ValiDate: Struggling Singles in Your Area is an upcoming dating sim featuring a diverse cast of 13 playable characters. I had previously covered ValiDate two years ago when the game was crowdfunding on Kickstarter. I was very excited over the prospect of a diverse romance game that promised authentic (if sometimes messy) stories. And from playing the original demo, it was clear that the game would not shy away from relatable problems like emotional intimacy, family issues, sexuality, and more. With the release of a new demo and a with the full game’s release slated for this summer, it feels like it’s time to see how far the game has come.
The demo allows you to play snippets of three possible routes from the game, the options being Malik, Inaya, and Isabelle. This demo is a very promising start for ValiDate. Seeing characters with brown skin that aren’t reduced to some sort of exotic stereotype is a real treat for dating sims. I also especially appreciate the diversity when it comes to your love interests’ body types. Seeing Inaya, a brown woman with body hair, in a dating sim was a delight!
ValiDate’s writing is also very funny and uncomfortably true to what dating in your twenties feels like. Personally, I’m glad that these characters also have existential crises over their creative careers in their heads during dates and it’s not just me (please do not ask me what I’m doing when I graduate on a first date). The three routes the demo gave us have already captured my interest, and the full game’s promise of over 30 routes is also very exciting. With this unique and relatable cast of characters, I am looking forward to mixing them up and seeing what happens.
For example, I played Malik’s route with Arihi and it starts with the two having a dispute in a nondescript chicken restaurant called “Bopeyes.” Their story, “Befriending Another Man,” has classic enemies-to-lovers vibes while also being hilarious. I am dying to know if Malik, the bicurious “Bopeyes” manager/Boundcloud rapper, can find middle ground with Arihi, an e-boy with three Master’s degrees. Will Malik “befriend” another man? Can love really bloom in a “Bopeyes”?
It appears that the game will be released in volumes. ValiDate: Struggling Singles in Your Area Volume 1, which will let you play as Malik, Inaya, Isabelle, and Emhari, is set to come out August 2022 on Steam, Itch.io, Switch, and Xbox. I look forward to being able to fully explore all the routes as it is so nice to see queer POC treated with care and respect within a video game. Also there’s the possibility of romancing hot moms and who could resist that? If you want to keep up with ValiDate I recommend following their Twitter for updates, memes, and the occasional late night spoiler.