There are a lot of ways to unwind after a long work day, and for those who partake in the odd alcoholic beverage or two, confiding in your friendly neighborhood bartender as you sip on the ole adult punch, is a great way to ease the body and the mind.
Well in the VA-11 Hall-A inspired Intoxicant by HotPink, you play as a stouthearted mixologist who lends more than just his ear to a beautiful patron looking for companionship. We may not be trained in the art of alcoholic alchemy, but we were excited to shake and stir things up, so here’s a telling of our “cock-tales”!
While playing Intoxicant you’ll come across three distinct sex scenes featuring both full nudity and partial nudity (chest up, and waist down), as well as full penetration, so we thought it fit nicely at a level 3. With that in mind, throughout the game you’ll find scenes that include missionary sex, anal sex, dirty talking, non-penetration sex acts, and of course the consumption of alcoholic beverages. Which ultimately bumped the rating up a couple of percentage points. Taking all of these things into consideration, we landed on a tidy 25%, since all relations between each of the characters are completely consensual, somewhat romanticized, and relatively kink free.
One of my favorite things while playing Intoxicant was its interesting mix of 2D pixelated character art and 3D backgrounds. The characters themselves are almost drawn on the surfaces of the environment, which gives it a really unique and pleasing look that reminds me of the 32bit era. There may only really be one character to speak of, but I especially appreciated how detailed her sprite is, and how fluid her animations are, making her very expressive inside and outside of the sex scenes.
Although, throughout most of the game you’ll find yourself behind the bar’s countertop, the scenery does change a bit each time you encounter a sex scene. Which takes you to different areas within the bar, like the bathroom, the store room, etc. This may seem like there isn’t much variety in the backgrounds, but the fact that the game is played from a first-person perspective and that you can pivot the camera to view the environments from different angles, does make it feel more dynamic. Especially in a visual novel-esque game.
The soundtrack of Intoxicant also suited the game’s vibe perfectly. It’s low key, lo-fi beats made the experience feel welcoming, set the mood, and fortified the back and forth between the barkeep and his lady patron. However, the voiced dialogue didn’t quite have the same effect, especially during the main gameplay portions of the game. Unfortunately, they made the dialogue feel forced which really broke the immersion. That said, it did feel much more natural during the sex scenes.
Despite not having an underlying story, the conversations between the main character and his lady patron never felt disingenuous, and the writing flowed seamlessly between topics. Even if, at times, the end result felt convenient. An interesting quirk with the dialogue system is that you’ll need to make her a drink to progress the dialogue, and depending on its type you’ll be led down different paths. However, it doesn’t seem to matter what order you serve it in, or its quality, because she’s always satisfied with what you give her. In fact, she never prompts you for specific drinks, or gives you hints as to what she likes. As long as you serve her three, even if they’re abominations of every liquor and mixer, you’ll eventually encounter one of the endings. Which is too bad, because it would have added an extra layer that could have let you grow more attached to who you were serving. That and it would have made the gameplay more interesting. The same can be said for how each of the sex scenes play out as well, actually. You can just speed through the scene and she will act satisfied no matter what. She doesn’t have a pleasure meter or anything to prompt you to go faster or slower. She is pleased every time, no matter what, which again detracts from the depth of the gameplay.
As alluded to earlier, the primary feature of Intoxicant is its drink mixing mechanics. Which added a nice departure from the standard routine of clicking through thousands of lines of text, and really makes it stand out from other visual novels. I really liked playing around with all of the different drinks you could make, and following the recipes to make them. Which could be found in your recipe book behind the counter, and had you mixing the proper portions of either rum, vodka, and whiskey, along with a set of mixers.
Another standout mechanic of the game, is that you can control the “stages” of the sex scene, by increasing or decreasing the speed of the act, and determining when your character will finish. This doesn’t change much during the scene, but each stage does have its own voiced dialogue, and each scene itself has a finishing animation. That means you can linger on a scene as long as you want, or finish it quickly to try a different dialogue route.
All in all, Intoxicant was a short and sweet experience, with some great ideas! Although there were a few things we felt could have been improved, there’s a lot of potential in its formula, and we’d be excited to see the core concept expanded upon! We can only imagine how fun it would be to play a sequel with more characters, more drink recipes, and maybe even some relationship building. Nonetheless, at its price of entry it’s definitely worth a shot, and we’d recommend it if you’d like to see what a game like VA-11 Hall-A would look like if it were a little more lewd.
If you’re interested in checking out Intoxicant for yourself, you can find it right now on the Intoxicant Page on Itch.io!
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