Harem review

Mon, 02/10/2014 - 20:08 -- BlueWinds

http://harem-vx.blogspot.com/

I played through the latest release these past couple of days, and thought I'd give a review of the game.

This post gets an image of Monbach because while he'd enjoy the game, I can't particularly say I'm thrilled. Karter would probably play it, and masturbate furiously the whole time, but he'd be a bit ashamed of himself afterwards.

The Good:

  • There is a lot of content. Most RPG maker games (well, most free games in general) are short. Harem has lots of people to talk to, lots of quests to do, lots of maps to look at.
  • The plot and pacing are tight. The plot has been done before, but that's no strike against it - most things have. The pacing in perfect, drawing you along fast but not too fast. It's easy to get invested in the save-the-kingdom-from-demons plot - I really do want to know what happens next.
  • The writing (other than the sex scenes) is well done. It manages to avoid corniness and even achieve some very inspired, real moments.

The Bad:

  • The main character is evil, plain and simple. I took the "good" path, and still the main character is more or less pure evil. He rapes and mind controls any women who comes across his path, announcing to all the world that his quest to gather slaves, take them across the ocean and sell them is noble. Worst of all, people agree with him. Not just those that he's mind-controlled, but everyone he explains it to announces that he's a hero, men and women alike. Two of his slaves (dark skinned "savages") mistake him for a god - even before he's raped them and mind controlled them.
  • Despite having dozens of female characters, it fails the Bechdel test. The only thing they ever talk about with eachother is the Male Main Character. He's the center of their world.
  • The sex scenes are mostly lists of physical acts. He stuck his dick in her pussy. She moaned. He pounded into her.
  • It's really, really sexist. Do you really need women literally worshipping your cock, saying that not being able to taste your cum was the worst part of being imprisoned, raped and tortured? How about the lesbian who "secretly wants men but won't admit it?" Or women orgasming from the first touch of your cock to their lips? I've read well-done male power fantasies before, and this was not one of them.

The Ugly:

  • The in-game artwork consists of 3D renders. They mostly have bad anatomy and the faces are expressionless. I'd rather not have any artwork at all - it actively detracted from the experience.

So overall, I can't really recommend it. If you like Mind Control and don't mind 3D renders, you might want to give it a try, but otherwise I think you're better off just splitting the time you'd spend on it between Final Fantasy (pick your favorite number) and SlaveMaker (which is much less sexist than Harem by a good margin).

Comments

ptwist on

Super interesting to read your thoughts on what's still my favourite game of whatever genre you call this stuff (indie adult?). Your work is a close second and fast approaching as the game is extended! :p I agree with most of  your points, definitely. Personally, I love absolutely love the artwork and the sex scenes in general.  The writing is definitely more 'a list of physicial acts'... but it super works for me. 

Coupled with what I consider to be fantastic writing, I just all around find the game has both quantity and quality in amounts that can't be beat seperately, nevermind in sumnation...well, SM has more content, to be fair, but ..yeah. Is it sexist? Is it over the top? Oh yeah. It's not really defensible other than the usual 'well, I enjoy it'. I could totally see others not enjoying it; I think that's  a hallmark of these sorta games, really. Would I like its creator to incorporate some of your thoughts to make it more equitable/non-degrading? Definitely, especially if it could be done without breaking the game's style, etc.  

BlueWinds on

I think it's possible - Overwhored, for example, has similar domination and mind control themes, but when I played it a while ago I didn't find it objectionable. It's a bit more light-hearted, but you still rape a lot of female characters without the game creator seeming quite so congratulating of each new conquest.

I'll be reviewing that game once he makes his next release public (soon, he says) and I've had time to play through it - a complete remake of all the maps and lots more content since I last opened it deserves a re-play.

