Yuri Dungeon Crawler Review: Sakura Dungeon
Written by Pale Snail, edited by Otaku Apologist
Sakura Dungeon, developed by Winged Cloud. Download on Nutaku.net for $20.00. For PC Windows, Mac, and Linux operating system. No voice acting. Uncensored genitals.
The hottest entry into the ecchi romp Sakura franchise. It’s a dungeon crawler, with elements from Etrian Odyssey and Pokémon with some Senran Kagura thrown in the mix.
Ceri is a wandering knight. She discovers a pink-haired fox spirit named Yomi. The knight releases her from the magical captivity, which is when Yomi attacks and utterly dominates her in combat. Yomi
enslaves befriends Ceri, and they set out to collect Yomi’s previously lost powers, delving deeper and deeper into the dungeon complex to find out what has happened to Yumi’s kingdom, the mystery behind Yomi’s capture, and why the dungeon waifus have descended to barbarism.
Same-face plague claims all the waifus…
In your warpath, you paint the entire dungeon red, commit war crimes by forcefully recruiting anime girls to fight for you. You loot holy artifacts, destroy ancient architecture and create power vacuums by killing the dungeon lords that plunge the entire dungeon into a perpetual state of war. Instead of wanton murder, you defeat each monster, presumably leaving them with just some form of minor internal bleeding and then capture them into your oppai militia. Each major critical strike can cause your monster girls or the enemies to lose a part of their clothing until there’s nothing but shreds covering their plump bodies.
The sound design in Sakura Sungeon is a notable achievement. Every attack feels impactful and the short animations correspond with the theme and power of each attack, with an especially visceral sound que when you land a critical strike. Thankfully the creators did not try to capture the guro market or the experience would have been most uncomfortable.
The dungeon areas have variety, but the individual decoration of singular dungeons is almost impossible to navigate effectively without constantly looking at the mini-map, due to the maze-like design. Using a map extensively and navigating through a maze is part of the dungeon crawling experience, thus one can argue it isn’t so much a design flaw as it is following an established genre. It is also less strain on the budget.
While the monster collecting is a fun aspect of the game that makes the combat more varied, it is clear that the monsters themselves follow a near linear power curve as you go through the game, which almost mandates a constant change in the party roster in order to progress through the game. You can try to make the earlier monsters competetive by feeding them (or shoving them up their ass, it’s not entirely clear) plant seeds that increase the monsters’ stats to a certain extent, but it is rather pointless unless you have a specific self-made challenge or adoration towards a specific waifu. A few unique abilities that scale well and the ablity to stack the same monster type would have made the team building more interesting.
In addition to RPG tropes and progression, the game also has other incentives to continue playing. There is a notable exploration portion in the game and the rewards vary from unlocking alternative clothing for your main characters, to character upgrades, and gold. Admittedly, most of the exploration portion isn’t done by solving puzzles or careful perception, but by systematically slamming your head against each wall like a drunken buffoon.
As far as the Sakura franchise is concerned, Sakura Dungeon is the first game to emphasize gameplay as an important aspect of its design; it’s a definite improvement over Sakura Clicker, at the very least. Even without the obvious appeal of anime monster broads, the gameplay stands on its own.
You have to spend thought into how you approach battles… even if the strategies themselves are simple. Hardcore fans of JRPGs will not be sated by the light weight mechanics and streamlined design, but what Sakura Dungeon loses in complexity it gains in distilled essence of what makes the genre fun to play. There are no healing spells in the game, but in its stead, a regeneration mechanic. Automatic regeneration itself has been played out to death in other modern games, it still feels refreshing here, since it reduces the amount of downtime. You do need to occasionally return to town to repair your clothes or revive your party members, but the process has been made convenient enough by giving you cheap warp stones that instantly teleport you back. There is no equipment you can equip, which is heresy for an RPG, but the decision to cut gear out works to reduce the amount of time spent in the inventory screen, and considering how many different monsters you have to manage and then replace, complex item management would have become tedious real fucking fast.
The dialogue and story is filled with fluff. What little story there is, is interesting enough to provide a premise. The story is partially self-aware of its tropes, which gives the writing personality; a story that allows itself to be explicitly what it wants to be without shame is always admirable. The characterization of the characters stay consistent throughout and it gives an additional reason to play the game multiple times. During in-game events and interactions, all your party members take turns making personalized comments about it. The additional dialogue variations for different characters is a nice touch that makes the setting come alive and shows that the creators did put effort into their game.
The Sakura artstyle is clean and distinct, even if all of the character models are near carbon copies of each other.
The celtic motif brings out the adventuring aspect of the game out, but it all stays as background noise without any notice.
The gameplay can be easily picked up by anyone. Players with a disdain for filthy casuals will stay just for the lewds.
The uncensored images bring a lot to the game’s overall experience, but the scenes stay quite vanilla. The lewdness has had a noticeable upgrade from previous games and the fans should be satisfied about it in more than one way.
The game has no voice acting.
The difficulty level and the possibility of playing through the game with a different party roster encourages at least one additional playthrough, but the lack of different meaningful choices makes repeated playthroughs limited to a degree.
Sakura Dungeon is a definite indie budget title, but there is enough content to warrant the slightly larger price tag. There is a clarity of design which is commendable for a small development team and an hopeful indicator that Sakura titles will only further improve in the future. Sakura Dungeon is available for digital download at Nutaku.net.