MMDL review (base game)
My Magical Demon Lover is a yaoi visual novel (VN) written for the Renpy system (bundled) published by Y-Press Games.
MMDL uses the Renpy system, which is a good choice for VNs. Renpy offers cross-platform support and usually has a few standard hotkeys to proceed in text, skip already seen text, has a save/load system (with enough slots) and some screen options as well as sound and music support.
You can use the mouse and hotkeys to advance in the story and make choices.
Options aren't many, but the basics are covered. Moreover, you won't need really much in terms of options for this type of games.
If you're new to the matter you shouldn't expect some AAA title with 3D graphics. It's hand-drawn 2D comic style graphics and text that plays similar to an adventure game, maybe with less detail and choices; thus it is a "visual novel".
4 and a half / 5 demon horns.
game contents - sound effects:
Let's start with sound and music for this is covered quickly: There aren't many sounds, let alone even voice acting. The few sounds come as ogg-vorbis files, which is nice since this would allow possible modding. But mind you, there are really few of them.
Quality is okay.
Some more sound effects would have been nice to be used throughout the story or to underline certain events. For the horny among you: No, there is no moaning. :(
Note: The credits mention soundtrack voicing, but I haven't found any. It seems there is some stand-alone package to be purchased separately that might contain sound samples of voicing but that comes at a price and I am wary when it comes to extra pay-downloads, micro-transactions and the like. Especially if I am not sure the content is worth it.
2 / 5 demon horns.
game contents - music:
Music-wise it is little better. Technically it comes as wav files, which is a little overkill since that blows up the download in size. On the other hand the very music consists of a few short "topic" pieces that usually are played during encounters with the individual incubi/demons. The pieces are short (average 15 seconds) and thus repetitive (usually played in loops). Some of them are just slightly modified variants of others.
2 and a half / 5 demon horns.
game contents - artwork:
Artwork - probably the most important part (besides the story) in a visual novel.
Technically it follows the usual Renpy-VN-system: Draw some backgrounds for different surroundings and put in the protagonist's sprites with varying facial expressions that fit the current dialog.
The background images are fairly well drawn, though there aren't too many different locations. The endings are a little short, and you don't receive some bonus image or a kind of trophy.
The character drawings are mostly cute and handsome, which probably is the greatest strength of the game. Art-wise it is good comics or manga style graphics. You can obtain a better impression from the advertising screenshots.
The entire game is censored, or better pre-censored, means no real bits were ever drawn.
That leads to awkward looking scenes occasionally and is a bit frustrating. Suggestive scenes can be quite entertaining, too, but here some scenes just look silly that way.
The successor "to trust an incubus" is better in that regard, once you apply the de-censor fix. (It was drawn but then blurred out, you can obtain the original gfx and patch the goodness back into the game.)
Would have been 4 horns, but one went totally limp because of the nasty
censorship and thus it is 3 / 5 demon horns.
game contents - characters and story:
Characters and Story make it a novel at all, so let's look at them for a conclusion of this review.
First we have Tristan, our main protagonist. He's the character you guide through the story. He's quite a cute one.
Then there is his grandpa Percival, who a cunning mage and, as you find out quickly, out for erotic adventures.
Looking at the game's title and advertisements, you'd expect some demon-creatures, of course and there are three of them: Harse, who is handsome and rather kind but also passionate. Soren the tailor, who is a bit quirky and submissive. And finally Karn, who clearly shows his rough edges and is a very dominant type.
You choose one of the incubi to bond with very early in the game.
There does not seem to be any competitive build up of romances, nor is there any polygamy option. Once you decided to try with one - you're set and you have to replay from the beginning (or near-beginning with a saved game) to try the other options.
During the development of the story you will likely get closer with the chosen demon and also uncover some aspects of their past.
Of course one can't expect some awesome work of classic literature here, but it serves the purpose and makes you curious to discover more. And each one is worth to be played through. There are humorous parts every now and then which lighten up things.
Every incubus will feature similar scenes with the same backgrounds, so there is a sorcery event, a first encounter event, a bathtub event and so on for every single incubus. The scenes differ for each demon.
E.g. the bathtub scene with Harse is passionate lovemaking (with graphics censored down to silliness the text is still uncensored), Soren the shy demon can pass without any further interaction or rely to a specific fetish of him, while Karn gives Tristan a BDSM session that ends in a good milking and leaves Tristan squirming during post orgasm stimulation.
There are several choices among each path between the dialogue. As usual, there is an option to skip already seen text if you reload an older saved game.
It remains unclear if all the choices actually influence the story, some might lead to indifferent results and thus aren't real choices. The possible story branching does not seem to go very far.
Probably you obtain approval points (not visibly) and disapproval, and this is probably checked at a few scenes within the game. (there seem to be two to four variables for each demon that are modified upon choices and checked irregularly)
Sometimes it is also uncertain what the outcome might be, you choose an answer but it's hard to guess what will happen. Sometimes the possible answers are similar, and sometimes you might end up with an unexpected result.
3.5 out of 5 demon horns.
The VN doesn't seem to feature any mini-games. Those might not be necessary for a VN, but could have been fun if done well and put in the right places.
As mentioned in graphics, when you finish the game there is hardly any trophy. And sadly, you can't play in the pleasure realm. ;-)
Tech: Renpy-ware, thus it is okay and runs smooth most times. Good cross-platform support. 4.5 / 5
Input system: Simple, but works. 4.5 / 5.
Menus, options: Not much, but okay for this genre. 4.5 / 5.
Sound: Too few. 2 / 5.
Music: Very little and repetitive but it does the job. 2.5 / 5.
Artwork: cute and mostly good, but censored 3 / 5.
Story: has interesting moments for each character (+), humor (+), not much branching (-), no multi-romance (-), endings are hardly elaborated (-) 3.5 / 5.
Verdict / what to improve:
The game is fairly entertaining, the artwork itself is mostly good, but there is a lot of wasted potential.
Most pressing issues are that really stupid censorship, the short endings and the little use of sound.
While the game is rather low-priced (around ten US-dollars) it would still be good if Y-Press Games would simply update the game's contents without too much hassle. At least a de-censored version would be good and they wouldn't even have to rewrite much code, mostly it boils down to updating the png files and just overwriting the censored ones - like they had it with TTAI as an optional package.
However, this one probably is one of their early creations and it shows that there is potential and a team to be reckoned with for future releases.