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Visual Novel / Save the Date (Paper Dino)

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A simple game about stuff.

Save the Date is a freeware Dating Sim with a catch: instead of winning her affection, your main goal is to save your girlfriend, Felicia, from the myriad of ways she can die horribly while you're out dating. This is done through a creative and meta system of manipulating save states and acquired knowledge that is more easily experienced than explained.

The game was made in Ren'Py by Paper Dino Software and was published on May 27, 2013. It can be downloaded here.

Due to the nature of this work, spoilers will abound in the tropes. It's highly recommended that you finish the game before reading on. You Have Been Warned!

Save the Date provides examples of:

  • 100% Completion: Pretty much required to "finish" the game due to its mechanics.
  • A Winner Is You: Deconstructed. Later on in the game, when you and Felicia are discussing the possibility of an "end" to the game, Felicia brings up this trope, actually naming it, and asks if you'd want an end like that.
  • Bittersweet Ending: The only way to save Felicia is to not go on the date. She goes and finds love somewhere else, and you sit there longing for her but you realize that it's the only way for her to live.
  • Break the Cutie: Pretty much taken up to eleven with the many deaths of Felicia. May be averted in that none of these deaths carry over in a single playthrough.
  • But Thou Must!: There are quite a few choices where whatever you pick, Felicia will die, and the only point they exist is so that you can go back and tell her how to avoid death.
  • Death Is a Slap on the Wrist: In fact, it's integral to progressing in the game.
  • Deconstruction: Of both dating simulators and linear storytelling in general.
  • Determinator: You. At least, if you get far enough in the game, Felicia describes you as this.
  • Discussed Trope: Happens quite frequently if you bring up the fact that Felicia's a video game character.
  • Failure Is the Only Option: On your first few playthroughs, at least.
  • Golden Ending: Parodied in that it only happens if you edit the game. It becomes a huge Wish-Fulfillment scenario since, if you can rewrite reality to save Felicia you can rewrite reality to make everything perfect.
  • "Groundhog Day" Loop: Played Straight. The loop is triggered by you restarting the game after Felicia dies, and you never really get out of it. She even mentions the Trope Namer.
  • The Many Deaths of Your Girlfriend: Most of the choices you make will lead to Felicia being killed in some random, brutal way that probably won't make any sense.
  • Metafiction: Many of the game's mechanics revolve around you essentially cheating the game. Jumping around save states and playing the game many times over are essential to making progress.
  • Ninja: One of the ways Felicia dies is in a random ninja attack at the Thai restaurant. Which doesn't make sense, because ninjas are Japanese.
  • No Fourth Wall: Several options in the game involve you openly discussing the fact that you're playing a video game. Felicia's reaction to this varies based on how you present it to her.
  • Postmodernism: As shown above, not only is your character fully aware he's in a video game, you have the option to disillusion Felicia as well. This leads to the two of you openly discussing the mechanics of the game, referring to its creator, and commenting on the quality of the game.
  • Reality Warper: You in the hacker ending. Since all the world is just a game you just rewrite reality.
  • Sea Monster: Another one of Felicia's many deaths is by being ripped apart by a Giant Squid at the taco shop.
  • Self-Deprecation: When you tell Felicia what the game looks like, she comments that it seems low budget. You also have the option to say that it's kind of crappy.
  • Shout-Out: Many. This game is chock full of pop culture references and Internet memes.
  • Star-Crossed Lovers: The universe really does not want you and Felicia to be together.
  • Take a Third Option: When you quickload past decisions after seeing one of Felicia's deaths, an option will appear, usually irrelevant to the question, that allows you to avoid the deadly situation.
    • Also, after "hacking" the game, one of the available choices after Felicia asks you where to eat becomes "Actually, I thought we could have an awesome dinner in my floating sky castle because I am a hacker!"
    • Originally, if you just choose to cancel the date, you get a game over message saying that you failed the game because you didn't even have a date. But if you exhaust every other option and then cancel the date, the text changesnote  and the game no longer tells you that you've failed:
      Eventually, she starts seeing someone else. Years later, they have started a life together, and are extremely happy. Sometimes you wonder if things might have gone differently. Not often, though. Because you have seen a lot of the ways it could have gone instead. And all of them are worse. On the balance, maybe this isn't such a bad place to end the story after all.
  • Tone Shift: The game takes a decidedly more philosophical turn after you go to the "Hogwarts pickup stop."
  • Trust Password: When you eventually get the option to ask Felicia if there's something you can say to her at the start of the game that will get her to fully trust you, she decides that the only way she'd believe right away that you're met her in a previous timeline is if you tell her something that she knows by heart but has never told anyone, like how she used to imagine that a certain spot was a Hogwarts pickup stop.