Aika Reviews: Brothel City
Previous review: Tales of Androgyny
Since whenever I review a game I'm giving it a bit of exposure, it makes sense to me to review my favourites first. So next on the list is Brothel City, a game I've been following and supporting for a long time. It recently hit version 1.0 so that seemed like an appropriate time to give it the Aika Assessment. Darot Games hasn't offered me anything in return for making this review, I'm doing it because I like the game and because they asked nicely!
Brothel City is not free to play - it costs $10. Find out how to get the game here: https://www.patreon.com/darotgames
Many of you will remember the magic of the Sim City franchise in its glory days - where you could burn away an entire Saturday building up your beautiful metropolis, watching all those little cars zooming around the place, micro-managing the fire brigade, falling into debt, and then using a cheat code to make aliens come and destroy everything. Good times.
So, what could be a better way to take a nostalgia trip back to those great times as an adult, than with a sex themed city sim? Yep, it exists, and it's pretty awesome.
In Brothel City, you purchase buildings and staff members to entertain travelers on their way through your region. They'll stop off to rest, drink, eat, be entertained, and play at your casinos. The twist is that every single one of your staff members will also sell themselves for sex. So, yep, pretty much exactly like Las Vegas, then.
As you build your city and your economy, you'll have to manage several things including illness, favour with the gods, security, and building placement - many buildings have areas of influence, within which you are not allowed to build another building of that type. You'll also gain experience, which you can use to issue "royal decrees" - these new permanent rules will mandate that a certain type of staff member has a new ritual they must perform... or item of clothing they must no longer wear... and as you progress through these 'tech trees' of royal decrees your staff will get less shy and more competent in the bedroom, which earns you more money. It's also a clever way of drip feeding you the NSFW art throughout the game.
The game is light, but you will still find yourself doing a lot of thinking. How best can you place your buildings so that you don't waste any space? What's the best use for your money right now - do you want to invest in more staff to enhance the performance of your existing buildings, or do you want to save up for the next level of accommodation that will unlock a huge amount of new options? Should you spend your faith saving a staff member's life or save it so that you can upgrade your nuns and increase the amount of faith you're gaining over time? How many witch doctors huts is too many? Do you have enough breweries to process all the grain you're producing? Why the hell are you so invested in this silly game?!
Anyway I can write further thoughts in the next segments, so, onto scoring!
- Writing: 6/10. The game is very light on text, which is mostly fine, but I do feel that there could be more here, perhaps more one-on-one interaction with your staff or visitors or something. The "royal decrees" are often rather inventive and sexy but I'd say it's the art more than the writing that really makes them shine.
- Visuals: 8.5/10. The game sprites are excellent quality and when you get your city going it really looks alive and thriving. The lewd art is high quality, but I always wish there was more! But the real reason this falls short of a 9 or 10 rating is because I'd love to have some animated sprite sex shown somewhere each time a staff member beds a client.
- Gameplay: 9/10. Extremely addictive, easy to sink an entire evening or day into this game and forget to eat. Fun and sexy at the same time. This game is not one to play to fap then close - it's first and foremost a game, with the sexy stuff being an added bonus painted on top. Which I personally love, and wish more adult games were like this. It seems very well balanced in all parts - from the costs and benefits of everything, to the strength of offenders who come and try to steal your resources or staff. Each individual in your city is clearly obeying some very clever AI to decide where they go and what they do, and it all just comes together so brilliantly. Right at the start the game can feel rather slow, until you get going properly, but you can press E to speed things up. Technically the game is just one big grind but it doesn't feel like grinding because of how fucking fun and interesting it is to play.
- Replayability: 3/10. This is a game I only crack out once or twice a year because with each playthrough, you encounter everything the game has to offer, and your experience will be rather identical. In order to get me to want to start again, a game needs to have some things that are either rare, and only pop up in certain playthroughs, or it needs to have enough events (ideally random events) that force me to take decisions that send me in a certain irreversible direction. Brothel City currently has essentially none of this which almost makes it more of a toy than a game, you have fun with it but you're not really striving towards a certain goal (other than continuous expansion) nor are you being challenged to make highly impactful choices. However I do know that what they are working on next is a 'campaign mode', so perhaps they are already aware of this too.
- User Experience: 9/10. By this I mean "how annoying is it to play the game?" Brothel City has really wowed me with how brilliantly implemented it is, from pretty much every usability perspective. The GUI is really excellent, with things in the status bar turning red when they're nearing capacity, intuitive clicking, grid squares appearing more defined when it is useful, and so much more. You can even click on individual people walking around your city to find out exactly what they are doing right now and what needs they have. I think it's hard to give a perfect score here though because there are always going to be little things that could be done better. Things that come to my head for this game, are that
there's no button to repair all your damaged buildings, so you have to do it one at a time(I've been informed there is a button I just never noticed); and when you have 20+ huntresses it starts to become super annoying to place all their traps out when there's a big invasion of ogres and they've all been triggered. Again I'd appreciate an option to either let the huntresses automatically lay their own traps, or perhaps a button that just randomly places them all at sensible intersections.
- Overall: 8/10. I'm so glad that there's someone else out there who is so clearly focused on making a good game as much as making a sexy game. The user interface and game balance that I see in Brothel City is everything I wish TQ could be and more. However, I am still on the search for a game that is as replayable as TQ, and I really do think that replayability is such an important element of making an indie game, as it means that when you add a small amount of new content, your fans are able to play the game again to access that content without the rest feeling rather stale.
So, now it's time for your say. Have you played the game? What do you agree or disagree with me on? Please comment below!