Disclaimer: A review copy of this game was provided by the developer.
If you were holed up in a secluded inn with three lovely ladies for a few days, what would you do? Would you find the key to one lucky lady's heart? Convince the lot of them to have some steamy group sex? Maybe you'd just make them think you're a huge perv, and turn them all against you. The choice is entirely yours in The Angel Inn.
I have played a lot of adult games, and one thing I have come to notice is the clear difference between a game made for profit and a game made with love. While most developers are probably hoping to make money off their product, there’s a definite distinction between an honest product and cynical trash. I’m happy to say that The Angel Inn falls nicely in the former category.
The Angel Inn puts players in the role of a young member of the Merchant’s Guild. Whether your role in the guild is that of a wizard, archer, or knight is up to you. That’s just the first choice you’ll make, and one of many which will have an impact on your story. You see, this game has 12 endings and loads of choices that will impact your in-game relationships. Having recently joined the Merchant’s Guild, your character is patiently waiting to go out on his first mission. Fortunately, you get to spend that time with three pretty ladies. How things go during your stay is completely reliant on your choices.
The Angel Inn has a standard gameplay loop for a title of this genre. Each day is separated into three parts: morning, afternoon, and evening. During each time, you pick a girl who you’d like to interact with and either strengthen or weaken your relationships with her. With seemingly even the slightest misstep, you can really turn a girl off to you. Even the tiniest of events will have a major impact on the story's outcome.
As mentioned before, there are 12 endings in The Angel Inn. For such a short game, it’s very dense and full of replay value. From my experience, some of those endings are a hell of a lot easier to get than others. Getting a full, 100% unlock will be a bitch; I'd say it's downright frustrating, and something most people won't have the patience to deal with it. With how short the game is, re-reading the same dialogue over and over gets boring fast.
To the game's credit, one great feature is that you can see a list of trophies that will help guide you to your 100% playthrough. You can also click the face icon of any girl on the room select screen to see which routes are opened or locked, but even so, this seems rather random. Paths will frequently switch from Active to Locked for seemingly no reason. There's no real indication of where you went wrong, and with so many damn choices, finding the correct sequence can be all but impossible at points.
More of the care put into The Angel Inn can be better seen in the way the characters are written. Though they can be a bit cliche at times, each one has a well-developed backstory and personality. There are three girls to pursue, with the first girl you’ll run into is Shea. She’s the owner of the inn and a completely innocent, total sweetheart — or is she? Next is Faylinn, a young, female adventurer. She’s more than a little bit tsun-tsun, so it’s up to you to melt that cold exterior of hers. Finally, we have the traveling bard, Rosabella. You’ll have to play your cards right to learn all her secrets, and she’s got lots of secrets.
On your first playthrough, you won't learn all there is to know about any one of the girls, which is both a positive and a negative. It certainly adds to the replayability, as it's nice to have a new dialogue to read on a consecutive playthrough, but interrogating the girls to actually get that extra story out of them can be frustrating. This goes back to my previous point: the dialogue choices can really be overwhelming. Still, even after many sessions with The Angel Inn, I really enjoyed finding out new details about the characters.
Let’s talk about the lewd side of The Angel Inn. This game does lewdness just the way that I like, sprinkling in little ecchi bits here and there, and saving the big moments for the end. It doesn’t prevent you from pursuing one girl just because you saw the panties of another. The sexy parts also seem appropriate for the story and the situations within. There was never a time when some girl said, "Hey, let's have sex..." after having nearly died a moment prior. Another huge plus is how the backstories of the characters can lead to very unexpected types of H-scenes. The surprises were much appreciated.
Let me just say this outright: I really like this game. The developers had something they cared about and it shows. The characters aren’t one-dimensional, cardboard cutouts that are seen so frequently in indie VNs. The story is basic at first but has multiple layers that are gradually revealed as you progress. Nearly everything about The Angel Inn is very enjoyable, but the experience is still somewhat lacking in certain other areas.
The first thing I noticed when playing is that the resolution was locked to a small window in the center of my screen — I couldn’t even play it full screen. After a later update, this was somewhat resolved by making the game run full screen; however, it appeared that the game was being stretched to fit my screen and wasn’t actually intended to be displayed in a resolution that high. There was no way to adjust this either, as The Angel Inn doesn’t have an options menu. Speaking of display options, the entire game runs in a 4:3 aspect ration. I don't know why any modern game still does this.
Another thing that got on my nerves was the music. I’m not sure if these are original songs or stock music, but what I am sure of is that I was sick of the music within 10 minutes. I remember hearing two, maybe three, songs in total. I ended up muting my sound just so that I didn’t have to hear it anymore; not like I could turn it off in settings.
Some other minor gripes would be the lack of any voices — though their inclusion would have forced me to keep the sound on and thus subjected me to further musical torture. I could also mention the art, which can come off as amateurish at times. I think it’s mostly fine, but some people may not feel the same way.
There is one other graphical/design choice that stood out and is probably the result of poor communication between the art and design teams. When a character “walks” away, their sprite literally shrinks as it moves up and off the screen. This would be an alright effect, if not for the fact that the character sprites don’t have their lower halves completely drawn. This makes the entire effect looks pretty hilarious when it happens.
For my final gripe, the writing could really use some cleaning up. There were several spelling and grammar issues that I found throughout the game. Additionally, I also recall some dialogue that seemed to go counter to the choices I had made.
Admittedly, I’m really nitpicking with some of those issues. Aside from the music, I feel the rest can be easily overlooked. It’s also worth mentioning that I was playing an early access build of The Angel Inn. It was constantly getting updates while I was playing it, even after I stopped, so some of these aforementioned issues may no longer exist.
All in all, The Angel Inn is a short, but very enjoyable game from DDreams Games. It’s $4.99 on Steam, and well worth it for that low price of admission.