Monday
Feb042013

QCF: Seduce Me

rotica in video games (or just erotic centric video games for that matter) primarily occur in Japan. There’s fan base, market, and consistent flow of demand for these titles and one of the main divides encountered is the cultural difference of aesthetic and sociology (primarily that of your standard anime conventions) that drive a split for those who desire an adult relation game. Other than some infamous attempts and the Leisure Suit Larry series, there hasn’t been a title that roots itself with western sensibilities centering on the graphic process of adult courtship for quite some time. Then Seduce Me came around.

Independently developed and published by No Reply Games, this fantasy-driven take towards a trip to a secluded island filled with women desiring companionship possibly fulfills that wide gap of western romance games that we’ve experienced for so long. Yes, the potential seems promising -- if only the game was exciting, or even any good for that matter. Seduce Me fits neither of those descriptions in the slightest.

So the most prominent questions that should be on everyone’s minds involve what you're trying to take from playing this kind of game. Aside from expectations and however strong your hopes are for the execution meeting standards, you have to stop and really think about what you’re applying these personal standards to. I’m not necessarily endorsing the idea that you should invest in the game’s ability to arouse you, but more or less the ability for the content to tastefully represent itself in a manner that you can at least relate to and enjoy. After all, video games are one of the more arguably effective forms of escapism in media, right?

With that being said, Seduce Me is downhill from there, and never quite manages to follow through on what it aims for.

To its credit, Seduce Me marginally accomplishes the presentation pretty well. The visuals themselves aren’t too bad and it makes a wise decision to keep everything rendering low and drawn with the detailed of articulation and anatomical representation of your standard adult graphic novel. Music does a fair job of suggesting the moods that the game is trying to incite through the use mellow beats and bass drops, but there’s nothing standout at all and it’s fairly stock. Surprisingly there aren't many issues with the visuals or music. The game’s potential, however, stops here.

The premise is campy and to some extent, contemporary source material of the film variety, for example, has always been successful, even if it is a bit tongue-in-cheek. Though the moment you boot the game, you’ll notice just how much the title takes itself much too seriously, and to a fault.

With little context, Seduce Me becomes quite mind-boggling as you advance. You’ll encounter several different women, and while the carnal adult theme incites that you base interactions from a pure physical premise, all of these women possess unique personality traits to choose from. The problem with this, however, is that you won’t really know any of these traits specifically beyond the complexity of some vague flavor text, as if it was taken from a storyboard. While I normally wouldn’t scold such a detail, it directly affects and hurts the gameplay. Consider here that the theme of promiscuity is what’s primarily being promoted. The pacing completely lacks any sense of casual mingling, and what seems like innocent interaction (given the pornographic ambience of each scenario) turns into spiteful tides of animosity boiled from lazy narrative that would make a public access channel soap opera blush.

Regardless of the lazy motivation this game tries selling, the direct dynamic of courtship shows itself as the most glaring flaw. what could have been the saving grace of this superficial adult venture instead becomes the worst part of the overall experience.

Let’s look back earlier when I mentioned that there was hardly any trace of narrative or character development in scripting. How can that be when the basis of any civil courtship is socializing? No Reply Games tried taking a different route with the most fundamental aspect for their game, and scrapped any insightful implementation of social interaction. Instead, they replaced it with different card battling games.

Yes, you read right. The primary force behind any advancement in the game gets dictated by your understanding and success rate with a deck of cards, and the system is frustratingly flawed. Though some game rules for the card scenarios are much easier to comprehend than others, it’s all incredibly obtuse and much too focused on luck. Overall, you’ll never feel like you have any real control of the situation. If successful with a card match, you’re given a vague selection of social actions that require both popular points and attraction points, and you’ll have to carefully earn these by travelling the island mansion and trying your luck with card games towards ladies that don’t demand much skill. Grinding popular points and attraction points with these "rookie" marks for courting is offensive, and somehow the overall mechanic itself is just more boring than it is insulting. No matter how much of a handle you think you just may have with each of them, you’ll often fail. The only way to achieve some success is to farm popularity with repetitive card games.

What's even more astonishing is how this mechanic becomes completely counterproductive when your various bouts of mingling become construed with accusations of the nonsensical infidelity that was aforementioned prior in interactions, which completely flips the direction the game forced you into in order to succeed. Ultimately, this places you at odds end to defend your humble stance in the mansion.

I can endorse the concept and potential of a real adult relations centric game. The aspect of Romance and relationships haven been some of the most lauded in western titles like Mass Effect and Heavy Rain because of the matter and execution in with dynamics came to be when encountered in those respective games. Seduce Me may have the right intentions to bring the romance mechanic under a more sultry and promiscuous light. However, if the atrocious follow through doesn’t frustrate, you'll just be outright bored.

With dull and trite concepts causing it to hardly function as it should, I honestly can’t recommend this title for anyone. Just avoid it.

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