AColonyOfAnts on

I was going to draw comparisons to Overwhored but you beat me to the punch.  Quality art, (sleepymaid is an excellent artist) rather over-the-top plot, and rather stale combat (but nothing unexpected from RPG Maker fare).  I think the point of the game I was most impressed with was *spoilers* was when the MC chose not to mind control Princess Tasa following the Branda battle.  I would've liked it better if it was a player driven decision so I would personally have the satisfaction of knowing that my MC upheld his end of the deal, but it was a refreshing break from a generic formula of "fight/win/control/fuck".

Interestingly enough the creator of OW mentioned a while back about how the game passed the Bechdel test here: http://overwhored.blogspot.com.au/2013/09/feminist-friendly-facts-about-overwhored.html, which I'm assuming is "does X porn pass a feminist standard."  I don't know much about the Bechdel test so I didn't form much of an opinion of the post, but the aforementioned spoiler did well to convince me that the game doesn't completely trample over the fact that women are people.

Edit: for some reason the <a> tag doesn't like me.  Am I doing it wrong?

<a href="http://overwhored.blogspot.com.au/2013/09/feminist-friendly-facts-about-...">here</a>

BlueWinds on

The Bechdel test is a really simple three point checklist:

  1. Are there two named female characters?
  2. Do they talk to eachother?
  3. Do they talk to eachother about something other than a man? Anything is fine.

That's all it is. Really, quite a simple test, and a surprising number of works fail it, even very good ones - Lord of the Rings, for example.

I'm not sure what's up with the text formatting - it's really frustrating for me as well that I can't get you guys a WYSIWYG editor. At least URLs still turn into links automatically.

Drazan (not verified) on

1. Yes, Trish (the slaver you rescue her from calls her trash) and Elaiya (the gunslinger) for start. Just about every NPC is named.

2. The game has several locations which trigger (usually daily) banter between your active party. (so mostly NPC to NPC)

3. Among other things, those two talk about the Trishe's long lost family, Ela's vendetta (both sub quests of sorts) the roles they take within the combat and more. (as in "glad to party with a tank, aw you're welcome" etc)

 

The game is heavily inspired by the Rance series from Alice Soft, but in all honesty the game often parodies itself and shouldn't be taken all too seriously. I get that this game ein't your cup of tea, but it does get better as you play it, hell even the PC grows on you.

Dorllanen on

Yet another side note - BlueWinds, did you perchance had an opportunity to play Sengoku Rance, or any game at all featuring "Rance" as the protagonist?

I would very much like to hear what are your thoughts about this... interesting fellow.

BlueWinds on

I have played Sengoku Rance - you can see some of my thoughts in the comments on this post. I didn't do a full review of it, but main gist is that it's a really amazing game, and would easily be my favorite eroge... if the main character were someone else. As it is, I like Daibancho better.

Dorllanen on

I must've missed it, sorry. Oh Rance is definitely an asshole (to put it mildly), but the occasional "aggressive straightforwardness" (in the plot, not during sex forced sex rape scenes) is kinda likable. Also, I couldn't resist a chuckle here and there (the hyper weapon activation bgm - best music in jrpg's ever); specifically after I got over the "special kind" of character the main "hero" is.

On the off chance I omitted yet another comment, I could suggest checking out Daiteikoku - the main route was translated (with some side quests as well) and it's pretty playable. The main character is honorobru admiral and looks like this http://static2.wikia.nocookie.net/__cb20110301115748/alicesoft/images/4/... while Rance is only a cameo character that can be defeated.

Also, the game has space nazi lolis, how can anyone resist that? (inb4 "me!" "me!")

BlueWinds on

I tried Daiteikoku and wasn't real impressed. Combat A) had no tutorial B) a single (attacking) loss meant Game Over C) the combat was deterministic, and you had to (mentally) play out the battle beforehand to assign exactly perfect forces everywhere. D) Everything felt completely charactured. I didn't get far enough in to say with confidence that there was ne depth... but it really felt like there was no depth.

So yeah... I can totally resist space nazi lolis - they were in fact the final blow that made me uninstall the game. ^^;;

Perhaps I'll try again eventually, when I'm really bored, but probably not.

Dorllanen on

I... I... I...

