We weren’t huge fans of Half Past Fate, considering it to be a slight and strangely unsatisfying point and click title. This spin-off, Romantic Distancing, sadly makes it look like a heavyweight adventure.
Based around a new couple attempting to stay together during lockdown, Romantic Distancing sees you playing as both characters – punky Robin and muscle toting Stephen – and how they cope with the various challenges they face during the start of the Coronavirus pandemic.
That sounds like a solid idea for a game in practice, but sadly Romantic Distancing never manages to get anywhere near fulfilling its promise.
The original Half Past Fate weaved the stories of multiple characters together in a narrative that – although far from stunning – was at least engaging and at times quite clever.
It also had you solve several fairly basic puzzles using an inventory of items. Again, it was never particularly challenging – but still felt like a game.
Romantic Distancing has neither of those elements. You only play as the two main characters, and the rest of the cast are barely involved – for a reason we’ll later explain.
Most criminally of all though, there are barely any puzzles. The interactive elements largely extend as far as going around to talk to a few characters. looking at a few items.
There’s no attempt to create any gaming moments out of forging a relationship in lockdown conditions.
This is basically just a visual novel in its ambitions, and that’s so disappointing considering the original game. Especially as Romantic Distancing is barely an hour long – just when some difficult decisions are having to be made about the relationship, the game promptly ends.
So the game ultimately has to fall back on its writing, and it’s…fine. Charming without ever being hugely witty, it’s still arguably a bit better than the original’s. The characters are likeable, and the pixel-art visuals remain lovely – but it’s just not enough.
Now these issues are supposed to be remedied by the game’s price point – it’s roughly quarter of the price of Half Past Fate.
But that simply doesn’t hold water, as you can buy similarly priced titles that are far better at tackling more emotionally charged stories and still remaining interactive experiences – Florence and Wide Ocean Big Jacket are two that immediately spring to mind.
Ultimately we’re not sure Romantic Distancing is even worth buying at its budget price point, unless you’re desperately after an hour of undemanding and disappointingly lightweight entertainment.