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Nelson Schneider's Video Game Reviews (384)

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Sundered 3/5
Iconoclasts 3/5
Divinity: Original Sin 2 4.5/5
Heroes of the Monkey Ta... 4/5
Lands of Lore III 2.5/5
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Rage 2 4/5
EnHanced 3.5/5
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Xenoblade Chronicles 2 2.5/5
Far Cry 5 4/5
Jotun 2/5
Armada 4/5
RiME 2.5/5
Song of the Deep 4.5/5
Shadowrun: Hong Kong 4/5
Destiny 2 4/5
Shadowrun: Dragonfall 4/5
Shadowrun Returns 3/5
Kirby Star Allies 3.5/5
Dark Quest 2 3.5/5
Never Alone 3/5
Octopath Traveler 3/5
Guacamelee! 2 4/5

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Girls and Dungeons   PC (Steam) 

A Tale of Grapes and Melons    4/5 stars

“Girls and Dungeons” (“GaD”) is the inaugural publication effort by Top Hat Studios, a startup publisher for hentai and ecchi games on Steam in North America. The actual development behind “GaD” was done by Nebelsoft, an Indie team with a fairly short history of creating ecchi retro games and self-publishing them on far lesser-known PC gaming outlets than Steam, like GameJolt and Nutaku (the latter of which infamously gave Chris a computer virus). As anyone who follows me knows, I love RPGs and big boobs, and as I was browsing the Steam Discovery Queue during the Summer Sale 2018, one of the games it presented to me promised to provide both… all for the low, low price of 69 cents. I couldn’t say “no” to that, so I dropped my change in the bucket and proceeded to experience a rather quirky RPG Maker project.

Presentation
“GaD” is an RPG Maker XP game, thus it’s fairly basic-looking. The art assets used for dungeon environments and enemies are basic, and rather devoid of detail when compared to classic 16-bit RPGs. However, the custom artwork that was actually done by the artists at Nebelsoft instead of coming out of an RPG Maker asset can, are really quite good. There are chunky-pixel profile images of the hero and the slew of titular ‘girls,’ the latter of whom are all somewhat chibi, yet simultaneously buxom to an incredibly degree. In addition to the character portraits, there are also a number of fully illustrated full-screen bromide scenes (to borrow the term from ‘Lunar’) in which each of the 6 recruitable girls gets partially naked. These scenes are censored slightly on Steam, but the publisher offers a free uncensor patch on their website. The custom artwork that most impressed me, however, would have to be the custom character sprites for the girls. While most character sprites in 16-bit RPGs are stylized, they typically have a head, arms, torso, legs, and feet. The sprites for the girls in “GaD” are so busty, though, that they’re essentially just head, boobs, feet, and that’s when viewed from the front. When viewed from the side, these characters look like they’re pushing yoga balls in front of them.

Audiowise, “GaD” is decent, and gets the job done, but ultimately doesn’t reach mindboggling ranges of greatness simply due to the fact that Nebelsoft used free/cheap RPG Maker sound assets whenever possible. Some of these tracks are quite good, though, but occasionally the tunes run into looping issues where they just fade to silence before restarting, which shows a lack of effort.

Technically, “GaD” is pretty solid, though it does have one major glitch that affects the end-game. Throughout the entire game, the player has access to one item shop, but shortly before the end of the game, this item shop glitches out and loses several of the items that are very necessary to play the game properly. If a player knows about this glitch in advance, it’s easy to stockpile items before they become unavailable, but for players going in blind, it’s an easy way to force a restart from the beginning.

Story
Our hero is Hiro, a wandering Ronin samurai in search of the Lost Girls. It seems that in his neck of the woods, young women disappear without a trace, never to be seen or heard from again. Hiro tracks the problem to the ruined temple of Yashumugi, the Goddess of Wine, and sets up camp to investigate the area when he encounters a group of merchants who have gotten into trouble while investigating these same ruins.

Upon saving this outfit and providing his base camp with basic amenities, Hiro heads back into the abandoned wine cellars of the temple where be begins to encounter a number of girls who have indeed been missing and trapped in a drunken fog for years. By attuning a mystical gourd – an artifact of Yashumugi – for each girl, Hiro is able to free them from their delusions, only to learn that any who would seek to escape Yashumugi’s service are destined to suffer an even worse fate.

