Japan is not a country of prudes. I think there’s a common misconception regarding sexuality and repression in Japan due to the way that their pornography is shot, their birthrate is declining and their number of adult virgins grow. But, by and large, Japan is a lot more healthy with how they view simple things, like nudity and innuendo, than the West. But there is still a bit of a stigma about normalizing things too much, especially for fans of adult games. It’s why, when you hear about visual novels with sex scenes, it’s rarely something as simple as “date a girl, develop a relationship, maybe you’ll have sex.” It’s always a weird concept of “these eight hundred goddesses all love me, who do I choose?” or “I can stop time, so I better use it to check out my classmate’s breasts.” It gets odd, and anyone who’s been brought up outside of that culture will still find themselves stopping dead in their tracks to say “Wait, what?”
I need all of this preamble before I get into the review of Moero Chronicles, which comes to us through Compile Heart and Idea Factory. The developers are responsible for the Neptunia series, which is full of 4th wall breaking banter, suggestive dialogue and tons of fan service costumes and elements. Still, I always felt that Neptunia tended to be on the softer side of things, especially with their last installment, Sega Hard Girls, being pretty PG in terms of sexual themes. I don’t think that sex and sexually related ideas should be shameful, or held against the creators as signs of perversion and tackiness. But the sexual element of Moero Chronicles is so incredibly thick and necessary to the entire gameplay and story that, if you have any hangups about sex in your gaming, this is your warning. Don’t play it. Straight up, you won’t even make it past the first battle.
Moero Chronicle is a tale of Io, our protagonist, who realizes that he has a really hard time talking to girls. He is utterly embarrassed by talking to normal members of the opposite sex, but seems to be quite comfortable engaging with Monster Girls: that is, female, anthropomorphic representations of classic monsters and evil entities. His best friend, Lilia, is a great example of someone he can talk to, so he wonders: does this mean I’m super into monster girls? While trying to figure out what his heart and body want, the village elder reminds Io that something terrible is happening and the world may soon end. The solution? Figure out why all the monster girls who are outside the village have turned angry and aggressive. Io and Lilia embark on a quest to find out what the deal is and, along the way, “befriend” a number of Monster Girls who’ll help fight against whatever evil may be causing the disturbance. You also meet Otton, a seal who is obsessed with gathering as many panties as possible and who orgasms coins when monster girls have their clothing destroyed. I didn’t misspeak any of that, and it’s really, really relevant to the game. Read on.
The actual gameplay of Moero Chronicles is pretty layered, as far as different elements go. The main interaction with the game is a classic first person dungeon crawl: it reminded me of Eye of the Beholder, but with boobs. You explore a grid map on foot, have a lot of random encounter battles and find items, special monsters and wayward monster girls. The regular encounters are nothing special, though every single monster is sexual in nature. From the first encounter with a cow who had four, large teats to a banana with cleavage, I thought I would grow numb to the monster design, but they continually surprised me in a way that was borderline impressive. I mean, there was a Condom Golem. You can’t even make this stuff up. Monsters you defeat will sometimes join your party and go back to the Inn to wait for you, where they can help you get special items or equipment if you have a strong relationship with them. More on that in a moment.
You fight the monsters through attacks, skills and defending, and there is a four element system for strengths and weaknesses regarding skills. Getting four elemental attacks in a row causes an Aura reaction, which boosts the skills of your Monster Girls for the remainder of the fight. Io role in the fight is somewhere between a Pokemon trainer and a really creepy dude. Io can’t attack, but he can use items, call for escape, and slowly build up sexual frustration until he declares his affection on the Monster Girl he chooses, which boosts her attack for the next round. If you build up the frustration too much, however, you end up overloading and then need “calm time” to reset and reflect. The monster Girls can also charm Io, which raises his frustration faster and makes for stronger declarations. It’s certainly an interesting system, and I like that you need to make the call between “releasing” as soon as possible (frequent but weak) or storing up for even stronger boosts (but risk losing it and then needing to refract). Most of the elemental dependencies and balancing of the releases apply to the higher difficulty levels only: the main combats are hilariously simple on Easy, and you can just set up automatic combat. And the random encounters are way, way more than plenty, so you might find yourself getting pretty tired of having to fight the same five monsters again and again, even though it grinds up levels pretty fast as a result.
