Nine years have passed since the release of RapeLay, which sparked much controversy for its dark themes and discriminatory portrayal of women. After almost a decade, Illusion revisits these themes with Play Club, a game wherein the player is tasked to rape a mother and her three daughters. This may sound familiar to those who have played RapeLay, but most of the similarities end there as the game adopts a more minimalistic style of gameplay, akin to many of Illusion’s more recent titles.
As may be expected, the plot of Play Club is nothing spectacular. Its only purpose is to introduce the player to the settings and characters of the game. Our protagonist, Kageyama Kouji, a moderately built man who comes across as a bit of an asshole with his sharp looking eyes and crude way of speech, is hired as a rapist by Nitou Masamune who has kidnapped four girls for his scheme. Kouji initially applied because of the attractive pay presented to him in a shady job offer he recieved in the mail one day. Seemingly devoid of any morals and primarily in it for the money, Kouji now rapes in an effort to do his employer’s bidding. Although it may not stand out as one of the game’s strong points, the premise does fulfill its purpose and gives the game a slightly more complete feel.
Play Club itself is an eroge with the story presented in a visual novel style. Predictably, the core of the gameplay is the sex, which is controlled by a few buttons and a slider. Most of the positions in the game have two options to choose from: piston and grind. Those that only utilize only one option are generally solo plays, or just the girl or guy on the recieving end. A speed slider is also there for players to control the intensity of the sex so they can have it as hard and fast or as slow and sensual as they desire. Performing these actions is as simple as clicking their respective buttons, leaving your hands free to do your thing. However, this gets old fast and is rather unfilfilling in terms of gameplay. Performing sexual acts will fill up a pleasure gauge, and once it reaches about 80%, the sexual position will change slightly as the guy or the girl nears climax. The guy can actually cum inside or outside at any given time as long as you’re not in the neutral state, but the girl can only cum after having filled the bar to at least 80%. During this time, the options to have the girl cum solo and cumming simultaneously will become available. It’s also possible to instantly reach the threshold by pressing E if you don’t want to wait, and likewise, pressing it again will drop it back down to 0%. There are no fluid mechanics involved when cumming: the characters will only convulse for a bit, and if you choose to cum outside then cum will generally appear on wherever the guy cums.
Visibility of certain elements in Play Club can be toggled on or off, such as the user interface, the guy, and miscellaneous objects like sinks when viewing the scene with the camera outside the room. The girl’s clothing can also be toggled within the scene and can even be edited, which I’ll get to shortly. The last few interacive aspects of the scene are the camera, lighting and placement of the characters. The camera’s anchor point can be placed anywhere you wish, and from there you can zoom in, out and swivel around for the perfect angle. The lighting can be adjusted with three different sliders to the bottom of the screen to set the right mood, and directly under those sliders are three little boxes. Clicking and dragging these boxes will allow you to place the characters somewhere else. An alternate control method is available for something more engaging which has the player click within a box for each thrust or drag while holding a click to grind. The faster you click or drag, the faster and more intense you will perform the action. I personally didn’t use this method as it felt clunky and just too much of a handful for what you can do with the automated controls. Coming into Play Club, I was expecting something a little more hands-on like RapeLay, but it unfortunately ended up more comparable to School Mate 2.
There’s a bit of variety in Play Club for everyone, with 5 girls to choose from and 13 maps get to busy in, including a public park, a sex dungeon and even a concert stage. For maps that are in public, there will be silhouettes of people watching and a few sound loops of people talking about what you’re doing. The girls you can choose from are Tachibana Rinko, who is Masamune’s secretary, Kiryuu Momiji, the young and innocent little sister, Kiryuu Akane, a foul mouthed high school girl with a timid side, Kiryuu Yayoi, a quiet airhead and the eldest of the sisters, and Kiryuu Asae, the mother of the three. There are also different characters to pair the various girls up with besides Kouji. These characters include a huge obese man, a dirty hobo, a child and the aforementioned Rinko. Unfortunately, pairing up the girls with anyone that isn’t Kouji will only have 2 sex positions available to choose from, and it’s also not possible to pair Rinko up with any male apart from Kouji even after Free Mode is unlocked. The character archetypes are varied enough to keep things interesting, and it’s also possible to go into character edit to change their appearance as you see fit. Everything from the hair, face, body and clothes can be edited, though hairstyles are a bit limited. Clothing is limited as well, but the common favorites such as bloomers, maid uniforms and school swimsuits are present. The best part of clothing would be that there are 7 different articles of clothing you can change individually: the main outfit, bra, panties, socks, pantyhose, shoes, glasses, head accessory and mask. I do wish there were more voice packs to choose from, but only five are available (one for each girl), and they’re not selectable in character edit either. What you can do, however, is load characters into different slots for different voices. Character edit is by far the strongest feature in Play Club, as the sliders are plentiful and covers most of the body so you can create your ideal girl. The only thing that could hold you back is not having the correct hairstyle. It should also be noted that while you can edit girls, it’s not possible to edit guys, which can be disappointing to those with more specific fetishes.