The writing overall in “GaD” is solid, though the script could definitely use another editorial revision, as there are numerous typos and English as a Second Language sentences. None of these mistakes really hinder the gameplay or the story getting its point across, though, and the bonus full-blown porn scenarios (text only) that become available in the post-game are incredibly well-written.

“GaD” is also not the type of RPG that takes itself seriously. It’s essentially a light erotic comedy, with some truly great moments. My personal favorite is when Hiro encounters the second Lost Girl, who is trapped in a golden cage. Noticing that the bars of the cage aren’t all that close together, Hiro urges the girl, Mimyu, to simply slip between them and escape, to which she replies, “I can’t, my boobs are too big.” And given the fact that Mimyu’s character sprite has four frames of animation just for her giant boobs, she’s probably right.

“GaD” advertises itself as providing 8 hours of gameplay. This is roughly accurate. My in-game timer showed 7.5 hours, whereas my Steam timer showed 9, thanks to a handful of game over screens that resulted in time-wasting retreading of ground.

Gameplay
“GaD” is a very basic, classic-style Turn-Based RPG. Hiro and up to three girls can be in the party at the same time. Combat takes place from a ‘Dragon Quest’-inspired first-person perspective, but Super Deformed versions of the characters jump-in from the sides of the screen to do their thing when their turn comes around, which is a nice touch.

Characters all have the same 4 basic options in battle: Attack, Skill, Guard, and Item. Running from battle doesn’t seem to work properly, as the option was always grayed-out for me. Each character has a set of unique Skills. Hiro’s Skills all revolve around boosting stats or dealing heavy damage and inflicting a simultaneous debuff on an enemy, while the girls’ Skills vary depending on their personality, with the rough and burly girls resembling Hiro in their stables of heavy attacks and the magic-oriented girls with a range of spells and debuffs. Each character starts with 200 SP to activate Skills in battle, and this NEVER INCREASES. Thus all of the girls have an Inspire Skill that restores 25 SP to Hiro, and they themselves can recover their SP by drinking booze (which has the side effect of getting them drunk 50% of the time). Combat, thus, largely revolves around buffing up Hiro as much as possible, allowing him to be the literal White Knight (he has white hair and wears a mostly white samurai outfit) defending a bunch of drunk women who are almost entirely useless against significant threats.

“GaD” is mostly a well-balanced game, however, it does suffer from one particularly egregious difficulty spike at around the 3/4 point, but this spike smooths back out and overcompensates into a dip, making the final, ultimate confrontation a cake walk. It also has a tendency to forcibly shuffle party members at the drop of a hat, which can lead to very important one-of-a-kind pieces of gear becoming inaccessible for quite some time, since party members don’t unequip themselves upon leaving.

It also bears mentioning that “GaD” takes place entirely within ONE dungeon, so maybe the title should have been “Girls and Dungeon” without the ‘s.’ There is also only one save point in the game – back at the base camp outside the dungeon. Thus the vast majority of the game involves retracing Hiro’s steps through the various levels and finding shortcuts to make all of this backtracking somewhat less annoying. All of the random enemies are visible on the dungeon map, which makes exploring less of a chore, though grinding a new girl party member up to par can be a pain after a certain point, as the player has a choice of grinding on incredibly dangerous enemies for reasonable XP gains, or grinding on balanced enemies for piddly XP gains.

Overall
“Girls and Dungeons” provides what it says on the tin: 16-bit turn-based dungeon crawling and a variety of cute-and-sexy female allies ranging from ‘buxom’ to ‘bodacious.’ While it could definitely use another editorial once-over for the script and a bit of rebalancing and bugfixing, the core design is sound and the custom artwork it excellent. Combined with the reasonable $3 full price and the sub-$1 sale prices, RPG-and-Boob fans should definitely give this game a chance.

Presentation: 4/5
Story: 4/5
Gameplay: 3.5/5
Overall (not an average): 4/5

 

 


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