F-fine! I'll just sit in my corner and shut up! ;___; I shall eagerly awaiting the release of your game so I can finally play it.

...And I'm curious about your next project as well, so here's that.

 


All in all I actually liked Daiteikoku. Combat didn't bothered me (mainly because I didn't expect much and was prepared to grind - it wasn't good, but it didn't strike me as especially bad either).

As for the story? I played it a long time ago, but I really liked it. I can't say why you felt it had not depth/it was simplified, since it's almost the same "system" that's employed in Daibanchou (static major events/influencing other events by taking one of the routes/subquests and their events).

Let's just say I'm not surprised you don't like space Nazi lolis* you... you... you completely normal human being I guess?  I'll just say - they had style - and leave it at that.

http://img4.wikia.nocookie.net/__cb20110301120643/alicesoft/images/0/08/...

^Disappointed Space Nazi.

*To be exact, there was only one loli.

 

Going back to Blackguards to lose yet again against some jew-dorfs that play dirty.

Wizard on

Rance... it always comes back to Rance. I've played the game myself and yes, it probably is one of the best strategy/eroge games out there, there's just one reason as to why I don't like it.

Rance is a dick. Plain and simple, but he's urgh... one of the worst protagionists I've ever come across. I can stand abit of obnoxinous but him... he takes the gold medal for being an asshole and then sets a new recond for every woman he sleeps with.

That said though, the heroines are diverse enough, the combat and strategic map are really detailed and the overall plot is good. It's just... it all comes back to him.

Daibanchou huh? I may have to look that up sometime.

Also what I wanted to type about is an alternative to Rance, and that would be Kamidori Alchemy Meister.

http://vndb.org/v5652

To say it's "Fire Emblem with Eroge" is actually quite accurate. Kamidori is all about one half managing units, forging items and interacting with heroines and another half turn based tactical battle. The battle themselves are quite detailed, with units having to look out for damage and elemental weaknesses and such.

The plot is actually fairly straight forward, Wilfred (The Main) wants to become the most powerful Alchmist in the city. It's actually the Heroines and side character's stories you'll get caught up in. Wilfred actually cares for his girls and the scenes could almost border on intimite. But it's not just scenes, sometimes a main heroine and a side character might converse if you fulfill certain conditions. As for heroines, they're pretty diverse and each storyline is worth following up on. My faveriates were Melodiana and Kohakuren, Melo because it is a build of trust between her and Wil and Koha beacuse... fox woman, plain and simple.

 

So yeah, looking for a replacement for Rance that has a protag you can like and women you can respect, I'd recommend Kamidori.

BlueWinds on

I shall give it a try, thanks for the recommendation. Let you know what I think of it in a couple of days / weeks.

Dorllanen on

Kamidori is pretty interesting as a game - run of the mill jrpg with a dash of crafting (it's REALLY grindy though, especially if one is considering NewGame+).

But as an actual hentai game... eugh. The heroines are boring (Kohakuren is somewhat interesting I'll give you that, but she's just a side character), the plot is boring and most importantly (in hentai game at least) the CG's are really, really mediocre. I said it once, but I say it again - the heroines, main love interests, i.e. half of the game are ESPECIALLY bland and boring. I just couldn't force myself through such shoddy animu writing. Everything was predictable, simple, insipid

That's one of the hentai games I was more interested in gameplay but not in a good way (Example of a 'good way' would be S. Rance - when CG's were that less interesting - because I have a goddamn Japan to conquer; I ain't got time fo dat tail. They were still a nice... touch, let's say).

Well, I guess if someone like vanilla, then the game is fine. But in my opinion, you can get only so much of bland vanilla before you... well - fell asleep. Yet again - not a bad game, but because it's so flat you can't exactly appreciate it.

Wizard on

I actually prefer Vanilla, not into the more extreme stuff that some series are known for. But then personal tastes differ, so make of it what you will.

Dorllanen on

Well then, good for you ^^d.

I don't have a problem with vanilla per se, it's just Kamidori flavour isn't my kind of flavour.

