It’s obvious that whenever a follow-up to a very successful game is about to come out, certain expectations are going to arise, regardless of whether they’re justified or not and often completely independent of whether the new game is even a sequel or not.
Such was the case for HunieCam Studio, the second game from developer HuniePot and the first after the (relatively, for the adult scene) smashing success of their lewd Bejeweled clone HuniePop. There were certain expectations about how this new game should look, how it should play, what the art style should be, how much porn it should have (HunieCam Studio is definitely M-rated, but not explicit), etc. We all know this, courtesy of the generated buzz and hype, so there’s no point dancing around it. Let’s get it out there. Still, in the interest of utter fairness, and because I firmly believe a video game should be judged on what it is (and what it’s marketed to be – it is a consumer entertainment product, after all), I’ll act as though those expectations did not exist.
In short, this is a review based entirely around whether or not the game is worth buying. If you’re looking for commentary on the current art style vs the former one, please don’t expect that from this article.
With that out of the way, let’s get to the soft, supple, perfumed meat of the article.
If only the actual game were as raunchy as the menu and loading screens.
The basic premise behind HunieCam Studio is that your fairy friend Kyu has hired you to manage her camming studio, dedicated to providing high-quality video and photo content of sexy camwhores to the Internet’s legions of perverts. You’re supposed to hire girls, pay for their upkeep (including salary, accessories, drinks and cigarettes, and boutique expenses), and make money off their work by whoring them out in cam sessions and photo shoots. In essence, it’s supposed to be a gameplay-focused (there’s basically no plot) management simulator with a decidedly adult twist.
The gameplay of HunieCam Studio mirrors this premise. The bulk of your work as a manager is separated into two distinct areas – the first being menus, where you’ll be able to hire girls, pay them, set their accessories, invest in improvements, and see which kinds of fans your girls are pulling and at what rate. The second area is the building map, where you’ll assign girls to workplaces, such as the cam studio, a modeling agency, and a photo studio.
This sounds mechanically simple, but if HunieCam Studio has one thing going for it, it’s the level of polish these mechanics have. For example – you can hire a total babe, but she’ll charge more, and maybe the fetishes she caters to aren’t really supported by your existing fanbase, so she’ll start losing you gobs of money until you’ve done enough photo shoots with her to attract fans that will actually pay to watch her. How about another scenario – once you have a large cast of girls, you’ll want all of them working multiple different buildings for maximum efficiency, but you can only speed up work productivity one building at a time. Yet another – you’re momentarily in debt due to a large payroll expense. You could dig your way out of it easy with several camming sessions, except all your girls who can pull that kind of money are stressed out and won’t want to work until long after the debt clock’s given you a game over. This combination of multiple engaging factors actually makes HunieCam Studio a pretty strong and difficult management/clicker game. You’ll struggle to hold onto your money while simultaneously spending on extra investments and keeping your girls productive and happy, and the balance of cash inflow/outflow can get delicate enough that even small victories feel very hard-earned.
If I had to state a problem with HunieCam Studio‘s gameplay, it is one that’s a constant with pretty much every aspect of the game: it’s very polished, but there’s no content to support it. Yes, you have to manage your cash loop, but for what purpose? To buy more upgrades that will give you more money, which in and of itself only serves to buy more stuff and so on and on? There are basically no in-game events to spice up the core gameplay. Yes, HunieCam Studio has no plot, but you don’t need that to create additional content that ties in to what the gameplay has you do. Ultimately, my reaction to HunieCam Studio‘s gameplay was initially one of very pleasant surprise, then disappointment as I figured out that all these polished mechanics did not exist for any purpose other than their own sake.
A perfect example of this is the camming. The game is called HunieCam Studio. It’s about managing camwhores. You do all sorts of things throughout the management system, but the only way you can obtain revenue is through having the girls work the cam studio. Taking all these things into account, how many times do you get to see girls actually cam during a normal gameplay session? Zero.
The cop-out from the developers here was that the art style clashed with explicit scenes and was meant to be comedic, but I don’t buy it. Firstly, even cartoon art styles can be sexy without being explicit. Secondly, the concept HunieCam Studio is working with sort of demands sexiness, which for some reason the gameplay really shies away from in spite of it being very obvious that you’re managing scantily clad girls. I mean, it’s a game about camwhoring, right? If that’s so, at least throw me some fucking cleavage once in a while, is all I ask!
And no, the loading screens don’t count as “in-game”.
Setting aside the gameplay, let’s take a look at the visual aspect of HunieCam Studio for a bit. Besides the obviously polished work in buttons and the building map, the most important bit regarding the games visual aspect should be the sprite work, which is done in a deliberately cutesy, shiny, cartoon style. We all know about the “controversy” that flared up when it was announced that HunieCam Studio would deliberately have a very different art style compared to HuniePop, but disregarding that and judging the art on its own merits, I found myself actually liking it. The glossy cartoon style is very cute, and in spite of the developers’ own protestations, I find no reason why it couldn’t be sexy, as seen in the pictures already shown in this review.
If I had to name one big problem with the artwork, it’d be a recurring tragedy I already mentioned – there’s not enough of it. You get to see one sprite per girl, plus one large scene per girl. The latter will only show up during the loading screens that appear when you load a game or return to the main menu and never in-game. Playing through the game unlocks new outfits to dress the girls in and change their sprites, but that leads us back to the polished-but-shallow gameplay I mentioned before; it’s hard to replay a game that wasn’t very interesting to play the first time.
At least my bitchy fairy friend brings me comfort… when she feels like showing up.
Sound-wise, HunieCam Studio is more of the same. Setting aside the decent but unspectacular music, the voice work is incredible for an indie game. Kyu’s voice, in particular, is basically pure sex from the first cutesy, high-pitched vowel to the very last word. That said, good luck actually hearing anything that showcases the voice work. Outside of the tutorial, most of the voice interaction you have with the girls consists, at most, of a couple of canned lines. Again and again, a ton of polish, not enough content to back it up.
Shallow, if you will.
As far as options go, you have your basic volume dials and resolution drop downs, though HunieCam Studio disappoints in not having a 1080p option, with the game capping at 900p. Considering the polished visual presentation, this feels a tad like a gross oversight.
At least we have Tiffany’s ass to console us. In the loading screens. That you never see.
Bottom line: even at the bargain price of $6, I can’t really recommend HunieCam Studio to you, my readers, unless you really, really like management sims. For everybody else seeking an adult twist on the management concept, it won’t be lewd enough, fun enough, or worth replaying enough to justify the price, as the beautiful exterior polish wears out its welcome fast once you realize there’s nothing more forthcoming. Then, of course, there’s the big problem with a shallow game like this – even if the price dropped outrageously from $6 to $1, it would still feel lacking in content, as cheapness cannot make up for emptiness.
If you’re still interested in trying out HunieCam Studio after all my scathing commentary, you can buy it on Steam here or in the Humble Store here. Developer HuniePot‘s development blog and official site is here, although unlike with HuniePop, they do not sell HunieCam Studio directly on it.