Jokei Kazoku ~Inbou~ may be pretty, but is it worth 80$ of your hard-earned cash? Read on.
- Maker: Silky’s
- Genre: ADV
- Release Date: April 28, 2005
- Retail Price: 8,800 yen (tax out)
- Import Availability: Himeya Shop
Jokei Kazoku ~Inbou~ is the gorgeously illustrated tale of the death and subsequent unravelling of the family of a serially monogamous multibillionaire. You portray a recently-hired employee of his who may also be a product of one of his many extramarital affairs, and are determined to somehow undermine his estate and ultimately take it over. Standing in your way are his current wife and three daughters by earlier marriages; how much of an obstacle to your quest they prove to be is up to you and the choices you make in the course of the game. Not burdened by much in the way of actual gameplay, the success of Jokei Kazoku is thus tied to its ambient mix of plot, characters and artistic presentation. It may be pretty, but is it worth 80$ of your hard-earned cash? Read on.
The action in Jokei Kazoku begins at the funeral of the former head of the Arimiya house. You are charged with tending to the needs of the family members and guests in attendance there and at the reception later that evening. During the course of performing your duties you are waylaid by the Arimiya widow, Sumire (his 9th (!) wife), who invites you to visit her room after the reception – an invitation you can hardly refuse. When you eventually make your way there she presents you with a proposition: that you teach her three stepdaughters the pleasures of “knowing” a man. In the Biblical sense.
That would be enough of a premise for most eroge to work with, but she does actually have a motive for setting you loose on her extended family: when her husband died he left the bulk of his fortune locked in a vault deep in the bowels of the family compound. Its location was known only to few, and the password to open it known only to him and one other. Until the night of his death his (current) wife was that other, but the circumstances resulting in his death also resulted in the password being changed, and the identity of anyone else who might know the new password is veiled in mystery. All Sumire knows is that it isn’t her, so she infers that it must have gone to one of his daughters – with whom she is not on the best of terms. That’s where you come in, tasked with using your manly wiles to drag the safe’s secret – and thus implicit control over the Arimiya dynasty – out of whoever is hiding it. Note that the safe is for all intents and purposes impossible to break or otherwise force open.
As you piece this information together you’re also calculating how it can be used to your own advantage and avoiding the many pitfalls that could result in the BAD END of your death or worse, dismissal from the household. The story is presented over the course of five days, which is awfully short for the amount of significant human relationships you forge (and sex you have); the story side of the game would be improved by a longer section of character development leading up to the Arimiya patriarch’s death, but the sacrifice here is permissible in that it lets you jump into the intrigue (and sex) right away.
The current matriarch and widow of the Arimiya house. A friend would call her a strong woman who knows what she wants and knows how to get it; an enemy would call her a power-hungry whore who is more than willing to open her legs if it means she’ll get one up over the opposition. Extraordinarily beautiful, unscrupulous and untrustworthy, she is the very image of the femme fatale.
The eldest of Arimiya’s three legitimate daughters, Chisato is haughty, distant, and frigid toward the opposite sex. On the surface she is composed and commands the position of eldest sibling with ease, but roiling underneath are more complexes than a barrel full of very intricate monkeys. She’s the kind of girl who likely won’t initially respond to anything short of blackmail…
The middle Arimiya daughter shares many of Sumire’s traits and there is no love lost between them. Unlike the current matriarch, though, Misora hasn’t quite mastered the art of using her charms to their full effect; there is little danger that you’ll submit to her mildly hilarious demands, and if you’re forward in your advances you’ll find that she enjoys certain recreational activities a bit too much for her own good.
The youngest Arimiya heiress is meek, subservient, and the patriarch’s apparent favorite at the time of his death. She wants nothing more than to get along with her older sisters and live a simple, happy life – sadly impossible in this family. If you follow your protective instincts you can’t go wrong, but don’t push your luck with her too soon…
One of the many maids of the Arimiya household. Similar in temperament to Shion, If you play your cards right she will become a valuable ally on and off the battlefield. Do what you can to help her, but be careful not to make enemies in the process.
A female coworker of yours and secretary to the Arimiya house. She shows an obvious sisterly affection for you from the start, and will be one of the keys to victory in pursuit of the family fortune. Be sure to listen to her advice – you have more in common with her than you think.
