Dying is hard. Dating can seem even harder. Thankfully, a new release from Copychaser Games is here to help ease both transitions. Speed Dating For Ghosts puts you in the hot seat, as a deceased individual looking for love, or at least companionship.
The game, using a visual novel/dating game-esque format, gives you the chance to meet and date nine different ghosts (and one host!) with different backgrounds, stories, and quirks. At first glance, I thought I knew what cards this game held and what tricks it might pull. However, I am here to say that Speed Dating for Ghosts will surprise you. In many ways, it helps remind us that death and dating share some things: a lot of confusion, some awkwardness, and the potential to both cry and laugh.
You will fall in love with these ghosts, both by design and by their own charm. Between the endearing art style, and the fantastic writing that drives their personalities, these ghosts are relatable and affable almost immediately. I even have it in my notes as I played through the game, “Steph is a sweetheart.” “Hattie is going to make me cry.” “Vera has seen so much.” “Gary, I love your bowtie.”, There is something to love in every character. The dates you go on can range from the hilarious, like robbing a bank with a vape guy, to helping someone cope with their own mortality and loss. It is this balance between the light-hearted and the somber that Speed Dating for Ghosts finds its strength.
The game’s emotional heart is that of relationships and death, and as I mentioned before, they share common themes. Most of human life and thought is centered around, and complicated by, our bonds and relationships with one another. There are dozens of articles and advice columns about finding friends, or lovers, in our modern time. We seek companionship with others, and even with small furry animals who we invite into our homes and hearts. There are entire industries built around the way we interact. However, these relationships are fragile. On the other side of the coin, there is the inevitable: death. We all die. There are some articles and writings in how to deal with loss, or with grief, but not to the magnitude or to the degree that relationships trade in. Death is very difficult, loss can be unbearable and finding comfort and solace after loss isn’t easy. Help exists but the dialogue to get us ready for this life change is scarce. Death as a topic for many is a negative thing, something ignored, and something to avoid talking about. This game however, challenges that notion and encourages death positivity. By looking at death through something that many of us spend so much time and energy on, relationships, we can see death for what it is: something filled with the potential of joy, and sadness.
Most of human life and thought is centered around, and complicated by, our bonds and relationships with one another.
The ghosts all have a story to tell, and the game has created a world for these beings. These folks who still have unfinished business and float along still. There are many great examples of hints at a larger world that help establish the setting. Even the descriptions of the dating rooms themselves lend to the air of both mystery, and the familiar. They are common spaces seen many times before, but never in this light. The game frequently does this, presenting situations or ideas that are familiar but from a different angle.
My favorite ghost was Hattie. I felt she embodied that idea most, with her story of living on in her old nursing home and providing comfort to those who remained. She spoke cheerfully of moving through the halls and helping those near the end, finding solace in their twilight hours. It is when I went to meet her still living husband that I discovered he himself now faces the end, but is kept alive through machines, against his literal written will. It is a scene of sadness and confusion, and one not at all uncommon in our society. Hattie moves to him to help as she can, and her words ring even more true when she speaks them to him. We fear death because it is the end of ourselves, but also, because it is one of the only things we must do alone. The thing that cuts our ties and ends our bonds. Hattie’s whispers to her husband becomes the thing we desire the most --a companion in death-- which is the whole point of speed dating ghosts.
We fear death because it is the end of ourselves, but also, because it is one of the only things we must do alone.
In another release in 2017 from local studio, Laundry Bear Games, I explored death positivity through the lens of A Mortician’s Tale, a game about dealing with what happens after we’ve left, and the mess we leave behind. It is about grieving families, and an industry we try not to lend much thought to, despite it being an inevitable stop for everyone. I consider Speed Dating for Ghosts to almost act as a companion piece to it, expanding our thoughts to one of the truest things that we leave behind, which are memories. When we go on dates, we tell our date about ourselves and ask them about who they are. We relate memories, of trips and movies and of past grievances and triumphs. Our favorite things are more than just things, we treasure them because they have memories tied to them. Going to see that movie on that perfect summer day, or eating that favorite ice cream after a bad breakup. We tell these stories to give an idea of who we are, and it is these exact things that live on after we are gone. Who we are is both something that comes after we pass, with two friends reminiscing over a drink. Or, in a date, revealing parts of ourselves and the emotions that stick with us.
There isn’t a Buzzfeed or Cosmo article about the top ten ways to deal with death, but there could be, and there should be. Or... maybe a listicle still isn’t the best format. Either way, death is something we all face and more positive dialogue about it will help remind us of the important things in life. In Speed Dating for Ghosts, the most important thing about a ghost is who they are and what their passions are. Death and dating remind us to seek common ground, and focus on what keeps us together. These are ideas that need to be shouted out a little louder so that those in the back can really get it. Death isn’t something to fear, and neither is dating. They are new beginnings, or the comforting end, to a long and sometimes confusing story.
Extra Ghost Tips Below!
Growing up in a small town, going to school for graphic and web design and finally moving to Toronto, Colin began to look for a new project and landed on Third Person. He has always had a passion for video games and finally decided to do something about it. Inspired by websites like Giant Bomb, Polygon, and Waypoint, Colin has founded Third Person with the intent of covering games using a mix of the old and the new.
Colin loves to dive into RPGs of all kinds, exploring their worlds and developing his character. Well-crafted stories draw him in too, and he is always on the lookout for a new adventure.
When he's not spending a billion years in a game's character creator, he can be found behind his camera, reading comic books or probably sleeping.
Some of his favorite games: Dragon's Dogma: Dark Arisen, Alpha Protocol, Mass Effect, Overwatch, Life is Strange, Persona 4