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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 series of adult RPGs created by Elf. Don't worry about having missed the other ones because you can't read Japanese: it's 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. Those conversations 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 can get quite challenging in that particular old-school way. If you die in a battle, you die. That's it. No reviving items, 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 portion of grinding required here, a lot of planning for 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 attacks - Desmond and Rolf will do it for you. You control Luna with her offensive and healing spells, items, and basic attack choices: 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 some 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, talk to every person in order to receive valuable information, and not to miss any girl, hoping to enjoy an erotic cutscene. The game rarely tells you exactly where to go and what to do, and is not as terribly linear as most other Japanese RPGs.
Finally, I should mention the really stylish anime cutscenes, 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 have his way with 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, without a real purpose.
Gameplay-wise, Knights of Xentar is still a basic Japanese RPG, with means incessant random battles, automatic leveling up, simplistic customization and all other limitations of the genre. It does have a certain old-school appeal and its battle system makes thing proceed as quickly and as painlessly as it can - but in the end, the game is very bare-bones, sorely lacking those extras that made Final Fantasy games much more rewarding.