Two male Arimiya employees. As your boss, Ushio is perpetually displeased with your performance and threatens to fire you on more than one occasion. Keep a sharp eye out, along with your camera phone, and you may not be the one facing a long walk off a short pier. Souma is the family lawyer, and while you don’t interact with him directly in the course of the game there is someone else who does. Intimately. Again, keep that phone at the ready.
Jokei Kazoku is a pretty straightforward ADV. It differs from the conventional formula in that instead of choosing from among various multiple-choice reactions to game events, you chose whether to pursue or ignore a certain line of thought, thread of conversation, or course of action that shows up in red type within the body of the text. This option occurs in such a wide variety of circumstances that it is occasionally difficult to see what relevance a particular phrase has to the plot, and led in my case to several unfortunate encounters with the grim reaper (or the pink slip of doom). When you do hit a BAD END though your final thoughts come to you in 20/20 hindsight and tell you where you went wrong, avoiding much frustration. Aside from the vaguely Scientologist “notice this” lines strewn throughout the game, there are a few points at which you must choose between various destinations to proceed with the plot, but these are largely contrived to force you to settle on one or two options (you can go everywhere else, find nothing, and come back to the selection screen without penalty).
Another nice feature of Jokei Kazoku that augments the traditional ADV formula is a graphical flow chart that you gradually unlock as you progress through the game, describing the course of events you’ve gone through and the results of various decisions. You can see where the plot forks off as you go, but not what the alternate paths lead to (until you go down them). You can also click on a graphic for a scene and return immediately to that point in the continuity, an enormously handy feature for retracing your route after a BAD END or replaying in pursuit of a different ending. Once you’ve played through the whole game you can skip to any point in the route you took, at any time, and work from there.
The last “feature” of the game is hardly worth mentioning except for the sake of completion; in a handful of the ero scenes you can access an itazura mode which lets you mouse over the girl and click in one or two predefined places to elicit a few extra lines of voice acting. It feels like it’s been added as another bullet point for the advertisements and does little to enhance the gameplay experience; I would almost prefer that they left it out entirely instead of opting for this halfhearted implementation.
If I had to give one adjective to the visual presentation of Jokei Kazoku it would be “voluptuous,” which from the makers of Dorei Kaigo should perhaps come as no surprise. This is the first eroge I’ve played that is well-illustrated enough for the stock character images to turn me on; Sumire is exquisite in her dark widow’s kimono at the funeral on the first day, and things just get better from there. The character designs and coloring are superlative all around, and while the CG shots number in the dozens rather than the hundreds I find myself entirely satisfied with their ratio of volume to quality. This is ultimately a personal call, but I like to think I know a good thing when I see it; check out the character gallery on the official site (linked above) to judge for yourself.
I’m not yet enough of a connoisseur of eroge to track the work of individual voice actresses, but the cast here performs their roles to near perfection. Sumire is suitably sultry (and alliterative), Chisato plays both dominant and submissive well, Misora sounds temperamental but inexperienced. I should note that while the protagonist isn’t voiced the two other prominent male characters are, which is a touch I always appreciate in compensation for my rather feeble kanji skills. The music works well enough to support the graphic sumptuousness of the story and doesn’t get in the way; it avoids the common gripe of poor mixing vis a vis the vocal track, so no complaints there.
If I did have to air one petty grievance, though, it would be that I didn’t enjoy the scenes with Shion and Emiri nearly as much as the others. I’d much rather win the affections (and eventual complete submission) of a woman who has something to rate me against than a girl who has to lose her virginity in the process. No matter how much she says she likes you it never feels good to have sex with a partner who is crying.
RATING AND CONCLUSION
Overall Grade: 9/10
Jokei Kazoku gets just about everything right. The plot is well paced and the visuals sucked me in right from the start, drawing me through the game’s sordid tale of love and betrayal and leaving me at the other end before I knew it, minus a day of my life and plus a sense of almost total catharsis that longed for nothing more than the release of another Silky’s title. The game’s only real weakness is it’s strength: the visuals are so compelling that they threaten to overwhelm the characters they depict. Fortunately the voices, music and ADV system hold up beneath them to create a coherent package that is easily one of the best eroge released in the past year. Does that mean it’s worth $80 at Himeya? If the art calls to you the way it did me, I’d give it an unqualified “yes.”