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Thursday, May 27, 2021

Review: Hentai Vs. Evil (Nintendo Switch)


Review by Matt S.

These days, I spend most of my time railing against the obsession that this industry has with content and game length. I don't believe that it's relevant to the quality or value of a game, and if we're going to see games as an art form, then we really need to move beyond that, and understand that art is about quality, not quantity. Now, with that being said... Hentai Vs. Evil's one big problem really is that there is just so little of it.

There are three girls to choose between (only one at the start, but you unlock the other two quickly enough), none of which have any narrative or characterisation, beyond a couple of unique outfits for each. There are three stages to play on, and while they're large, you're doing the same thing in each - running around, gunning down three or four different types of enemies, using a tiny range of weapons (even fewer, once you realise that one of the weapons is an absolutely useless sniper rifle). You do this in two gameplay types - survival (try and get the top score), and rescue, where you need to try and rescue one of the girls as quickly as possible after gunning down a dozen of the game's most powerful enemies, the reapers. That's it. That's all that there is to this game; three girls, three stages, a half dozen total enemy types, and two play modes. Not so much as a hint of narrative or context, either. It's pure endless shooting action.

Now, the shooting is actually a lot of fun. Enemies have no AI and just swamp you in hordes, but aiming is responsive, and as the horde numbers get larger (particularly in survival mode), you'll be scrambling around looking for health boxes as you bloodily cut your way through the horde. Each stage has a distinct theme (suburbia, a city at night, and a beach, pirate ships and all), and the graphical style is all more than adequate. Enemies have some really fun designs, and as you'd expect from a game titled "Hentai Vs. Evil," the girls that you control are ridiculously, comically over-fanserviced.


That's all there is to it, though, and it's just not enough. Fan service without context never sits particularly well with me. Don't get me wrong, I absolutely love digital girls running around in their underthings, but Hentai Vs. Evil's characters don't even have names and... insofar as my favourite video game girls go, they all kinda have a name. Broadly speaking it's clear that Hentai Vs. Evil is aiming for humour rather than violent monster horror or titillation, but there's not nearly enough personality in the animation, character behaviours, level design or mechanics to carry that humour across effectively. When I think of a couple of similar games (unfortunately on other platforms), like Bullet Girls Phantasia or School Girl/Zombie Hunter, the plots are nonsense, but they did give their respective titles their personality, and then each game had mechanics that supported its sense of humour. Hentai Vs. Evil, meanwhile, is a standard horde shooter that plays well - genuinely well - but doesn't give players any more than that.

Having played both the Nintendo Switch and PlayStation 5 versions of Hentai Vs. Evil, I can say there are a few differences that are worth noting. On the PlayStation 5, there are trophies, and this is a really quick platinum to earn, with every trophy involving either killing enemies or collecting boxes. We're not talking about thousands of enemies, either. You'll have this platinum within a few hours' play. The Switch doesn't have trophies, of course, but instead, you'll get breasts. Yep. Toggle on "uncensored mode" and the girls will either go topless (or see-though), bared nipples and all. For some reason they keep their panties on, and let's be frank here, in the context of what this game offers, that's actually a bit disappointing. Anyhow, that option is not available on PlayStation, so if you're keen on seeing the exposed boobs of girls whose names you never learn, the Switch is the console for you.

There's one final feature, which is actually worth a mention; Hentai Vs. Evil does have a photo mode, and that's not all that common for micro-indie games like these. The photo mode doesn't amount to any more than an unlocked camera while the action has paused (no playing around with aperture and filters), but as you can imagine, between the clothing-liberated chests and ugly orcs and zombies chasing them around, taking photos is actually quite a grindhouse-fun experience. Also, thanks to the size of the levels, there are some fun "secret" areas that seem to be there purely in service of the photography mode. For example, I got an awesome shot one time when I came across an open door to a church in the suburban level. I entered the building, turned my girl around as she stood at the altar and proceeded to mow a horde of monsters down. I'd share that shot but... well, the exposed boobs are kind of in the middle of the shot, and I don't want to get this site in that kind of trouble.


If I sound harsh on this game, it's only because I genuinely enjoyed what's there so much. The fan service is appropriately silly, the character models are nicely done in their abstract way, the levels are great and the action itself is smooth and well structured. Believe me, I have played some absolute stinkers in this fetishistic grindhouse shooter space, and Hentai Vs Evil is a cut above, every bit the equal of the "bigger" titles in the genre, like School Girl/Zombie Hunter. The lack of any narrative context whatsoever, let alone characterisation and personality, and the fact that you've seen absolutely everything this game will offer within an hour is hard to over to get past, however. 

So, to go back to my original point at the start of this review: I might constantly rail against the industry's obsession with content, but that's because I firmly believe that artistic quality comes from any artwork being only as big as it needs to convey the full weight of its themes and ideas. Most games are far too long for that, trying to spread too little thematic depth over too much gameplay. This is a rare example of things being the other way around. There's so much potential here that the developers should have done a lot more with it. It's genuinely good fun while it lasts, and that's why I'm scoring it this high. Just don't expect to get more than an hour or two of game, with another hour or so for finding the best locations for topless photo sessions with this game's large... levels.



- Matt S. 
Editor-in-Chief
Find me on Twitter: @mattsainsb


Review: Hentai Vs. Evil (Nintendo Switch)
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