Fighting the Monster Girls themselves is the main story mechanic, and also the most sexualized of everything. You see, sure, you can just beat the hell out of the Monster Girls, but then they’re still possessed by dark forces and you may need to end up fighting them again and again. Instead, what you want to do is slowly destroy their clothing, which, naturally, shows up with changing visuals to their outfits. This makes Otton the seal more excited, and, once you destroy the proper pieces of clothing, his libido reaches a breaking point and it causes him to shoot gold coins everywhere, which immobilizes the Monster Girl. But that’s only part one. In order to remove the dark force entirely, you need to figure out where on the Monster Girl to rub and touch in order to fill up a meter on the left side of the screen. If you’re fast, you keep Otton excited and it causes a nudity flash and holy crap I can’t believe I’m not making any of this up. Basically if you wanna get the girls on your team and free them from the evil you gotta touch em a lot. It’s weird, straight up, but also kind of frustrating, because there’s no indication where is the right spot until you find it. Most Monster Girls have two or three spots you have to find in one minute, and I imagine it made more sense on the Vita with the touchscreen and everything. On Steam, it’s panning with the mouse or control stick as fast as possible and trying to find pretty small areas in under a minute. And you basically want to unlock all the girls because of the implication that they’re being mind controlled, and who wants that?
You will, of course, be drawn to keeping the characters with names in your party, but you’d be remiss to not venture out with an Orc or Kobold once in a while, since their different skill sets and “attributes” create some crazy combinations within the combat scene. For example, having two or more Busty monsters in your party will double the HP of your team’s leader (who is almost always Lilia). Throw in a Lolita (who’s ATK will increase as the Busty characters’ HP decreases) and, as unashamed as the different character attributes are, you end up really figuring out the pros and cons on focusing for “Animal Ears” in the party but needing to give up “Sadist’ or “Cute Butt.” When you type it all out, you realize what the hell you just spent several hours playing but, in the moment, it all just works and normalizes everything to the point of not even realizing what exactly is happening.
Naturally, Moero Chronicles also has an element of relationships that you can optionally build and improve upon. Chatting and leveling up your relationship with each Monster Girl can, as stated before, unlock special items and skills, including new pairs of panties which are how the Monster Girls change job classes. You can find several just through exploring the dungeons, but specialty jobs can only be found with the best relationships. And, for completionists, the different levels of relationship will be key to unlock the different endings. So you have to take time to engage in innuendo-laden conversation that does sometimes get sweet and endearing, like learning more about Lilia and Io’s past together. Still, you can at least achieve a somewhat decent ending with zero relationship building whatsoever, but it’s going to be important to dabble if you want to get the most out of the game.
Graphically and audio wise, Moero Chronicles is a pretty high water mark for Compile Hearts. The character voices are spot on (I adore the voice of Otton) and completely Japanese dubbed with English (and Chinese) subtitles. There’s a good amount of animation when the characters speak, and facial emoting is much higher than I’ve seen previously. The designs, though arguably sex-driven, are colorful, full of variety and well drawn. Features are accentuated but nothing is grossly hyperbolic, and the different types of Monster Girls are pretty adorable. The dungeons are pretty lo-fi, looking like the classic crawlers you might have seen on the SNES, but with higher detail once you get into combat. The first dungeon, a mushroom forest, isn’t subtle at all, but it sets the max for how laden with innuendo the graphics themselves present. Everything after that is almost nonchalant in comparison, and that’s really ok.
I applaud Moero Chronicles for a number of reasons. I love console exclusives coming to Steam, I love developers upscaling their PC ports to look awesome, and I really enjoy niche games finding homes in a massive marketplace. If you can find it in yourself to unwind about the sexual tone, you find that it’s actually a really well put-together dungeon crawler with a long maingame, over 40 achievements and a plethora of Monster Girls to encounter, rescue and then build relationships with. The voice acting is top tier, the overall soundtrack is very enjoyable, and I put in at least twenty hours before even getting my first ending. Would I play this game in front of my mother? Of course not, but I wouldn’t play most games with my mom. If you love Idea Factory and all the fanservice they create, this is an instabuy. If you want to know what it would be like to grope every Pokemon you tried to catch, this might be tempting enough for you to try. If you’re gasping in horror still at the first paragraph, then stay the hell away from this and buy literally anything else, I assure you it’s even more graphic in person. But there’s no denying this is a unique experience that I can honestly say I’ve never encountered before, and I know that this is going to make someone’s year.
REVIEW CODE: A complimentary PC code was provided to Bonus Stage for this review. Please send all review code enquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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