You don’t see a lot of Otome titles deal with serious issues or even anything over PG13. It’s a risky move that can make or break the game, but this one made it work.
I can recall a dry spell between Otome titles awhile back, especially in the freeware market. There were titles aplenty, but most of them ranged from blotchy drawing simulators to brief VN’s with no real game options. But my digging resulted in a tiny title from Seraphim Entertainment: Seduce Me, a harem game involving five incubi demons and a promise of a good plot. What did I have to be scared of? Just a little warning at the bottom for sexual content, implied rape, implied abuse, and lots and lots of violence.
A little scary, to say the least. But the game’s writer, indie producer Michaela Laws, sold it just hard enough to make me try. Now, besides the game’s sequel, there’s no game I play as often. It’s also the very first game we talk about to feature a fully voiced cast, so, strap on your headphones when you try it. You’re gonna get yourself some ear-candy.
Mika Anderson is trapped, been trapped for most of her life. The day of her grandfather’s death, her authoritarian father pushes her out the door to live in the mansion bequeathed to her, a forceful start on the road to independence and towards the CEO position of the family toy company. Then life tosses her a curveball in the form of five incubi brothers, collapsed on the floor of her mansion after a fight with a gang of demons. They’re here to escape their own gilded cages, and Mika can’t help but open her new spacious home to them.
But escaping one’s birthright is never so easy. Forces come with the intent to kill the incubi or drag them kicking back to their homes. Mika finds herself the target of a powerful force, desperate to take her new friends back where they don’t wish to go, and she little ability to stop them… little besides bravery, and a lot of will.
Seduce Me is a visual novel down to its core, with a cast of highly expressive paper dolls dancing over a background, complete with a bendy main plot that you can send careening in any direction you want. You can pursue a demon or non-demon lover and live happily every after; you can abandon romance altogether and become the CEO like papa wanted; you can even say “screw all of that” and become a powerful demoness should you so desire, and that is amazing. I haven’t seen a VA to this point with this much freedom in a story. Which may point more to my inexperience, but impresses me all the same.
Image from anime2mira.com
This time, our decisions are color-coded for convenience sake. You know you’ve made a right decision with one of the incubi brothers when you see a tiny horned-heart flashing at the bottom right-hand corner of the screen. Each one is colored to a specific boy, making it super easy to navigate to the ending of your choice. Or, if romance isn’t on your plate, your decisions can make Mika either more Chaotic or more Orderly, as indicated by a red and blue symbol at the bottom of the screen. You’ll also occasionally get choices where a little bar at the bottom of the screen is running out or a two-option decision that either follows or disengages a specific path. Either way, navigation has never been easier.
Speaking of easy, I mentioned toward the beginning that this game featured the big taboo of these games in the west: sex, and lots of it. But some Otome fans may not be willing to explore that avenue and may wanna keep things as chaste as they can. Never you worry, gentle souls; no sex is required to get the good ending here. In fact, during lots or romantic moments, these games make it rather easy to pull back whenever the player wants, with consent being a huge deal all through the story. No one coming in should be uncomfortable, and you only have to go as far as you want.
No joke here, guys. Consent is crucial.
The art was done by co-writer Maltagliati, who did both the sprites and the CGs. An assortment of bright, lucky charms colors greets the player on each screen, with beautifully illustrated backgrounds. I noted this because the same ones get reused frequently, but I suppose you do what you gotta when you have a shoe-string budget. The only issue I found was with the character anatomy on some of the CG’s. Some characters look very different from spirte to CG and some images… well, the eye will note something amiss.
But James… YOUR ARM! 😮
Nevertheless, we have some highly expressive sprites and nice variety in looks and appearances. Each romance option is nice to look at and aesthetic is visually appealing. All in all, barring a few instances of the uncanny valley, this game is easy on the eyes.
Hey Matty, if you don’t want the toy, I’ll take it. I’ll love it forever…
- Romance Options
James is the group leader, the eldest of the Incubi Brothers, and my #1 Husbando. My favorite path, hands down.
The eldest Incubi feels like someone ripped the prickly bits off Mr. Darcy and gave us the inside fruits. He’s a gentleman, friendly, super mature, and sophisticated in look and tastes. He’s protective to a fault of you and his brothers, giving a girl like me all the fantasize-fodder you could ever want. He also carries the heaviest burden of the brothers, being the eldest, and it’s up to you to save him from a gilded cage back home. Top it off with Bradley Gareth’s amazing VA performance and you have the path I always jump right into every new playthrough.
