Table Manners: Physics-Based Dating Game – Review
Follow Genre: Dining Simulator
Developer: Echo Chamber Games
Publisher: Curve Digital
Platform: PC
Tested on: PC

Table Manners: Physics-Based Dating Game – Review

Site Score
6.5
Good: Fun to mess around with
Bad: Not substantial enough for longer gameplay, partially due to annoying physics ''bugs''
User Score
6.8
(4 votes)
Click to vote
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Rating: 6.8/10 (4 votes cast)

Indie-games and game jams all inspired loads of short games that sometimes came out surprisingly well and even managed to bring forward a full-fledged game in the months following on a game jam. Then there are also games that are inspired by those published experimental games. Table Manners seems to be one of those. With a strong hint of tough-to-control games such as Surgeon Simulator, Table Manners seems to be one game you don’t mess around with. Or well, messing around is actually all you do.

Story

The ”story” of Table Manners reflects the real dating world. There’s no story being described or any linear route plotted out. Instead, you pick a date on your digital dating app in your digital room just like you would using a real dating app. Once you approved a (generic) face with a like, you instantly get liked back and you can go on a date. You can also just chat a bit first, but the little options and illogical responses don’t give much to go on. Once you are on a date, there are different levels that are unlocked by playing the previous ones, but they are not linked together by a coherent story or any story at all. Table Manners is mostly about just having fun with the mechanics.

Graphics

Visually Table Manners looks quite interesting. Everything is made with 3D models that are coated with a cartoony, friendly-looking layer. The character models get boring pretty fast due to lack of real variation, but besides that, there is enough to see and ”experience” when going to different restaurants (levels) with different moving objects, food, and mechanics. The weird thing is that everything about Table Manners looks and feels like a Virtual Reality game, but it isn’t, which is too bad since it would probably have done the game more justice. Right now, the field of view and the inability to successfully guess the depth and collision of objects with the hand you control are frustrating and could all have been largely solved by adapting VR to the game. Even though the clumsy aspect of those frustrations is what makes Table Manners somewhat unique.

Sound

With every type of restaurant comes a new soundtrack, where it might be jazzy and classy or more themed such as a Japanese-sounding song for a sushi restaurant. This fits nicely. The game also has some sounds for ketchup squirting out of the bottle, liquid pouring, plates sizzling and so on. It’s also fine. There could have been more in the sounds department that made the game more entertaining such as voices in the background or something, but it’s fine as it is, especially for a game that’s focussed on its somewhat gimmicky gameplay.

Gameplay

Table Manners has a single core mechanic which ables it to classify as a dating or dining simulator, with a handicap. Your sole enabled limb is your right or left hand that you can use to hover around a limited space in the room you find yourself in by using the mouse to go any direction. Using ”W” to go up, and ”S” to go down, you can also rotate the hand when holding the right mouse button. If you hold this button, you can’t hover in any direction anymore though. Lastly, with the left mouse button, you can try to grab and release objects. Try to should be emphasized here since the game absolutely doesn’t make it easy for you in more ways than one.

First of all, the game’s fun and difficulty are that it’s very easy to be a clumsy baboon since as soon as you hit anything, physics will ravage whatever is on the table. Wine will fall down and flow, glasses will roll, fries will fly around. Whatever is on the table, when initially starting the level, will respawn when it hits the floor since you can’t reach the floor, but you will want to try to leave everything as proper as possible to make it easier on yourself later on. You see, every date you take out is rather demanding. He or she will do nothing at all except giving you assignments such as ”please give us both some beer” after which you will try to get a beer and pour it in two separate glasses without knocking anything down. The game has some variations on this single objective, but that’s the gist of it.

The problem with games such as these, where Surgeon Simulator can seem rather accurate and still messy in the same way, a game such as Table Manners is not really accurate at all. The hitboxes and physics, and especially the grabbing mechanics, they don’t just make the game hard from time to time, they also make the game feel unfair. This is one thing you don’t want from your game, to make something hard outside of your abilities. Sometimes objects get stuck to your hand, sometimes you just knock things over without really touching them, it feels like there’s a lot of room for finetuning in Table Manners. Such buggy mechanics and physics are a rather small but important piece of Table Manners that comes across as broken, probably holding some players back in seeing the game through to the end.

Conclusion

Table Manners feels like a fun experiment that screams ”VIRTUAL REALITY” without actually implementing VR. The game is cause for some entertainment but it also calls for frustrated feelings to arise. The game is nicely polished except for buggy mechanics and physics that are just not fine-tuned enough to really keep enjoying Table Manners. It’s like a sandbox or a playroom, but with added assignments. If people would tell you ”point at the red cube” and you only have two blue spheres, and then they shout at you for not doing it right, you would want those rules to be fixed right? That’s the main issue with Table Manners. But don’t let it stand in your way of the fun there’s already to be had.

Check our first gameplay experience with Table Manners below

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Rating: 6.8/10 (4 votes cast)
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Rating: +2 (from 2 votes)
Table Manners: Physics-Based Dating Game - Review, 6.8 out of 10 based on 4 ratings
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Find me on youtube to see some playthroughs! https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCuBrlulGywcb0EiYWBnA1ng

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