By Benny Carrillo / October 24th, 2016
DISCLAIMER: The following review is about a game which features an effeminate cross-dressing male, also known as a “trap”. In addition, the review itself also quotes vulgar language as an example. Reader discretion is advised.
|Release Date||August 19, 2016|
|Genre||Kinetic Novel, Eroge, Trap, Comedy|
With the recent success of many Visual Novels, indie developers are trying their hand at the genre. Some of them even delving into the realm of eroge, most likely hoping to satisfy a particular niche. Today’s game, Critical Hit¸ falls into this category. The question though is whether or not this team’s take on a comedic D&D like tale is a “natural 20”, or a “natural 1.” However, first, let’s talk a bit about the game and the team itself.
TsukiWare (stylized as 月Ware) is a small indie studio run by Ironstrom. TsukiWare aims to create shorter titles for the moment and eventually ramp up to larger projects. While Critical Hit is their first project, they do already have a Match 3 RPG in development called Lewd Warfare. More information about the project can be found at TsukiWare’s Patreon. That being said, let’s talk a bit about the premise of Critical Hit.
The idea is pretty simple. Our main character is Akira. Akira’s village was attacked and his most precious possession, a doll, is stolen. The main draw here is that Akira is very effeminate. In fact, he dresses like a girl. That’s right, Akira is a trap. The main idea behind a trap is you’re supposed to believe the character is a female. That is until other evidence is presented. The game, however, makes you aware of this fact pretty quickly so that’s not a spoiler. No, in fact, the game has a very tongue-in-cheek style of self-aware humor. That said, all that stands between him and getting his doll back are some monsters and a very perverted Game Master. With the premise done, let’s talk about the game design itself.
Critical Hit’s design as a whole is a pretty standard affair for a kinetic novel. The story is divided into four chapters and near the end of each one, a sex scene will occur. Since the game is a kinetic novel, there are no choices involved. However, the game does deviate from standard visual novel design in its presentation and interface. These changes are a bit of a mixed bag. The big change is that there is no save or load function. Instead, each chapter is divided into smaller parts. Once a part is unlocked, you can resume from that point in the main menu. However, it took me a while to figure out even how to get back to the menu without closing the game. You actually have to use the “quit” command in the menu. This makes sense in retrospect, but usually, this is labeled “Return to Title” or something similar. Quit is usually reserved for exiting the game entirely. Non-intuitive game design aside, you can access the gallery and some character notes from the in-game menu. Which you’ll need to do to view CGs.
Unobstructed CGs can only be viewed in the gallery. Usually, right-clicking or hitting a certain key will hide the text box and interface. This allows the reader to see the image unobstructed. I wasn’t able to find a way to do this otherwise. To be fair, due to the short length of the game, this isn’t a major annoyance. If this were a longer title, having to visit the gallery every time would be kind of annoying. However, it’s still not a full-screen CG. Instead, it’s in a small pane on the right side of the gallery menu. Speaking of the images, let’s move onto the art.
I actually like the style they went with. While certainly feeling a little more comical and simplistic, it does fit the tone well. That said, there is a difference between the art in the regular scenes and the H-ones. The regular character drawings feel more detailed, while the H-GC’s feel more simple. It creates a bit of an odd disconnect as if two different people drew them. There’s not much else to say regarding the technical elements. Sound as a whole is kind of just there. While not bad, it also didn’t exactly stick out in my mind and there’s no voice acting. So far things seem pretty middle of the road, right? Well, let’s delve into the writing and discuss where I think a few issues do arise.
Comedy, in general, is never easy to write. Critical Hit definitely goes for a more lighthearted parody or homage to the idea of mixing D&D and sex. As mentioned, the Game Master seems to be a bit of a pervert. He enjoys tormenting poor Akira. Now, there’s actually nothing wrong with the premise. Especially if we’re going for comedy, this presents a lot of possibilities. The problem comes with the execution. It’s a bit hard to explain. Some of the writing feels like it’s trying to be funny as opposed to being funny. Part of this is due to some jokes taking too long to pay off.
