The protagonist is a young man. He is plagued by complex moral dilemmas, other philosophical conundrums, the loss of his parents to both terrorism and plague, but is trying to make the world a better place. The narrative is riddled with with wit and tongue-in-cheek humor, as well as intelligent and emotional moments.
Now, what if I told you this was the setup for a glorified porn game?
What I’m referring to in particular is the eroge Monmusu Quest. It isn’t available for purchase in the West, but the dedicated always find a way. Regardless, it possesses the tagline, “Lose and Be Raped!” and if you thought this meant the rape of females then you were 100% wrong. This is a game possessed of a simple traditional RPG battle system whereby the focus is the journey of one boy Luka as he travels the world with a lamia named Alice in pursuit of a world where humans and monsters live together. The aforementioned plot devices are all present and accounted for, and it is bizarrely well-written.
Where the issue lies is that it’s too good. Diverting all criticism by way of not taking itself too seriously in the slightest, this is a game where the monsters fight by sexually tormenting Luka, and in victory rape him into slavery/death/both. Careful with Googling this one; almost every image is pretty adult. I mean, it’s bad. Really bad. Consider yourself warned.
Take out the wanton nudity and X-rated content, however, and this could be the recipe for a top-notch title. One scenario, by way of example, has Luka in the middle of a war between insect and plant monsters. After hearing the pleas from the plant side he seals away the insect leader, only to have the plant monsters proceed to murder every insect they can find. Conflicted, he turns his sword against the plants to protect the insects. And there’s no real happy ending; Luka is completely devastated by his actions, and his reaction to the slaughter he himself perpetuates is one of crushing nihilism.
It can be frustrating sometimes when a game like this, obviously one that the vast majority of gamers will never play (nor am I saying they should; this is pretty hardcore, even for visual novel fans), has such quality elements. Instead of being in a format easily accessible to the mass market, it resides in a medium only starting to gain momentum in the West and in a mode that isn’t really playable by ages 13 and up. When the default attack by a monster is a sexual act, one doesn’t look at this game and think ‘AAA material for all ages’.
But the thing is, it could be. All the ingredients are here. The staff must have realized the irony when they put together the character designs, scenario, and plot. After all, they’re all elements prevalent in the hit titles of the past decade. Mass Effect, Bioshock Infinite, and others all have things in common with this budget porn game from the East. If that isn’t hilarious, I don’t know what is.
This game tackles themes such as society and the difficulties in changing it, morality, war, religious fanaticism, and terrorism. All great themes for any art form, much less gaming. Of course, it’s not as simple as crafting a simple narrative with some likeable characters and throwing popular tropes at it until it works. (Seriously.) But this little Monmusu Quest game works, it really does. It won’t get a tear from your eye or a belly laugh from your lungs, but it’ll get you to chuckle fondly and possibly sit back and think about life for a moment and that’s more than most games manage these days.
Believe it or not, I’m still not telling you to try it out. It probably isn’t for you, but just be aware that out there in the wide world of gaming are stories you’ve never heard. They can make a gamer laugh and ponder as well as any other.
They just happen to be… *ahem*… slathered in jiggly bits. Some of them, anyway.