Sawbuck Gamer

Save The Date

Groundhog Date

In Save The Date, every date is the first date.

By Joe Keiser • June 12, 2013

Sawbuck Gamer is our daily review of a free or cheap game ($10 or less).

Let’s get right to it—if you’re the least bit interested in Save The Date at all, you should just leave now and play it. It’s best played blind, so just go, okay? Go ahead.

For those of you that are still here, well, even a careful conversation about this game is going to diminish the experience. So let’s be careful: Save The Date is a story about a boy’s date with a girl. The date ends badly. It is the boy’s job, ostensibly, to save the date by replaying the game over and over, using information gleaned from the previous disastrous meet-ups to make the next one go a little better. The clear parallel is Groundhog Day, the comedy classic about repeatedly living the same 24 hours. (You can also leave now and just watch that—no one could hold that against you.)

If the whole “game about replaying a game” thing sounds really meta, well, that’s part of the point. And if you fail the date so many times that you start to wonder why you’re even trying, rest assured that is part of the point of Save The Date as well. How you and the game reconcile that question will either leave you walking away from it satisfied or digging through its deepest recesses over and over, looking for a different answer.

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12 Responses to “Groundhog Date”

  1. JokersNuts says:

    I am interested in playing this so avoided reading the rest of the article and just went straight to the site.  The site also warned me to just play and not think too much about what it’s going to be about – so basically the message I’m getting is “Avoid Spoilers!”.  It also went on to say to clear about an hour of time to play.  (I’m at work so can’t do that).
    I don’t own a computer so how can I play this?!  Ugh, so frustrating.  Oh well, that’s all, thanks for reading.   

  2. Cloks says:

    Oh hey, I played this game already! Uh, so protip here: there’s a variable you can edit in the game’s data folder if you’re a hacker. It’s not too hard to find and it’s the only way to get a good ending (that I’ve found).

    Anyway, I think more games would be interesting if they followed this “you can’t win” kind of plot. It’d probably only work well in short games – imagine playing Mario for eight hours just to watch Bowser beat you and abscond with Peace. The game’s incredibly short length and the fact that you’re expected to play it through several times definitely make your inevitable losses acceptable and interesting.

    • duwease says:

      Wow, just ‘finished’ and it’s a hell of a little experiment.  Seems like
      the sort of thing that could stir up quite a conversation here.. hopefully with all the E3 hullaballoo going on people will find time to play it.

      So, *SPOILER TIME* despite me endlessly digging through the dialogue trees at the end to see if *maybe* there was a real ending that they were trying to trick me out of, I couldn’t bear to hack it.  They touch on this feeling, but it only seemed to make sense to hear “you win” when the game is telling you that ‘legitimately’, although that definition is incredibly nebulous.  What happens when you flip the hack switch?

      • Cloks says:

        I don’t want to spoil it but it basically adds another option. It’s worth doing.

        • duwease says:

          You’re right.. it was :)  After the path the normal story took, I was expecting to be chastised.  And I’m too tired today to deal with sass from video games.

  3. Zack Handlen says:

    I didn’t know David Ives was writing games now.

  4. duwease says:

    Who knew that Chris Cornell was as adept at indie games as he was at rocking mid-90’s faces?

  5. Pgoodso says:


    This is a game that earns its obtuse and unrelated endings, I’ll tell you that.

    Gonna keep on keepin’ on with it, maybe I’ll find everything there is to find.

  6. Roswulf says:


    My experience of the game (and I wonder how common this is?) was shaped by correctly deducing the final, non-hacky, twist very early on. This lessened the impact of the final, manifesto-y conversation under the stars; I was forced to feign ignorance of what the “good ending” was even as I knew, and had indeed played the good ending while knowing its goodness. This was irritating.

    And yet in another sense being one step ahead of the narrative only strengthened the game’s ending. What about did it mean that I was ramming my head against the wall over and over, killing Felicia over and over, even when I knew there was nothing to be gained? I was more of a monster than the game itself imagined.

    And then I hacked it and all was FLYING, so that was nice.


    I really like that the end of the game is not traditionally satisfying. Even when you get a “good” ending, the game doesn’t congratulate you for “winning.” 

  8. Merve says:

    I haven’t played the hacker ending yet, but here’s the game’s creator’s take on what the game is all about:

  9. Bureaupath says:


    Played through this without reading anything about it. At first it was just trying to keep her alive, and then when the dialogue choices kept hinting at a “good” ending, I kept digging and digging. The game uses that as bait to keep you playing and drops hints that there is an ending. 

    Also, I was kind of expecting more and more outlandish things to happen, culminating in a  Windows error pop up that would say something along the lines of, ” ERROR: GOOD_ENDING.PY NOT FOUND”. Either that, or perhaps the game would have a result that ended up in NO ending, where the game would automatically restart with you picking up the phone and going on a date again, without the player having to reload it.

    On that subject, not all games have endings. A lot of old school arcade games just loop on and on and on. This falls more in line with a game as a game rather than a game as a story.


    Other than that, this game reminded me of Spec Ops: The Line, to the point where I was expecting taunts like “Do you still feel like you’ll get to second base?” I remember I reloaded Spec Ops to the section before they used the mortar, to see if I can just shoot all the bad guys. Of course, the game wouldn’t let you.