Impressive and important, but where's the fun?
The GoodDes Blood
was an important milestone for Illusion
. It was a technological break-through for the company, and certainly the most advanced and impressive hentai game of its time. It started the company's longest-running series, and was the first attempt to merge hentai content with an engine taken from Western adventures, as well as shooting sequences.
There are many things to like in Des Blood
. It is clear that the developers wanted to tell a serious story, rather than just throw a bunch of porn pictures at the player and be done with that. Des Blood
manages to convey a captivating atmosphere of a cruel futuristic world, with crime going rampant, and eroticism being inseparable from violence and corruption. The game continues the topics touched upon in Kankin
, and earlier game by Illusion
. But Des Blood
is a much more impressive game, surprisingly advanced technologically, almost to the point of being on par with mainstream games.Des Blood
adopts the FMV technology, and does it very well. The game is composed of static pre-rendered backgrounds and FMVs that display character navigation, or serve as cut-scenes. Both the backgrounds and the FMVs are remarkably well-done, making Des Blood
visually much more pleasant and better-aged game than its first two fully 3D sequels
The soundtrack is also of a high quality and captures the mood perfectly. The various musical compositions never feel out of place, always serving to emphasize the atmosphere of the location they accompany.
The story is quite interesting and well-developed, involving typical sci-fi themes such as mutations, threat from outer space, etc., and also not shying away from gruesome scenes, which fit the dark, futuristic setting very well.
Finally, the hentai scenes are probably the best Des Blood
has to offer, and some of the best in the history of adult games. Most of the scenes are erotic rather than pornographic, sexy rather than obscene. In fact, the term hentai
might even not be the most exact one to apply to the sex scenes in Des Blood
, since it is usually associated with hand-drawn art. Des Blood
is the first game in hentai history that doesn't feature the typical anime-style pictures, but instead displays all its sex scenes as pre-rendered 3D movies.
The problem with Des Blood
is that it's simply not fun to play. Its engine cripples the game, and the action sequences fail to entertain. The result is gameplay that doesn't satisfy in any aspect.Des Blood
has a navigation system taken from Myst
and similar adventure games: each location is a collection of pre-rendered images, and all you can do is move from one to another by clicking on directional arrows shown on the screen. I was never a fan of this system, but it worked for Western-style adventure games, in which background detail was important, containing interactive spots, puzzles, clues, etc. The problem is that Des Blood
has none of that. There are no puzzles or other adventure-related challenges, and nearly no interaction with the game world, if we disregard the very few places with a lonely hand cursor. Basically, the entire game is jumping from screen to screen, but without anything to do
on those screens. The game world feels therefore empty and sterile, failing to immerse the player. Direction system is horrible; you can get lost in a location with just a few screens, only because the navigation is so confusing, with arrows pointing one way and actually taking you another, "skipping" screens that look as if they contained something, placing you at awkward angles, etc.
Perhaps this would have been tolerable if the game didn't have the shooting sequences. While you are struggling against the navigation system, enemies keep attacking you with maddening persistence. Battles are triggered when the player presses certain directional arrows. The big problem here is that the same enemies will appear again at exactly the same place, even if you have eliminated them before. You can never clear out an area. Enemies will attack no matter what you do, and it becomes extremely annoying to navigate your character when you know that the smallest turn can suddenly trigger a fight. After a while, this really got to me, and I noticed I was not having fun.
Taken as they are, the shooting sequences are badly done and pointless. Shooting chaotically moving sprites over-imposed on a pre-rendered background is not fun. There is no strategy required beside shooting and reloading as quickly as possible. Shooting enemies doesn't bring anything - no experience points, no money, no items. It is simply a nuisance that tries to pass for a main gameplay element.
Most of the game is spent visiting familiar locations, trying to figure out the trigger that will put a new location on the map, therefore advancing the story. It is rarely obvious what the next destination is, and the game suffers from a "trigger problem" typical for Japanese adventures. Story progression is slow and unexciting, with too much time spent "depleting" locations on the map until a new destination appears.
There are plenty of other, less significant problems - stiff animation in the FMVs, lack of dramatic direction during cut-scenes, bad voice acting (lack of different actors for different characters is clearly noticeable), no emotional connection to the protagonist, certain pointless sex videos which are there for no good reason, etc.
For the record, most of these criticisms do not apply to the fourth installment
of the series. The fourth game has interesting locations which can be explored in a normal way; it has likable characters and excellent cut-scenes; and the shooting sequences, while not exactly the epitome of action gaming, are by far less annoying and are better integrated into the rest of the game.
The Bottom LineDes Blood
could become the best hentai game ever if its gameplay were on par with its technological and artistic merits. But the sad truth is that, with all its undeniable achievements, Des Blood
doesn't really work either as adventure or as an action game. The shooting sequences are pointless and annoying, clashing with the navigation system so badly that the game turns into a tedious exercise. Des Blood
is an interesting example of a hentai game done by very talented people, but if you want a fun
adult action-adventure, go straight to Des Blood 4