Say what you will about Nitro+Chiral and their games, but beneath all the angst, leather, and dubious consent are some pretty introspective stories. Sure, their games tend to be on the darker and edgier side of things, taking readers to some less than savory places, but when it really gets down to it there is always an underlying message that serves as the lifeblood of their stories. In Sweet Pool the story explores the inevitability of fate and the difference between being pulled along by forces beyond your control or embracing your lot in life. While Dramatical Murder takes a few notes from Freud in its exploration of the human psyche…among other things… So, going into Togainu no Chi I was prepared for a dark, yet thought provoking story… and let’s see if it lived up to expectations.
It was only a matter of time before I unearthed another boys love title from among the NaNoRenO 2020 submissions. I’ve said this before, but it deserves repeating—boys love games tend to fall into one of two categories—comedy or angsty drama. There are a few exceptions, but for the most part if you take any given boys love title you can pretty much place it neatly into one of those two categories.
Sayumi101’s boys love visual novel, Flour Hour falls squarely into the latter category—even the synopsis describes it as a “light-hearted (probably unnecessarily drama-heavy) BL”. And I’m not going to lie, Flour Hour reads like an angsty, drama heavy 90’s boys love manga, touching on just about every cliche in the book and yet I couldn’t help but get invested in story and characters Sayumi and their team created.
The game follows Yuki, a reserved baker who has taken over his ailing grandmother’s flower shop and turned it into a moderately successful bakery. Things are going well for him until a Lawyer informs him that he owes a considerable amount of money and that if he can’t pay, he will have to turn over the property. But, with the shop’s meager earnings, he isn’t sure he will be able to come up with the money in time… to add insult to injury, his ex suddenly bulldozes his way back into his life stirring up feelings Yuki thought he had long since buried.
Black Monkey Pro is the gift that just keeps on giving. After their disbandment back in 2015, I thought I was done with the company and their… unique boys love game offerings. But, lo in 2017, a kind reader informed me that BMP had risen from the ashes and re-branded themselves as Herculion, retaining many of the original staff. But, the cherry on top of this delightful revelation is that they were already hard at work on their “first” boys love visual novel, Full Service. Given my less than enthusiastic opinion of BMP’s previous titles, I was wary of anything remotely related to the BMP brand, but I played the first demo for the game and I was genuinely surprised by how much I enjoyed it—I found that I was actually looking forward to the official release!
Full Service follows Tomoki Nakamoto, a workaholic looking for a little excitement in his life. One day, he gets invited to visit the local spa, where he meets a group of hunky masseurs who are more than happy to help him relieve a little excess stress. Suddenly his mundane life is about to get much more exciting.
*There are some uncensored NSFW images towards the end of this review*
My Burning Heart is a story set in a 1001 Nights world.
Our protagonist, Adnan, gets sold as a slave and, instead of being sent to work in the fields, as he expected, he ends up in a Sultan’s harem… Although they try to trick him with good words and promises of being well fed and no physical punishments, he decides to comply with the Sultan’s orders… but only while he plans his escape from the palace.
As a Black gamer I tend to shy away from games that depict slavery, for obvious reasons—it makes me uncomfortable. Especially when slavery is depicted in romance themed games, since there is a degree of power imbalance that undermines any perceived notion of consent, because lets be real for a second—slaves cannot defy the whims of their masters, and as such are subject to whatever treatment their masters see fit. I take particular offense to games that tend to sexualize the relationship between a master and a slave, because by definition these relationships are inherently non consensual, since slaves don’t have the agency to reject the advances of their masters.
So, I find myself in a bit of a dilemma with Ertal Games’s Arabian nights themed visual novel, My Burning Heart—its very premise is built on the dubious consent of a slave/master relationship—the protagonist, Adnan, is brought to the palace of the sultan to be his new harem slave. Despite the benevolence of his master, Adnan plots to escape his comfortable life in the palace, but in order to do so he will need to give himself over to the Sultan. *internal scream*
My Black Monkey Pro game reviews have been getting an awful lot of views lately, which I find rather amusing considering the amount of pure unabashed vitriol I spew in my reviews for their… delightful boys love offerings. It’s no secret that I wasn’t really a fan of their shallow smut filled games, and I wasn’t all that sad to see the company disband back in 2015. They’ve since re-branded themselves under the name Herculion and recently released their first official title, Full Service, which looks to be an improvement on their previous BMP formula.
While I wasn’t really a fan of Sleepover or the Bacchikoi series, I do acknowledge that there is a market for BL games that sacrifice their stories for the instant gratification of sweet sweet smut. I’d be lying if I said my inner fujoshi didn’t enjoy hanky panky with my boys love, but where BMP kind of had the monopoly on the English language Boys Love gaming scene back in the day, today there are quite a few game publishers and indie developers that have stepped up to fill the void… and they’re worth checking out!
Blerdy Otome is an otome games and visual novel review site that runs on Black Girl Magic and Dreams. While I mostly focus on romance themed games, I’ve been known to cover a wide range of nerdy and otaku themed topics.
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