Inspired by the likes of Castlevania (and perhaps even Mario), Iris Action is a 2D action platformer hentai game created and developed by the Oiran Ichimi doujin circle. In the game, our hero is Iris, an agile young thief who, armed with a tanto knife, throwable daggers and deft acrobatics, must leap and slash her way through four unique and dangerous stages, filled with monsters that mean her more than a little mischief.
While it would seem that quite a bit of love and care went into the creation of Iris Action, it is not made immediately apparent upon first beginning the game. Visually speaking, the player is met with the glaring sight of 3D sprites superimposed on a backdrop of copypasted photographic textures. The game does not handle particularly well as far as controls are concerned, with Iris either standing still or running at full sprint whether or not an arrow key is pressed, making for unwieldy jumping in areas where precision is key.
At first glance, Iris Action is a tough pill to swallow. The ingame experience is not much better than any half competent flash game floating around on the web.
That is, until Iris throws in the towel.
For all of her ninja-like capabilities, little Iris is not a particularly strong-willed individual. A few glancing blows are generally more than enough to put the poor girl on her knees, giving up the fight and leaving herself at the mercy of her enemies.
Luckily for the player, it’s when things go so horribly wrong for the hapless heroine, that everything else goes so right.
The difference is night and day; in an instant, the once chipper soundtrack takes a turn for the ominous, as the action is brought to a halt and your avatar’s fate begins to unfold. When the player finally gives in, the full extent of Iris’ predicament (and the game’s potential) are realized.
For nearly every available fail state exists unique and meticulously well crafted CG scenes depicting just how badly Iris gets screwed over. Smooth and dynamic animation mixed with impressively organic audio make for “bad endings” that are anything but. One item of particular pleasure is the voice acting on the part of our starlet Iris, whose breathy moans and desperate squeals flawlessly accentuate each moment of rapacious despair, with each scene featuring its own special voice performance, making every single one its own exclusive treat.
These scenes are unlocked by experimenting with the different enemies and hazards within a stage. Variances to each individual scene can also be unlocked, depending on the state of Iris’ clothing when she falls victim to each potential threat. In the long run, achieving the requirements to seeing each fail state, as well as every variance of them, is the game’s singular draw and primary source of replayability.
Played straight, however, Iris Action does not have much to offer in the way of a compelling gameplay experience. Bosses follow scripted 1, 2, 3 patterns in their attacks, enemies do not require much thought or skill to defeat, and difficulty is achieved in the most arbitrary of ways, such as overwhelming the player with large numbers of brain-dead enemies or placing dangers outside of view, hurting you before you can react.
Iris Action’s combination of the innocuous with the horrific is its most memorable trait; without being too visually gratuitous, it is a remarkable exercise in abject sadism. Iris’ believability as a living breathing person (at least in the gameover scenes) gives her every downfall all the more impact. Juxtaposition can be a powerful thing, and the shift in tone and quality between gameplay and CG makes for an experience that is clumsy in action, yet graceful in defeat.