C14 Dating is published by Ratalaika Games and developed by Winter Wolves. The game was originally made for PC in April of 2016 and is just now being ported over to consoles. Winter Wolves have other visual novel games that have been published in the past on the Xbox marketplace such as Nicole, Roommates, and the Vera Blanc Series. C14 Dating is an ‘otome’ dating game, meaning it’s specifically targeted towards the female demographic since the main protagonist is a female dating primarily men. Our main character in C14 Dating is a foreign exchange student studying archeology in Belgium when she’s originally from California, USA. Her name is Melissa, and she starts out her story by answering a couple dialogue options and setting up our weekly schedule to follow. Setting up the journal with activities is a simple way to have more in common with another character that the player is trying to romance for that playthrough and also affects our player’s stats. There are several endings to play for, but about two per character with only 4 other characters to romance or create a friendship with.
The Gameplay of C14 Dating is filled with making dialogue options which are the same for every playthrough, but different outcomes can lead to new options to take with specific characters in new conversations near the end of the game. If actually playing through the game, it would take about an hour to get through the story in total, but there is an auto skip feature to help bear the several playthroughs required and if using the save feature correctly, cleanup will be very easy. If following a guide, this game could be completed in less than an hour earning all achievements, but there are roughly about 4 hours of gameplay in total if not skipping through dialogue and enjoying the animations, romances and stories.
The different characters Melissa can build a relationship with during her several week internships are: Shoji, Hendrik, Kyler, Deandre, and Joan. Each character has different interests and hobbies and Melissa can have a lot in common when picking out her schedule properly to align with her love interest. Certain hobbies you choose while building your schedule will change Melissa’s stats. These stats are here to improve interactions between characters. The game also has minigames which can be played throughout the story and will add to the total time it takes for a playthrough. The minigames revolve around being an archeologist and solving puzzles. The first minigame the player will come across is a simple grid puzzle game where you must figure out the correct squares to chisel or dig up with hints to what squares need to be altered. There is another minigame that involves brushing and is a bit more random with generated values. The minigames add to the atmosphere of the game of being an archeologist, but are entirely optional and can be disabled before starting the game.
C14 Dating’s visuals are crisp and clean, filled with vivid color. The game looks like it’s from an anime show with the characters having big colorful eyes for Melissa to dream in. As far as I can personally tell from comparing to the 2016 PC version to the Xbox version, the visuals are the same. There is no pixilation and the detail was heavily invested in the face animations, but no major changes have been implemented since the original release. The audio is adequate at best; there is an original soundtrack which sounds like café jazz with a piano playing. Yet, the background music is great compared to the main theme. I personally didn’t enjoy the main theme song ‘We’ll have the time of our lives’, however it does capture the tone of the game quite well – we’re here for a short time and we are building new friendships with fellow interns. I particularly didn’t enjoy the vocalist for the song, but apart from the main theme, the music in the game never repeats or becomes a nuisance. There are different instrumental tracks that play through Melissa’s journey, so the player isn’t stuck listening to the same song on a loop while reading through the story. I have high praise for any visual novel game that doesn’t repeat the same short songs repeatedly in a noticeable way.
The longevity of C14 dating is low compared to other games on the marketplace, If you’re interested in a Visual Novel dating simulation game with a cute, however brief story, then C14 Dating might be for you. Not much gameplay comes with Visual Novels, but in this case the minigames add value to the game. With unique characters and endings tied to each, there are several playthroughs of content to romance through. Most of the gameplay will be repeated with slight changes to dialogue and to Melissa’s schedule. There will definitely be people who will mainly play this title looking just for the 34 achievements and a quick gamer score boost, yet there is still content non-achievement hunters can enjoy here. Compared to the other projects Winter Wolves have ported over to consoles, this one ranks higher than that of Nicole or Roommates. I won’t compare it to Vera Blanc since that’s more a murder mystery Visual Novel which plays differently, but C14 Dating captures the whimsical feeling of youth and exploring new relationships in a new environment.
I don’t plan on returning to C14 Dating having completed it and seen all the endings allowed. Many won’t return either since it’s merely a single player experience that won’t last more than a few hours to view all scenes. Apart from the main theme song and the high price for the game, C14 Dating is an enjoyable Visual Novel game about a young aspiring archeologist with some fun minigames and innocent flirting.
While it might be short lived, those looking for a quick romance tale (and some easy cheevos) will be well served by C14 Dating. The mini-games add to the experience, and the archaeology-based romance is charming enough to entertain at least once, with further plays allowing us to skip through scenes as needed. It might be a bit pricey for what you get though, so if you’re not convinced then it might be worth checking other titles in the genre.Become a Patron!
This game was tested and reviewed on Xbox. All of the opinions and insights here are subject to that version. Game provided by publisher.Want to keep up to date with the latest Xt reviews, Xt opinions and Xt content? Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.