Anyone who has read my reviews over the last few years will have noted that I’m often willing to give games with a bad rep the benefit of the doubt; attempting to find gold within somewhat questionable titles. However, never before have I had the “pleasure” to review two games which fall into this category at the same time. Therefore, this article marks the first in a short series of reviews of Games which, if you were to play them on a bus, may get you thrown off, arrested or at least heavily tutted at.
In my honest opinion, fan-service in games is something which can either go one of two ways. Either it leads to a plethora of bravely unique ideas which then wrap nicely around solid mechanics, or it leads to a sticky mess of a title with more of an interest in boobs than gameplay. It can be a fine line, but it’s one which has been achieved by a few- especially by the creators of the (often quite compelling) Senran Kugara series.
I’m not honestly sure where Moero Chronicles sits on this line yet. At it’s heart Moero Chronicles is a 3D first-person dungeon crawler with a unique aestetic, in which you travel around and battle enemies in a dragon-quest-esque JRPG fashion with your team. The story itself isn’t anything to really care about; you play a “perverted” human who has “unclean” thoughts about women and struggles to control his urges. Because of his nature, he is sent by his village to attempt to sort out an issue with the world’s “Monster Girls,” and is accompanied on this quest by a “Monster girl” he grew up with (and can later fondle.) As he travels through a handful of game worlds, he encounters a variety of girls who join his team after a quick scrap and a rubdown; more on that later. It’s clear that it’s simply an excuse to have the player collect scantily-clad girls and interact with their own private 2D haram.
Here’s the part where I explain exactly why this isn’t always a bad thing in fan-service titles. Despite the clear pursuit of titillation within the design, I was constantly and consistently impressed by the designers’ takes on mythological creatures. Each girl is inspired by a common monster trope, with most being fantastically shaped into a unique and interesting form which fits the source material. Personal favourites of mine include Goblin (whose headwear evokes a true sense of vicious humour,) Calypso and Elf (who embodies the stuck-up warrior trope incredibly well.)
Each character has their own set of abilities for use within the turn-based battle system. Centring on the use of elemental “aura” attacks and the act of conducting your girls through the main character, it’s a pretty standard affair which does suprisingly still hold up. Whilst it isn’t the deepest, I found it very fun and engaging to play through as it left me really thinking about who should be attacking what. Your companion, an underwear-obsessed penis-shaped seal thing lets you know when an attack has hit your enemy’s elemental weakness and once he has been sufficiently “excited” he gets an attack in himself. Great…
One of the things I loved most of all about the gameplay was the variety of enemies you could fight. Each based on some kind of innuendo, I let out more than a few giggles as I realised exactly why I was wrestling with a living, radish or throwing fireballs at a pair of bendy bananas. My personal favourite creature is the Condogolem; yes, it’s literally a golem covered in rubbers and I love it.
Even the boss battles against monster-girls were fun, as each had a unique twist and I loved seeing what the next design had to offer. However, it was the latter part of each boss in which I began to feel less comfortable.
Whilst most enemies are defeated by smashing them to dust, you are instructed not to attack the Monster Girls directly, and instead need to destroy their clothes.
Let that sink in for a second.
Once they’re in underwear, you then move on to rubbing, pinching, slapping or poking them in certain locations until they are “happy.” This can be done either with control sticks, or if you’re feeling frisky, with the touch screen. Oh, and there’s HD rumble to really “enrich” your rubbing. Whilst the girls seem perfectly happy with this arrangement afterwards, failing this task results in them running away from you, often stating their fear, and forcing you to rediscover them and to retry.
I’m not explicitly saying that the game has a dubious relationship with the concept of consent – I’d rather not get sued thanks – but this aspect did little to relieve the discomfort I felt around the bump-and-scratch sections and I found myself actively dreading them.
Outside of dungeons, your haram lives in a hotel; each with their own upgradable rooms. In this mode you can talk to your girls and give them gifts akin to what you may see in a dating sim. This raises their relationship with you alongside various “bump and scratch” levels which can be played at will. You luckily aren’t forced to engage with these elements and I can see why some may enjoy them, as they have a decent level of depth to them, but these generally weren’t to my taste.
Overall, I think what epitomises my feelings about Moero Chronicles is what occurred when I found out about “job panties” quite late into the game. I was really excited to find out that each girl had a variety of unlockable extra roles and abilities that they could take on, as it would allow me to use the girls whose designs I enjoyed and keep them in my party indefinitely. I’d become really fond of the feisty Kobold and Calypso’s distant nature, so of course tracked down the costumes for them.
I was incredibly disappointed when I equipped them – hoping for more of the beautifully realised characterisations that I’d enjoyed so far – and found out they were literally all just underwear. Skimpy underwear; bras and pants at a push. That’s when I put Moero Chronicles down.
There is so so so much in Moero Chronicles I want to love; the characterisations, the enemy design; hell, the majority of the gameplay is awesome and I even love the cringeworthy, innuendo-filled dialogue. It’s beautifully drawn with some excellent music and for the most part the humour lands. However, the game suffers from an over-reliance on fan service and the pursuit of titillation. If it was toned down a little I’d be able to recommend this easily, but the dubious bump-and-scratch sections and the lazy pointlessness of the “alternate costumes” has really rubbed me the wrong way – no pun intended. Fine, have ONE swimsuit if you must, but why bother designing wonderful outfits based on the tone of each character if you’re going to expect players to switch them into low-effort alternatives as a “reward?”
Come on Compile Heart; you can do better than this. In future titles there needs to be an option to skip bump-and-scratch and much more effort put into alternate constumes. I won’t be marking the game down because of these issues – as below this crusty surface lies a fun title which is right at home on Switch – but unless you are willing/able to look past the glaring issue of invasive fan-service I can’t really recommend picking this up.