Think you have bad dates? Echo Chamber Games is here to put your life in perspective with their new comedy physics-based dating sim, Table Manners. With only your hand to control, you’ll have to light candles, pour wine, and serve food to your lovely would-be darling – how hard can it be, right?
I wanted to love Table Manners, with its amazing concept and numerous chances for ridiculous shenanigans. Unfortunately, I really, really didn’t.
At first, I loved the silly concept and cute, clean style. Unfortunately, I found it just unfun to play. The concept seems fantastic – you painstakingly (and often ineffectively) flail your in-game hand about to complete tasks, potentially causing plenty of messes on your otherwise lovely dates. I’ve had a lot of fun with misadventures such as Octodad, so I was expecting it would be both fun and infuriating, but sadly I just constantly felt frustrated. Even in menus, the dating app, etc the mechanics didn’t feel challenging or fun to nail down – they felt finicky and frustrating.
When I started playing, I ended up closing it out because I thought maybe streaming to an audience might help me enjoy it more – afterall, it’s always fun to laugh together right? Instead we just kept talking about how frustrating the movements were for nearly no payoff. The main gameplay – at least that I got through – involves your dates asking you to do everything from pouring their wine to ordering their food. You either get this task done in time or not, and are graded accordingly.
In between dates, you can flirt on your app (appropriately named Blundr) with matches, but your options consist of vague choices such as “Seduce,” “Joke,” “Apologise” and the conversations were good for a short laugh, and then quickly became repetitive and nonsensical.
One of the best features of dating sims is the personality of your potential partners. Everyone picks favourites as they play Mystic Messenger, Dream Daddy, or Ikemen Sengoku. Table Manners seems to be missing all of that. You get the blurb for each match on Blundr, but on the date you don’t get any real dialogue or information. Instead, your date only asks you to do this or that, and you do it. If there had been a bit more personality and dialogue, it might have been okay, but it was just a neverending task list with a date whose only real personality attribute seemed to be “eats ketchup on steak.”
It could be that I’m just not the audience that this is meant for. For someone more patient, this might be a hit – I’ve seen some reviews from players who really enjoyed it, and the steam page actually has a good collection of polarized reviews (both positive and negative) that potential players should check out if they’re wary. For me, I hit a point where I didn’t want to continue playing. Normally, I’d feel terrible about writing a review without at least coming close to finishing the game, but not wanting to keep going felt like a big issue. This is perhaps one of the shortest reviews I’ve written, as a result – I don’t have a whole lot to say. The art is great, and the concept is fantastic, but for me it felt like Table Manners was missing a lot of heart.
Order Up! is a weekly column featuring indie-focused reviews, news, or interviews! We like old games just as much as new ones and are always looking for something to check out. Have a game recommendation, a project, or a company you want to talk about? Email me at [email protected] or find me on Twitter @ArcanaChance