Chapter One: Introduction
I received a free copy of this software from the publisher for review — thanks Kagura Games! For the purposes of this review, I will only discuss the patched version of the game.
Chapter Two: Gameplay (4/5★)
Section One: Overview
Castaway of the Ardusta Sea is a stealth game with optional combat. Gameplay consists of following clues and going back and forth between areas as new items enter Aisha’s possession. Before starting a new game, you must choose a pair of “special skills”, which determine starting stats and equipment. When supplemented by abilities provided by unlockable “traits”, they can dramatically change the difficulty and playstyle of the game.
For example, investing into “Seduction Traits” makes it possible to level-up by engaging in sex-scenes (as opposed to fighting or completing objectives). Alternatively, “Thief Traits” are better suited for stealth gameplay, increasing the effectiveness of the “hide” mechanic. Replaying the game with different traits can help breath new life into new playthroughs while achievement hunting, but it’s possible to unlock all endings on a single save regardless of traits.
Section Two: Balancing
If Aisha runs into an enemy, she’ll probably die (or in a best case scenario, permanently lose all of her items). The equipment she needs to challenge even low-level foes without diminishing returns isn’t available until reaching end-game areas.
If Aisha gets hurt, she can’t simply “rest” or stock up on potions. There are only two sources of renewable hit points (or “HP”); the “Diamond Amulet”, which provides turn-by-turn regeneration; and “Silver Coins”, collected by defeating or seducing enemies. But without the Amulet and top-end defense, it’s unlikely Aisha will be able to afford enough “Smoked Sausages” to offset damage — leaving no choice but for her to pretend to be “a slave or a prostitute” to recover from battle.
Ultimately, with the right equipment and careful leveling, it’s possible to steamroll enemies. For players interested in a combat-oriented challenge, there is a hidden boss fight in the game. Even after collecting the legendary “Blood Sword”, the “Brain Extraction Wand” and grinding for additional level-ups beforehand, I could barely defeat him! Had I not chose “Luck” as one of Aisha’s special skills, I would now have been able to take enough additional turns to secure the win.
Chapter Three: Sexual Content (3/5★)
Section One: Content
Aisha isn’t interested in “doing it” at any point in the game. The closest you can get to consensual sex is “pretending to be a prostitute” — although choosing between sex or death isn’t much of a choice! Most sexual content is focused on perverted “bandits”, but there are a few scenes including tentacles and focusing on mind control magic. The sexual themes of this game have some parallels with Kagura Games’ Evening Starter, another exploration-heavy RPG with rape and occult themes.
Section Two: Implementation
Bandits and select enemies offer rape scenes upon Aisha’s defeat. After reaching the latter half of the game, most enemies will simply kill Aisha, resulting in a short and dissatisfying “game over” screen. After she is raped she will be placed in a prison cell with nothing but a “hairpin” to escape and resume the game. To my knowledge, it’s impossible to regain lost items.
During early stages of the game, it’s better to “seduce” foes to avoid capture like the plague. Losing equipment is such a setback, a single loss can make combat impossible for the remainder of the game. Fortunately, depending on how you invest Aisha’s traits, it’s possible to gain experience points and level-up to offset the effects of an early-game capture.
Section Three: Interactivity
Each sex-scene includes one or more animations with some dialogue.
Section Four: Quality
The distinctive art style of this game strongly resembles Kagura Games’ Evening Starter — it’s likely both games will illustrated by the same artist. The animations are a bit stiff, but they are an improvement over what are typically static CGs in RPGMaker games. I wish the sex-scenes lasted longer — the artwork and voiced dialogue are fun, but unsatisfyingly short.
Chapter Four: Story (4/5★)
Section One: Plot
Aisha must find a way to tame (or defeat) the Kraken that stranded her and her crewmates on a forsaken island. Connected to the Underworld, it is home to “evil creatures” that have long corrupted the island inhabitants.
Aisha can save herself on a raft — or a barrel — or she can severe the tendrils of corruption from within the Underworld to gain unexpected allies. Among other possible endings, who Aisha chooses to rescue (if anyone) and how she escapes the island is up to players.
Chapter Five: Sound (4/5★)
Section One: Soundtrack
The soundtrack is dark and foreboding; there is little variety in the game, but I thoroughly enjoyed what I heard. The secret boss music is a rockin’ epic which sets the mood for an epic showdown.
Section Two: Sound Effects
The sound effects played while navigating the user-interface sound off, as if they were intended as in-game attacks. But I guess have to give points for not using default RPGMaker sounds.
Section Three: Voice Acting
I was pleasantly surprised to hear voice acting in this game! I don’t speak Japanese, so I can’t comment on the quality of acting; but I didn’t hear any “pops” or overall audio distortion. Despite having no clue what Aisha was saying, I loved listening to her. Her commentary is a welcome contrast from the otherwise grim setting.
Chapter Six: Visuals (3/5★)
Section One: User-interface
The user-interface is nicely put together with fantastical graphical elements. From the “Options” menu, audio and gameplay preferences may be adjusted. I’m unsure how “Light Mode” affects the game. The application can be windowed mode or borderless full screened using the “F4” key.
Section Two: Graphics
The the graphics are premade but the explorable environments look nice. Unfortunately, enemies are totally uninspired. For some reason, Castaway of the Ardusta Sea is resource intensive; this game pushed my PC temperatures more than typical RPGMaker games.
Chapter Seven: Verdict (4/5★)
Castaway of the Ardusta Sea is a solid, entry-level stealth-based RPG with little flaws to speak of. My biggest qualm with the game is how sexual content is handled; the gallery is small, and there are few sex-scenes that come without steep penalties. If you’re the sort of person to leave no stone unturned, you’ll get a kick out of achievements and multiple endings. Otherwise, this succinct RPG will leave much to be desired with few hours of gameplay. As long as you’re willing to forgive its sexual shortcomings, Castaway of the Ardusta Sea is a great all around stealth RPG.
Chapter Eight: Recommendations
Don’t reset the player inventory after Aisha is raped — or offer a way to get it back. It makes sense why she would lose her possessions story wise, but it’s a steep cost for enjoying sexual content.