I wish I wasn’t invited.
Despite Sony’s aggressive campaign to make the Vita into a failure, I’ve quite enjoyed the handheld over the years.
However, in the recent months it feels as though the Vita’s new release library has become overly saturated with fan service fluff like the Senran Kagura titles and now the worst of the bunch, Criminal Girls: Invite Only.
Platforms: Vita Exclusive.
Voice Acting: JPN only.
Demo Availability: N/A
Played: 13 hours.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again and again as long as it remains relevant that fan service in video games to me is neither a distinctive positive nor a negative.
However, in this title the fan service is most definitely a negative, and the reason behind that lies in its presentation.
It’s represented in a series of incredibly tedious touch-based mini games that force the player to repeat the same actions over and over again using the front and back touch screens of the Vita.
There’s also the fact that these events boil down to the player character making the girls strip/cosplay and lightly torture them to make them fight for him, so at least we know from a concept standpoint, it’s a hundred percent classy.
I swear, those who are looking for examples of misogyny in video games will have a field day here, regardless of the fact that it’s not really promoting violence to women, it’s just being a really dumb game.
If the laundry list of mandatory mini-games weren’t bad enough, there’s the core combat mechanic where the player is given suggestions by the girls to execute, and not is actually in direct command of their moves/attacks.
So, while there are four characters that are able to attack, all the choices that they might give you could be to attack with two or maybe even just one of them, missing out on a ton of damage.
It gets even worse when we consider the fact that the girls all learn a great number of passive/active skills as they’re continuously “motivated”, and the scenario in which they can even suggest the usage of those skills is never made clear within the game.
Add to that the fact that the cost to “motivate” the girls grows exponentially, and it becomes absolutely necessary for the player to grind through the same random encounters over and over again just to have a chance at downing the more difficult boss.
After about five hours of rinse and repeat, I realized that the ones who were being tortured weren’t those girls, but me all along.
That revelation aside, I hoped that as I progressed through hell the levels would become more complex and interesting like those in the Etrian Odyssey games, and while they certainly became longer, they never became any more interesting.
Just a series of dead ends and locked doors with a handful of inconsequential treasure chests littered throughout the area.
Lastly, none of the characters were likeable in any way, and given that there’s a cast of nine girls, the fact that I found none of them fun or interesting is a testament to the abysmal writing and character designs.
Criminal Girls: Invite Only is most likely a title that will be condemned for its slightly misogynistic undertones, but in truth it should be denounced for its shoddy game play, bland characters and unambitious level designs.
Fun Tidbit – It’s worth noting that this game has been censored and the Japanese voice clips during the “motivation” scene has been removed entirely along with adding more fog effects to obscure the lewd pictures.
Review copy of game provided by publisher.