ValiDate: Struggling Singles in Your Area is a romantic visual novel about 13 adults in Jercy City navigating new relationships and the harsh realities that come alongside them. I’ve talked about this game a few times; Veritable Joy’s dedication to including authentic BIPOC and LGBTQ+ representation in Validate definitely caught my attention. So, I am super happy that the team gave me a sneak peek at the demo before its public debut!
- Genre: Slice-of-Life | LGBTQ+ | Modern Romance
- Platforms: Steam, Nintendo Switch, Playstation and Xbox, Itch.io
- Projected Release Date: August 2022
Anywhere can be the city of love if you’re willing to try hard enough, and some of these folks from Jercy City are desperate. ValiDate presents a smorgasbord of relationships to bear witness to—but the dating scene is difficult even when you aren’t marginalized in six different ways, so happiness continues to fly just out of reach for these unlucky lovers.Official Synopsis
- 13 playable characters with 30+ routes.
- The ability to choose horrible decisions and see the entertaining fallout.
- #OwnVoices narrative writing by an all people of color team.
- A beautiful array of artists of color’s work to give each character their own individual feeling
Characters of Validate: Struggling Singles in Your Area
Validate: Struggling Singles in Your Area Demo Review
One of the big draws of Validate: Struggling Singles in Your Area is the inclusion of such an expansive BIPOC/LGBTQ+ cast! Sure, more and more indie games are creating stories revolving around more inclusive characters, but the sheer number of queer, BIPOC characters in this game is astounding and we have Veritable Joy’s diverse creative team to thank for the amazing degree of representation. The team behind Validate is comprised entirely of queer, BIPOC creators and each member strived to bring their own stories, experiences, and identities into the characters and story of the game to create a unique #OwnVoices narrative style. Not only does this give Validate it’s own vibe, but it also adds a level of realism to the situations the characters find themselves in while trying to navigate the modern dating scene (trust, it’s wild out here in these single streets).
In most romance games I’ve played, they like to sell you on the fantasy romance experience—you meet someone, you date, fall in love, and live happily ever after. Sure there’s a bit of drama here and there to make things interesting, but the end goal is always super luv-luv bliss with your chosen bae. But, what sets Validate apart from some of the other romance games I’ve played is that it does the complete opposite—celebrating the cringe-y moments, horrible decisions, and downright messy situations singles can find themselves in while trying to find love in this modern day an age. From casual hookups to horrible first dates to the occasional love connection; it’s raw and at times hits extremely close to home, but there is humor to be found in watching the shenanigans the characters find themselves in as they strive to find their ideal partner while also figuring out their own lives.
I’ve seen some criticism of the team and the game for its inclusion of such a distinctive cast and story, but I appreciate the unapologetic passion the team has for this project—and as a Black gamer, I really love seeing such an inclusive cast of characters and experiences. There are so many identities represented in this game, which I think will appeal to a wider array of gamers. Of course, because of this Validate does touch on some tough topics and situations that may not be for everyone, thankfully the devs include content warnings at the start of each date, so you know what you’re getting into.
The team did an amazing job capturing all the split second thoughts and snarky judgments that run through a person’s mind while on a date and the snappy dialogue is fun—there were a few dates that were eerily similar to my own… and I’ll just leave it at that. In the demo, you have the chance to try out dates with Malik, Inaya, and Isabelle, and each option offers its own unique storyline and choices. In some cases you can even choose to round your date off with sex, but it’s completely optional, so no harm, no foul if your not DTF on the first date. But, that’s also the point of Validate, making a love connection isn’t always the end goal, at least after the first date. Maybe a character just needs a night of fun to help them gain perspective on their life or maybe they’re just looking for a friend. It’s downright refreshing to not have the pressure of having to fall in love with the characters you date, it’s okay to not be ready for “romance” and I love that Validate includes a space for situations like this in the game.
The writers put more emphasis on the casual conversations between the characters on their dates. Whether that’s talking about their personal aspirations, their home lives, or just complaining about work, there’s a natural cadence and vulnerability to the dialogue and characters that I really enjoyed.
The Verdict – Is Validate: Struggling Singles in Your Area Worth Playing?
Absolutely, yes! I have been hyped about this project since I first laid eyes on it and this demo has just reaffirmed my confidence in the Veritable Joy team. Validate: Struggling Singles in Your Area spotlights the messy, hilarious, and downright cringe-y moments singles encounter while navigating the uncharted territory of the modern dating scene—every small victory and dismal misstep is handled with a candor and frankness that comes from folks who have been down in the dating trenches themselves, and I love it! We need more stories like this and I can’t wait to see what Veritable Joy has in store for us in the coming months as this project takes shape!
The public demo will be available in a few days, so keep an eye on the Validate socials to get the details on the drop, because this is an experience you don’t want to miss out on!
Thanks to Veritable Joy for sending me an early copy of the demo for this review!
About Veritable Joy Studios
- Official Website: validategame.com
- Twitter: @ValiDateGame
- Patreon: patreon.com/validategame
- Steam page: ValiDate: Struggling Singles in your Area