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A Visual Novel is about telling a story, drawing people into it and, as always, on this front DFD succeeds wildly. This is exactly where Love-Joint excels beyond almost any other studio I know of.

In truth, there was one point where I wasn’t able to find the time to play in between episodes and it almost physically hurt not knowing what was happening next.

This game is not one that you casually put 15-minutes here or 15-minutes there into. You are in it for the long haul and the exciting bits keep on coming.

DFD - Daughter for Dessert

Worse Than Good or Bad: It’s Inconsistent.

Now, it’s high praise for a game to actually capture my attention in the way that DFD had. That said, taking a step back, if I had to describe how the game felt in a single word, I already know which one I would use: Inconsistent.

Now, when I say inconsistent, I do not mean that the quality of the writing. That is to say, the actual words or turns of phrases. In fact, character dialogue is well-written the entire way through.

No, what is inconsistent is the storytelling itself. DFD never seems to understand exactly what it wants to be or what it is going to present. The behind-the-scenes game direction likely changed several times, or at least that is what it seems like from what you experience as a player.

Addressing the Story Arc

When you are creating a visual novel (whether it be kinetic, branching paths, or streamlined storytelling such as with DFD or their other title, Double Homework(1)) there must be an understanding of the underlying plot that is going to happen. This allows each character’s motivations and actions to be consistent with who their character is, and has been, the whole way through.

Below is the game description on Love-Joint at the time of writing this review:

DFD - Daughter for Dessert

It’s worth noting here that “partner” is the default role of the preferred romantic interest, whom you’ll meet in the next section.

As the storyline in DFD progresses, there are a series of arcs that occur.

The entire first half of the game is a nice slice-of-life story about a father who owns a diner where his daughter and her best friend work.

Overall, the diner isn’t doing so well, but the MC seems rather apathetic about this.

Why go so far as to say apathetic?

Well, between his one regular customer and nothing else to do, he still hasn’t really put effort into marketing or fixing the problem of near-zero clientele.

Regardless of the success of the business, the time the MC spends working with this partner allows them to get to know each other a bit more, and slowly, they begin to explore their relationship and the certain feelings they have for each other.

They’ve already known each other for a long time, so you don’t have any of the potential awkwardness “getting to know each other for the first time,” but rather a close familiarity that allows the two to feel safe in exploring new experiences together.

This is done quite well. It is a strange kind of slow-burn that I would have loved to see explored a little bit more. There are a few interesting scenes that come into play as well, that drive the overall narrative forward, and the anticipation is wonderful.

That slow burn, however, is not to last – and when things change, they change dramatically and all at once.

In most games this would be, with a bit of trepidation on behalf of the character, a confusing experience that would lead to good feelings.

This doesn’t happen to be the case.

If there is a major flaw to point out, it is not in the storyline, but in the way it is told: you, the MC, are not allowed to enjoy the things that you have – and almost all problems could be solved with a single good conversation between the characters.

DFD - Daughter for Dessert

After this first slice-of-life diner romance section, things take a very random and unexpected turn where nothing is quite what it seems anymore.

I personally enjoyed this plot twist quite a bit, and I won’t spoil anything (at least until you get to the spoiler section) but it introduces a nice element of intrigue and emotional evocativeness into the mix. This shake-up threatens the stability of everything and does it in a nice way.

This, however, is also where things start to break down into inconsistency in writing. Characters, who we have learned all think, talk, and act in very specific ways according to their personality, suddenly start to act out of character.

These characters who were previously close, are willing to let their sudden penchant for not talking about something destroy the lifestyle and friendships they have spent years building. They also, from day-to-day, begin to act like very different people with very different motivations than we had previously learned.

It is at this point that we begin to play a completely different game than we had first thought in the diner arc.

Romantic Interests and Developer Intent

Within the first story arc involving the diner, we begin to meet a lot of the characters that we will get to know and show up in the rest of the game.

DFD - Daughter for Dessert

It is here that we also meet the Daughter, canonically named Amanda and – drumroll please –the partner we previously talked about who runs the diner with you.

Just a moment before, we briefly touched on the first arc and how it begins to change the MC’s relationship with Amanda.

This leads to one weird point: We can define, in advance, what Amanda’s relationship to the MC is. In other words, we get to choose what she calls us.

However, this is all superficial. You can call her your best friend, your girlfriend, up to and including the ever classic “Sexy McWaffle”. None of these things matter.

DFD - Daughter for Dessert

The full name the game was originally released under is Daughter for Dessert, so aligned with the original intent of the developers, should you choose to pursue Amanda as a romantic partner, other characters will act and react with the same confusion and vitriol that would be reserved for such a deviant act in normal society.

No, Amanda is not your Sexy McWaffle (the customized name I chose), she is your daughter, and you cannot get away from that no matter what the customization options say.

A Major Flaw: The Guilt Doesn’t Stop

This leads to another aspect of the game that stood out to me, and I had to mention as it stuck with me throughout the gameplay and never seemed to let go.

If there is a major flaw to point out, it is not in the storyline, but in the way it is told: you, the MC, are not allowed to enjoy the things that you have – and almost all problems could be solved with a single good conversation between the characters.