As you continue to have sex with the girls, you’ll notice the heart gauge next to their names start to fill up. Once they reach a certain point, their behavior, voices, and the available sex positions will change. You can’t change them back until you’ve finished the story, which is advanced by continually filling their gauges until you trigger events. These events are visual novel segments which further flesh out the girls’ characters. Rinko also has a heart gauge, but it’s 90% full from the get go. She doesn’t have any personal events like the other girls, but filling her gauge is a requirement to get the ending and to unlock Free Mode. You’ll be notified that an event is ready when the “Begin H” button has an “!” on it followed by the event’s name. Watching the events and getting to know the characters of Play Club made them seem slightly less one-dimensional, but there definitely wasn’t enough to get the characters’ appeal across. In the end, their archetypes spoke the loudest.
After the ending, you’ll be prompted to save your game and will have unlocked Free Mode afterwards, although it isn’t terribly different from other modes. The heart gauge will be removed and all positions will be made available, as well as all behavioral changes. A last behavior setting will also be unlocked that wasn’t in Training Mode called “Ahe,” or “Fucked Silly” in layman’s terms. 3P Mode (Threesomes) will be selectable, though the third person is always Rinko. Last, but not least, you’ll be able to toggle how much cum is on the girl’S body, if at all, without having the male ejaculate. While Free Mode is nice, there isn’t a whole lot more to do at this point in Play Club apart from making new characters.
Illusion brought out the realism in Play Club’s visuals quite well without making it look “too real”. The skin texture is very detailed with all the small imperfections factored in to make it lifelike, but areas where wrinkles are plentiful, such as hands and feet, suffer from this and feel like there’s too much going on in such a small window. Clothing with smooth textures like school swimsuits turned out great with how sleek and shiny they look, but many cotton clothes take a hit as Illusion is unable to recreate something that doesn’t come across as plastic looking. The same goes for the hair, which I feel they did a good job with, but in contrast with the realistic looking body, just stands out too much and can feel rather fake. The other problem I had with hair is the clipping. People who enjoy longer hairstyles will be disappointed to hear that the hair will actually clip through the body in certain sex positions. Skirts also have the same problem, but can be “pulled up” so they don’t flow freely and move all over the place. As far as glitches go, the game doesn’t have too many, and the ones I’ve come across are caused by specific combinations of clothing or hair with certain positions. The cum looks fake, but not in an entirely bad way: it’s bright, shiny, viscous and not unpleasant to look at. The censoring in Play Club, however, sticks out like a sore thumb with pixelated rods in the place of penises and a patch for the vagina in similar fashion. The worst part is that there are no other options available for the censor, so you’re stuck with it.
One of the most important aspects of sex would be the facial expressions and how well they’re depicted, in which case I think Illusion definitely dropped the ball in Play Club. Kouji’s expression remains static throughout the game no matter what he’s doing, which really ruins the mood. You could turn his model off but it’s strange to look at a girl having sex with nothing in many of the positions. Of course the girls aren’t exempt from this either as most of the time they’re staring into oblivion. It’s not like Illusion is incapable of making the eyes track the camera, they just didn’t do it. While the girls’ expressions do change during sex, they rarely look as ecstatic as they sound.
The soundtrack is easily the most forgettable aspect of Play Club. The tracks are few, short and fail to leave a lasting impression. It’s also not possible to choose which track you want played, as they’re randomized each time you start a new session. Only the girls are voiced in the game, and the voice actresses have done a decent job at giving the characters a personality. The downside is that the voices can become repetitive during sex scenes, even in spite of the multiple behaviors to choose from. They react the same way each time you stick it in, when they moan, and each way of cumming also has it’s own set reaction which starts to feel dull after a while.
Before closing things out, I should note that my experience with Play Club was played with DLC costumes and the expansion installed; the latter of which also adds a few costumes, sex positions and Studio Mode. Despite having the Studio add-on, I did not explore it for the review as it was a separate part of the game, similar to how map editing is to an RTS. Naturally, the option is there for those interested in such a thing.
At first, it felt like there was a lot to see and do in Play Club with the amount of positions the game had to offer; however I very quickly started to feel like I’ve seen and done everything already, due to many of the positions looking very similar to previous ones of the same theme with slight differences. Those who are into more hardcore themes, such as bondage and S&M, will be disappointed since most of the positions are quite tame and don’t come across as arousing or exciting in general. Overall, Play Club is great for the character creation and a few faps, but the lack of content and diversity leaves much to be desired. For those who are interested in something short and sweet, give Play Club a go. Otherwise, if you’re searching for a more enriching and impactful experience, your time is better spent elsewhere.