Title: Date Warp
System(s): Windows, Mac and Linux
Release Date: May 25, 2010
Publisher (Developer): Hanako Games (Hanako Games and Spiky Caterpillar)
ESRB Rating: N/A, Hanako states that the game is for players ages 13 and up.
Pros: Unexpected animated opening with catchy theme song. Good anime-style artwork. Must solve puzzles to choose certain dialogue choices. Lots of save slots. Animated character portraits. Well drawn environments. Lots of endings. Easy to see and use menu. Well written dialogue. Can skip puzzle segments you’ve already completed. When you hover over a save state you also see a screenshot to remind you of what happened.
Cons: Can’t check character’s relationships at any time. Doesn’t keep track of earned endings or offer any kind of gallery feature.
Overall Score: Two thumbs up; 92/100; A-; * * * * out of 5
Date Warp is intriguing. Hanako Games’ description makes it sound like some sort of murder mystery adventure, where your actions can determine the fate of a college student. In reality, it’s more of a supernatural love story where the events that take place in the game influence Janet’s future. You make your way through the visual novel, hoping your choices help find the truth, a way to freedom or even love.
Janet’s whole world changes in the span of 4 days.
Janet is a freshmen in college, and out on a blind date with a boy named Bradley. Her roommate set them up, and he’s notorious for going through multiple girls, dating them once and then never seeing them again. Janet thinks things aren’t going very well, and they only get worse when his car runs out of gas, in the rain, in the middle of nowhere. The two walk for a while until they find a huge mansion, where every light is illuminated. Now, at this point any sane person who has any horror movie would run, but Janet and Bradley go in to get out of the rain and try and make a phone call for help.
Once they get inside, they learn that the mansion belongs to a man named Nathaniel. He and his three guests, Alban, Linds and Rafael, are there visiting at the moment, and Bradley and Janet are welcomed inside. Once inside, Janet finds her cell phone has no reception. Nathaniel’s phone is of no use either, as there’s no dialtone. Janet and Bradley decide to stay the night to wait out the storm. However, in the morning they find a weird forcefield over the doors and windows, keeping them locked inside.
There’s an intriguing story with interesting characters, but no way to keep track of things.
Date Warp has an unexpected story. Coming in, you think you’re getting yourself into some kind of horror story or murder mystery. Then, it takes a twist into what could almost be a steampunk or supernatural adventure. As it goes on, it starts to seem more like science fiction. It’s very engaging, and players will keep reading in the hopes of understanding what Janet has unwittingly been drawn into – and if she’ll get out.
Choosing answers is intriguing in Date Warp. In most visual novels you’re immediately given two or three choices on the bottom screen, and you select one to proceed. In Date Warp a wire puzzle appears. If you want to select an answer, you must first arrange the wires to energy can travel to said answer and make it selectable. So if you can’t figure out how to get to it, you can’t choose it. Thankfully, once you’ve reached an answer once you can choose to skip the puzzle and immediately choose it.
Date Warp is also noteworthing due to its heroine, Janet. At first glance, Janet looks African American, which I thought was neat since there aren’t many African American visual novel heroines. It turns out she’s not – she’s Indian. It doesn’t really have too much bearing on the plot, but I thought it was good to see a visual novel that embraced diversity by having a heroine with an uncommon heritage.
The only downside is that there’s no way to keep track of your accomplishments in Date Warp. I find it disheartening, since the free visual novel RE: Alistair++, which is about the same length, manages to offer a CG Gallery of special images and Heileen 2 had a gallery of all earned endings. When you reach an ending, you’ll see a one screen synopsis of what happened to Janet, and then learn the number and title of the ending you saw. You don’t even get a special ending image or screenshot, like most other visual novels offer.
A supernatural adventure perfect for visual novel fans.
There are some elements I would have liked to have seen in Date Warp, most importantly an Ending gallery since there are 11, but aside from that I genuinely enjoyed the adventure. So much so, that I found myself replaying it three times before writing this review, just so I could see some of the different events that can occur throughout the story. The character art is appealing, the puzzles to unlock answers are a nice diversion and, most importantly, it is well written. Hanako Games and Spiky Caterpillar did a wonderful job of creating a visual novel that both men and women will enjoy.
Site [Date Warp]