It was with a sense of dread that I took on the review of Criminal Girls: Invite Only and to be completely honest with you all. I did so blindly, it’s been a while since I was able to take on a proper Dungeon Crawler and that was enough to twist my head.
Only then when I did a bit of an internet search did the fears arrive, this was going to be worse than Monster Monpiece, a game that had amazing mechanics, wonderful gameplay but was all but ruined by pointless mini games aimed at immature teens and their fantasies. But it looked very tame compared to what I was seeing here in Criminal Girls.
So before I get into the main aspects of the game, let me first talk about ‘those parts’. Sometimes the girls will slack off and become unmotivated to fight for you, so it is up to you to find ways to motivate them. Which pretty much sees you needing to titillate each girl to bring her back to her best.
This is in the form of a poking, prodding and rubbing type mini-game very similar to that in the aforementioned Monster Monpiece. Your girls have a thick pink fog over them and if you follow the onscreen instructions correctly, you will make the fog disperse and reveal more of your girl on the screen, in a very provocative position and all of a sudden in not much clothing.
It doesn’t go as far as literally masturbating your Vita, as it does in that other game, but visually it is just as you’d expect. You are rewarded fully for your actions too, as your girls can earn bonuses to then use in battle.
Again, it really must be a culture thing, because I really cannot see the appeal in this part of the game, so I am not going to condemn it completely, but for how often it is needed throughout the game, it is clear that the developers didn’t think the game could sell without forcing these parts down our throats. It would have been much easier to swallow, had it been a bit less frequent. Because in the end it is taking away from a very, very solid game.
I won’t delve into the story, because at Gamestyle, we don’t like to ruin anybodies enjoyment with spoilers, but what I can say, is that the characters themselves and the general premise is rather entertaining and makes you want to carry on despite the oddity of the mini-game sections. But that is something these games always seem to be able to produce…Very good, if nonsensical stories and characters.
The mechanics too are pretty damned good, but don’t do much to deviate from the tried and tested formula. You have a party, with each character having their own strengths and weakness, you move around various dungeons engaging in battles with the enemy.
Once in a battle you find yourself using a turn-based mechanic, with various basic attacks, heavy attacks, defensive moves, special moves with every calculated using the traditional HP and MP methods.
As much as this doesn’t do much to push the boundaries of the dungeon crawler, it does make it accessible to most players, experienced or not and also allows for players to enjoy the story and concentrate on progressing, rather than getting bogged down in overly complicated battles.
It really is a shame that the ‘motivation’ parts are so frequent, because aside from being overly sexual, they just aren’t very good. It could have been pushing bales of straw around a field and it would still be a bit rubbish, which again seems to back up my opinion that this is only here to create a little controversy and get certain crowds to buy the game, rather than selling it off its own strengths.
Which is a shame, because other games do this much better, looking at something like Demon Gaze, which again tries to play to male fantasies, but keeps that away from the gameplay itself and contains it within the story, making it much easier to cope with.
That being said, for the most part Criminal Girls: Invite Only is a really well crafted game that does all the basics right. It is just up to you as to whether you can get over certain aspects.