– Deepadork, a few paragraphs ago

Remember when I said this, when I was talking about the DFD story arc?

Despite the focus of the (original) title and the main storyline being on your relationship with your daughter – current or estranged – there are a number of people to romance and bed.

DFD - Daughter for Dessert

This is, after all, a porny-style dating sim game. With so many beautiful characters around, this should be a fun thing, right?

Well…in practice, no, it isn’t.

The game doesn’t simply let you enjoy things. It gives you constant reminders about your fidelity, and forced feelings of guilt.

Rather than enjoy anything free and clear (or at least, hide it well enough to let the PLAYER enjoy things) you are given a feeling of untrustworthiness and guilt.

But don’t take my word for it, take the MC’s:

DFD - Daughter for Dessert

One or two lines of this, I can understand, but this is actually a much bigger deal than you might think at first.

The Daughter, Amanda, is the central part of the entire story. Her relationship with the MC – and the changes that it undergoes through the journey – are a central part of the entire journey of this visual novel.

This leads to a vital question:

Why, then, are you actively guilt-tripped when you attempt to explore the large amount of content hidden away on these side paths?

In some chapters, exploring romance with one of these other girls is the difference between a short 15-minute story and a longer 45+ minute tale. This is over 50% of content locked behind the main character griping about the cheating he is doing!

Yes, I understand that in the real world this is cheating, and I certainly don’t want to give the impression that I in any way condone doing so with your partners, but in a game with so much writing, so much content placed off the beaten path, why is this constant badgering the price of admission?

Now, an argument can be made that this is just who the MC is.

After all, he doesn’t just take on his own guilt, but he also takes on the guilt of the actions of others by blaming himself for things they have done. This, plus the sheer inability to communicate or to ask follow-up questions are some of the defining features of the MC.

In a genre of romance VNs where these are hallmark traits, the fact that I feel the need to mention it means he is a superstar above and beyond the normal rabble.

So let’s dive into the actual story for a bit and talk about the inconsistency I mentioned before.

The Perfect Amount of Jank!

Spoiler Land!

… Are they gone? Good!

This encompasses events that happen in Chp 14 and Chp 15:

In Chp 14, the daughter Amanda comes back after spending some time away. She is bringing home boxes of books, which you help bring into the apartment that the two of you share.

You can tell she is acting strange, and you get a nagging feeling that something it wrong, so later that evening, you go to her to talk about it.

One thing leads to another (sexy times) and Amanda admits that there is something wrong and you need to fix it, but she can’t help you fix it, nor can she reveal what you did that was so wrong.

The two of you exit the conversation and she is looking forward to things being fixed, as your relationship (sexy and not) depends on it.

It feels like progress.

In Chp 15, you learn what that thing is, and immediately call your Daughter to make things right. In response, your daughter cryptically says “I’ll see you when I see you” and vanishes, leaving her old life behind.

What do I mean by that? The books you helped her bring in in the previous chapter were actually there so that she could pack up all her belongings in secret – and vanish (I assume) as soon as you found the proverbial needle in the haystack, and called her up to address it.

There are three things that happen during this time that are marks of really inconsistent character narrative and punishing game/design, which I alluded to earlier:

1)- Your Daughter went from “I want you to fix things, but I can’t tell you how.” + intimacy (the most communicative she has been for weeks) to “I’m leaving you, my life, and all my friends and leaving you forever,” in what amount to be, less than twelve hours.

(…Yes, she is cutting off communication from all her friends forever based on YOU not knowing what you did wrong.)

2)- The Daughter, who is about to leave when you call her, is not open to talking to you anymore even though, again, less than 12 hours earlier she said you need to fix things and was vested in you doing so.

3)- As the Daughter is leaving, the game gives every indication that you should go there immediately.

3a)- Also: one of the girls shows up and asks for you to walk them home right about this time. If you choose to NOT walk them home, but instead focus on this thing the MC correctly describes as “an emergency” this romantic route with the other girl is CUT OFF FOR THE REST OF THE GAME.

Goodbye, content!


This bears repeating: If you choose to run after your Daughter, in a game called Daughter for Dessert, where your relationship with your Daughter is the central focus point, during a moment of emergency and stress instead of walking someone home spur of the moment, you will lose out on the ability to romance that person from that point on.

Really clutch 12-hour window, amirite?

In short, this section bears the hallmarks of semi-sloppy writing due to its unbelievability.

The motives of the character shift so quickly as to induce whiplash.

The plot of the story DEPENDS on everyone having (and keeping) a secret from you, despite you asking after what is causing everyone to change their feelings and relationship with you so dramatically.

People who were your allies instead become secretive. The plot itself is a paper tiger that falls apart under scrutiny.

I cannot overstate the Paper Tiger enough. The moment you show up to talk to your Daughter in person, she is suddenly open and willing to talk to you again, despite not wanting to do so on the phone the day prior.

This, again, is inconsistent.

DFD - Daughter for Dessert

What Makes a Successful Ending?

This leads us to the finale of the game, the wrapping up phase where everything comes together to eliminate plot holes and tie up loose ends.

