…………………………………I thought I was done with hentai?
Yes, despite my confounding adventure into the realm of the Menagerie, I have been tasked with delving into another 18+ visual novel. Created for NaNoRenO 2015, Cute Demon Crashers is a story that is unabashedly sexual, but in a way that focuses on consent and comfort. I had this one firmly rooted in a ‘maybe I’ll get around to it’ since hentai, even the cute and cuddly sort, isn’t really my thing. But I was convinced to give it a shot despite it still being a demo with the full version coming soon.
SO, what does the Big Bad Hater of Everything Lewd think about this? That is the reason I’m doing it in blog form similar to the Menagerie instead of a video because it is an easier format to talk about its flaws.
That’s right; you heard me.
Don’t get me wrong, Crashers has its humorous moments and its approach to sexuality is distinctive and enjoyable in its own way. However, there are issues with the game that derails a lot of that good will. This is particularly amazing to me because in all of the reactions and all of the reviews of the demo I’ve seen, no one has picked up on what is missing in the game. And yet, when you realize its gone, you also realize that CDC never really gets beyond the barrier of average.
Well, I have to keep this under two thousand words to make my point in. Might as well get a move on!
Cute Demon Crashers’ greatest strength is in its sense of humor. The game refuses to take itself seriously in most cases (exceptions to be pointed out later) and infuses every possible scene with silliness from our nameable protagonist or one of the four demons. Considering the premise of a girl summoning a demonic portal in her hallway through masturbation, ‘silly’ is the best approach and it keeps the relatively short game going at a decent pace. I especially appreciate the humorous notes peppered into the sex scenes. It was one of the parts about Katawa Shoujo I enjoyed and with well-timed record scratches, I was legitimately laughing. (Poor, Poor Akki)
The technical aspects of the game are also interesting to note. CDC employs a map system to let you decide who you want to spend time with during the day, choices during the actual sex scenes to either encourage or stop the action and an button in the top right corner of the screen to literally cease coital activities if you so choose. The map is relatively useless, but the use of choices helps cement the overall theme of comfort and consent during sex, over the animalistic breeding most pop culture embraces these days. It was a nice way to teach the lesson, although it is eventually undermined. We’ll get to it.
The cast themselves aren’t very interesting as they don’t have any time to really make themselves distinctive. So it’s difficult to put a pin on Claire (our nameable protagonist) or the others outside of just ‘oh look at how cute they all are’. That would infer there is no attempt to tell a story, but that’s not exactly true. Most of your game time will be spent in a sort of Slice-of-Life tale with the demons playing games, cooking meals and brewing tea while trying to keep Claire entertained during the day. It isn’t offensive, but outside of your personal tastes, you’re not going to have any good reason to pick one demon over the others.
Now, to the negatives. To be frank: CDC lacks passion. I understand that the goal wasn’t to make some sort of hot and heavy pornography and they make it very, VERY clear there is no pressure. However, this also nearly no scenes showing actual attraction between the demons and Claire. If you spend the entire day with one particular demon, you’ll eventually get a bit of light flirting, but outside of that there is nothing there to hint that she is actually attracted to one of the beings she has a choice in banging. I’m not going to even pretend I’m the authority on sexual attraction: we all know better than that. However, without the steady build of tension and, for lack of better words, heat between Claire and one of the demons, the scene where you do pick who you’ll have sex with (IF you decide to do it) feels like ordering from a buffet. This not only derails most of the first half of the game, since it doesn’t really matter who you spend your time with before evening exercises, it affected the sex scenes for me since the only reason it’s happening is because the plot dictates it; not due to a natural course of events.
But, maybe that’s just me. I tend to over-think these things, or at least so I’m told. That’s fine since it doesn’t stop the anvils from raining onto your head. This game has a well-intended goal: to create a fictional space where clear consent and comfortable coitus is just as enjoyable as the rougher stuff. The choices during the sex scenes, as stated before, accomplish this goal very well and very subtly. However, up to that point, the game has a habit of repeating itself on the fact that there is no pressure on picking a sex buddy.
If more time had been devoted to building towards the sex scenes, then it would have been bearable. However, so much game time is invested into the Slice of Life stuff that the message lords over all and leaves your brains on the floor from the impact. If the team continues to write these type of stories, I urge them to reconsider the reliance on their message in the narrative, especially when they achieved that goal with their choices when it mattered.
So, overall, that’s Cute Demon Crashers. If I had a preferred (censored) route, it would be Akki just because it balanced the message well with some development and humor. And it was made during NaNoRenO, so some concessions have to be made due to time. The art was alright, but it’s very familiar and, like the cast themselves, doesn’t really stand out beyond the basic tropes the cast is based on. It never really feels like the game was comfortable in its own skin and to compensate it started chucking anvils at the audience: making the cute scene cuter and everything in between lacking. Considering it was done when CDC was in desperate need of hitting a stride, I walked away feeling underwhelmed. I’m sure it’ll find an audience, especially among the otome faithful. For me though, it’s a pass.
If you want to find out more information about Cute Demon Crashers, check out the game’s Tumblr page. And now that I’ve done TWO 18+ visual novel demos, maybe we can find something nice and bloody and dark and non-sexual to get us back to regular order. JP3: OUT.