Date Night Bowling is a fun arcade-style bowling game with many silly mini-games. In that it understands the assignment and makes it really fun. The pixel art also shines in many of the scenes providing a ton of charm. But the dating part is a bit of a letdown with recycled dialogue and a lack of depth to the characters’ stories. Ultimately you have a fun, lightly dating-themed bowling game that’s good for a fun co-op experience with someone but not great for a single player actually looking for a dating sim.
It’s a fun time if you know what you’re getting into. It’s Date Night Bowling, and it does what it says on the box. There’s bowling and there’s dating. It’s a fun time if you can wrangle a partner, romantic or otherwise, but it doesn’t really have lasting appeal. A few times through, then you can take your balls elsewhere.
The presentation is nice, and it’s fun to see what kind of minigames will pop up at first. The bowling is functional and simple enough to enjoy for players of a variety of skill levels, and the game is indeed most enjoyable when played with a partner. Those flying solo will likely find there’s just not enough on the bone here. Even with unlockable characters and a variety of dialogues, Date Night Bowling starts to feel a little tired after a few games. There are no grand stories or longer goals to reach towards, making this game best suited for the occasional romp with a like-minded player.
Sometimes a date doesn't go so well, but the restaurant was good, or the movie was enjoyable. Maybe you bowled a 200, even if you left the alley alone at the end of the night. That's kind of the feeling of playing Date Night Bowling. The bowling itself is fun and challenging, even if the presentation of it is quite bare bones. The dating elements, however, are a major letdown, especially considering the strength of other Serenity Forge-developed games like Half Past Fate and A Case of Distrust, which have particularly compelling narratives and dialogue. There isn't much of a reason to recommend what ends up being a pretty consistent gutterball, with the occasional spare thrown in to save face. I don’t foresee a second date happening.
There’re solid game ideas here, and I hope that Serenity Forge’s next title will bring all these elements together. But for now, while Date Night Bowling isn’t rolling complete gutterballs, it’s not bowling any strikes, either.
The appeal of Date Night Bowling is incredibly limited. It's for people that want to play a game with their romantic partner, and need something that both can enjoy equally, regardless of their gaming experience. At the same time, it's for those that don't want to become too competitive or heated. And both people also need to be old enough to enjoy the 80's and 90's vibes and aesthetics. It's inoffensive enough in fulfilling that very narrow role, but its concepts fall down badly when you're playing single-player, or with anyone other than your significant other. Throw in a dearth of depth and character, and even when you are playing it in its optimal environment, you're going to wish that you decided to take date night to a real bowling alley instead.
Serenity Forge has had a hand in bringing some of my favorite games to the Nintendo Switch. But Date Night Bowling feels like an unfinished proof of concept and failed to hold my interest. It’s a bush league release with much room for improvement. One could argue that it’s a better alternative than going to a real-life alley and running the risk of catching COVID. But given that choice, I think I’d rather skip bowling altogether.
SummaryYou're out at your local bowling alley for a dating event, so strike up a conversation, hop over to the bowling lanes, and try your best to make a good first impression. Play things right and you might just find your soulmate! To win over your date, you'll rely not only on your bowling skills, but also on your ability to tell well-timed ...