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Review: Criminal Girls: Invite Only (PS Vita)By Sasari At 17.06.2017 14:28

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The story sets the player as a junior prison warden in hell. This warden role requires taking a group of delinquent girls through the four stages of hell and defeating the inhabitants of each floor to rehabilitate the girls and return them to the world of the living. The seven girls are horribly clichéd characters and each of their small backstories are so terribly written that it's really best just to skip most of the story here. It's straightforward and simple enough. The girls fight through the floors, find out the rehabilitation program has some skeletons in the closet, take on a fellow criminal girl as a final boss, and escape.

Each of the girls has their own little story to tell, but they're all rather dull and, again, quite skippable. Just before taking on the last boss, a special elixir can be given to a single member of the team, which transforms them into a knight, opening up a new form of motivation just for her, along with the subsequent skills from it. The knighted girl also gets a final piece of their story and a unique ending upon defeating the final boss. There are trophies for each girl's ending, so completionists can look forward to making a save point and taking on the last boss seven times to see them all.

If seven battles against the same last boss aren't quite enough repetition, this PS Vita remake keeps the story going. After defeating the final boss and making a post-game save file, the game lands back at the save point just before the last boss for an eighth fight, and defeating the boss once again opens up a new story. This story takes the antagonist of the game, Himekami, and the lead warden, who delivers all the exposition Y and adds them to the team, giving two more girls to *ahem* motivate and plunge into battle. It's more of the same, mostly, but the story at least gets a little interesting for a moment, taking on the administrators of hell and their program.

While the story is rather lacklustre, the gameplay itself isn't too bad - not the motivation (more on that later), but the actual dungeon crawling and combat elements are quite fun. Being a team of delinquents with no respect for authority, the girls don't take commands, and instead a team of four is arrayed around each enemy, each yelling what they think the team should do. The only choice is picking which of the four to go with.

There are some extra layers to this. Motivating the girls unlocks new abilities, along with passive stat boosts, and there are some nice tricks to get the best out of each of the girls. They all have a specific role - the usual ageless themes of tank, glass cannon magic user, healer, big damage swordswoman etc. - and combining these at the right time can make for very fun battles. Especially when taking into account other mechanics, like being able to switch one of the four girls out to a reserve member each turn, and the ability to use an item each turn. For example, tanky "Sword and Board" chick Ran has an ability to make all members of the party defend, so switching her into the party when a boss creature starts charging up an attack is key.

Now, the motivation… It's not anywhere near as risqué as it could have been, even with the strange censorship. Obviously, audiences expected some heavy-handed censorship, especially when some of the girls look underage, and censorship there is. It's not heavy-handed, though; it's just odd. The motivation consists of minigames that utilise the Vita's front and back touch controls. Basically, something appears on the screen and has to be held, tapped, or dragged. In the background of this minigame, the chosen girl is dressed in a fetish outfit, and as the level increases, the clothing decreases. There is a bit of underboob and the like, but nothing extreme. The only real changes over the Japanese release are an addition of a strange pink mist that obscures crotches (usually hiding underwear, resulting in it looking even dirtier than without the mist), and the removal of lots of moans from the audio… It is completely pointless.

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Final Score
The dungeon crawling and some of the battles may actually be fun, but they're bundled up in a product so full of issues that completely taint the final product. Anyone buying this for the fan service is going to be sorely disappointed, and for everyone else, it's just an awkward, overly easy and annoying additional minigame that feels tacked on. The premise is interesting, but the execution and quality is poor.

5

/10

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