Everybody wishes they could earn a little extra cash every once and while. Especially if you can earn those bonus bucks by doing something you really enjoy! Well in Dark Alley Elf our girl Francesca sets out on a quest to earn as much money as possible by doing one of her favorite activities: Doing the horizontal greased-weasel tango! That’s fucking for those of you not in the know. Francesca’s “friend” bets her that she can earn more money than her in 8 days and the loser has to be the winner’s slave for as long as they want. Now, Francesca knows that there are plenty of potential clients walking around, but not all may want to pay for the privilege of her company. That’s where her no nonsense attitude, combined with a hefty metal baseball bat, comes in handy. Either way she’s ready to set out on her journey to earn that cash and beat off everyone she meets!
After debating what we found in Dark Alley Elf, we landed on a Level 3 rating for the level of adult content. There’s full nudity, penetration, and while the sex isn’t the main part of the gameplay, it still makes up a significant portion. Also, the sex is a part of an interactive portion of the game with a simple mini game alongside most of the cutscenes that involve naughty business.
When it came to the type of adult content, we landed just above the halfway mark with a 60% since most of the sexual content is pretty straightforward. With that being said, there are a few instances where Francesca is “caught” and therefore not as agreeable to her partner’s actions. She doesn’t ever really express feelings of duress but she’s definitely not happy about what’s happening to her. Also there are some potential tentacle sex scenes. I say potential because in Dark Alley Elf the alien creatures are enemies and they have to catch our heroine(?) and you’ll have to fail the mini game to trigger any tentacle tribulations. Finally, if Francesca gets caught by the wandering ne’er do wells and you completely fail the minigame you’ll trigger an extended “game over” cutscene which features dialogue that can get raw and potentially offensive.
We often peruse Steam for games of all kinds, but really its collection of naughty games is where Steam has been shining for us personally. There are a great selection of games for all tastes and it’s really exciting to see some of the top notch titles that are starting to emerge now that this genre of games is becoming more popular and accepted. Dark Alley Elf was one such game we came across that looked like it had really well done artwork and some unique gameplay concepts. Not to mention it was on sale for $1.99, so it wasn’t much of a risk.
When seeking out the first game to showcase for our new and improved After Dark section of the website, as well as the fancy new “content” gauges, we really wanted to find something that featured very traditional gameplay mechanics and just happened to also contain all of those naughty bits.
The first publisher that came to mind when putting those criteria together was TinyHat! An indie publisher that we’ve been following for a while now, and that in recent years has really propped up some of the most well crafted adult games out there. So, the hunt began and we scoured their current lineup of games. Which ultimately led to us landing on Dark Alley Elf, a hybrid platformer and rhythm-lite game.
It was perfect because we were looking for a relatively cheap game that had some more classic gameplay mechanics and also featured some exquisite character art!
Outside of the concept of you selling your body in order to save up money to best your friend on a bet, the actual adult content only plays a relatively small part during the “rhythm” sections. Meaning, during the majority of the game, you’ll just be jumping around and beating down enemies with your lead pipe (if that’s what that is). Which was actually fun, and rewarding! I mean, it still had it’s problems and could use some polish, but I didn’t feel like I was playing it just to get to the sex scenes.
On the other hand, when you try to make money from a “paying” customer or happen to get caught by an enemy, that’s when you’re thrown into the “rhythm” minigame and where you see the majority of the adult content. Which was probably the weakest part of Dark Alley Elf. Sure, the artwork itself was impressive, but the gameplay was a bit repetitive and a little simplistic. It also didn’t help that there were only 3 or so total scenes you would see throughout most of the game. Short of the various endings you can unlock.
Obviously the entire premise of the game is deep seated in the land of the lewd since you are selling your body to make money, but the gameplay cutscenes are really the only place you’ll see any sexual content (other than whatever ending you trigger, but no spoilers here!). Once Francesca finds a paying customer or gets tripped up by a would-be free-loader you enter into a mini game where you move a cursor from side to side collecting either money, fist symbols, or hearts depending on the situation. When you are with a “patron” you have to collect hearts and for each one you collect the scene becomes more intense and explicit. If you accidentally collect a broken heart then that’s considered a misstep and your timer will run out with the customer paying less for a mediocre experience.
If, however, you’re caught up by an enemy, you’ll have the opposite experience. You need to avoid the various naughty bit symbols and collect 3 fist symbols instead to punch the tar out of those cheapskates. During the enemy mini games you can also collect money symbols which will net you at most $50, but hey it all goes towards the cause right?
So, I would say the sexual content makes up about 40% of the game depending on how much you get caught, and if you happen to get a game-over in the mini-game.
I really thought the artwork was well done, both in-game and during any dialogue or cutscenes. The sprite work for the platforming portions were actually surprisingly detailed and added a lot of personality to the characters. The cutscenes were exceptionally drawn as well, but unfortunately there just wasn’t enough variety. The game is only 2 or so hours long, but honestly that’s more than long enough to see each of the 4 available scenes way too many times. I would have liked to have seen a scene for each type of enemy. I know that could be a lot to ask, but it would keep the game from getting too stale after the first few encounters at least. In addition, the fact that there was no real reward for fighting off the enemies was a bit frustrating. I’m certainly not going to “get caught” by them each and every time just to earn a paltry $50 a pop. For the amount of enemies this game is riddled with that would quickly turn a 2 hour playtime into 20 hours. No thanks!
Gameplay-wise, I think a big improvement could be made to the overall experience by focusing more on the platforming sections of Dark Alley Elf instead of splitting it between the primary gameplay and the sex minigames. Maybe refine the controls so they’re more responsive, zoom the viewpoint in so we can admire that beautiful pixel art, and add a few more platforming or combat abilities to better incentivize exploration! I would even say remove the rhythm sections wholesale and just integrate the reward/punishment naughty scenes into the actual platforming sections themselves.
One thing I wouldn’t change however is what I think needs the most improvement, the fact that Dark Alley Elf is a platformer! I love the idea of mixing traditional gameplay mechanics with adult themes and with the added benefit of beautiful pixel art, gorgeous cutscenes, and maybe a more well defined story, then I think we’d probably have a gem on our hands!
As with all the After Dark games we’ll be covering, sometimes the content itself can be a deterrent to many people, so we hope our gauges at the top of the review help you decide if Dark Alley Elf is for you. From a gameplay perspective however, it’s a little clearer. Although you could easily finish the game in a single sitting, and its price for entry is relatively low, there wasn’t much to really hold onto. The platforming sections although not offensive and fun enough, were a bit straightforward, and the sex minigames became monotonous after seeing the same 3 scenes over and over again. So, if you’re just in it for the beautiful art style, and have a tolerance for repetitive gameplay then I’d say give it a shot, especially if the price tag fits your needs (or you find it for a discount). Otherwise, it might be better to wait and see what we’re able to find next!
I would definitely say give Dark Alley Elf a shot if you are in the market for a simple platformer with a naughty twist. Like I said it’s a fairly short game so you’ll likely only get one or two sittings out of it but even at a regular price of $4.99 you can’t really go wrong. It’s fun and simple enough that I think you could easily have a good time without feeling shortchanged by any of the minor flaws.
All in all I think while we both seemed to have issues with different portions of the game we both also ended up enjoying ourselves in the end. There are definitely some aspects of the game that could have used a bit more work and refinement, but the game held solid potential! We’re really having a blast looking around for the best of the best when it comes to lewd games. You know, the ones that satisfy both your gaming and naughty needs. We really hope to remove any stigma surrounding games of this type since no matter the content, we’re all just looking for a good time and to have fun doing it!