So, does it? Yes and no.

I will have to break this into two sections: the ending and the epilogue.

The main goal of a story is to drive us, the readers, into the journey of the main character(s). We follow their trials and tribulations and character growth so they may overcome their weaknesses.

This, by necessity, culminates in the climax of the story. The titular moment where the main character finally triumphs over the big bad and in return gets to live in a world that he fought for (more or less).

Everything that happens before the climax follows a building action to get there.

The character who ends the story can’t be the same character who started it.

They have been changed, grown, or have been given the tools that they need in order to win and ultimately triumph.

This, however, is not what happens.

We are along for the ride as the MC watches the plot happen to and around him, but everything is done in a much more passive role.

The only choice of note that we are given can be summed up as:

1)- Win the Game
2)- Lose the Game

“The main character needs to be the one who determines the outcome of the story. The protagonist should win or lose, live or die, succeed or fail based on his strengths, on his ability to overcome his weaknesses, on all that he’s learned from the other characters you included in his story.

~ Make sure that the story problem isn’t solved by a coincidence, an outside force, happenstance, or a minor character” (1)

Fiction Editor Beth Hill

As a writer, I can completely understand the difficulties that come when you are uncertain about how to keep the readers’ interest. In fact, even as I write this I have a niggling little doubt in the back of my mind telling me how boring this review could be. It happens.

The drama that ensues is propped up and artificial in nature. It hits a high note and tries to maintain it like an opera singer trying to hold a pitch for three minutes straight. You can almost audibly hear the strain, and that begins to supersede the actual quality of the performance.

That singer, and the story, need to have a breath of air. All of this is done to have that sudden exhalation of relief when the dust settles, and the story is wrapped up.

For example, there is a minor character who, straight from the beginning of the game, could fix all the problems, resolve the entire plot, and give everyone a happy ending… but just doesn’t. He understands what is going on but just lets it continue.

This brings me to the epilogue of the story.

The Epilogue: Wrap it All up with a Bow

Epilogues are so so very difficult to do correctly.

They are the goodbye between the main cast of characters and the person experiencing the story.

We have fallen in love with the characters, watched them grow and triumph.

Now is the moment where they get to finally enjoy the fruits of their labor that they (and vicariously we) have craved for so so long.

What I’m saying is that they have a lot of heavy lifting to do because of the after-taste they leave. There is a lot riding on this and they need to be done well.

What I’m going to be saying reflects on the “Daughter ending” which is the ending you have with your Daughter if you choose to follow her romance route in the game Daughter for Dessert.

(This is intentionally written that way to show the emphasis on how this ending matters perhaps more so than any of the others due to the implied favoritism of this route.)

Unfortunately for me, the epilogue as it stands is written less like a culmination of the experiences up to that point, and more closely follows the same themes of the rest of the game such as poor communication, a low level of anxiety, and outside problems intruding on what should be a well-earned success.

Instead of cheating, it is instead the day-to-day worries – like making ends meet and wondering if you can afford xyz – that now plagues the character, and by proxy, the player.

There is enough to shock you out of enjoying the epilogue’s sweetness, and instead leave you feeling stressed out.

Further, the ending is only semi-sweet. The MC gets what he needs and what he has been fighting for, but not necessarily what he wants.

“A “want” is an external desire that the hero is fully aware of. This external want is what will, at least initially, drive the plot.

A “need” is an internal desire that the hero is not aware of, but ends up driving them through their character arc. And unlike an external want, an internal need is much more relatable to audiences, as these needs are usually universal in nature. Needs can include learning to value friendship over money, accepting love from others, or realizing what really matters by the story’s end.

  • What they want and need (sweet)
  • Neither (bitter)
  • Only what they need (semi-sweet)
  • Only what they want (bittersweet)” (2)
Fafael Abreu

This leaves an unfortunate feeling of loss and sadness due to having to give up so much.

Specifically, without diving into spoilers, you give up much of what makes the game the actual game without hope of getting these important elements back.

Personally, it made me feel like nothing I went through actually mattered.

(In fact, the threat of the BBEG is still extant and hasn’t been resolved!)

This gives us an ending and epilogue – but doesn’t exactly give us closure to our journey.

Overall: One of the Best Visual Novels I Know!

Visual Novels are generally highly dramatic, emotional experiences. Calling out these elements is an important part of looking at the journey as a whole.

Let me put it to you this way:

  • The very fact that I felt so strongly about this is because this novel hooked me into caring about it, and the characters, so deeply.
  • The reason why I have notes about the ending is because I was emotionally invested in what was about to happen.
  • The way this game left me feeling was probably exactly what Love-Joint was hoping would happen.

To be clear: This game is in my top five favorite visual novels, and I have played hundreds.

To that end, I still think the game is one I would recommend to anyone who enjoys the themes implicit in the title and I, for one, am looking forward to Love-Joint’s next release.

A VN is about telling a story and drawing people into it and, as always, on this front DFD succeeds wildly. This is exactly where Love-Joint excels beyond almost any other studio that I know of.

Seriously, go look at their stuff:

Hidden Accordion