “Celebrating All Things Romantic: Doodle Date”

  1. For anyone like me who likes to watch other people play video games, I highly recommend the Game Grumps videos. They do both routes without any prior knowledge, and their reactions are priceless.

    They didn’t know what they were drawing, so their son was Homer Simpson. xD

  2. …You’re really going to make this blog about drawing your own love interest and not include a screenshot of said love interest? Really? I wanna see the terrible artwork!

    Also, gonna try something quick:

    Test spoiler tag
    Just want to see if this works!

  3. 0/10 I wanted to see what you drew.

    I think if something like this were to actually work in earnest, instead of drawing the date, the player would need be given presets, like eyes, hair, etc. to choose from.

    The idea of creating your date kind of reminds me of another VN, Our Life: Beginnings and Always. It has quite a few customization options for the character you play as and you go through 4 different time periods while growing up. You don’t customize the date, but I think a setup like that could also work well for creating your date.

    • I considered including a screenshot of my art, but decided against it on the grounds that it would be too embarrassing, haha.

      That’s a good point, customizing a character by choosing presets would probably work better toward making a serious story.

  4. I’m also one of the people who were shocked and appalled that you didn’t include a screenshot of your drawing. Satisfying your audience is more important than saving yourself embarrassment!

  5. The more you resist posting a picture of your drawn love interest, the more we’re going to demand it.
    *chant* Do it do it do it do it…

  6. Your artwork is lightyears ahead of my own. I’d be too ashamed to post mine if I played this!
    But seriously this sounds like a cool concept and I can see how really artsy people could get into it!

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