Keisuke Takatou wakes up one morning to find himself in an unknown white room surrounded by six girls from his school. Their memories seemingly stripped, the group stands around in confusion, until suddenly, a strange voice begins to make an announcement: “The game will now begin.” The game’s rules are simple: there are five rounds. Keisuke, the “unlocker”, must select one of the girls to become his “keyhole”. Once the keyhole has been selected, the unlocker must perform a specified sexual act using the keyhole in order to win the round and unlock the doors leading to the outside world. The class representative for Keisuke’s class, Miyako Andou, lashes out in horror at the mysterious announcer and exclaims her forfeiture from the game, refusing to allow herself to be used as a keyhole. Suddenly, the lights turn off and the room is engulfed in darkness. When the lights come back on, everyone stares horrified at what is before their very eyes: Miyako Andou tied to an electric chair. Overhead, the mysterious announcer booms “Withdrawal from the game will result in death,” before the electric chair is turned on, sending terrifying electric currents into Miyako’s body, frying her insides as she dies a slow, agonizing death.
As the other girls cry and watch in horror, Keisuke finds himself becoming increasingly aroused as he watches the torture in front of him. For Keisuke has a deep, dark secret that he has kept hidden from the world: the desire to rape, torture, and watch women suffer. Much to Keisuke’s dismay, however, his classmate Nemu Manaka has figured out his taste for sexual assault and destruction against women, using it to her advantage and forcing Keisuke to listen to her requests, lest she reveal his sadistic desires. Will he let go and relinquish control to the beast that lurks in his heart, or can Keisuke keep his inner demons at bay and save himself and the girls from this white-walled nightmare?
At the start, the story of Euphoria is fairly simple and basic like most nukige visual novels, with the exception of its fairly unique story of what can be described as “saw with sex”. At the beginning of the game, the story is fleshed out to a bare minimum, giving just enough context for the player to have a slight grasp upon the situation and setting that the main bulk of the game, the sex, is based around; being a nukige, this is no real surprise, as this is how most of these types of visual novels are set up. However, do not let the seeming simplicity of the story fool you, as Euphoria boasts an extremely intricate and deep story that honestly surprised the hell out of me.
Each character route serves to reveal more about the underlying story of Euphoria piece by piece before finally revealing the true end, which then proceeds to slap you silly across the face and completely smash all of your preconceived notions of the game’s story on the floor. I went in expecting hardcore BDSM sex with only just enough story to tie the basics together, but what revealed itself to me was so much more, and the only way I can think to describe it is a “reverse tale”, where the true story of the game is not revealed until the very end, rather than the beginning. Euphoria is a tale of tragedy, deception, powerlessness, loss, despair, greed, and of hope and love. It is honestly something that cannot be fully discussed or talked about without spoiling it, and is also, in my opinion, something that needs to be personally experienced.
However, the story was not without its flaws. After finishing Euphoria, there were still a few parts of the plot that remained unanswered. While some of the plot holes and contradictory bits were decently covered up due to the overall nature of the story, and the fact that the one character that could probably explain most of it flat out told Keisuke she would never tell him the full truth, there were quite a few parts of story that were introduced and just completely dropped, never to be explained or even touched again. Fortunately, these dangling threads did not detract too much from the overall enjoyment of the game.
One of Euphoria’s major positives is its characters, almost all of which are fairly unique, interesting, engaging, and surprisingly complex. The game’s protagonist, Keisuke, is a bonafide sadist, which is surprisingly very rare given the overabundance of rape-themed visual novels. Even when you widen your scope to all major characters, that list is still extremely small , and, interestingly enough, mainly appear in otome games. Female sadist characters appear to be more common then their male counterparts, although that list is still fairly small when compared to the thousands of titles out there. The act of sadism in of itself is fairly common, but actual characters that can be described as having a sexually sadistic personality is not. This, however, does not inherently make Keisuke a bad person in of itself, as he still maintains and exhibits concern and worry over the other girls outside of the games rounds, and is capable of having intimate, consensual sex; Keisuke’s conflict is that he both desires to hurt women, and to not hurt them.
The game’s heroines are a colorful bunch. There’s Natsuki Aoi, the sexy and mature schoolteacher with an extremely laid-back personality that makes her seem fairly unreliable; Rika Makiba, the innocent and spoiled underclassman who could best be described as a “baby bird”; Rinne Byakura, the representative of the Discipline Committee and an ice queen who displays almost no emotion, remorse, sympathy, or understanding of others; Nemu Manaka, a girl with the beauty, grace, brains, and poise of a noblewoman, and the personality and demeanor of a viper, spewing insults and sowing discord among others; and Kanae Hokari, Keisuke’s childhood friend with a strong and kind heart that seeks to protect and help others, especially Keisuke, whom she would do anything for; Likewise, Keisuke would do anything to protect Kanae.
Every heroine in Euphoria has a surprisingly distinct and varied personality, despite the game’s main focus being on the sexual portions. As you get farther into each girl’s routes, their character development really works to flesh the characters out in ways that made the girls interesting and engaging. Once you reach the true route of the game, Euphoria completely and utterly surprising you by peeling back the layers of each character, revealing hidden aspects and the truth of each of their personalities. In addition to this, it is revealed that every one of them, with the exception of Rika, was placed into the underground game for a reason, as they play a darker and more sinister role in the overall story of Euphoria. Rika, however, pretty much completely disappears once you hit the true route, and so it is reasonable to infer that her character was more than likely only put into the game to be the “token loli”, and add a fifth heroine that did not alter or add to the overall story all that much.
