It's that time of the week again and this week Playing Text is featuring an Otome game.
So what is an Otome game? These are games that are made to appeal to the female market and frequently feature pretty boys in them. Some of them are dating-sims while others cut the girl out of the picture entirely and feature men with each other. In Japan the term for this style of game is Boy's Love, whereas in English speaking countries they are usually referred to by the (mostly out of fashion) term Yaoi.
While these games have homosexual content they aren't marketed towards gay males; they have a distinctly feminine sensibility to them most of the time, not unlike comics marketed towards girls & women. Some men do enjoy this style, particularly outside of Japan, but the biggest audience is far and away Female.
This week's game is rated 18+ and features particularly hardcore, gay content. It does not have an official release as of writing this but there is an excellent English patch available at Fuwanovel. They also have a translation for the fandisc of the game. Numerous Japanese websites carry the games but my recommendation is Mandarake if they have stock; very reliable and will ship anywhere in the world.
DRAMAtical Murder was developed by Nitro+ CHiRAL, Nitro's Boy's Love division. As a company, Nitro+ is known for it's excellent art, interesting settings and characters and storytelling. While their pornographic games don't quite reach the heights of storytelling seen in games like Steins;Gate, they are above average for the genre.
The story begins with the game's main character, Aoba Seragaki. He lives on an island called Midorijima, which is separated into two areas: the city for all of the 'regular' people and Platinum Jail, a fancy playground for the rich that is closed off entirely from everyone else. Aoba is working at a small electronic junk shop and is one of the best Rhyme players; Rhyme being a very popular VR game sweeping through the city using the owner's 'Allmate' and hosted by a mysterious AI. The Allmates are robots with advanced AI that look like animals but take the form of humans in the VR world; Aoba's Allmate is a small dog named Ren.
The rest of the plot involves turf wars, kidnapping and intrigue and differs depending on which path you take through the game; leading me to be unable to explain it in anymore detail without spoiling. Honestly though, much of the story is simply window dressing for the main goal of the game: to get with one of the other characters. It's not totally wading in the kiddy pool though - playing all the paths will fill in holes and add more to the experience - but it was certainly a disappointment playing this right after Chaos;Head.
Despite being disappointed with the story overall, I really enjoyed the rest of the game. The characters were interesting - if strangely designed - and the art was fantastic. It has that otome aesthetic without being too girly and features bright, bold colours and lines. There were certainly characters I liked more than others but they all had their positive aspects.
As far as the sex scenes go, they were well done and featured the same nice art and great voice acting (*heavy breathing*.) However, some of the scenarios can get pretty extreme. Nitro+ is never afraid to get into some really weird stuff so if you just want something vanilla this one is going to get to you and fast. A good example of what I mean (spoilers ahead) is in Clear's bad ending; it essentially ends with Aoba being kept as a slave after having his eyes, tongue and limbs removed. Seriously.
DRAMAtical Murder was a massive hit in Japan; spawning a fandisc, an anime and countless items of merchandise. The fandisc of the game has all-new scenarios that expand upon the endings found in the original plus a few new ones. This one goes really far into "strange fetish" category at times - especially the bad endings - and ends up feeling like these were fan suggestions. On top of this, it also includes other extras like Aoba's twitter feed and a mini game.
As with many games of this type, it had the adult content cut so the game could be re-released for younger audiences under the title DRAMAtical Murder re:code. I imagine the game is still interesting but it would likely be an inferior version; the adult content is not just incidental in this and cutting it would remove a lot of the play time.
So if you're into two dudes, enjoy the look of the art and aren't looking for a super deep story, DRAMAtical Murder (and it's fandisc) has got you covered. Just beware of robot snake rape.
I hope everyone enjoyed the column this week! Have any of you played DRAMAtical Murder before? What was your favourite character(s)? Check back every week for more featured games!