Review | Criminal Girls: Invite Only
Criminal Girls: Invite Only is a new JRPG that’s sure to draw a lot of fire for certain aspects of the gameplay, specifically the “Motivation” scenes that we’ll get into later. Before we begin discussing that, however, let’s take a look at the game’s premise.
In Criminal Girls: Invite Only you take on the role of a male warden who apparently, for reasons unknown, decided to apply for a job posting promising a grand payout of $0.00 per hour. To make matters worse, your job is, quite literally, Hell. It’s all up to you to help seven girls who have “Criminal DNA” (known as delinquents) fight their way through, with the goal of saving their souls and reforming them into model citizens.
As you can tell the stakes are quite high, and your character seems to want the best for these ladies. They, however, really don’t give a crap about you, and absolutely refuse to listen to you. This is where the game’s combat comes in.
Criminal Girls: Invite Only features a somewhat unique combat system. Where most RPGs give you several menus in which you can carefully select the best moves (or items to utilize) for the situation. In this game, however, you don’t really get that option, and it makes sense in context; The girls despise and refuse to listen to you, remember?
As a result, you’ll be granted four options during each round of combat, with each of your four party members offering up what they feel like doing. Some may simply want to dish out physical attacks, some may want to heal, some may want to dish out powerful magical attacks, and some may even want to do absolutely nothing. From these options you’ll need to select the best move for the situation.
This combat system can make the game frustrating at times, as the characters may not suggest the action you need to clinch a battle, and thus causing things to drag out, but the AI is fairly intelligent. For example, if you have a character with a heal spell and your party is damaged, chances are good that that character will offer to heal the party for you. Conversely, if your party is full health, the heal option will rarely, if ever, appear. The sheer unpredictability of the combat makes it essential to plan two or three moves ahead if you don’t want to be creamed by some of the more difficult enemies.
The most controversial part of the game is, without question, the way in which the girls obtain new abilities to utilize in battle. This “Motivational system” is brought into play early and puts the girl you choose in a suggestive pose as you launch a mini-game. The mini-games include electro shock, whipping, and even dripping water on the girls to destroy their temptations and thus unlock new, more powerful moves for them to utilize. As you successfully destroy the temptations, more of the purple fog lifts, revealing even more of the image.
These methods of “Motivation”, which are also forms of torture, are sure to have many screaming “misogyny!” though I won’t comment on our opinion on that here. If we were to discuss that, it would be in a completely different opinion piece.
Criminal Girls: Invite Only is an interesting title that, perhaps, bases a bit too much on fan service. That said, the interesting combat and story (“Reform these people into model citizens” is certainly different than the standard “Save the world” approach many games utilize, after all) prevent the game from becoming too dull. If you can overlook the blatant sexual content will find a solid 20 or so hour RPG in the mix, and those who love this type of content will likely really love the game. Unfortunately, some narrative missteps and design choices prevent the title from achieving its true potential.
What we’re left with is a game with enjoyable combat, a somewhat entertaining story, and some uncomfortable (though not to all) scenes that would likely cause far more of a protest had they been in a higher profile release (though I will note that I’ve always found it somewhat… funny, for lack of a better word, that content like this is perfectly fine in books, movies, and the like without censoring). This combination makes Criminal Girls: Invite Only a slightly above average title.
Final Score: 3/5