Merry December from those of us here at LewdGamer to you! While the most celebrated time of year will soon be knocking on our doors, much like my neighbors asking for unscented candles at 2 AM every weekend, Christmas has already been making early house calls around the globe. Personally, I thought Capcom announcing that my favorite fictitious fighting robot wasn’t rusting in a scrap heap somewhere was a good enough early Christmas present, but I’m a lucky man. MangaGamer was kind enough to give me the gift of adventure this holiday season, entrusting me with the task of completing a game and reviewing it based on my experiences. Will I be successful in my adventure, or will it be a Quest Failed?
I sincerely apologize for that segue.
Quest Failed is a visual novel developed by Frostworks, a development studio currently consisting solely of the eponymous “Frost”, a developer with experience in making visual novels. While Frost seems to be the only fellow behind Frostworks, the credits for Quest Failed go beyond the call of a single person, with all art assets and voices being handled by several individuals. Quite handy, I’d say, given how I now have a hit list of people I can pin the blame on for anything that doesn’t exceed my ever-expanding expectations. Nonetheless, it should be noted that today’s subject is an ongoing series of episodic releases, hence the title actually being “Quest Failed: Chapter One.” It’s currently unknown when the second chapter will be out.
Before I start the review proper, it’s worth prefacing that I’m not the resident “visual novel reviewer” here and have minimal formal experience with the genre. As such, some elements in Quest Failed that I find fault in may not seem like that big a deal to those more experienced with the genre. While you may be questioning what the person with little VN experience is doing reviewing a VN, this is apparently intended to be my “punishment” for using our secret supply of emergency funds to hire hordes of hookers on Saturday nights. Again. Enough about my debaucherous adventures, let’s get right into today’s real star, Matthew.
He shall be known only as “Matthew, the pussywhipped.”
Matthew is the “hero” in Quest Failed, though to refer to him as such might be an insult to the brave men and women who fight to save the human race. He starts off so innocent: after toiling years away for money, he’s all set to take a newly-bought sword, an inherited shield, and the gear on his back to become a fully-realized adventurer. With his first quest assigned, all he has to do is complete the quest, report back to the guild, and he’ll be a recognized adventurer reaping the rewards.
Naturally, since we live in an era where laughing at people’s misfortune passes for comedy, it would be no fun if Matt actually succeeded. Thus, Matt always finds his quest complicated by the mitts of a monster girl, which are treated as incredibly dangerous monsters by everybody in-universe except for Matt. Apparently, not one person in the world of Quest Failed ever thought about trying to make interspecies peace treaties with the monster girls. Hell, nobody in-game has apparently never thought about trying to copulate with one, which just seems completely unrealistic.
See? Even the monster girls agree!
Quest Failed is about an unlucky adventurer who gets swarmed by monster girls and their insatiable appetites for sex during his quest. While I’m all down for that, I’m gonna be real honest here: Quest Failed does two things wrong by my books right out the gate, and the first one is tone.
You see, when Quest Failed starts, it seems pretty light-hearted. Not that much time is spent into world-building when compared to meatier VNs, and character interactions are comparable to that one pretty old slice-of-life anime you completely forgot about. Depending on your tastes, the execution of these moments either comes off as predictable trite or entertaining fluff between the main courses. I’m all down with pretty consistent character quirks, like Jilly the slime being extremely possessive of Matt, or Tari the mummy dozing off in pretty much every scene. The problem is, when things get serious later down the line, it creates an unnatural contrast.
When the main plot of Quest Failed starts to rear its head, everything about the playfulness of the first few hours quickly sours into a more serious tone, far removed from the somewhat self-aware tone set earlier in the game. I’d be fine with this as well if the game maintained that, but then it starts to flick the mood switch between “serious” and “playful” for what feels like every other scene, until finally settling on a more consistent tone towards the end. Curiously, Matt’s status as an incredibly frail, ineffectual protagonist is one of the few areas of Quest Failed that I felt worked regardless of the schizophrenic tone. While I’m not one for the femdom situations it presents, the character archetype is flexible enough to work in the two different tones of the game.
Everyone except for cacti. Cacti are the assholes of the snuggling community.
Speaking of the monster girls, I was surprised at just how much I got behind them, considering my initial fears that they’d be one-dimensional characters with a quirk that becomes overly exploited for cheap laughs. While they’re not gonna be winning any academy awards for “best writing”, I’d say the cast is at least memorable in some regard. Jilly the slime has this constant exuberance about her, Tari the mummy is somehow both absent-minded and single-minded, and Ruby the dragon fills the “I want her to step on me” quota that games are so desperately trying to fill nowadays. There’re very few characters outside Matt and the four monster girls (you could count them on one hand). The game revolves around Matt’s interactions with them, so for every monster girl you don’t like, that’s gonna significantly impact your enjoyment of the title.
The dialogue ranges from “alright” to “actually that’s pretty good” in my book. Some lines lead me to believe that, in spite of my early impressions, the game is self-aware to an extent and is willing to poke fun at itself and certain other elements of its concepts, such as why exactly there are quests in fantasy settings to retrieve extremely mundane items. Occasionally, but very rarely, the game will give you the choice to choose between two dialogue options. While there aren’t any multiple endings in Quest Failed (as far as I know, anyway), these options can affect which sex scenes you run into. It’s not a significant enough inclusion in the game to make you think too hard, but it does offer an incentive to go through two parts of the game again for those few CGs you’re gonna miss on the first playthrough.
