A couple of weeks before release we’ve managed to get hands on with Criminal Girls 2: Party Favours‘ first couple of worlds. What kind of party favours are on offer here? Are we talking basic Walkers crisps or Walkers Sensations? Well, that’s sort of the whole reason we’re doing a preview so read it I guess.
From playing the beginning of the game I’m happy to be able to say that Criminal Girls 2 outclasses the original Criminal Girls. Criminal Girls 2 is a massive step up in quality in terms of presentation, and offers some of the slickest dungeon crawler battles to date. It boasts a combat system so simple even your Nan could play it, and it’d be an added bonus if she knows what “S&M” means (she does (a delicious peanut candy)).
The combat system in Criminal Girls 2 is a unique beast. 4 of your party members surround the enemies, and each suggests an action they could take. These actions depend on their “motivation” level — the higher the level the more effective their suggestions might be. If a girl is completely “unmotivated” she will simply refuse to fight. On top of this you can also use one item per round, and can also “coach” them. Different styles of coaching will offer buffs and debuffs to your team depending on whether they’re more aligned as “S” or “M” like it’s some kind of D&D character alignment chart. It feels pretty chunky and satisfying.
Ironically the power lies with you whether the girls veer more towards M, S, or M&S’ Dine In For Two range. This is all through the “Motivation” system, and yes it’s probably that one main thing you’ve already seen about the Criminal Girls series, and one that has been the subject of some controversy. But DON’T WORRY. There’s a piece of dialogue quite early on where Shinoa makes it very clear that they want to be motivated and that they of course give their consent because why wouldn’t they give their consent that would be ridiculous and unjust and your PSN account definitely won’t be added to any kind of government list at all why would you even think that?
There are some interesting and innovative concepts within that system. Putting you in the place of a guide who has to help these “criminal girls” earn redemption from Hell and guiding them to reach their full potential is interesting in the way it’s reflected in the systems. For all of its controversy though the motivation scenes still seem a little bit weak. To level the girls up, even if you’re performing well in the motivation sections, you’re going to need to do the same rubbing mini-game multiple times.
The dungeon design is also pretty basic so far and not too interesting, mostly just plain rooms and corridors and key collecting. Graphically the game looks great though, and the portraits move just enough to make the characters feel alive, and especially so with the motivation images, giving some impressive depth.
The game’s localisation is pretty good too. It’s pretty self-aware of the kind of game it is, and isn’t afraid to poke fun of itself. It’s lively, light, and fun, and it seems like the localisation team have loved working on the game. They’ve done a great job from what I’ve seen. The story seems a little more interesting than the first game so far, teasing some possible inversions of what we know about Criminal Girls from the first game. The main character has amnesia, so you need to try and figure out what’s going on as you lead the girls to redemption. It’s interesting so far, but it’s a little early in the day for me to say whether it delivers or not.
If the first Criminal Girls was a basic packet of Walkers Crisps, then comparatively Criminal Girls 2 is definitely a step-up to Walkers Sensations from what we’ve played so far. If the first game teased you, then this should be well on its way to surpassing expectations.