Table Manners is a ridiculous game in the same vein as Surgeon Simulator, Job Simulator and even Operation, the board game. Where Table Manners differs from those first two is that it’s a strictly non-VR affair. And this is its hook. Rather than having fine control thanks to VR, you’re locked into using keyboard and mouse to awkwardly and clumsily move your in-game hand. The results vary from frustrating to hilarious. I swung wildly between the two for the duration.
Table Manners is a dating-sim, of sorts. From the main menu, you access your smartphone and use the ‘Blundr’ app to find your perfect match. Swipe right and you’ll be off on a date.
And here’s where the action begins. Using your limited manoeuvrability, you move your disembodied hand and attempt to have a lovely dinner date. More often than not, things go terribly wrong.
Table Manners Review
Essentially, Table Manners is a puzzle game. On your dates, you’ll be given instructions/directions by your date and will need to carry them out before a timer expires. Largely, you’ll be pouring drinks, serving food, ordering and the like. However, the controls are what makes things difficult and interesting.
To control your hand forward and back and left and right you use the mouse. To raise and lower your hand you use W and S respectively. To grab objects you use the left mouse button and to rotate your hand you hold the right mouse button and move the mouse.
It takes some getting used to. I was also disappointed that I couldn’t invert mouse movement so that pushing forward made my hand move backwards. I know it seems counterintuitive, but to an inverted player like me, it makes total sense.
Due to the way the controls are designed, it’s really difficult to get any kind of fluid motion or smoothness. So, as you attempt to do anything, you’ll be spilling food and drinks, knocking things over and generally making a mess. Early on, dates take place in a restaurant and everything is quite controlled. As you progress through, you’ll find yourself on a ship on the ocean, in an ice bar and even on an aeroplane.
These locations add extra difficulty to the dates. At the ice bar, all of your drinks are frozen so you need to defrost them with a blowtorch. The table’s surface is also slippery so everything is in constant motion. On the boat, you’ll slide between a number of place settings with the motion of the ocean.
Just when you think you’ve got the hang of things, Table Manners shakes thing up again. However, there’s really not that great a variety of things to do and that is ultimately where Table Manners falls apart a little.
The core mechanics and concept are pretty solid, but playing the game grows wearisome after a short time. There are only so many times you can perform the same actions before they lose their charm, even with the added environmental challenges.
It’s best to play Table Manners in short bursts. Enjoy a few dates and the slapstick comedy that comes with them, then take a break and play something else. It’s like good food, you can have too much of a good thing.
Elsewhere, Table Manners has some great stuff going for it. Players will find a range of potential dates and there’s a great deal of inclusion built into the game. Different genders, races and sexual orientations are included as is the ability to customise your in-game hand. You can change skin tone, nails, tattoos, jewellery and more. Table Manners doesn’t dive first into gender politics, rather, it gives players options and tools to cater for a wide range.
Table Manners can be fun and silly and it can also be frustrating and annoying. Kind of like real dating, I suppose. This is certainly a game that will be great to stream and to watch your favourite streamer play. It’s better played with a group of friends too. That way you can all share in your failures and successes.
If you’re looking for silly, absurd fun, look no further.
Table Manners was reviewed on PC using a digital code provided by the publisher.
Game Title: Table Manners