Steam's First Uncensored Sex Game Is Actually Pretty Tame

Kindred Spirits on the Roof was touted as being the first 'erotic game' released on Steam in its original uncensored format, but anybody seeking out this girl-on-girl visual novel for base titillation is going to find themselves sorely disappointed.

If you found yourself interested in Kindred Spirits' cute aesthetic but were worried about the sexual content, don't be too concerned. Anyone who's played Dragon Age or or read an M-rated fanfiction will have seen about just as much action. I've gotten a good 20 hours played on my Steam clock at the point of writing, and the most heart-racing scene I've encountered so far is one girl getting her hair braided by her crush.

Sexual scenes found 10 plus hours further act as lengthy epilogues to the couples overcoming their aversion to communication. By the time you get that far into the game you will be so invested in the characters from your adventures together that I hope you'd be rooting them on. All these lovestruck girls deserve each other.

Unlike the usual romantic visual novels formats, like in most otome games, Kindred Spirits' different storylines all occur in tandem during a single playthrough. You aren't expected to restart the game to see through all the different routes, which is what normally happens in dating sim style games. Instead all the couples' stories occur during a single timeline with you bouncing around different perspectives.

You start out with a calendar and a main route, which introduces the premise of the two ghostly lovers who manifest on the school roof in front of Yuna, a reclusive second year student. This is where you start out the game, in Yuna's head. These friendly gay spirits don't like to be forceful: they just want to help foster existing feelings between the living girls at school, in order to make up for their lost time together.

Since they can't interact with the physical world, they need Yuna to help them. Yuna just wants to be left alone, so she goes along temporarily with the ghosts to avoid persistent haunting. This is how Yuna becomes the meddler that the ghosts recruit in order to fulfil their yuri utopia. Err, "yuritopia."

While playing Kindred Spirits, it's hard to shake off some of my hang-ups about the yuri genre. Most of the yuri games I've seen can be predominantly pandering to a male gaze, much like 'boys love' games end up pandering to a female gaze when compared to games made more with gay men in mind. Kindred Spirits isn't as easily labelled.

It features cute, painterly art unlike the bright gradient washes found in hentai game aesthetic usually carried over to male-marketed yuri games. And since the girls are all in relationships with each other instead of with a time-bending player character it feels like their stories have some agency, too.

Kindred Spirits didn't blatantly objectify its characters during the sex scenes, the girls come off as equal participants. Reading through them is more akin to awkward YA novel heavy petting, where most of the written content is in the head of one of the characters who is panicking and trying to figure out what they're expected to do in these situations.

As a former teen it's very familiar territory. If anything, Kindred Spirits feels extremely tame as far as it being perceived as "uncensored porn" because of its Steam release marketing.

And as far as "uncensored" goes, a game like this only features women cuddling and getting each other off with their tops removed, while any lower body parts are always tastefully covered. It isn't really comparable to the kind of games with scenes featuring full penetration. This is why we can't really put Kindred Spirits in the same bucket as other "sex" games, especially when using it as a sign that maybe Steam will open up the gates for more 18+ content in the future with this precedence. Valve still seems pretty dick averse.

At this point you might think "then why is the sex even necessary in the first place?" I wonder about that myself and then I remember another overbearing yuri theme: pureness. Yuri stories aimed at women often remark that, 'Oh this is just pretend love; these girls are just practising before they have to get married; young women don't have sexual desires like that; it's not serious they're playing.' And that's totally not fair. In Kindred Spirits the girls taking their relationships beyond conventional "purity" conveys that they all are very real about each other. And based on my witnessed high school experiences, it is more realistic behaviour.

During the game you'll often continue on the weeks as Yuna, enacting rom-com situations in order to get mutually interested girls to actually talk to each other. At other times the game offers an opportunity to loop back to the weeks prior, taking on the perspective of one of those smitten girls you have been helping out. At this point you get to see your cupid machinations play out from their naive point of view and also get some insight on why each couple might be in love. It's even better when later in the game you get tossed into the viewpoint of one of the ghosts. Then things start to get a bit dark.

Kindred Spirits has one of my favourite visual novel features: swapping between different narrators. Getting inside the head of another character is so good, especially when you, as the omnipresent player, gets to make choices that affect them. Maybe you make the wrong choice intentionally just to see what happens. Sometimes works out for you: missed opportunities with one couple could get you a scene with another character that you wouldn't normally see. It's good to experiment. These games give you a million save slots for that reason, so go for it.