The art of Euphoria is top notch, with every single piece of art, down to the backgrounds, featuring crisp, clean lines and color palettes that really fit the overall tone and characters of the game. Unlike the extremely colorful and vibrant look of Clock Ups title Eroge!, Euphoria utilizes a very subdued, neutral palette and overall feel in its artwork, really driving home the darker feel of the game. The CGs are immensely detailed, with great care having been put into everything, from the women’s expressions, the toys and equipment they are subjected to, to the genitalia and internal exhibition shots; in fact, Euphoria boasts some of the best looking uncensored cock and pussy I’ve come across in a VN so far.
The game also has a nifty feature where you can zoom in and out of a CG anywhere you’d like both during scenes and in the CG gallery, allowing you to really look at and appreciate all of the detail that went into the art of the game. The only negative that I have to say about the art is the fact that, on occasion, the facial look in the CGs varied greatly, which was slightly off-putting at times, as it sometimes caused the characters to look vastly different than they did in other CGs; Rinne’s art and route suffered the most from this.
The game has a few filters that allow you to remove the visual representation of ahegao, gore, and scat from the CGs in order to make certain scenes a bit more palpable for people who are not really into those; these filters however do not remove any textual descriptions, depictions, and representations of scenes involving gore and scat, and so you will still be subject to reading material involving them, even if you do not see it visually represented. Therefore, if you are the kind of person who is heavily affected by what they read, you may find these scenes hard to stomach if gore and scat bothers you.
Euphoria’s writing is well done, with Asou Ei’s —who did the scenario of Kuroinu— writing style portraying the essence of the story and characters perfectly. The attention to detail in the writing of nearly every aspect of the game truly helped shape the overall feel and impact of the story, which is an extremely important part of both visual novels and written horror stories. Through the writing, you can truly feel Keisuke’s internal struggle to control the beast inside of him, his delight at finally being able to live his darkest fantasies, and the toll that the game’s events begin to have on both him and the girls. However, the writing of the story hit an unfortunately awkward and ill-placed writer shift in the second half of Rinne’s route, when the writing shifted from Asou Ei to guest writer Izumi Ban’ya. While Izumi’s writing in and of itself is great, both writers focus on different aspects in their writing and have different styles, which resulted in Rinne’s route having two distinct feels to it that clashed with each other.
The quality of the writing extends to the sex scenes, resulting in some of the most descriptive and detailed h scenes I’ve read in a visual novel to date. Each scene features amazingly well done writing containing Keisuke’s inner monologue, character development, and descriptions of the sexual act being performed that weave together seamlessly to create a truly engaging, and arousing, unique experience. In addition to this, Euphoria covers an extremely wide variety of sexual acts and tastes, leaving nearly every scene to feel different and fresh. Anally birthing a stuffed pig, whipping, baby roleplay, womb fisting, mutual masturbation, tickle torture, human toilet, being fucked while hanging, live webcasting being fucked, anallinguis, cunnilingus through pantyhose, kissing induced orgasms, and enemas are just some of the acts that the game covers.
Keisuke is even subjected to rape in quite a few scenes, as well as consensual, intimate sex. There really were no guro sex scenes, and nearly all of the gory scenes were story specific and did not include sex. The only sex scenes that really portrayed and depicted blood were de-flowering scenes, a “red wing” scene (which is performing cunnilingus on a woman whilst on her period), and a menstruation sex scene. While a couple scenes had my stomach churning slightly —mainly the womb fist fucking and the red wing scene— most of them were extremely arousing and well done. I also have to give props to the fact that the description and writing pertaining to many of the torture and bondage devices was extremely spot on and accurate.
The voice acting added greatly to the scenes as well. The voice actresses of Euphoria did a simply amazing job, both in and out of the sex scenes. Every VA breathed amazing life to the scenes and characters, doing a great job with portraying pain, ecstasy, fear, joy, sobs, and arousal as they were subjugated to being fucked, beaten, drugged, and tortured throughout the game. Even prior to reading the VA’s comments after finishing the game, you can tell that they gave their all into their performances and character portrayal in their scenes. My only real gripe with the sex scenes is that, occasionally, the dirty talk went a bit overboard at times, to the point that a few scenes went from making me so horny I wanted to fuck like a crazy woman, to laughing my ass off as I read and listened to “student dick milk” being screamed over and over at the top of the VA’s lungs. The scenes tended to run on the long side of things, but typically ended just around the time that they would have started to overstay their welcome.
Euphoria was truly a unique and amazing experience that I cannot recommend enough to people who can handle the material covered. I went into the game having high expectations, and I was not let down. Clock Up took a fairly underserved focus —hardcore BDSM— and succeeded in using it to create a visual novel that blended amazing art, vocals, writing, sexual content, story, and music into a game that was so much more than what it appeared on the surface. If you’re into hardcore BDSM and/or dark stories (like Saya no Uta), this title is a must-have. Despite its minor flaws, Euphoria hit nearly all of the right spots, with its engaging and deep story and varied and immensely arousing sex scenes. Even if you’re not really into the material, give the demo a try and see if you can handle it, because, again, Euphoria is truly a unique and enjoyable experience.