I initially had some problems with Valhalla Knights 3 with its Sexy Time system. Still, that didn't keep me from clocking in well over 120 hours of gameplay time. Just a 120 hours!
While I was turned off by the Japanese hostess club-ish game system of paying a cover charge to talk to girls and then, after spending a certain amount of money on the store, given the opportunity to touch them, I still had the choice not to engage. And besides, the other aspects of the gameplay were enjoyable and addictive enough. Then I tried out some of the DLC...
The particular DLC in question was a quest titled "The Dream Harem" (夢のハーレム). The basic outline is that you are asked by someone to find a secret clan that is rumoured to consist of beautiful women. Searching through the prison home base, you find a member who says she will introduce you to the other members if you go to a specific location. You go there and the clan members say that if you can defeat them in combat, they will do anything you say.
Upon beating the clan, you are offered 3 options: You can either have them give you money, have them give you items, or have them take off their clothes. Wait, what? Yes, much like the Sexy Time "reward" system, by defeating this clan of women, you can make them take off their clothes and pose in their underwear for you.
Now, as eye-rollingly childish as this seems, it alone would not have made me stop playing a game. After all, I can always choose one of the other options and be on my way. While I may not agree with the inclusion of such a pandering system in a game that would work fine without it, having the choice whether or not to partake is consequently much better than outright censorship of such content. But then, Valhalla Knights 3 crossed the line.
In this quest, you have no choice but to choose the third option — make them disrobe. Even if you select the first or second options, the dialog box returns, minus the option you've chosen, until you tell the clan to take off their clothes. Even if you say to yourself, "Hmm… I don't want to be an arse and force these women to strip." But you have no choice but to. Basically, what it comes down to is that your choice ends the moment you accept the quest.
Here's my beef: I have always had a problem when a role playing game offers you a choice and then rescinds its offer after your choice has been made. A lot of RPGs are guilty of this, but the better ones will do it deftly by adding circumstance that will nullify your choice through a natural progression so you don't have to feel like you're breaking character or by showing you through the story why you must make a certain choice.
This, on the other hand, pretty much came out of nowhere, like offering you a vacation and once you're on the plane, telling you there will be an unscheduled stop at the bottom of the ocean.
What added insult to injury was that the choice in question involved something with which I disagree. It was preferable with the stores where I could choose whether or not take up the offer of Sexy Time or even whether to shop at those vendors or not. It's like life — there may be stuff around you that you disagree with, but you don't have to get involved if you don't want to. While it all takes place in an imaginary digital world which is only as real as I imagine it, it still left a terrible aftertaste in my mouth. It felt like it was basically forcing me to be a sexual predator when I didn't want to be. Or as my friend Harris said, "So they put 'but thou must' into sexual harassment... Lovely."
Forcing me to make a choice I didn't want to, was the last straw. While the quest was DLC and not part of the main game, it still felt like the developers did not care about who I wanted to be in their game. Perhaps I'll revisit Valhalla Knights 3 when I'm feeling a little less sore. For now, however, the game currently sits in a drawer while I pursue other games with a little more choice.
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To contact the author of this post, write to cogitoergonihilATgmail.com or find him on Twitter @tnakamura8.