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Secret Wives' Club (PC) artwork

Secret Wives' Club (PC) review


"Now instead of simply clicking through a bunch of text and making the occasional decision, you're asked to make choices from a menu. The three women you hope to "educate" are each assigned columns. Your goal is to please all three of the horny vixens. Each has numerous scenes from which to choose, all divided into categories for your convenience. Mostly, these relate to the state of the relationship and predict how things are about to go so that you can decide where to budget your time."



It was just some harmless flirting. Alone in Bali, an idealistic Japanese youth named Issei Ozaki flirted with a fellow tourist. One thing led to another and before they really knew what was happening, the two vacationers were having sex on the beach. After that came an insincere promise that if they ever met again after returning to Japan, they would assume that Fate had something in mind for them and engineer coitus repeatus. Then they went their separate ways.

Fast forward a bit. The place is Japan and the time is several months down the line. Issei is looking for a job and his father pulls a few strings. Gainful employment is all lined up, but first Issei is asked if he's willing to tutor his future boss's son. How do you say "no" to that? He goes to the meeting to feel things out and that's when he realizes that there's a bit of a wrinkle. His boss's wife, a lovely woman named Chisato Takasugi, once went to Bali and had sex with a stranger on a beach. Yes, that stranger. Things just got interesting.

If you think that's the extent of the surprises that Fate has in store for Issei, though, think again. He's barely adjusted to the idea that he made love to an attached woman--let's be charitable and put it in those terms--when he finds himself seated on a couch and listening to an absurd proposal. Apparently, Issei's performance in Bali was that good and now three beautiful women--Chisato among them--want him to teach them the joys of crazy sex. There's one teensy complication: all three of the luscious ladies are married to other men.

With the stage set, Secret Wives' Club then follows the usual course set by hundreds of h-games before it... or does it?

Actually, there's an important tweak. Now instead of simply clicking through a bunch of text and making the occasional decision, you're asked to make choices from a menu. The three women you hope to "educate" are each assigned columns. Your goal is to please all three of the horny vixens. Each has numerous scenes from which to choose, all divided into categories for your convenience. Mostly, these relate to the state of the relationship and predict how things are about to go so that you can decide where to budget your time. If you're working with one woman, you might want to keep going because the next section is "torture" and you're a sick freak (though not that sick, since the torture isn't extreme or even unwelcome). Or perhaps the idea of a series of scenes built around the anus turns you off so you decide to see what you can learn about Chisato's sparkling personality instead.

Issues with chauvinism aside--and if you're concerned about that, you'd hardly be likely to play a hentai game in the first place unless someone is playing a cruel, cruel prank on you--the new system of narrative navigation seems like it could work out pretty well. Unfortunately, the execution is faulty. The whole experience feels a bit too much like watching a smutty DVD, except that you can't jump to the best scenes for any girl until you've viewed several others that you probably won't care for. Even if you're fortunate enough to appreciate everything that transpires, your role is limited to that of a passive observer. You're not actually asked to make any decisions, moral or otherwise. You just keep clicking the left mouse button while the on-screen cursor (an icon shaped like a hand with a finger outstretched) shakes at you as if to say "What are you doing playing a game about screwing other men's wives, anyway?"

This pervasive disconnect makes it difficult to feel involved in any of the plot's precious few twists. While it's true that you can affect the ultimate outcome by changing the order in which you visit the women throughout the adventure, even that doesn't feel quite like it's under your control. Unless you're following a game walkthrough, you'll probably feel more involved with Issei than with any of the virtual eye candy. Like him, your role in the game has been left entirely in the hands of Fate.

That's a shame, because the premise could have been interesting if the developers approached it differently. Instead, the game's primary innovation works against it at every turn. Even when the dialog tries to add tension--like when you're screwing around with a woman while her husband takes a bath in the next room--the attempt falls flat. You already know that things will end well and that you'll get to see more breasts and other female bits. It's a lot like trying to watch a sci-fi thriller when someone has already spoiled the ending for you, except that the "BAM! BAM!" of guns is replaced by the "SQUIRT! SQUIRT!" of copulation. It's great that the developers tried to mix things up a bit with a new play mechanic, but it wasn't the right fix for this particular title.

The graphics and audio don't do anybody any favors, either. Nearly every environment seems to have some sort of visual defect, like a manhole cover tilted curiously on its side in an otherwise nondescript street, or a couch that doesn't seem to be proportioned properly. There aren't a lot of distinct locations, either. You'll visit the same few ones repeatedly, while also viewing the same few character portraits. As for the actual frames depicting "the deed," there aren't enough of them and what's available is repeated often enough that it loses its capacity for titillation. Too much is left for your imagination and not enough was brought to life by skilled artists. On a more positive note, the voice work is fine and you'll hear the ladies say some interesting things in Japanese. That can be said about plenty of other hentai, though.

Fate can be funny sometimes. The hand she deals Issei is pretty decent, all things considered. Then, just when it seems like the stage is set for something great, she turns around and presents hentai gamers with competent but generally uninspired fare like Secret Wives' Club. No wonder they call her a harsh mistress!

Rating: 5/10

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Staff review by Jason Venter (March 05, 2009)

Jason Venter founded HonestGamers in 1998, and since then has written hundreds of reviews as the site's editor-in-chief. He also is a prolific freelancer with game reviews, articles and fiction available around the Internet.

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