Criminal Girls: Invite Only (PS Vita) Review

By Eric Ace 11.02.2015 1

Review for Criminal Girls: Invite Only on PS Vita

Criminal Girls: Invite Only is a localisation by NISA of Criminal Girls, originally on the PSP and released only in Japan. The game is a dungeon crawler RPG that has the player act as the leader of a group of girls in hell that must redeem themselves because of their sins, something that is done through a very suggestive mini-game. Meanwhile, the battle system has a very interesting 'random' attack element to it.

Criminal Girls is the type of game that when someone looks at some screenshots they may wonder what exactly kind of game it actually is! The images certainly look impossibly suggestive, and imply the game is nothing but a thin veneer hiding an excuse for perversion. Any JRPG fan would do it a disservice, though, if they found that off-putting and skipped this, as while the imagery is certainly a part of it, in fact it is only a minor part. What they would be missing is an interesting novelty in a rather stale turn-based dungeon crawl genre.

The general premise is that the player controls a person who just got a job, and that job is to supervise the redemption of seven girls who were doomed to hell for their sins in life. It's a pretty dark story actually and not something immediately apparent from the suggestive screenshots. The girls are rebellious, and the idea is to discipline them so that they might be able to rejoin life, free from their sin. A good subtlety about this is that each girl represents a different 'deadly sin' but they are not in the players face about it, and the player has to somewhat carefully think about the plot to decide what sin applies to which girl.

Screenshot for Criminal Girls: Invite Only on PS Vita

The real gold comes in the form of the battle system because the graphics are not inspired in the slightest and, ultimately, it is simply attack until the enemy goes down. However, there is a great mechanism that makes grinding fun, and plays perfectly into the game, and the battle system becomes fun. Furthermore, it is all surprisingly hard, making thinking very critical instead of just ploughing through everything, including bosses.

The genius of the battle system is simple: gamers do not choose the actions. This sounds somewhat blasphemous when nearly every RPG is picking 'fight, fight, magic, fight' over and over in every battle. Every turn, each of the four girls has a suggestion of what they will do, the player picks one suggestion, and it is carried out. Generally, each suggestion is random, so even though the girl may have her super spell that would be perfect, instead her suggestion is 'attack.' The girls start rebellious and most of their suggestions are not even attacks. It creates a good link between the battle and the story. As they level-up, their suggestions get better as well.

Screenshot for Criminal Girls: Invite Only on PS Vita

The way girls level up is…well, it's likely the reason all the screenshots are causing a stir. To put it bluntly, choose a girl to 'motivate,' which triggers a mini-game that has her in a suggestive position with pink fog floating around, and then the game begins. It is different for each mode, but basically it is simply things like touching the targets on the Vita screen, meanwhile the action represented is actions such as spanking or tickling the girl. Someone looking at just this would likely think it is a pretty questionable experience being played, but it actually ends up not being that bad, and works thematically in the game.

Now, in full disclosure, this game is censored from the original Japanese release, and for some this might be an immediate turn off. The censor is as follows: increased fog and removal of the sounds during the mini-games. Having seen the uncensored scenes, there was very little point in upsetting so many fans in what ultimately amounts to very little censoring. Yes, there is more fog, and yes the sounds are removed, but considering the entire thing of what is happening during the mini-game it's pretty trivial and surprising they even bothered.

Screenshot for Criminal Girls: Invite Only on PS Vita

Criminal Girls progresses in a way somewhat reminiscent of Dante's Inferno, going through the various locales of hell. As the girls level up in the mini-game, they get better moves and, thus, give better suggestions. They slowly go from not attacking, to doing two person attacks, to bigger hits, to eventually clearing the entire screen of enemies. It's a pretty notable system of progression that is actually felt - a rarity in a lot of games.

On top of this, it is also surprisingly hard (the game, that is). There is no equipment, so the only thing that matters is the girl's level and how much 'motivation' they have had. Dungeons are long and battles drain health and mana pretty steadily, making each trek to the next save point feel like a serious haul. Bosses are very tough and require a lot of thinking. This is one of the few games where status effects like poison and paralysis actually matter, simply because of how powerful they are. Even after grinding at the save point over and over, bosses are still relentless and a slew of items, luck, and good choices are required to win.

While Criminal Girls will likely be marred because of its 'lewd' premise or imagery, it is actually fairly good. It is not revolutionary in the graphical department or anything like that, but it brings a novelty and some fun to a genre that has grown very stale as of late because of little room for innovation. Any anime or JRPG fan really owes it to themselves to check it out, as the major points of the mini-game or the censoring that may put people off actually pales in comparison to a rather enjoyable end product.

Screenshot for Criminal Girls: Invite Only on PS Vita

Cubed3 Rating

8/10
Rated 8 out of 10

Great - Silver Award

Rated 8 out of 10

Criminal Girls: Invite Only is a surprising game and, from the looks of it, one that people might not expect much from. However, it brings a much needed novelty factor to turn-based combat in the form of random selections. The game does a decent job of tying the story and mini-game to combat as higher levels equate to better random selections. The censoring and 'lewd' aspects may put off some gamers, but it is not nearly as bad as it looks, and as a fan of the genre any player will likely enjoy the game.

Developer

imageepoch

Publisher

NIS America

Genre

Turn Based RPG

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  8/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  5/10 (1 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   

Comments

As weird as this may sound. This game looks really good!

Still unsure how they managed to release it out here. XD

( Edited 15.02.2015 15:52 by Sandy Wilson )

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