This storytelling method is a marathon, not a sprint. I was irritated at the game's slow burn at first, but now I find that to be part of its charm. Kindred Spirits conveys a boring school life with bursts of romantic melodrama, just like I remember from my school days. Except that in this case, I'm glad that for a change I don't have to expect the girls' stories to just stop at handholding.


Comments

    We're not likely to see many sex games (or even sexy games) in Australia with the likes of this fucking drivel: http://www.news.com.au/technology/home-entertainment/gaming/playstation/playstation-vr-game-dead-or-alive-3-has-a-feature-promoting-sexual-assault-of-women/news-story/87b33329faa47cacf71a26844c9f9d9d

    I should also add, if any anime-style game shows girls with breasts out, odds-on it would be banned in Australia anyway because SHE MIGHT BE UNDER 18!!!

    Last edited 31/08/16 2:12 pm

      Playstation and Xbox abide by rules, Steam cares not.

      I give you........ HuniePop <3

      Edit: Just read your linked article, what a sham, next we'll be replacing all our Barbie dolls with fully automatic nerf guns with blood and explosive effects, because make war not love.

      Last edited 31/08/16 2:27 pm

        The author of the article pulls not one shred of evidence to back up his opinion. According to him, game allows poking and prodding with female protesting, therefore must be sexual assault (not fantasy play) and BAN THIS SICK FILTH.

          Except that that's... kind of the exact definition of sexual assault:

          Sexual assault takes many forms including attacks such as rape or attempted rape, as well as any unwanted sexual contact or threats. Usually a sexual assault occurs when someone touches any part of another person's body in a sexual way, even through clothes, without that person's consent.

          Also let's keep it on topic, guys, this thread's for the consensual sexy touching game.

            Point taken, but sexual assault is unwanted (and illegal) whereas stuff like rape fantasy is willing participation (and legal). Assumptions have been made that it's one and not the other in this case. Even if it's the former, it can't be assault because there is no 'real' victim. The whole argument boils down to game behaviour having some influence over real life behaviour, which has not been proven.

            And killing in games is also obviously promoting all of us into mindless murderers right?

            The hypocrisy for anything related to fan service is frankly getting tiresome =/

      To be fair, that feature is a little gross.

      I'm not saying it's a case of "OMG games will literally encourage people to rape in real life", but there is something a little off putting about being able to virtually grope a character that's actively protesting and telling you to stop.

      *insert "they're only digital characters and nobody's getting hurt" here*

        Agree, tis a little gross and certainly not for everybody. Just like Human Centipede.

          I agree. It's not for everyone, but we don't need shrieking journalists trying to get stuff banned in stealth opinion pieces masquerading as news content.

            Hes not trying to get it banned, hes trying to get you to click the article.

            News sites will make up whatever garbage they think will get the most traffic, they are like the donald trump of websites.

              Yeah, I don't disagree with you. The article is worded in the most inflammatory and sensationalist way possible. The word 'promotes' is entirely misleading. The most you could say would be that the 'assault' is 'allowed'. That author sometimes does good articles, but this one is one of his worst.

            to be fair... we are talking about news.com.au here they don't come up w/ anything original just click bait tabloid stuff... oh and weather! =P

            and their basically piggy backing off endgadgets own article about it. Which i refuse to link for obvious reasons..

        They're only digital characters and nobody's getting hurt.

        But really, even in real life there's stuff like Rape Fantasy, which is really common among women as well as men. Forgive the Wikipedia copy/paste:

        "Studies have found rape fantasy is a common sexual fantasy among both men and women. The fantasy may involve the fantasist as either the one being forced into sex or as the perpetrator. A 1974 study by Hariton and Singer[1] found that being "overpowered or forced to surrender" was the second most frequent fantasy in their survey; a 1984 study by Knafo and Jaffe ranked being overpowered as their study's most common fantasy during intercourse. In 1985, Louis H. Janda who is an associate professor of psychology at Old Dominion University[2] said that the sexual fantasy of being raped is the most common sexual fantasy for women.[3] A 1988 study by Pelletier and Herold found that over half of their female respondents had fantasies of forced sex.[4]"

        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rape_fantasy

        But the author of the article thinks that it MUST be sexual assault and it also MUST influence real life behaviour.

