Euphoria opens with the protagonist, Keisuke Takatou, waking up in a strange, empty room that he has never seen before. He soon discovers that he’s not the only one that is locked up in what appears to be some type of facility. Six girls, all from the same school as Keisuke, the Rokukeikan Academy, are also held prisoner and the only way to gain their freedom is to take part in some weird game. According to the rules given to the captives, Keisuke has been appointed as the “Unlocker” and given the power to choose any of the girls as a “Keyhole.” Once the “Unlocker” and “Keyhole” has performed a specific act that has been given to them by whoever is running the sick game they will be able to move on to the next challenge. After completing five of these challenges everyone will be allowed to go free. However, as is made very clear early on, refusal to take part will result in death.
At first glance, Euphoria appears to be just another nukige title where the sole purpose of the game is to rape and humiliate the female characters. In fact, Euphoria doesn’t shy away from a lot of content that would scare away most casual visual novel fans. The game doesn’t just contain plain sex scenes, but scenarios that involve all kinds of kinks, fetishes, and activities that are not for the faint of heart. Thankfully, the game does allow players to toggle certain features, such as disabling gore and feces. However, toggling things like “Waste matter CG variants” off doesn’t remove these scenes, but instead only censors them slightly. This means that players still get to read all the stomach-churning details and hear exactly what is going on. Obviously, there are going to be some players that love this kind of stuff, but as jaded as we are there were a couple of scenes that made us queasy.
As depraved as Euphoria may seem at first, it doesn’t take long to realize that it actually features a genuinely intriguing storyline. Keisuke isn’t just some generic stand-in for players, but an actual character with thoughts and feelings about the situation. Unfortunately, although he clearly knows the difference between right and wrong, he also has a very sadistic streak to him, which is a bit unnerving. One of the plot elements is the fact that a fellow classmate, Nemu Manaka discovers his secret and tries to use it against Keisuke. This causes a lot of drama for Keisuke as his childhood friend, Kanae, has also been forced into the twisted game and he will do anything to protect her. The other girls who are part of the game include Natsuki Aoi, a teacher, Makiba, a spoiled brat who is a junior in the same school as Keisuke, and Rinne, who is in the same year, but in a different class as the protagonist. Players are free to choose any of these girls as the “Keyhole”, but the only way to progress through the various routes in the game is to stick with a specific one for each playthrough. In addition to selecting the girls, the game also provides players with a few choices that can alter the outcomes of the story.
Euphoria is actually a game of three very different acts, but it’s hard to reveal too much about the story without spoilers. Suffice to say that the twisted “game” is just one part of the story and things become even weirder once all five tasks are “cleared.” Some routes are definitely better than others, but the “true” route, which features Kanae really made our heads spin. There is no denying that the game is quite brutal and along with the over the top sex scenes, the story also delves into a couple of heavy psychological elements. Needless to say, the game also features a few “bad” endings depending on the choices you make.
Euphoria was originally released in Japan in 2011, so even with the “HD Remastered” English version, the game is still showing its age. The game features a 4:3 aspect ratio, but the actual artwork is still very good and completely uncensored. The girls all look unique and it has to be said that the various “tasks” are quite extreme. Not everything in the game is extreme, as there are also plenty of rather tame sex scenes, but every now and then you’ll encounter something that you might wish you had never seen. Apart from some of the more disturbing and degrading sex scenes, the game also lacks animation in general and there’s not much in the way of backgrounds either. There’s a bit more background variation later in the game, but initially, all you’ll see is the same sterile white rooms where the “game” takes place. In addition to disabling things like the gore and feces, players can also toggle things like “ahegao” faces for the girls and the “cross-section cut in special effects” which looks more like sketches from an anatomy guidebook than anything arousing. One unique visual feature that Euphoria has is the option to actually zoom the CGs if you want to take a closer look.
When it comes to audio Euphoria is definitely not a game that you’ll want to play without headphones, especially not if there are other people within earshot. All of the female characters in the game are fully voiced and none of them hold back when it comes to the screaming and panting. The game does allow you to adjust the master volume, background volume, sound effects volume, and even sex effects volumes separately as well as to adjust the voice volumes for individual characters. Euphoria also has about 15 music tracks along with five or so variations of the title song, “Door to Paradise.” Considering the dark subject matter of the game you are not going to find any cheerful or upbeat songs here, but the moody and ominous tracks are all quite decent. The interface for the game is very straightforward all the usual loading, saving and text skipping options are easily accessible. Completing at least one route also opens up the “bonus” section with the usual options like viewing the CGs, replaying the h-scenes, and so on. One neat addition here is the option to view staff comments, including voice actresses. You unlock about one of these per route completed and some, like the one from Misonoh Mei, who is the VA for Natsuko Aoi, are quite hilarious.
Euphoria is a hard game to review because on the one hand it definitely contains some deeply messed up stuff, but on the other hand, the story is for the most part very good. We do have a few issues with the story, such as the sadistic side of the protagonist getting swept under the rug later in the game, but overall the story was good enough that we completed all the routes. Thankfully, Mangagamer does have a trial version of the game available to download on their website and we recommend playing it to see if the game is something that you’ll enjoy. There is a very early scene that sets the tone for the rest of the game, so most players should be able to get a good understanding of what is in store for them by playing the demo. This game is not going to be everyone’s cup of tea, but if you can handle all the extreme elements you’ll discover one of the most twisted storylines out there.
Required CPU: Pentium 4 1.5GHz
Required Memory: 1GB
Required Resolution: 1024 x 768
Required Colors: 16bit
Required Graphics: VRAM 32MB
Required HDD Free Space: 2.5GB
- Recommended Memory: 2GB
- Recommended CPU: Core2 Duo
- Recommended Colors: 32bit
- Recommended Graphics: VRAM 64MB