A good example of this is early on Akira goes to the shop to prepare for his adventure. The shopkeeper there happens to be deaf in this iteration of the story. That’s actually kind of a neat idea. However, instead of merely stating that the two are signing, the translation is we see flowers. Yes, we have a gag language to translate sign language. This could be funny, but then it goes on for several text boxes. Spirit Akira then decides to just remove the symbols for us, even acknowledging it might be annoying. If it was one or two lines of the text and then the acknowledgment, I think it could work. But, when the joke even acknowledges it has overstayed it’s welcome you have an issue. This problem also sadly extends to the characters themselves.
As a whole, I do like the characters. They’re actually a diverse bunch and do have personalities. Akira is a likable protagonist, though once he seems to get turned on, he becomes rather raunchy. There actually is a good reason for this, so it doesn’t feel as out of place as it sounds. Spirit Akira meanwhile just ends up being somewhat baffling in the end.
You as the player are the only one who can see him, so he mainly serves as your exposition fairy to explain the background of the world and talk about the Game Master. He claims that he just wants to see Akira have a normal adventure for once. By the end of the game, however, I really was confused by the character’s motivations. Without spoilers, I think it just didn’t line up with what the writer was quite aiming for. Next, we have the Game Master.
While the Game Master is certainly a pervert he’s actually ok. He’s the force of the universe that wants to make Akira suffer for our comedic enjoyment. He does come off as quite immature at times, but as a whole, he’s harmless, if a bit random. That leads us to the remaining characters who are all part of the eroge scenes, so let’s delve into that.
The eroge in this game is a very mixed bag. I like the fact that we have a trap hero. I honestly don’t think we have enough “delicious trap” eroge out there (or at least I don’t tend to see them). In fact, one of the things I was looking forward to was seeing how things with the shopkeeper would play out. Sadly, she is not an option despite really being practically setup as one. No, the eroge here is strictly males with Akira, save for one tentacle scene. And you know what, that’s fine. If it’s done well, I can go with that. So who are these characters that end up having sex with Akira and what impact do they leave?
First up are Goblin A and Goblin B. Yes, those are their names. The two goblin brothers are the first to pounce on Akira and turn the event into a competition. Their bickering, in the end, is pretty harmless, though could be grating for some. I will note, however, that their dialogue did cause me to facepalm the most. Next up is Bob.
While Bob is not a skeleton, he certainly resembles one. He has the ability to produce “boners” which he uses on Akira of course. Honestly, Bob is probably the best character of the bunch since he’s pretty straightforward and to the point. He actually comes off as a humorous idea. Finally, the last scene involves tentacles, because…. Uh… Tentacles? I joke, but there is a plot point that occurs during this scene and it’s actually pretty well done. Once again these seem pretty tame. Instead, it’s Akira who has me raise my eyebrows the most.
During these scenes, Akira seems to flip into another personality. One that is much more sexually receptive and raunchy. This is explained eventually, but the dialogue is something else. Since I can’t post an image of the text due to it being in an H-Scene, allow me to quote some here:
I said, are you already done with me? I guess that means I’m gonna have to look for two other goblins to fuck me up and make me their bitch, cause you two are pussies!
Yes, you read that correctly. Honestly, it’s not the personality flip that bugs me, it’s the dialogue. It just seems so cheesy and over the top that it’s distracting. I found myself facepalming a lot during these scenes because of lines like this. This might not be the case for everyone, as dirty talk is a fetish. However, this just comes off as childish to me. It’s like someone trying to talk dirty. That all said, let’s wrap this thing up.
Critical Hit isn’t a bad game. I want to get that out right now. All the elements of a good kinetic novel are there. However, it’s the fine-tuning and polish that are missing. Especially when it comes to the writing. Really I think TsukiWare is still trying to find it’s voice. In a few projects, we might see some really interesting ideas from them. Score wise what really holds this back is the polish, length, and price. You can burn through this one in under five hours easy. At the $9.99 price tag, that’s almost $2 an hour and feels a little pricey to me. If this comes down to about $7 then I’d say pull the trigger. Otherwise, if you want to support a new development team who is willing to delve into the world of traps then, by all means, give the game a shot or support them via Patreon. As for Critical Hit, I’d say this falls more into the realm of just a successful strike rather than its namesake.
Review copy provided by the Publisher
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