Table Manners wasn’t just one of the more interesting titles at EGX 2019, it’s also one of the most interesting games I’ve ever played.
Developer Echo Chamber Games could really have a hit on their hands with this physics based dating simulator. The premise sounds totally madcap and anyone who’s ever had a Tinder date has probably had a similar experience. Person A looks attractive. Person A has great banter. Person A is up for a date. Table Manners includes the build up, but the game truly begins when the date begins…
The objective of the game is to ensure that you don’t blow the date. Unlike in real life, you can’t blow the date by turning up with a ridiculous haircut or sitting on your phone texting your side piece. The only way to ruin this date is to not complete certain tasks that appear on screen. The tasks aren’t exactly standard dating fare but they do range from relatively normal to weird. Light a candle? Normal. Force feed your date? Unacceptable.
The best part of Table Manners is without a doubt when things go wrong. Things never only go a bit wrong, they go ridiculously wrong. Trying to light that candle? Oops, you’ve set the whole table on fire. Now you’re trying to pour wine into your partner’s glass? Well, nevermind the wine has went EVERYWHERE ELSE instead of into the glass. The potential for sheer havoc is endless. If you get really frustrated (or are just an oddball) you’ll end up just launching cutlery at your date just for fun (I did it). I even attempted to stab her in the eyeball with my steak knife. Fortunately, this did not work so there wasn’t a need for the police to get involved.
The reason things can go south so quickly is the game’s control scheme. There’s no simple ‘click a button to pick up, click a button to put down’ gameplay here. The mouse controls your character’s right hand. You twist it at different angles and left click to pick objects up. It’s intuitive; you understand what you’re meant to be doing immediately. It is incredibly fiddly and obstructive. This isn’t a bad thing whatsoever. Instead, this is what creates the game’s magical moments of chaos; without the utter nonsense, this would be a good looking yet boring dating simulator. The amount of humour on offer here just from the player’s actions is amazing.
There is going to be multiple environments to have dates in. On show there was a posh restaurant, best for beginners and a very nice yacht. While you eat on the yacht you slide between two tables as the wind and water shakes the boat. It’s a nice change up that adds a lot of challenge and a real puzzle element to the game. Right now this is a single player game but it undeniably feels like a party game. Everything is funnier when you have someone sitting next to you watching every moment of madness unfold. There’s even potential for passing the controller as each date uses a scoring system to judge your success.
Table Manners is being developed by a four man team which of course comes with challenges. If you watched the trailer (if you didn’t go watch it right now) then you’ll have one pressing question. IS IT IN VR? No, no it isn’t. The team aren’t ruling anything out though so hopefully in the future we get our first VR dating simulator.
Table Manners launches on Steam Q1 2020!