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Chain: The Lost Footprints (PC) artwork

Chain: The Lost Footprints (PC) review


"Chain: The Lost Footprints tries to offer a different sort of hentai experience. You've only been playing for a few minutes and already you've made two choices. Options don't typically come at the player so frequently in a genre known more for its one-handed play style. For that reason alone, the game initially feels different from the majority of its peers. Finally, you're an active participant instead of a voyeur. Will it continue to hold your interest, though?"



Your name is Takeshi Shinonome and you're a private detective. One night, as you're standing around smoking cigarettes in the rain and waiting for something interesting to happen, you observe a girl hunched up against a wall. She's not dressed for the weather, but she seems unperturbed by the heavy precipitation as she stares at a newborn kitten in the alleyway. You notice her in the same passive way that you do the blurry neon lights, the bags of trash lining the street and the city skyline.

Two drunken men emerge from a nearby bar. As they wander toward their next stop--another establishment that's open later--they stumble upon the girl. She's pretty and young, soaked to the skin and alone. Those qualities appeal to them, so they try to strike up a conversation. When she doesn't respond to their clumsy advances, they grow belligerent and try to drag her off into the night. Things are about to turn very bad for her.

You really have no choice at that point but to come to her aid. Stepping up behind the men, you tell them that you'll be taking them to the station. For a moment, they think you're a cop. Their resulting hesitation is what you needed. You grab the girl by the hand and together the two of you escape through the alleys. Several twists and turns later, you've left your pursuit soggy and out of breath. By now you're in more comfortable territory, so you lead the girl into a bar you frequent. The proprietress, a long-time friend of yours named Mayuki, serves up two drinks (a bourbon for you and hot cocoa for the girl) and some towels. Once you've dried off, you look at...

Store
Mayuki
Girl <<

You look at the girl. She has beautiful brown hair. Though she cares enough about her appearance to try her luck with cosmetics, it's clear that she hasn't yet mastered the necessary skills to apply makeup proficiently (and besides, the rain probably didn't help). Somehow, she doesn't look entirely like an adult or a child, just a person at that uncomfortable age in between that invites all sorts of trouble. She must still be in a school, but which one? You can't believe that she would be a runaway.

Your thoughts only get you so far, so you decide that it's time to do some talking. You choose to talk to...

Mayuki
Girl <<

"Excuse me," you say.

The girl doesn't respond.

"Why were you there at a time like this?" you ask.

She just stares at her cup of hot cocoa, silent.

"Won't your parents be worried?" you ask, and you notice the way she jumps at the mention of the word "parents" for some reason. There's something there, but what?

...

Chain: The Lost Footprints tries to offer a different sort of hentai experience. You've only been playing for a few minutes and already you've made two choices. Options don't typically come at the player so frequently in a genre known more for its one-handed play style. For that reason alone, the game initially feels different from the majority of its peers. Finally, you're an active participant instead of a voyeur. Will it continue to hold your interest, though? Is it worth your while?

Stop reading and surf for porn.
Read on. <<

Continued questions help you to discover more about the girl. Her name is Ayumu Igarashi, you learn by peeking at her ID card. Though you don't realize it just yet, she is your introduction to what will prove to be quite the mystery. You soon learn that her sister is an old classmate of yours, a now-married woman who suspects her husband of infidelity and needs proof from someone she can trust, someone she knows well... someone like you.

As the plot thickens, something happens: you begin to realize that you don't have as much control as you imagined. For the most part, all that you're doing is selecting menu options that then prompt the game to unfold in much the same manner as any other hentai title. An early example from the game that demonstrates this well is your trip into a hostess bar. Upon following your target into that unexpectedly luxurious location, it's necessary to talk to an attractive young lady until she feels comfortable enough to impart important details about the man you were asked to observe. You gain her confidence by repeatedly choosing the option to talk while glancing periodically around the room. There's no art to the interrogation; just click through all of the options until they start repeating, then move onto the next one. This is not riveting storytelling.

Since we're talking about hentai, though, that needn't ruin the experience. There's still one obvious question unanswered:

How's the sexual content? <<
Are there tentacles?

The sexual content is sufficient but nothing more. Part of the problem with the game's decision to tell such a linear story is that it has to work especially hard to justify the SSI (sudden scenes of intercourse). That doesn't really happen, though. Character motivations tend to be running along credibly one moment and the next thing you know the couple that you were following is heading into the park for some SSI or you're entering a club to ask a girl for information and she's seeking some SSI. Such impromptu scenes are mildly amusing at best, distracting at worst and arousing never. While it's true that other entries within the genre don't always provide proper motivations for each encounter, they don't need to because they seldom attempt to maintain a serious tone.

For me, one of the things that really differentiates one hentai game from another--even more than the quality or style of art--is the emotional attachment I feel to the proceedings or to the characters. Chain is the victim of its own ambition. First it gives me cool characters to appreciate, then it places them in positions so absurd that I get irritated by the inconsistency. It would be like if Bruce Willis in the "Die Hard" movies stopped the heroics every few minutes to try to sell male enhancement pills to terrorists. We'd have a hard time believing in anything he did after that.

The result in Chain's case is that I don't even care that the artwork is pretty good--though it is--or that the sleazy porno music is well matched (and it is). I'm too busy snickering at how absurd things have briefly become. Those playing just for the artwork are out of luck too, since progressing through the game doesn't unlock scenes or artwork to view at a later date. Instead you are expected to manage as many as 30 save files to easily relive those encounters that you enjoyed most. That's an awful lot of effort, but what's a gamer to do?

Stop reading and surf for porn. <<
Read on.

You've made the right choice. Chain is an interesting and occasionally successful attempt by its developer to do something different with the hentai genre, but ultimately it doesn't execute anything with the flair that would have been required to produce a truly intriguing hentai experience. Give it a shot if you want something unique, but otherwise your Internet browser will keep you every bit as happy as this tale of a detective named Takeshi.

Rating: 5/10

honestgamer's avatar
Staff review by Jason Venter (July 16, 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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