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SummaryHumorous hentai RPG that is actually fun to play?.. Sign me up!
The GoodAdult RPG is a genre virtually unknown in the West, save for Cobra Mission and this game. Like the rest of hentai industry, the genre is over-populated by crap, so don't think you've been robbed of its best incarnations because you can't read Japanese. I was actually dumb enough to play a lot of those games, trying to find something similar in quality to this one, but came back empty-handed.
Knights of Xentar is the third in a venerable series of adult RPGs created by Elf. Don't worry about having missed the other ones because you can't read Japanese; Knights of Xentar is much better than the first two.
The game's "selling point" for me was, curiously, the English translation. The writing is surprisingly good, so good in fact that I found myself interested in the dialogues more than in anything else in this game.
The writing can get very funny, and it seems than the creators' inspiration for silly jokes can never be drained. Whatever Desmond or his sidekicks Rolf and Luna say is almost guaranteed to put a smile on your face.
The game refreshingly mocks at everything that is corny, banal, and stupid in Japanese RPGs, and features (in a form of parody) every single cliche known to the genre. The list of typical RPG situations which are being mocked at here is endless. In fact, the game kicks right in with the "legendary hero" having to fulfill ancient prophecy, but only after he deals with the terrible hang-over; instead of losing his memory, he loses his underwear.
Amusing sexual innuendo and breaking the fourth wall fill the game. A typical Knights of Xentar conversation usually involves discussing stuff such as the eternal battle between Light and Darkness and you being the Chosen One, while your sidekicks make jokes about your recent encounter with a horny princess, and finally the "key character" gets angry and shouts: "Will you shut up and let me advance the plot?!" It is really hilarious to hear respectable old men in villages give you useful information in a standard Japanese RPG fashion, and then talk about collecting porn pictures.
Knights of Xentar is quite challenging in that "old-school" way. If you die in a battle, you die. That's it. No reviving items, and no miraculously returning 1 HP. If one of your party members dies, the game is over, pure and simple. Of course, you can heal, but so can the enemies! Even many random monsters are perfectly capable of casting healing spells, and almost all bosses heal themselves frantically once they feel their life is in danger. The rumors of the necessity to level up to 99 in order to have a chance in the final battle are not true (I beat the last boss without any problem at level 61), but there is certainly a good portion of leveling-up required here, a lot of planning in dungeon-crawling, and good reaction.
Yup, I said "reaction", which leads me to the best part of the gameplay: battle system. In order to spare you the tedium of "clicking" attacks, the game wisely assigns you a role of a party manager. Basically, you watch the battles, interfering when you want to cast a spell, use an item or change your strategy (at this point, the game pauses automatically). You don't have to care about simple physical attack - Desmond and Rolf will do it for you. You control Luna with her offensive and healing spells, items, and basic attack strategies: there are eight attack gauges, from the weakest to the strongest. The stronger your attack is, the more time you need to perform it - but the damage will be higher, of course.
There are also general strategies which tell the characters what to do during a battle. You can be all offensive, inflict more damage, but also suffer more damage from the enemies' blows. You can concentrate entirely on defense and let Luna blast the opponents with her magic. There is also an interesting "knowledge" mode: if you set your attack style to it, you'll learn from battles with the same opponents, and the more you fight a certain monster, the more you are familiar with his weaknesses, and the more successful your attacks will be next time you encounter it. But most importantly, you must be quick and interfere at the right moment to help your heroes, because the monsters in this game are extremely fast and can hack you to pieces right upon starting the battle if you are not careful.
This system has the great advantage of making the battles very short and exciting, and bringing a healthy element of action into otherwise slow-going kind of game.
There are many hidden items and others secrets scattered all over the place, so you might want to check every jar, every chest, and every barrel in every town to get extra money and precious items, to talk to every person in order to receive valuable information, and not to miss any girl, hoping to enjoy an erotic cut scene. The game rarely tells you exactly where to go and what to do, and is not as terribly linear as many other Japanese RPGs.
Finally, I should mention the really stylish anime cut scenes, cool retro-style graphics with a deliberate 8-bit look, and nice music. By the way, if you are afraid of excessive violence and hardcore porn that sadly dominate the hentai scene, have no fear: here, the adult content doesn't go beyond mild nude pictures.
The BadAs in most hentai games, the adult scenes themselves are repetitive; in this particular case, the difference in the quality of writing between these scenes and the rest of the dialogue is really noticeable. Basically, Desmond just gets to screw every woman he meets, and they all keep laughing at his poor performance. It is amusing the first time, but becomes annoying when it happens every time Desmond meets a girl. In the end stage of the game, I was literally hoping there will be a woman with whom Desmond won't sleep.
The quantity of those amorous encounters is not matched by their quality. The girls are too similar - they behave more or less the same, and they even look the same. I didn't meet even one girl with normal breasts in Land of Xentar - silicon must be a popular product there. There are no real situations preceding an erotic adventure - they all appear out of nowhere, as obligatory part of a town quest, all resembling each other, and without a real purpose.
Gameplay-wise, this is still a basic Japanese RPG, with random battles, automatic leveling up, and all other limitations of the genre. Also, despite the good writing, the story is nothing more but a frame for jokes. Even when the narrative throws at you plot twists and supposedly emotional moments, the nonchalant humor immediately takes over, preventing you from taking this story seriously.