My penis just exploded, killing me instantly. That's the fate that awaits players of Nicolau 'Beautiful Escape' Chaud's RPG Maker freebie Polymorphous Perversity if they don't have sex with enough frequency. The game takes place in a world where sexual encounters are like greetings. "Hello," you might start saying to a young lady, but before you even get to the 'o' you're likely to be rutting away. Not only are the social barriers between genitals much flimsier than in Britain, there are very few physical barriers. People don't care much for clothes here. Mostly the nudity is of the tiny RPG-person variety, all pixellated and distant, but character portraits are not faces. They are bums, breasts, penises and vaginas. What would a prude like me make of all this?
It's a very clever game, exploring, among other things, the Freudian concept referred to in the title. I haven't finished it yet and I might well write more when I do, but the broader theme seems to be inhibitions and the place of sex in our own various societies.
All of the expected mechanics are in place, with items to collect, weapons (toys) and fighting (fucking), and the tone is weird enough that even when there's a joke it's carried on a more serious undercurrent. Be warned though, despite the simple graphics there are some graphic displays, not only in the occasional invasive close-up on a portrait, but also in the actions performed. Inhibitions may be lacking but that doesn't mean consent is always granted. There is grim content and I'm not talking about the visuals anymore. I've already seen one very disturbing scene in which I was offered a choice that essentially came down to, 'do you wish to participate in non-consensual sex?'
In some ways, that seems a shame. The almost gleeful way with which the player character learns new sexual skills and drifts from partner to partner (and, less often, from gender to gender) seems to tell a different story, one of liberation. The darker side, which creeps into the thoughts of the lead as well, is more delicate and, I hope, fully justified. I suspect it might be, given the cleverness of the contrast so far and Chaud's previous work, but these are hugely tricky subjects to tackle, particularly in a world that initially seems almost light-hearted in its approach to sex. That approach, of course, is part of what becomes dangerous.
I'd rather be bringing a full report but, dash it all, I must pack my bags for Rezzed shortly and I wanted to at least share the link first. I'm excited (oo-err, etc) by the idea of a game that's willing to discuss sex, thin on the ground as they are, but I'm not yet convinced Polymorphous Perversity's commingling of abuse and pleasure succeeds as a whole. It's certainly provoking though. Just don't download unless you're willing to spend the next few hours looking at willies and depravity. Whatever your tastes or tolerances, you'll most likely find something that makes you flinch.
I'll probably tell you wot I think next week, time permitting.