Since childhood, Kano has been deeply in love with his best friend Hideaki.
Unable to muster the courage to confess his true feelings, Kano has spent his years content with just being friends. That all changes one fateful day when a storm hits, forcing Hideaki to stay the night at Kano’s house until the storm subsides. With the two of them alone together, Kano is faced with the opportunity to finally reveal his feelings. Will Kano throw caution to the wind and make a move on his childhood friend, or will he continue to keep his desires buried deep down inside?
That is pretty much the entirety of Sleepover’s story in a nutshell. I wish there was more to discuss on the subject of the game’s storyline, and I dislike being so negative almost from the get-go, but the reality is that the game featured only an extremely barebones story, the entirety of which can be summed up in one short paragraph. It’s really only utilized to bring a sense of reasoning behind Kano’s feelings for Hideaki, the all-too-familiar childhood love trope, and why he acts as he does to his friend. You are treated to an extremely short flashback sequence to the duo in their childhood to try and drive home the protagonists feelings, but quite frankly, the almost nonexistent story and character interaction never allows you to really connect with the characters and their budding relationship, leaving me to not really feel anything when I hit a bad ending.
To boot, I found Kano’s character to be immensely annoying and stereotypical. The official synopsis of the game describes him as being unable to confess his feelings to Hideaki due to “lack of courage and timidity”, yet I found that in the sparse character interactions he was the complete opposite. Almost from the get-go, both him and the choices you can make have him continuously making comments that only an immensely daft person would be unable to discern. It made it almost impossible to believe that Hideaki was completely unaware of Kano harboring feelings for him. While you can make these obvious hints about the protagonist’s sexual orientation and feelings a bit more subtle depending on your choices, it almost always reeks of “I want you so badly!” As for Hideaki himself, his character is so underplayed that I honestly have no real idea what his personality and traits are, and no matter how hard I try to think of more to say about him, I simply can’t find anything more.
To make things worse, the writing was consistently littered with awkward sentences and phrases, making me seriously wonder if the developers ever had the game go through QC with a native English speaker. This wouldn’t be so bad if it these kinds of writing mistakes were few and far between; however, in this case, it seemed like almost 1 out of every 10 or so sentences fell victim to the kind of wording and structure shown in the above screenshots. The game was officially released in English only, so this wasn’t even a case of bad translation. They were obviously aiming for an English speaking audience, yet they did not take the time to make sure that their writing flowed well in their chosen language.
The sex scenes themselves didn’t fare any better in the writing department. In addition to the frequent terrible phrasings, there was almost no real description or substance, so to speak, to what ended up being the main brunt of the game. Scenes featured maybe a couple of sentences and shifted to another so quickly that, past the artwork, I couldn’t even really enjoy what was presented. In fact, if you choose the wrong choices (and I mean that loosely, considering how utterly un-obvious and seemingly random they were), you’ll find yourself hitting the money shot and a bad end within the span of a few clicks. I honestly feel like the game would have been better overall if they had cut out some of the “sex scenes”, put more detail in a couple of them, and spent a bit more time on the actual characters themselves and their evolving relationship.
The art itself was simply fantastic, and one of the few positives to the game. Despite the short length of the game — I unlocked every CG and ending in under two hours — the game was chock full of CGs, with a whopping total of 25 CG sets containing several variations. Every single CG was beautifully illustrated, down to the backgrounds, character designs, and genitalia. The GUI was also well-designed, fitting well with the overall artwork of the game. My only gripe on that front was the fact that I could not find a shortcut that allowed me to hide the GUI so I could enjoy the artwork without having to go view them in the gallery.
The music was also amazingly well-done, featuring catchy, upbeat techno tracks that meshed well with the scenes they played during. The opening theme song is especially memorable, and I have admittedly played the song on loop several times even before I had played the game in the past. Needless to say, I was really happy to see that the developers had included an extra section in the game where you can play all of the tracks of the game. Some of the tracks are pretty short, but while actually playing the game, they loop in such a way that I didn’t even notice their brevity until I started listening to them in the music player.
Objectively speaking, I cannot honestly recommend Sleepover to even the most fervent of BL fans. After having finished the game, my overall sentiment was that I had just “played” through a series of CGs with music playing in the background. Yes, the art and music was amazingly top-notch, but when combined with the lack of story and character development, sex scene description, poorly portrayed protagonist, and abundance of bad writing, I feel like I could have gotten the same experience by simply buying one of the developer’s CG sets and playing music in the background while I clicked through all the photos of pretty men exploring each other’s bodies.
One of the things that draws me to visual novels as a whole is the blend of storytelling, characters, art, and sound. Sleepover failed completely on the storytelling and character department. For the asking price of $14.99 censored and $29.99 uncensored, I cannot, in any conceivable scenario, tell people to buy this game. If you’re looking for a good adult English BL game, I suggest you look elsewhere . If you really enjoy Blackmonkey Pro’s artwork and just want to admire stills of beautiful men in the throes of passion, you’re better off just buying a CG pack of theirs. You’ll get far more uncensored images at a slightly less price. If you’re still interested in purchasing the game, you can pick up either version here on the developers website.