Do you love trapping young girls inside your personal, elaborately constructed castle, watching as they try to escape, only to be killed by some unreasonably specific setup? Whether it’s giving or receiving, you’ll like what’s in store here with Algophilia. Join me as we jump into a jagged, old-school world of low polygon counts and a healthy helping of blood and guts.
Algophilia is a morbid pleasure in the pain either of oneself or of others. Algophilia is also the apt title of this adorable 2010 indie guro game by Mr. 38 of 566, who is continuing a rich tradition of obscure online handles for Japanese indie developers. A low-poly 3D puzzle platformer full of death and dismemberment, Algophilia drops the player into the body of a little blocky girl by the name of Hichito. Scared, naked, and alone, you must avoid the pitfalls ahead to find out why you’ve been imprisoned in this cold basement.
The game presents itself with a story, though the lack of an English translation makes it a tad difficult to decipher if, like most of us, you can’t decipher the moonrunes known as Japanese. You’ve been locked in a basement in what appears to be a castle, with its lord possibly having some relation to you? Ultimately, the plot isn’t hugely important when dealing with a game of this nature, as most of the context can be inferred from the environments. You can easily determine you’re in a cellar or dungeon when starting the game simply due to the gray drab textures, as well as the fact you’ve been captured due to the gates and poor bedding of a cell.
It’s such a breath of fresh air to not have a 2D sidescroller for an erotic passion project. Algophilia hearkens back to the mid-to-late 90s, when low polygon 3D models with equally low resolution textures were all the rage, sailing the medium into true 3D gaming environments. The focus on 3D here may have come at a cost to the detail, but in many cases, imagination is more powerful than any modern display. The interiors of our loli heroine have muscled textures, making it amusing seeing her sliced in half and seeing her internal organs represented by what looks like a cut of meat. It’s a simple approach that supports the low-res style of the game, trading realistic depiction for easily identifiable imagery.
Sound design is always important in any video game, what with helping to punctuate the actions on screen and all. Algophilia‘s sound design emphasizes the impact of slices and bludgeons, to the point it can catch you off guard sometimes when death is taking over control of the game. The sound of spurts and the ferocity of the impacts conjures the disgusting imagery of mutilation to circumvent the limited options of your rectangular body.
If you’re a fan of the old PlayStation 1 Tomb Raider games, you might find something eerily similar here with the platforming and overall look of the game. There might not be any guns or pair of motherly mountains present, yet I can’t help but draw parallels at the cube-based puzzle platforming geometry. In fact, a lot of the textures look so similar that I wouldn’t be surprised if they were copied from one of those Tomb Raider games. I’m not about to list these as a complaint, though. Far from it, even, as Algophilia has drawn inspiration from some of the best elements of Lara Croft’s first video game adventures, with the best being all the possible deaths. Algophilia really channels those demises with gory deaths from traps, enemies, and great heights. There’s a wide selection of violence on display: the opening level alone has you being decapitated by swinging saws or crushed under boxes, and after escaping the cellar, there’s a lavish castle with suits of armor out to kill you combined with oddly specific traps.
Though the effort put forward to emulate the look of other great violent games is noticeable, Algophilia can’t exactly nail the controls. Movement is sluggish and the slow turning makes the tank controls clunkier than they need to be. Jumping is needlessly complicated too, requiring a running start to jump at all. Combine that with a square in the top right to highlight your stamina that affects air time, and it becomes quite a slog. I appreciate the focus on the puzzle-solving element to combat, using the environment to dispose of enemies when they turn up, but the balance is all over the place. The level two boss embodies everything wrong with the controls, requiring precise movement and positioning to disable archers raining arrows down on you at all times. To add insult to injury, the arrow deaths aren’t even interesting, as you simply collapse after being shot. Any combat in Algophilia is not to the game’s benefit, though the combat is thankfully not the bulk of the game.
Algophilia is hit and miss; sure, it has amusing deaths that can shock and excite you, but the game surrounding it is rough around the many edges of its old-school 3D puzzle platforming design. The throwback nature is novel enough to warrant a short play, but don’t expect to be coming back to it regularly, as difficulty spikes such as the level 2 boss will frustrate you to no end. I love the fact that this game exists and the guro aspect is certainly enticing, but unless you have a nostalgic calling for PlayStation 1-era graphics, this is more of a “one night stand” game than a “friend with benefits” kinda deal. Show up, cum, and move onto the next.