Nothing can save you now
[NSFW: This review and its subject are both horribly NSFW. Probably don’t read further if you’re at work, around your grandmother, or under the age of 18.]
Broke and bored, Yukito Sawatari picks up a summer job to make a quick buck. His search for employment lands him a seemingly perfect gig working as a servant at a remote mansion. Seems innocent enough, but in a game called Starless: Nymphomaniacs’ Paradise absolutely nothing is innocent and nowhere is safe.
Starless is a visual novel from the minds that created Bible Black. It first released in Japan in 2011, but was only just recently localized and released in English. It prides itself on vivid portrayals of a variety of fetishes. Even so, a few especially vulgar scenes were cut from the English version but don’t think for a second that their removal makes the game even remotely tame.
Starless: Nymphomanics’ Paradise (PC)]
Publisher: JAST USA
Released: May 11, 2015
After a slow introduction typical of visual novels, Sawatari arrives at the Mamiya Mansion for his job interview. Almost right away, he encounters the ridiculously busty residents of the mansion. Seriously, the chest sizes of the women range from massive to gargantuan and their outfits leave very little to the imagination.
What variety the women lack in cup size, they make up for in personality. Each has distinctly different motivations and fetishes, all of which are showcased regularly through their interactions with Sawatari and the other servants around the house. Even during the initial job interview, each of the three Mamiya women find creative ways to expose their own individual kinks.
Starless doesn’t drip feed players the smut. It takes place across 14 days, but the first day alone crams a lifetime of anime pornography into a few short hours. During the job interview alone, Sawatari gets handjobs, footjobs, blowjobs, roofied, drugged with horse aphrodisiac, handcuffed, peed on, sat on and then peed on. The list goes on. Seriously, by the end of this first sex sequence I had complied a list of well over 15 different sexual acts the women forced on Sawatari. Each and every one of these acts are accompanied by various sloshing and slurping sound effects that are likely to haunt your dreams, in the not-sexy way. Oh, and by the end of all that he was still a virgin.
If that three hour introduction scene wasn’t enough of an indicator, Starless suffers from horrible pacing issues. Beneath all of the perversion and overly graphic sex scenes lies an actually interesting plot line filled with deeply fleshed out characters. Unfortunately, it’s hard to enjoy the story itself during the constant onslaught of sex. Typos and grammatical errors frequently plague what little worthwhile dialogue there is, which can straight up ruin the experience if you’re anal about that sort of thing.
Yes, tons of erotic content should be expected in an adult visual novel, but the sex scenes just drag on and on. After round one, characters waste no time and quickly go back for seconds and sometimes thirds. Frequently they won’t even mix things up. A 20 minute long blowjob will be followed by another, identical 20 minute long blowjob. Even when the encounters get creative and downright weird, the game still feels the need to repeat the exact same scene multiple times in a row.
Starless is focused on showing off some very extreme fetishes, which results in some understandably over-the-top scenes. But so much content, so early in the game just drags on. Rather than build any anticipation for future scenes or plot advancement, Starless just throws the entire experience directly in your face. Progressing through each day becomes more a chore than it should be.
On a massively positive note, the dialogue is every bit as outrageous as the sex scenes. Some of the puns and wordplay are equal parts masterful and deeply disturbing. The line “semen would go great with a side of wasabi and soy sauce” takes the gold medal. It might just be the best line in this thing. Starless also takes some hilariously appetite-ruining liberties with food metaphors. I won’t go into details here, but let’s just say that I won’t be eating yogurt for a very long time.
I’d like to say that I spent a week playing Starless: Nymphomaniacs’ Paradise because I play anime porn games for the plot, but at the end of it I felt overworked and underpaid. Many of the sex scenes just went too far, too long, or both and more often than not the sex itself was less than consensual. The game tries to dodge the label of rape by drugging characters until they beg for sex, but the sleazy misdirect only makes the scenes feel even worse.
[This review is based on a retail build of the game provided by the publisher.]