          Rape fantasy is also kind of creepy though - it doesn't matter if some women like it too. Something something fetish shaming something something.

          Fair enough if you don't act on it IRL, but hey.

          I'm not saying this game is the worst thing ever and we should ban all sexual content from games, but it's still a really creepy feature to have.

            That's just it. A large number of people don't find it creepy at all. Is there something wrong with them? Are they all potential rapists? Who knows? Maybe we need more people like the author of the article to telling us what to think and do instead of just reporting the news.

            I'm not having a go at you - just seems to me that it wasn't so long ago that people were creeped out by homosexuality and pre-marital sex. Sexual inclusivity needs to be fostered as long as there is no harm being done.

            Now I'm not an expert on whether behaviour in a game world has any influence on behaviour in real life. The theory has not been proven for violence and I'm not aware of any studies done for sexual behaviour. If there is a causal link then I'm all for regulating it. Until that is shown, I hope the wowsers can at least have the decency to say 'it's not for me, but it isn't hurting anyone'. I do realise that since this is the internet and everyone is an expert, this is highly unlikely to happen.

              Homosexuality is completely different to fantasising about raping people. It's good that people don't act on that fantasy, but if you don't see something wrong with the idea of getting off to the thought of sexually assaulting someone then...I don't know what to say.

              I'm definitely not saying there's any link between actions in-game and real world behaviour. But even if nobody is being hurt making a game of sexual assault and/or the concept of rape fantasy aren't cool.

              The devs for DOA are entitled to make that game, but that doesn't mean the content isn't objectionable.

                I agree sexual assault is not cool, but shooting a guy in the face with a double barrel blowing it apart is not cool either. So why can we have one and not the other? They are both objectionably wrong yet one is shunned upon and the other is accepted. You could say gamers around the world are "getting off" on brutally killing people in video games. The thing is where do you draw the line? I think it should be up to the individual to decide on what they expose themselves to.

                But that was Zambayoshi's point though...

                At one point in history Homosexuality was seen by society as a deviancy close to the equivalent of rape and whatnot. It *was* objectionable to be identified as homosexual and even linked to being akin to a pedophile (I mean geebus some of the black and white 'community bulletin/ads' I saw in class about helping people 'identify these deviants' was rather unbelievable)

                I'm not gonna argue that the act of "rape" is something that should be "normalised" *ever* but at the same time why is one illegal fantasy any worse/better than the other? Aside from a personal moral perspective they are all equally the same (for example Japan is the total flipside of the west were violence is usually censored more than fan service)... are the acts morally reprehensible in real life of course! but In a fantasy? I find it's frankly hypocritical to have these varying degrees of should and shouldn't. Christ I find the idea of S&M completely nuts and not my cup of tea but it floats other people's boats and as long as its they're fantasy I'm fine with that.

                If you personally find it objectionable that's fine. You can argue your stance on it being objectionable in your own PoV (which you have respectfully done! and cheers for that... it's a rare occurance online) but hey we live in a rather diverse world w/ different strokes for different folks as they say.

                  I recognise that point, I just still feel there's a subtle difference between "homosexuality is deviant despite it being between two consenting adults" and "I get my rocks off to the idea of rape." I realise there are shades of grey however given nobody is ACTUALLY getting hurt in the latter.

                  I'd like to be clear I'm not suggesting we start policing the thoughts of people and make imagining rape fantasy punishable. I just personally find it morally objectionable, and I'm not a subscriber to relativism.

                  But kudos for the reasonable discussion, while I may still disagree with the original point of the post, it is nice to have a conversation on Kotaku where nobody is screeching :p

                  Last edited 01/09/16 8:11 am

                But don't you see? It's a judgment call. Fantasy and reality can be separated by most people. There are people that want to experience being kidnapped, being tied up and whipped, being assaulted, humiliated etc. Who are we to say what is 'not cool'? As long as no one is getting hurt, we should just leave people to their own devices. The alternative is a nanny state where certain activities and people are labelled 'deviant' with varying consequences both socially and legally.

    All I want is the uncensored version of South Park Fractured But Whole... but slim chance cause steam and ubisoft havent even bothered to attempt to sell it until the classificatiin is done. (or if it is done - cause no word as yet)

    By the time you get that far into the game you will be so invested in the characters from your adventures together that I hope you’d be rooting them

    I am going to guess that the writer is an American and not an Aussie based on that sentence alone.

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