Updated: Apr 8
Platforms: Windows, Mac, Android
Genre: Visual Novel
Reviewed by: Soniram
Wicked Choices was a game I had played a long while ago, soon after the completed and remastered version had come out. When it came time to come back around and do a review of it, I had forgotten most of the story. One of the great things about not having a great memory (as well as playing a ton of adult visual novels) is being able to go back and play a game where the story still feels new while the mechanics of it are somewhat familiar.
WICKED CHOICES GRABS THE WORD "NOVEL" AND STRANGLES IT
It's very different looking at a game as a reviewer or a developer than as a player. It is similar to the difference between watching a sporting event as a player, or coach, and a fan. The enjoyment can still be there, but what you pay attention to is different. The nuances are a little more noticeable. I remember playing Wicked Choices and thinking something along the lines of, "...this is a pretty cool game and it has some things I can really get into..." Then I played it again.
Of the hundred-plus adult games I've played, none have approached the story-telling aspect as ASLPro3D has. The term "visual novel" is, usually, something of a misnomer. The projects that stylize themselves as such are often times little more than animated/rendered slideshows with subtitles. We slap the term "visual novel" on them and go about our day. A "novel," to me, is a thick book filled with descriptive prose, action, and dialogue. Wicked Choices grabs that word "novel" and strangles it. Be prepared to read in this game.
Wicked Choices is part fantasy, part sci-fi, part anime-in-3d that, boiled down, has some good aspects, but a couple drawbacks. The main story revolves around two characters, one male and the other female, who only know each other through dreams and third parties. The male, who we soon find out is the 'antichrist', a.k.a. the second coming of Jesus with a big kink for incest, is your normal male protagonist in a fantasy story: given the natural charisma and easy choices to become unstoppable and worshipped. The female is a nubile, elfish, virgin princess who quickly finds herself in the throes of ecstatic passion and lust with her servant, her aunt/mother, a futa demon, and an old male priest.
The main idea of the story is compelling and is well-told, though it does tend to get long-winded in places. It reads more like a book than what most might expect from a visual novel. There are even some descriptors used in the dialogue box when a character is talking as if the game was written in book form and then copied into Ren'py. It is an interesting concept and definitely sets Wicked Choices apart, though it felt awkward in some places.
Writing fantasy of any type is extremely difficult. It isn't just coming up with a fantasy setting and putting pointy ears on some characters -- it's creating a whole entire world, a universe, where certain laws like physics might not work the same. The most difficult thing to achieve in fantasy writing is consistency (e.g. Star Wars). It's not easy, so to give credit where credit is due, ASLPro3D does better than most.
There is still some awkward arbitrariness, though. One example is found near the beginning when the worlds "luar" and "soatis" are dropped in, referencing (I'm guessing) units of time, then never used again. Given the book-style writing in it, Wicked Choices uses exposition to try and explain some things but then leaves other things up to the mind of the player. More and more characters are brought in, especially in the last three chapters, to expand the hauntingly beautiful world ASLPro3D is showing us, and there's some good character development. However, there's not enough time to really learn a lot about them or become entrenched in the creative setting. More on this soon.
"LOOK BUT DON'T TOUCH"
The visuals in Wicked Choices are not bad. There's no animation whatsoever, but it uses comic book panels which fits better with the story than animations would. On top of that, the environments are beautiful and fit the overall theme and tone, especially in the remastered version. The character models are executed very well, and when combined with the environments, lend even more strength to the overall game. ASLPro3D uses both normal and ostentatious clothing to a relatively good degree, though they use the normal adult game trope of making the (few) men wear drab clothing and decking the females out in skimpy and see-through clothes, which can get a little old after you see it often enough.
The way Wicked Choices handles sex is quite ingenious. It doesn't trifle the player with gradual steps through handjobs to blowjobs to fucking. It throws you right into some dark taboos, plays to them well, and keeps them happening throughout. Some of it is imagined or dreamed, some of it actually happens, and some is referred to. The crafting of it into the story isn't cheesy or sex-for-sex-sake. This is helped with the prose-type narrative present throughout. We know what is going on in their minds and why they are doing what they are doing.
My biggest frustration with this game is that it's so damned short. While I'm not sure how long it was in pre-development, it was out for six months between its first public release and the final 1.0 version. Six months isn't a lot of time, and considering the amount of writing that had to go into it, ASLPro3D did quite well. So why am I saying this game is short? Because, frankly, it is. Look, I get it. Stories end when they end. But there was so much potential to go further, or at least stretch things out a bit to incorporate more of the obviously deep history, more of the story of character interactions and exploits... it feels like a big missed opportunity.
There are many characters introduced throughout the story, though the main characters don't get a lot of time in the game to really explore either themselves or those around them. We are treated to seeing many beautiful characters in many different situations but then left with the resignation of them just being eye-candy. The "look but don't touch" on this is quite heavy. To focus so much on many sexual taboos, give the antichrist so much "power", and then rush through the narrative is a letdown.
Couple that with the fact Wicked Choices is just the first "book" in the series, and the second one seems to be focused on side characters from the first book, it can leave you with a bit of an exasperated sigh after the cliffhanger ending. It just feels like this could have been the masterwork of the series, but instead is just a tease. The second installment in the series has been in development for almost two years, as far as I can tell, and is still only on the first chapter. Personal issues with the development team might extend things even longer, but they do seem to be active in creating Wicked Choices: Agents of Karma.
I hope we get to see it.
[STORY]: Could have been The Stand, ended up as The Body. 14/22.
[VISUALS]: Environments and lighting are a plus. Characters above average. 16/22.
[GAMEPLAY]: Some choices boil down to "sex or no sex." That's not a bad thing. 15/22.
[ADULT CONTENT]: Average amount. Above-average kinkiness. 16/22.
[SONIRAM LIKEY?]: It's a like, but not a love. 8/12.
[VERDICT]: Recommended, but don't expect the moon.