Reviews: Criminal Girls 2 Party Favors

One Step Forward, One Leap Back

Criminal Girls 2 basically took a good long look at my review of its predecessor and set about trying to fix most of my problems with it. Unfortunately, in the process, it destroyed most of what made the last game good.

Take the Motivation minigames. It's much less cringeworthy this time, with the game carefully establishing basic consent on the part of the girls, and the minigames themselves generally less unpleasant. However, unlike the mercifully easy and short minigames last game, these are a pain in the butt to actually use, being either frustrating and imprecise attempts to show off the PS Vita's touch screen technology or frustratingly difficult-to-use button controls. And the money sink involved is much worse when failure is much easier.

Second, the gameplay. It resolves many of the previous game's problems by, among other things, making more than one character the tank and offering different "build paths" for each heroine, determining whether they end up "S" (offensive oriented) or "M" (defensive oriented), and it tries to help the player feel more active by implementing a "coaching" mechanic to boost the girls in a fight. Unfortunately, rather than add depth, it just adds complexity: it's a simple buff when it works, and a debuff when it fails, and each of the coaching choices can have a different result on different girls of different alignments. Even if you fine-tune it, there will always be one girl whom it doesn't work on. And special mention to poor Sui, whose whole schtick is now absolutely useless thanks to those changes.

Finally, the characters. On the one hand, there're fewer annoying comic relief characters this time around, and the game sees fit to give them a bit more depth. And the overall plot of "one character is the convict" is a lot more compelling than the last game's. Unfortunately, not only are the characters' confronting their inner demons less understandable and compelling this time around, but the whole ending sequence is just meh, and undermines many of the earlier story beats. At least you don't have to wait for the post game to knight everyone this time around.

I wanted to like Criminal Girls 2. Its heart is in the right place, and it tried to fix the last game's problems. Unfortunately, it ended up being a much worse and less-fun game in the process.

One Step Forward, One Leap Back

Criminal Girls 2 basically took a good long look at my review of its predecessor and set about trying to fix most of my problems with it. Unfortunately, in the process, it destroyed most of what made the last game good.

Take the Motivation minigames. It's much less cringeworthy this time, with the game carefully establishing basic consent on the part of the girls, and the minigames themselves generally less unpleasant. However, unlike the mercifully easy and short minigames last game, these are a pain in the butt to actually use, being either frustrating and imprecise attempts to show off the PS Vita's touch screen technology or frustratingly difficult-to-use button controls. And the money sink involved is much worse when failure is much easier.

Second, the gameplay. It resolves many of the previous game's problems by, among other things, making more than one character the tank and offering different "build paths" for each heroine, determining whether they end up "S" (offensive oriented) or "M" (defensive oriented), and it tries to help the player feel more active by implementing a "coaching" mechanic to boost the girls in a fight. Unfortunately, rather than add depth, it just adds complexity: it's a simple buff when it works, and a debuff when it fails, and each of the coaching choices can have a different result on different girls of different alignments. Even if you fine-tune it, there will always be one girl whom it doesn't work on. And special mention to poor Sui, whose whole schtick is now absolutely useless thanks to those changes.

Finally, the characters. On the one hand, there're fewer annoying comic relief characters this time around, and the game sees fit to give them a bit more depth. And the overall plot of "one character is the convict" is a lot more compelling than the last game's. Unfortunately, not only are the characters' confronting their inner demons less understandable and compelling this time around, but the whole ending sequence is just meh, and undermines many of the earlier story beats. At least you don't have to wait for the post game to knight everyone this time around.

I wanted to like Criminal Girls 2. Its heart is in the right place, and it tried to fix the last game's problems. Unfortunately, it ended up being a much worse and less-fun game in the process.
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