By Diego Hernandez / December 15th, 2021
|Release Date||October 29th, 2021|
It’s time to finally talk about Dohna Dohna. The most surprising English release of the year courtesy of our friends over at Shiravune. If you aren’t aware of this title, you’ll probably recognize the developer. Alicesoft is a household name for erotic game development as they created a little series by the name of Rance. However, that’s not all they develop. You might also recall a little game by the name of Evenicle. It had a very familiar art style to a specific ninja girl game. That’s all well and good, but what about Dohna Dohna? Well, it released last year and had some hype behind it for its colorful presentation. We all just sort of put it in the back of our minds to get ready for it whenever it’s announced, maybe a couple years down the line. Fortunately, it’s now here and it’s time to review it.
A first glance at Dohna Dohna’s story would lead you to believe that it is just your average fight against an evil corporation. Furthermore, that you would traverse the open world and collect upgrades and levels, defeat several minions, and progress to the final boss and liberate society. Oh, how wrong you’d be in that case. To fight corruption on the scale of a corporation that took over everything, you’ve got to work in the shadows. Despite the colorful presentation, it’s time to get your hands exceedingly dirty if you’re serious about getting back at these scumbags. For all the color in the world of Dohna Dohna, none fit it more than the color black. For there are two ways you’re going to survive out here: Hunting and Hustling. You’ve got mouths to feed, and money doesn’t grow on trees. Luckily for you, society has a lot of pent up frustrations.
While you’re out here developing relationships with your comrades in the fight for what’s right and clearing a bunch of areas, there’s a lot of bad things happening to make it all succeed. The game will constantly remind you of the hell you’re putting your talent through. As a result, it’s constantly putting you through the motions of thinking about whether what you’re doing is right. In addition, during this psychological struggle, the game presents all the work in such a colorful format that it can even be disturbing through the first couple hours of the game. Especially as you witness some of the unique heroines mentally deteriorate with every event you clear, as they slowly wake up mentally and smell the roses. It’s chaotic as hell and that’s how they hook you. As for what that says about me as a person, who can really say?
What really helps this type of story is having a very strong cast of characters. Usually this means your party members, but the game, as a whole, presents several different people in such a way that you get invested in who they are. Whether it’s the flirty merchant, all the unique hustle talent, the psychotic gang leader, the Joker, the list goes on. The characters within this game are so memorable through their interactions that their development, which there’s so much of, perfectly complement this chaotic world. Furthermore, on the subject of chaos, some of that development also feeds into how messed up the world is. I’ll stress this now, Dohna Dohna, despite the colorful presentation, is not a game for the faint of heart. When I say these characters go through hell, they go through hell and come back and meet up with another demon the next day.
Dohna Dohna is inherently clever as well, because you can be presented such an awful turn of events, but if you leveled up any of your buddies, you might get a heartwarming scene with them that really boosts morale. It can also boost something else, if you catch my drift. This is a thing that happens very often, especially when you have so many girls in the main cast. I’ve used the term emotional rollercoaster in other reviews, but I daresay that Dohna Dohna is the textbook definition of it because of how often the situation happens. You tend to lose yourself in the moment before you receive a figurative slap to the face, reminding you that you have horrifying work to do, with more cutscenes serving as a reminder that you’ve got a very good reason for doing all of this. To clarify, this game destroyed me.
So while I deal with this psychological dilemma, let’s talk about the gameplay. Usually, I don’t get to talk about that since I review visual novels. This is a very special occasion with a very special subject. For starters, Dohna Dohna has no difficulty setting. This can be very good for a lot of people, and worrisome for others. This’ll be relevant as the game is split into two forms. First is a pimping simulator, where you carefully evaluate your talent and clientele and run sabermetric mathematics in your head to determine how you can get the most effective dollar per performance. The other half is your run-of-the-mill dungeon crawler which supplies, not just your party, but your talent with a lot of very useful items. Early on you’ll be spending a lot of time in this half just making sure your talent can even compete with the competition.
Remember how I said there’s no difficulty setting? It’s because Alicesoft did something very amazing that a lot more developers should look into. For you see, the difficulty is self-determined. There are achievements for beating the game in a certain number of in-game days. While the casual player will, and should, take their time to assess everything before charging into everything like a barbarian, it is a fun thing to tell your player base that, if you play your cards right, you can totally beat it very fast. Putting the challenge in the back of your mind can be all the push someone needs. I like this approach a lot and hope to see more of it in games. Especially in this kind of game with a lot of micromanagement involved. If I could say something about it to sum it up, I’d say it’s a nightmare.
In order to get money, you have to hustle. Unfortunately, there’s a lot of things to consider here, so bear with me. It’s not just selling the hottest babes. No sir, if you’ve got a hottie with no technique, that’s only going to net you enough money to buy a chili dog. Oh, now you’ve worked her hard to be a good looking girl with a good semblance of sexual skill. Guess what? Her mental state is getting worse! If you don’t make her happy, she’s going to get mind broken and ruined. Oh, did I also forget to mention that you better make sure you have pills on you? If she gets pregnant, that’s going to seriously hurt her productivity. What you have just read is what I call the early-game-hell portion of Dohna Dohna. This sucks, but it’s so well done that I’m speechless.
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