The second eldest of the Incubi, and the group “Charmer.” Erik shares a name with both a prince and a murderous phantom, but thankfully only takes after the former.
Anyone who isn’t a giant fan of the “charmer” personality will find Eric cloying: he doesn’t hold back, pours on the sugar like it’s going out of style, and Christopher Escalante is a genius at the sexy growl. Nevertheless, like a lot of Charmer types in these games, Erik’s bravado is hiding a lot more than he lets on. There’s a sad truth behind those pretty purple eyes, and he’s in desperate need of a real hug and someone letting him relax for once in his life.
Angry, obtusely protective, and the strongest of all the brothers, Sam is your battering-ram with a secret heart of gold.
Of all the brothers five, Sam was the one who didn’t wanna come to the human world and the very first one you meet. He’s abrasive and not the easiest to get along with, as the many fights he has with his brothers will illustrate, but the ones he does care about will find themselves with a permanent guard dog. I found Sam mildly cloying at first, especially with Alejandro Saab’s wickedly guttural portrayal of him, but his story in-game was enough to make me ultimately like his path.
Matthew is sweet and playful and can pull toys out of nowhere. And, despite his young-looking face, he is indeed supposed to be your age.
Maybe it’s harsh of me, but Matthew’s young boy look was ultimately what held me back from him. It’s jarring to read this sexual dialogue with someone looking no older than a young teenager, despite his badass knife skills and a smart brain. He’s a cheery fella that I’d love to hang out and play some smash-brothers with but didn’t inspire any romantic feelings. But if that’s not enough to hold you back then, by all means, give it a go, because Ethan Nakashima all but slays the role.
The final and youngest of the brothers is our “unique” path, with the most heart-wrenching story of the whole bunch.
Without spoiling too much, Damien is the oddball of the group thanks to his mind-reading abilities and the status of his mother back home. He’s soft-spoken, thoughtful and quite artistic, something that immediately caught my eye. And Jonah Scott, his VA, does a good job with his performance, giving Damien an intense voice even in his most quiet moments. But be ye warned if you tread this path; there be a trap here.
Suzu Cappini & Naomi Patterson
I put your two childhood best friends here because their romantic paths pad out the same. The duo are polar opposites, with Naomi(right) being girly and responsible and Suzu (left) being a wildcard rebel who constantly pokes fun at you both. Naomi, voiced by Samantha Chan, is a great busy-body friend and Suzu, voiced by Pickle131, sounds fun as hell to hang with. I’m happy the game treats same-sex options with the same care as the others, and I believe they’re at least worth a look.
Poor, poor Andy. He just doesn’t stand a chance.
Of all the characters in game, I don’t quite understand what Andrew is doing here. Zach Aguilar did a good job with what he was given, but he wasn’t given much. The son of your “rival” for the company, and a huge dork, Andrew really has nothing to offer. He’s going against five incubi of far more interesting personality, your two best friends, and a mystery option. I could see dating Andrew for the sake of seeing the “normal” fourth of the story, but it all just seems so pointless. The poor guy just can’t compete, forever trailing behind.
And because the option below is laden with spoilers…
Y’all know the drill.
In the game, Diana is the succubus princess James was doing his damnedest to run away from, and a desperate one at that. Without giving away too much, Diana is in a desperate situation where returning empty-handed means the death of a lot of important people, so she’ll do just about anything to drag the boys back where they came from. But hey, maybe you sympathize with her and wanna date her instead, which the game has made a legitimate option. Voiced by the game’s writer, Michaela, Diana was off-putting to me for her constant invasion of your personal space and theft of your energy, meaning I can never bring myself to really follow her path. Still, if after the introduction you find her curious (and you let the boys leave) then, by all means, follow away.
- Final Verdict
As I said before, Seduce Me was my favorite Otome for the longest time, only beaten by the sequel that came out. The game is adventurous and funny, with a lot of love poured into it. Yeah it hits all the cliches that fans have seen before, and it feeds the girl’s wish-fulfilment like ice-cream for a toddler, but it does it in such a fun way I could play it twenty times over. The game may not be without flaws, but I wouldn’t change it for anything.
Next time: Seduce Me 2: The Demon War
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