If the title didn’t get it across, let me say it again: THIS ARTICLE IS GONNA GET NSFW!! READ AT YOUR OWN DISCRETION!!
Okay, now that that’s out of the way, let me tell you about this game that I decided to try out from sheer curiosity and how it has almost literally driven me insane.
Artificial Academy 2 is a PC game made by Japanese developer Illusion and released in 2014. It is, at its core, a hentai game. Sex, sex everywhere! But, you actually have to work for it. You start off by creating a school, the class year, and the class number. Then you set up the clubs and finally make up the class roster. You can fill the roster with either premade students(one of whom will act as a teacher) OR jump into the games character maker and create your own. And let me tell you, the character maker is amazing. Or, rather, it gives you a lot of options in terms of hair and personalty traits(A lot of which may or may not be from mods.). I’ve spent more time in the character maker fine tuning characters than I have actually playing the game. And the game doesn’t limit you to hetero characters either. You can make gay/lesbian characters and you can make characters that are bi but leaning hetero, or bi but leaning homo. Yes, these are all options you can select. You can even make chubby characters. The only gripe I have with the character maker is that the options for male characters are far more limited than the female characters, and this isn’t the only part of the game where this bias is apparent. It speaks volumes about who this game is actually intended for. Make whatever kind of male character you can, play as that because it has the most risk/reward gameplay, and interact with female characters that you spent far more time on because they had far more options to choose from.
Once you’re done with that, you can set up your class roster. The first character you insert will be your character, no matter who you slot in. You can even be the teacher if you want. I, personally, made a character specifically for that slot. And let me just throw out there that it reads in the installer or somewhere that ALL the characters in this game are 18 and older for the purposes of this game. As a result, the game lets you do anything with any character, and it does not shy away from some taboo subjects(Though most Japanese games don’t so it’s not really anything unique. That being said, I should also clarify that this content can be turned off via the options menu, and it can only be initiated either by the player, or by an NPC towards the player, no NPC -> NPC initiation, and it only works on characters with specific traits and only NPC’s with the “evil” trait can initiate it aside from the player, from what I’ve read. UPDATE: I stand corrected, NPC’s can in fact initiate this with others NPC’s, I’ve seen it happen on multiple occasions, and in the middle of the hallway no less.).
The basic gameplay goes like this: You sleep the first night and wake up the next day, then head out. Class has not yet started and you can roam around to your hearts content. Each area is a pre-rendered background(or a damn convincing 3D one.) that your characters walks around in with a fixed camera. You’ll find other students wandering around, either going to school or attending early morning club activities. More students will arrive the longer you wait to begin homeroom and your first class. You can either go up to them and talk to them yourself, or you can wait for them to come to you. This is how you build your relationship with other characters. You can invite them to lunch or for a snack, to study together, to train together, and anything else the game lets you do. The ultimate goal is, despite the core conceit of the game, actually whatever you want it to be. The game will only end when the prerequisites are met for any of the games endings. Odds are, you’re either going to get murdered or you’re going to get a girl knocked up. And you read that right, you can be murdered. Some girls or guys can have traits that lead them to have more psychotic tendencies. Think Yandere Simulator, except you’re not the yandere. Other students can be killed by this character, and if you made the wrong move, you can end up on the chopping block. And if you’re wondering why getting a girl pregnant ends the game, it’s because you get expelled. Note that female players, be they a teacher or student, are incapable of getting pregnant. Why? I have no idea. All I know is that it seems practically impossible to get a game over unless you get murdered in that case.
All of this, of course, leads to the part a lot of people probably come to the game for: the sex. These are fully interactive scenes, not video clips that you just watch. The above image shows one such scene(Though it won’t have the logo plastered over it.). On the right hand side are you options which, once clicked, will open up a list of positions that you can select. At first you can only select ones that are infinite loops. Once you’ve selected one, a second set of icons will appear in that empty space below that will allow you to select the same positions, but that ones that actually end, though you can keep going if you wish. The small icons on the very bottom are for clothing. You can either remove the clothing piece by piece, or put clothing back on if that’s what you prefer. However, male characters can only strip entirely, hence why only one icon is lit up. The small icon on the far left is for ending the entire scene, so you’d only hit it when you’ve decided enough is enough.
