There must be some kind of audience there for visual novel smut specialist, querate, on the Nintendo Switch. On the back of NinNinDays, TroubleDays and KukkoroDays, comes not one, but two Fantasy Tavern Sextet titles (with a third apparently on the way). I never did review the first, but you can assume that this is a review of it as well, as both titles are exactly the same in terms of what they offer, and the quality of execution.
On the Switch, these games don’t have the explicit sex that you get on the PC version (with the R18+ patch installed). There are times that the “tame” console version of stuff that is adults-only on PC doesn’t bother me – I think the Nekopara series is actually better on Switch since explicit sex doesn’t altogether match with the rest of the game. However, when it comes to Fantasy Tavern Sextet, the lack of the explicit sex really does mess with the game, because there are numerous situations with nudity and/or things poking into other things speaks to the game’s particular themes and tone.
It’s smut, basically. While Fantasy Tavern Sextet distinguishes itself from outright pornography because it does have a narrative and those sex scenes are just key scenes rather than the bulk of the experience, the entire point of this game is that it works on the premise that there’s something fundamentally amusing about sex and most of the narrative spins on that axis. Without it, you’ve got characters that look like they should be from a sexed-up game that suddenly look out of place (the wizard character… you’ll know her when you see her), and a lot of the dynamics come across as rather flat (just not in the chest) and pointless.
Basically, Fantasy Tavern Sextet is meant to be the “porn parody” of the isekai genre (where a person in the real world goes through a door or something and ends up in a magical realm). The problem is that the isekai genre is already quite well-known for being plenty sexed-up and having heaps of that “harem humour” that Fantasy Tavern Sextet is aiming for, meaning that once again this game comes across as being limited and inhibited because a good chunk of its creative energy has been carved out from this release.
That being said it’s hard to care about any of these characters enough to want to see them in sex scenes, and that is a point of difference between Fantasy Tavern Sextet and some of querate’s other efforts. NinNinDays and TroubleDays – the two other games from the publisher that I’ve played – both focused on a single character and in doing so turned her into something slightly… more… than the ensemble cast of Tavern. If you can enjoy the raunch and specific sense of humour of these games, then the characterisation then backs it up to make a game that is on some level memorable. On the other hand, because the dialogue and key scenes of Fantasy Tavern need to be split across a number of different characters, each individual feels only a fraction as developed, and on top of that, thanks to an only functional localisation, their personalities and mannerisms feel superficial and hollow in comparison to the others in the cast.
Fantasy Tavern Sextet is a reasonably attractive game thanks to the use of the E-mote system for animation, so each character bops their head around and moves in a fluid manner. The backgrounds are also nice and effective in setting a scene, though they are perhaps a little too natural and “real world”-like to suit an isekai’s flight of fantasy. However, the character designs are all quite plain and generic, and this contributes to them coming across as a bit bland in the end.
For all of that, Fantasy Tavern Sextet’s biggest problem is that for a sex-fuelled comedy, it’s not nearly outrageous or wild enough. The “embarrassing” situations are pedestrian and easy to anticipate, and the wordplay is hampered by that localisation. That localisation means that even if the game had all its sex scenes in there, it would still be hanging around the lower rungs of the visual novel genre on Nintendo Switch. There are just so many other ones to go with instead.
– Matt S.
Find me on Twitter: @mattsainsb