Saving the World, One Date at a Time
Thirty years ago, a massive portal opened bringing with it magical beings capable of causing destruction on a country-wide scale. Mechanical warriors were created to combat these “Spirits”, but even they were not enough. Now the only way to end the conflict and save the world is for you to go on dates with these spirits. You know, for humanity’s sake.
Date A Live: Spirit Pledge by Hot Game Studio follows the story of the 2013 anime Date A Live. The game goes so far as to borrow clips, voice actors, and even the theme song from the anime. The game is a mix between a dating sim and a beat ‘em up which it accomplishes to varying degrees of success.
Date A Live: Spirit Pledge is free to play but you can spend money to purchase new girls and cosmetics. The story is split up into chapters, each one focusing on a different girl in the game. Each chapter is split into segments that end up being either a date or a battle.
Combat in Date A Live: Spirit Pledge takes place in the form of side-scrolling battles in which you’ll defeat a certain number of enemies. The character you fight as depends on the chapter you’re in but each of them have their own special abilities. Tohka can create massive waves of energy to launch enemies back while someone like Kurumi has time-related powers. You also gain access to the previously mentioned “mechanical warriors” for those who like a more explosive approach to fights.
Battles often have objectives such as surviving for a certain amount of time or taking down bosses. Your abilities are powerful but have varying cooldown times. Choosing where and when to use them is the most challenging part of the game. However, you can adjust the difficulty setting if it’s all a bit too easy for you.
Dating makes up the other half of the game with you taking the Spirits to different locations and showing them all that the human world has to offer. It’s explained that in order to stop the Spirits from creating more destructive portals, you must build up a bond of trust with them and finish each date with a kiss. Hence the reason for the dates.
This is done through going out on dates to different locations, like a bakery or a carnival. There you’ll engage in conversations which will usually result in you choosing one of three dialogue options. These options don’t influence the story in a meaningful way, they just serve to make the player feel more involved in the story. Small additions like animated sprites and the ability to fast forward or rewind dialogue make the dates more enjoyable.
There are six girls to date, all of them with their own quirks and personalities. Tohka, the first girl you’ll come across, acts cool but really wants to connect with humanity. Kurumi is flirty and forward making for some funny interactions. Hot Game Studio managed to make the girls unique and well-rounded characters. Level up and progress through the story to unlock new girls.
Two Games for the Price of None
Date A Live: Spirit Pledge will appeal to fans of the anime, but for someone new to the series I wasn’t too impressed. I liked the idea of the game being both a dating sim and a beat ‘em up but both aspects of the game fall into pretty standard formulas. Limited dialogue and simplistic combat hold the game back, but enough polish and effort from Hot Game Studio makes Date A Live: Spirit Pledge stand a head taller above the rest.
Is it Hardcore?
A dating sim mixed with a beat ‘em up works a lot better than one might expect leaving Date A Live: Spirit Pledge worth checking out.