Additionally, while I’m talking about the CGs, there’s a total of 11 for viewing in the game. The number isn’t by any means terrible, it’s a perfectly nice, odd number. With the exception of those examples I just mentioned, you’ll be running into them all during an average session of Quest Failed with no problem. There’s plenty of suckin’ and fuckin’ to go around, but this does bring me into my second issue with Quest Failed.
How you can fuck and simultaneously be detained by a slime is beyond my understanding.
The sex scenes are where Quest Failed really takes off the gloves and gets going, giving the leading ladies distinguished voices with some smooth royalty-free music in the background to really get you in the mood. Unfortunately, and I didn’t think I’d be saying this, the sex scenes kinda overstay their welcome. For much of the game, you’re getting one CG with some variations, while the prose is going into heavier detail about what’s happening. While there’s still a variety of erotic acts going on (though there’s an abundance of oral), just about every scene pushes Matt to his limits and won’t end until he’s climaxed at least three times. In fact, even the game points out how the monster girls are never satisfied, so maybe I’m the fool here for nitpicking about it.
Nevertheless, for the length that these scenes go on for, you’d think there would be a bit more variety in the CGs to keep things fresh, like cross-sections or quick cutaway images to highlight juicier details or suggest motion. In fact, the last few CGs towards the end of the game do exactly that, using those techniques to add just a touch more detail to the scene. One of the last CGs even has several variations, which I’m sure was probably a pain to get done, but propelled the scene far above what was present earlier in the game.
This is not the scene in question, mind.
Special mention must be made of the voice actresses who loaned their voices for the game. Out of the entire bunch, Jilly and Lucille’s voices, in particular, get a personal thumbs-up from me. While Jilly’s energy and enthusiasm shines through in Mimi Hung’s performance, Aria Lynn’s performance as Lucille gets my pick for “performance of the year.” I’m an absolute sucker for mature women, and they just so happen to play up the slow, seductive voice of Lucille during the sex scenes.
In contrast, Tari is a little on the lesser end of the spectrum due to Venus LeMay having to constantly voice a verbal tick in every scene, which kinda takes you out the mood a bit. It was a surprise to learn that Ruby and another mystery girl in the story share the same voice actress, since the performances are so different. Humorously, Misty Moon’s performance as Ruby is extremely hammy and overreacted, while the mystery girl’s voice is cold, soft, and deliberately devoid of emotion. I might’ve enjoyed the Ruby scenes more if she maybe dialed things back a bit to a simmer, rather than a rapid boil. On the whole though, audio erotica is definitely in effect for Quest Failed.
The only thing that can hammier than Ruby is a pigpen.
Artistically, Quest Failed is just a little sterile for my tastes. The backgrounds are fine — save for when one town’s backdrop is used for a totally different town. Character portraits are static though, unchanging save for facial expressions. Maybe it’s just me, but both character portraits and sex CGs lack definition in some parts of the character’s bodies. Parts of Matthew that should resemble an ankle stretching away from your perspective just look more like a bit of flesh chilling out. As a result, there’re some parts where the general anatomy can look a little off, to phrase it lightly. It’s not a constant throughout the game, but it is something that could take you out of the mood. That, and the very rare art errors, like an arm clipping through the shaded part of a pair of pants. I imagine the art errors were included to match the equally rare typos that made their way into the game’s script.
When it comes to the sound in Quest Failed, there isn’t a whole lot to speak of. While I can commend the voicing of the monster girls, as I did not long ago, there’s not a whole lot of sound in the normal VN segments. You will be hearing plenty of stock music though, so if your fetish happens to involve being assaulted by painfully average musical compositions, Quest Failed has your deranged sexual kinks covered.
Alright but really look at her waist in relation to her hips and try telling me that’s normal, seriously try it
When it comes to the finer details, Quest Failed offers the stunning options of “windowed” and “fullscreen”, with no options for resolution available. There are volume sliders for voices, music, and sound effects, as well as a few preferences you can adjust for skipping dialogue or letting it play automatically. There’s also a “scene replay” feature, though it’s just the CGs in the sex scenes. No dialogue, no voices, no sounds. Not much of a scene replay if it doesn’t actually replay the scene, honestly.
All-in-all, Quest Failed is a game that starts out on an upbeat note before nosediving into some grim territory, followed by a pretty schizophrenic back-and-forth between the two. The adventure really starts to feel like its own thing and less like a half-baked, extended series of punchlines as it nears its end. I suspect Frost either got a better handle on the writing towards the end of development on chapter one, had more resources to pay the artists with, or both. In the event this is true, it means the road for chapter two can only be a bright one as the team continues to grow. While I have no proof of any of this, I do know one thing for certain: If Quest Failed taught me anything, it’s that having sex at completely inappropriate times can sometimes save the very people we love.
As a note though, if you’re the kind of guy who absolutely hates seeing those beta-ass nerds in Japanese media shy away every single time a hot girl practically offers her pussy on a platter for him, you’d probably just get frustrated going through Quest Failed. The game is pretty much dependent upon the protagonist’s complete lack of reliable abilities for any of the sex scenes to work. I’ll spare you the second-hand anger and say you can skip this one, just go play one of the Rance games instead and pretend like you weren’t here.