Have I seen you somewhere before? is a newly released game developed by Team SolEtude. Take control of Lars, a Mads Mikkelsen lookalike, as he goes through a night of speed dating.
Wandering around lonely on a rainy night, Lars finds himself at a speed dating event. The rules of the night are explained by the first potential date, Michael. He tells Lars that anyone can sit down at his table and talk to him if they so choose.
This sets up the story for an interesting night of spontaneity. We don’t know who will sit down across from us and what they’ll be like. In total, there are five love interests, but I wouldn’t personally venture out and call them that myself.
Despite being able to go home with one of five people, there doesn’t seem to be very much love at all going on. In fact, we barely get to know any of these suitors beyond the stereotype they seem to represent. The smug socialite, the hippie who is one with the earth, the man who’s down on his luck…and the list goes on.
This is the charm of the game. The atmosphere feels realistic. In such a short amount of time given for speed dating, what could you possibly learn about a person beyond what they answer to the questions you ask? Unfortunately, we don’t get a sense of the characters’ mannerisms or facial expressions, so we have to rely on what they tell us and the way they say things.
The gameplay is pretty simple. You can ask a question to the person sitting across from you, which they will react positively or negatively to. There’s an additional quirk: most of the answers are timed. You have to make a split second judgement on what to say, and you can’t use rollback to change your mind.
Based on the person’s personality, you’ll be able to pretty easily guess what they’ll be happy with, which will end up with them taking you to another location. Though Lars isn’t getting lucky. Each ending seems to be just as miserable as Lars seems to be from the very beginning—which begs the question, was Lars ever really looking for love to begin with?
Unfortunately, the game’s narrative is lacking in details. While the game presents a unique and interesting situation with speed dating, there simply isn’t enough time spent exploring the aftermath of Lars’ choices in the end, or even how he gets to where he is to begin with. Furthermore, the title hints that Lars being a lookalike of a famous person will hold a big significance, but it’s only ever mentioned by a few of the suitors and then glossed over.
The art style of the game is very distinct. I love that the entire time we’re looking at Lars sit at the table as his dates enter and exit the booth. That said, there don’t seem to be any changes of expressions as people (and Lars himself) talk and react to things. It can get a bit dull to look at, even taking into consideration how short the game is.
Lastly, the game seems to be missing some basic functions that make playing a VN a bit more convenient, like a skip and auto read button on screen. However, you’re still able to perform some of these actions with the default Ren’Py hotkeys. If you’re not a seasoned VN player, though, this may be a problem. Also, not being able to roll back to choices makes sense in the context of speed dating, but not being able to even go to the screen before to read a sentence you missed is a real loss.
While Have I seen you somewhere before? has some faults, I would recommend giving it a try if you have thirty minutes to spare. It presents an intriguing story and immersive game mechanics that will make you feel like you’re actually on a speed date!
You can get Have I seen you somewhere before? on itch.io for free.