"I've got a surprise for you," says Vinny to his friend Callum over a video call: "I've joined a dating app!" Callum reacts with such glee, one would be forgiven for thinking that Vinny had just announced the reformation of The Beatles.
Surely everyone uses dating apps in 2020? Who wants to awkwardly wander up to someone in a bar and try and make small talk? Just download an app, swipe yes if they're interested in ToeJam & Earl, swipe no if they've got a Marilyn Monroe quote in their profile. Easy.
Anyway, that's the set-up for Five Dates, an interactive romantic comedy (their words) in which your job is to guide Vinny through a series of cringe-inducing online video dates with a handful of mostly appalling people.
And they are appalling. The girls are — generally speaking — dreadful stereotypes, and if you knew any of them in real life and you spied them from a distance in your local pub, you'd pray to your God that they hadn't already seen you and just go home to drink gin in the dark. There's a hipster with pink hair who's vegan and is totally quirky, guys. There's a high-flying lawyer who refers to herself as "extra". There's an Internet celebrity... let's just leave it at that.
It's not all bad, though. As we were playing the game, this author's (real life) girlfriend was occasionally chiming in with advice, and within an hour she'd stopped what she was doing and was fully invested. If you treat the game as a romantic comedy it fails on both counts, but if you treat it like you would an episode of car-crash television that you have control over then it's actually really entertaining.
We played it three times over a couple of bottles of wine, cringing together, laughing at the awkward conversations, and rolling our eyes in unison when one girl announced she was "an influencer". So if you've got a big bottle of claret and someone to play this with we'd recommend it. If you're on your own and after a romantic comedy, we'd probably go for The Wedding Singer.