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2017-06-14

Road Trip Review

Title: Road Trip
Release date: 2017-02-11 (Patreon) / 2017-03-05 (public)
Developer & publisher: Malleck

Over the last few years, the number of people, who jumped onto the Patreon crowdfunding platform to raise money for their own erotic game projects, increased exponentially. Everyone and their mother are now trying to create erotic visual novels, adventure games and even RPGs.

The erotic projects range from very interesting and imaginative ones, e.g. "Seeds of Chaos" or "Good Girl Gone Bad", to complete drivel for lowest common denominator, e.g. "Big Brother". Usually such ventures are coupled with very questionable English language skills, which is not that strange, as probably more than half of the Russian GDP currently comes from Patreon. So, where does "Road Trip", one of the few completed Patreon-funded ero adventure games, fit in? The answer is - somewhere right into the middle.
The clothes measuring scene is so cliché, that it's present in every single Patreon game I have ever played.
When I say that "Road Trip" is completed, I don't try to create a false image of a long and engaging adventure game. RT is the equivalent of a short and simple nukige, easily comparable to any of the "softhouse-seal" ero VNs. It took me 2 hours and 45 minutes to finish the game once and an additional hour to hunt down all the remaining unseen scenes. Admittedly, there is already a sequel in production, called "Sea Holiday", but it will probably be as short as its predecessor.

The plot is almost nonexistent, but adequately serviceable for such a short game. A girl Jennifer decides to travel the world, but is unexpectedly stranded, when her money and documents are stolen while visiting some unnamed Banana Republic. Of course, like all banana republics, here the government and police are hopelessly corrupt, even the lowest citizens expect a bribe to get their asses moving, and to add cherry to the top of this cake - everyone is a complete pervert. You have no money, darling? No sweat, we take blowjobs as a payment! Olaf, the chief of police, is ready to help, as long as Jenny is willing to give him a handjob... while at the same time staying on the phone with her boyfriend. Oh, and there is a talk about a missing Spanish treasure, the search of which Jennifer is unwillingly pulled into.
What a lucky boyfriend. He gets to listen to his girlfriend cheat on him :-)
Now, while not a visual novel, "Road Trip" is clearly a nukige. It uses sex to keep the player's interest and actually does the job pretty decently. The H-scenes are arousing, and while they are not strong in the fetish department, they were built in a competent way, even if the excuse for having sex is sometimes usually completely absurd. Like that time when Jenny gives Michael a blowjob, while he is disarming an alarm while they are breaking into a house >_> Not to mention, that Jennifer apparently completely fails to understand the ramifications of her certain actions, like letting people paint or photograph her in the nude, and then gets surprised when those nudes end up all over the town. One of the characters even remarks that Jennifer might be a bit dumb, and I cannot contest that. Though I shouldn't complain - that scene where our protagonist realizes that even her roommate has a nude picture of her, is comedy gold.
Boxing... killing brain cells since the dawn of times.
Anyway, the writing in the game is inconsistent and, at times, all over the place. Jennifer rarely acts in a believable fashion. One moment she might raise a fuss about baring her chest, the next moment she is gleefully giving someone a blowjob. There is no believable corruption progression, Jenny switches from slut to saint mentality at a moment's notice without any rhyme or reason, and it is actually one of the more annoying things about this eroge. At the very least, there are no particularly egregious grammar mistakes; a few typos or misused words here and there, but the English language has not been murdered... which raises "Road Trip" high above 80 percent of the rest of Patreon projects.

Another weak point of the writing is that most of the characters are really criminally underused. I would have really loved to see more of Kara - your friendly neighbourhood aggressive lesbian, but unfortunately we only get one measly threesome out of all that teasing. For shame! The game really lacks yuri love! Not to mention, the whole subplot with the drug dealers could have been dramatically expanded, but it sort of withered and died without creating any sort of impact. We don't even get any sort of feeling about our roommate Michael. Is he really searching for a lost treasure, because he is surely not very proactive about that? Does he purposefully get into sexual situations with Jennifer, or where all those events a fluke? The game seems to hint to the latter, but there is not enough characterization to tell either way.
Sadly, this subplot goes nowhere.
"Road Trip" is a linear game in a way that there is only one ending, but there are two major decisions, which result in some rather different scenes. First of all, it matters, how you conduct yourself while working in the mansion, and second major decision pertains to which of the two medallions you decide to pursue. In other words, you should make a save when you are working in the mansion for the first time, and from there you will be able to explore both branches of the road. I suggest coupling "staying calm" with acquiring the medallion in the mansion, and then replay the game by combining "getting angry" with the medallion in the forest. If you mix the two choices in a different way, you will miss one blowjob scene.

"Road Trip" is obviously an RPG Maker game. Often, when I play RPG Maker adventure games, I am annoyed at the creators, who create huge sprawling city maps with very few visitable places, essentially creating mazes for you to get lost in. I have to give a nod to the developer Malleck for avoiding this issue. Both of the two major locations in this game are developed in a sensible compact way. The maps are pretty small, and it is made pretty clear to the player, what they can and cannot visit. There is no getting lost, or getting confused in RT maps, which removes a lot of frustration frequently associated with such games.
Such a beautiful boyfriend for the evening...
Additionally, the game combines the usual RPG Maker graphics with the 3D rendered character sprites, just like majority of Patreon projects. It's obviously much easier and quicker to hammer some simple renders with a dedicated program, than to hire a 2D artist, but it's actually very hard to make renders look beautiful. It's the epitome of the axiom "Easy to use, hard to master". The renders in "Road Trip" are of the simple variation. They are suitable enough for a game like this, but some more effort in the department could have elevated the game above it's current state. The greatest offender at the mediocrity is Jennifer's render, as her face is drawn somewhat weirdly, giving her a permanently sleepy look... Unless it was the developer's intention to give her "I don't give a fuck - I just want a nap facial expression" :-) Well, at least Malleck doesn't seem to be using pre-made assets, because I have lost the count of Patreon projects, where characters share the same look, because the devs bought the characters from the same source.
Jennifer knows her worth.
Ultimately, these are the two things the game rides on: pretty nice sex scenes, and easy and frustration-free gameplay. The characterization is pretty weak, and plot is almost nonexistent. The game starts with our protagonist losing her wallet and ends with her regaining it and leaving the unnamed country she was stuck in. Das ende. Or rather not the end, because the preview of the sequel shows a few returning characters, hence it's very likely that Jenny will not be able to so easily escape the promiscuous reputation she developed during her visit. Not to mention that her boyfriend might get a wind of her extracurricular activities ;-)

To sum up, the game is very short, just like I mentioned before and might or might not serve as a distraction during a few hours of free time. After finishing it I feel no overwhelming urge to play the upcoming sequel, but we'll see what the future brings.

Links of Interest

Developer's Patreon
Game download
Walkthrough
ULMF forum

Final Verdict: 54%

4 comments:

  1. Hi I've a question about Hourglass of Summer(your guide is excellent). Did you ever get dropped subtitles with MPC HC(only 1 line displayed)? Powerdvd is kinda crashy. ><

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You sure posted this under the wrong review :-P

      Anyway, no, I didn't have that problem. While I played the game a long time ago, I remember it working perfectly. Never had any dropped lines. Don't know what the issue might be.

      Delete
    2. Oh crud, oops!

      Hmmm maybe I'll try converting my files into mkv and srt and see if that works.

      Delete
  2. WOW!Nice review, hope you will keep doing this.There are many great NTR's game that need your review skill xD.

    ReplyDelete