Although I’m not really the type to touch visual novels until they’re finished, I was asked to play through and share my thoughts on the demo for Foul Play by Bandit Visual Games. Since I’m always for more yuri visual novels, I was happy to do so.
The demo covers chapter 1 as of now and is currently the alpha version. According to Bandit Visual Games, “additional gameplay features, music, art and GUI designs will be added to the final demo version as well as the released game. The game is expected to release summer 2021.”
In my opinion, the game is in an interesting situation in regards to setting and characterization. Given the references to Tokyo Tower and a red light district, it would appear that Foul Play takes place in Tokyo. But if that’s the case, then the actions of Cynthia, the protagonist’s boss, are more than a little suspect given that she pulls out a gun to threaten some thugs who couldn’t take a hint. Gun laws are incredibly strict in Japan, after all.
However, if we are to go by her hair colour and first name, perhaps Cynthia is not from Japan and thus is more gung-ho. That in turn can help further explain why Cynthia doesn’t get along with the higher-ups at the office, who may be xenophobic in addition to being sexist.
Honestly, the more I played through this demo, the more I found Cynthia to be an interesting hypocrite. She is quick to denounce most of the men mentioned in the story as creeps who only want to get laid (to be fair, almost all of the men in the demo only help her point) and even accuses the protagonist as having her mind in the gutter, for instance. And yet, if the player plays their cards right, Cynthia offers to pick you up as if the two of you were going on a romantic date and she isn’t afraid to initiate physical contact with the protagonist or even hit on her. She’s always sly enough to make it look like an accident or for maintaining cover, of course.
If you look at the demo’s Itch.io’s page, it’s mentioned that the game is supposed to feature “realistic portrayals of coming out experiences [and] women dating women.” From that, I can kind of get why Cynthia acts like that. She’s probably more than a little attracted to the protagonist but she still prioritizes her duties at work. And yet she can’t help but make coded advance that could be brushed off, which makes sense given that she’s your boss and there’s a huge power disparity in their relationship that makes romantic pursuit quite sticky. All in all, I think Cynthia makes for an intriguing love interest and I look forward to seeing how she’s fleshed out in the game proper.
The other love interest, Winter, is clearly up to no good, but the protagonist is just like most of us and she’s more or less defenseless against this silver-haired bad girl. Unlike Cynthia, who has her hands tied, Winter is free to be shamelessly aggressive to the protagonist. Yet she’s clearly dangerous, which in turn makes romantically pursuing Winter a perilous prospect for the protagonist.
Sadly, while I consider both love interests to be interesting, the protagonist herself is relatively boring. I believe that’s not the worst thing since having boring love interests is basically a death sentence, which is what Foul Play avoids, but it’s possibly something to consider. I guess I just find her a bit too incompetent, which also sort of contradicts her description in which she’s stated to be “very efficient at solving crimes from behind a desk.” Of course, field work is very different from working at a desk so that could explain why she’s fumbling, but a woman who’s supposed to be the top 1% of her class seems a bit too helpless. Maybe the addition of off-handed mention of cases she helped solve while providing support from off the field could help demonstrate her skill so the reader isn’t stuck just rolling their eyes at her bumbling. Then again, her being unlucky is probably one of her charm points, so what do I know?
My last nitpick is Cynthia mentioning that Mr. Tanaka was three years sober and yet he would frequently go to a hostess club and buy a very expensive bottle of liquor. Seems like it’s a bit of a contradiction to me, but I could be wrong.
I found two bugs while playing through this demo. If you quit out to the main menu while you’re being bombarded by noisy crowds at the bar, the clamor continues to play until you load a new scene or start a new game. The second bug occurs if you reject Winter’s advances at the bar, which leads to the following screen. Obviously that’s the wrong move to make since the plot grinds to a halt, but this is probably something that should be adjusted.
I find myself liking the soundtrack in this game and have left it playing for quite some time, but I’m also capable of enjoying the same song for hours at a time so maybe I’m a bit weird like that.
In short, I’m looking forward to the release of Foul Play in Summer 2021. I think this yuri visual novel has a lot of potential. Please give the demo a shot and send some feedback to Bandit Visual Games!