Review: Sucker for Love: Date to Die For – An Outstanding Spin-off

Sucker for Love: First Date was so much fun! A nice premise with stellar execution. With the announcement of the second installment, Sucker for Love: Date to Die For, I was prepared for a glorified reskin. I am so happy to be wrong!

Escalation and Expansion

Date to Die For is a fantastic escalation from its predecessor, taking the best elements of the first game and elevating them far beyond my expectations.

The residents of Sacramen-Cho are going missing. After receiving a strange note from your vanished parents, you’ve returned to find them, but you quickly discover the town to be overrun by cultists. They seem drawn by the thrall of the dark deity Rhok’zan, but somehow, you seem unaffected.

Whereas First Date was limited to a single room (and a balcony), Date to Die For features 360-degree, 2D environments, allowing you to navigate an extensive house and part of town. You’ll dodge and attack cultists, perform extensive rituals, and most importantly, date Rhok’zan, The Black Goat of the Woods.

New Mechanics and Enhanced Horror

The new movement and interaction mechanics feel like a perfect escalation for this series; threats feel like they could be lurking anywhere, and survival feels much more under your control than in the first game. The threat of death is ever-present and creeps in from multiple directions.

I should note, Date to Die For is quite different from the first game. In style, it is clearly a successor, but it definitely leans more into horror than romance. I personally quite like this approach; I feel like there’s better exploration into the characters, the world feels more developed, and it feels like a more nuanced approach to the Lovecraftian Dating Sim concept. Clearly, a lot of care and passion have been put into this game, and that’s ultimately the winning factor for me.

Artistic Excellence

The art is fantastic! It carries the developer’s iconic and skillfully rendered style, with striking weight to the poses, fantastic use of the limited color palette, and great control of shape and framing. The style is both nostalgic and anime-reminiscent while still being unique and identifiable to the series. It does a fantastic job of capturing the intended tone and aesthetic, uniting horror and dating sim in a captivating and cohesive way.

Not to mention there’s three or four times as much as there was in the previous game. There are many more rooms, NPCs, and interactable items, all of which are rendered with care. The art style unifies all elements of the game beautifully and was immersive enough to stumble me when I eventually had to take my headphones off and look at my messy room again.

Minor Glitches and Audio Issues

I will note that on occasion when a character model would load in at a dramatic moment, the visuals would lag behind the sound, just for a few seconds. I had this issue with the previous game as well, unfortunately. I don’t think it’s an issue with my computer; it’s certainly not a hefty game, but at this point, I’m not entirely sure what’s causing it. It’s not a huge issue, just a little visual glitch for a moment, but worth mentioning.

The voice acting all around was lots of fun. The characters are energetic and engaging, the actors suit their roles well and are clearly plugged into their character’s motivations. The music and sound design are subtle but effective, with static and ambiance building in tense moments, tying in well with the grainy, VHS visual effects.

On occasion, the ambient noises would get a touch louder than the voices, which I found a little frustrating, especially considering I couldn’t find a way to adjust the levels. I will note that this frustration may come more from a Let’s Play perspective where I have to prioritize a viewer being able to clearly hear the voices, so it may not be as much of an issue for someone just playing the game. That being said, the option to adjust them would be nice.

Engaging Pacing and Character Development

The pacing of this game is pretty good. While you do occasionally double back on some areas (like having to collect the green meat twice), in general, each new ritual performed moves the story along with good momentum, and each step feels like a significant shift in the plot. The dialogue flows well, and I found Rhok’zan to be an interesting characterization of an eldritch deity. Plus, she was lots of fun as a romance option. And though I didn’t use it, I appreciated the option to discourage her from flirting. Knowing it was available was nice.

I will note that sometimes bits of dialogue went over my head a little, but I think this is more of a me problem than a game problem; I am asexual and autistic, so flirting and subtlety often hit me like attacks do in this game; without me noticing until they kill me.

Final Thoughts: A Delightful Experience

This game has been such a delight to play through! The aesthetic is gorgeous, the plot is engaging, and Rhok’zan is such a cool character to interact with. I LOVED First Date, but Date to Die For feels like a complete upgrade. The movement mechanics interact dynamically with the horror elements, the visual and sound designs are more cohesive both as a whole and with the overarching concept, and the experience gained from developing the first game has clearly given the creator space to explore this concept to a more complex and rich extent.

I highly recommend giving this one a go yourself. I had a fantastic time playing it, and the subtlety of some of the mechanics adds a depth to the experience that isn’t captured in video. I’m not sure if there’ll be another game after this one, but if there is, and this level up is anything to go by, it will be otherworldly.

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