There's a bunch of vanilla games, so my suggestion is probably in vain, but there's this one game that I hold dear to my hear. If you're into romance and building relationship I can suggest checking out Casual Romance Club. It's a VN (fully translated), it's old (damn, the CG's really didn't passed the test of time) and perhaps I'm looking through nostalgia glasses, but it was the first eroge I had major feels when playing.

Buuut, like I said - nostalgia can really skew our preception. I'm not sure if I'd be so much in love if I'd played it nowadays.

Wizard on

Hmmmmm... I have heard of that one. Might give it a look.

BlueWinds on

I finally got it working... and have logged something like 30 hours playing out of the last 48. I have other things I should be doing, but they haven't gotten done. ^^;;

Agreed that everything is predictable and simple, and that the erotic CGs are uninspired... but the rest of the game is beautifully done. I'll probably do a more thorough review once I've finished at least once (and possibly twice, to see how different the different routes are).

One reason I'm being slow is that each move in a dungeon takes longer than it should, even with all the animations turned off.

BlueWinds on

I am unable to get it to run, either using Wine or VirtualBox. I can get to the main menu, but if I click on any of the buttons it shows the next page then crashes immediately.

Oh well.

BlueWinds on

No help in that thread for me. Most people have trouble installing it - I'm having trouble with the game crashing. It's already installed and patched.

BlueWinds on

Gah, finally got it working with the following procedure:

  1. Install on virtual Windows machine (it will crash if I try to run it under Windows).
  2. Install it using Wine (it will crash there too).
  3. Copy fonts from C:\\Windows\fonts into ~/.wine/drive_c/windows/fonts
  4. Now it will run under Wine.

That was way too complicated.

Wizard on

I agree. Anyway let me know what you think of it. Happy playing.

Cypress_z (not verified) on

Hmm. Interesting. I'm looking forward to your review of my game. I'll have the public release out on Monday, but I can send you the latest Beta if you're curious. Just send a message to cypress_z@yahoo.com.

 

I won't say too much because I don't want to bias you but I think I can understand why my game feels less objectionable to you. Mind Control is a big fetish (there are plenty of men and women into it - it probably has the largest number of female adherents of any fetish on the web except maybe BDSM). However, I'm aware that because of its basic nature it can very easily be a squick to people who aren't into it because it has a lot of focus on (though not universal focus on) nonconsensual sex. As such, I try very hard to make things humorous where they might otherwise be creepy. I also start the game with you as a bad guy so it doesn't start off with the expectation that you're a hero so you feel more surprised when the Overmind does good or honorable things rather than seeing him as a heroic hypocrite when he does evil ones. He IS a bad guy but I try to make him a likable one. I also do my best to try to think out what various actions imply to avoid unfortunate implications. If things are implied I usually intend for them to be as part of a long-term plan, though I'm always curious to see if people read something I didn't intend into things.

 

I'm also trying to put in more purely consensual sex scenes. There's a few that don't involve any brainwashing at all and a few more coming soon.

 

I don't apologize for trying to use this as a gateway to get people into mind control. I do my best to sell the fetish to  people and in the process convince people to make more adult games. I know more than one game wouldn't exist without Overwhored and I've gotten some artists and fans into the fetish so it's been a total success for me. Plus I get to make a fun game people enjoy in the process!

 

I'm looking forward to your thoughts and critique.

BlueWinds on

I was looking forward to it. I'll send you a message in just a minute here - if you register an account on this site, I'd be happy to give you access to my development releases as well. ;)

Mind Control really isn't my thing, but as I said, I didn't find your game objectionable when I played an older version of it six months ago. As you said, explicitly setting up the PC as a villain, plus the humor, did a lot to defuse the tension.

cypress_z on

I sent you a response - and then practically immediately ended up getting a new e-mail. Ha. Well, I sent you a notice from the new e-mail as well. Sorry about the sudden flood of messages.

 

It's always fun to meet and talk with another content creator.