The scene itself plays out separate from the background of the room you’re in, meaning that if spin the camera the right way, you might actually see the characters performing a very basic animation. This also means that, depending on your location, that other characters can walk in on you which can have one of multiple effects: Everyone now knows you’re screwing, they interrupt you which stops the scene, or if it’s a lover, they might kick the other person off and take over. All’s fair in love and war. And of course, this means that you can also walk in on other NPC’s doing the deed and either confront them about it, or leave them be. How easy a character is to sleep with depends on multiple factors, such as their personality and their morality. If they have low/lowest morals, they’ll be easy to win over. But if they’re set to high/highest, you’ll REALLY have to work if you want it. You can also try to influence people by spreading rumors. You can’t actually pick what rumor you spread, just if it’s good or bad. The person you talk to will always be a part of the rumor, you’re merely selecting the other person that’s also a part of that rumor. So you can sabotage people by spreading bad rumors, and hook two characters up using good rumors. And if you’re sadistic, you’ll hook them up with good rumors, and then sleep with one of them or use bad rumors to break them up.
If you’re still reading this, that makes me happy, but by now you’re probably wondering what about this game has been driving me insane. Well, it’s multiple things and I figured I should explain how the game works before getting to this point. So now I’m going to point out these glaring problems:
1. THE AI WON’T LEAVE ME THE HELL ALONE.
No, seriously, the AI is so obsessed with player character, that you’ll have the entire class chasing you through the school to try and talk to you, and it’s never ending. A big part of the game is supposed to be trying to keep your relationships secret, to make off somewhere and screw where no one will hopefully find and both you, but the AI is omnipotent. They know exactly where you are at all times and they will not stop talking to you. The only way this hell will end is if you either disable NPC -> PC Actions in the options, which kind of defeats the purpose at the same time because then no one can even walk in on by sheer random, or you can use a mod that activates a cooldown every time a character talks to you, meaning no one else can initiate a conversation with you until that cooldown ends(Sadly, I could not get this mod to work.). Oh, and you could opt to make all the NPC’s anti-social via the character maker, but that also kind of ruins the fun because then they won’t talk to you or any of the other NPC’s.
I’m sure you can just picture the hell that this becomes. I just want to talk to one character, but they’re on the other side of the school and you can’t just teleport there. So I run into EVERY OTHER STUDENT on the way there. It gets extremely annoying and makes me just want to close the game.
UPDATE: So after playing some more with NPC -> PC Actions switched off, I found that it actually works a lot better than I thought. While NPC’s won’t approach me, they do interact with each other a lot more now that they’re not fixated on me. And if I’m with someone, NPC’s will still seek that person out, allowing them to randomly walk in on me. It’s now become more interesting and far less annoying. The only thing I’m missing out on now is characters propositioning me instead of the other way around all the time.
2. I’m not actually playing the game for the reason it’s supposed to be played. Originally, yes, my curiosity was more on the fact that it was an h-game, but not long after I started playing it, I got addicted to the school life aspect of the game. The sex became and end game goal for me, not the point of the game. The point of the game, then, became interacting with the other characters, forming relationships, manipulating others, and essentially treating it as a school life simulator. This part drives me insane because the game was not built for that, as a result it’s fairly barebones and thus filled with so much untapped potential.
3. Because it has so much potential that isn’t utilized, even by modders(To be fair, I have no idea exactly to what extent this game can be modded, so it may just be that modders can’t do that much with it.). Both the school life sim part of it, and the lewd parts, could be drastically expanded to create an even more interesting game(That still couldn’t be sold on Steam.). I have so many ideas of what a sequel or a spiritual successor could look like, but I don’t think Illusion will be returning to this series any time soon considering they’ve made two more games since then and these seem like fairly cheap games with short dev cycles, and I lack the ability to make such a game myself. So I’m basically stuck jotting down a wishlist of what I would want out of such a game, and none of it will ever happen. This isn’t unique to this game, it happens a lot to me since I aspire to be a game developer or a novelist at some point. It just really drives me mad that I’m not at a point where I can act on any of the ideas I come up with.
At the end of the day, I don’t necessarily think it’s a bad game(Though its target audience is certainly limited.), just one that was built with a specific purpose in mind and yet could be so much more if its other elements were greatly expanded upon.
That’s it for this article. It took all the courage I had to write about this game(Ya know, even though I wrote about House Party before and didn’t get really any flack which was nice.), and if you’re curious about what I would do for a new game, I’d probably be willing to turn that into an article all by itself as well.