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-- David Whyld
This anime-inspired game takes a story-driven IF and mixes in a dating sim and whole mess of world interactivity. The amount of depth here is impressive; there's something like half a dozen girls you can woo, a bunch of nonessential locations that evolve as the game goes by, and a truly amazing number of objects you can find and play with.
-- Mike Russo
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>VERBOSE -- Paul O'Brian's Interactive Fiction Page
Because its story is fun and quite chaste, The PK Girl might make a nice IF selection for kids, though perhaps it ought to be counterpointed by something rather less sexist. In fact, although I'm clueless about anime, the game reminded me distinctly of another branch of animation, the Disney feature film: technically impressive and proficient while remaining on the political level utterly, utterly reactionary.
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Related reviews: paranormal, conspiracy, large, romance, dating sim, gender
The basic premise is that a shadowy agency is trying to kidnap or control a number of psychokinetic girls; more or less at random, they ask the PC for help and proceed to become entirely reliant on him. The main aim is to pick a girl, then develop your relationship score to a high enough level to get a special ending.
As everybody else has stated, it's conspicuously sexist, in a genre-derived, uninteresting way. Further, it's in denial about it: the hero is portrayed as chastely chivalrous and pointedly contrasted against "real" sexists and perverts, while rhapsodising over the sweet submissive innocence of childlike girls. This worldview is not an unfortunate flaw: it's foundational. Inhabiting a particular representation of gender is the central purpose of the game, and considerably less attention is paid to the evil-institutional-conspiracy / paranormal-powers plot.
Romance is portrayed in a decidedly unromantic way, as a matter of dispensing gifts, assistance and compliments while not hitting on other girls (if it might be noticed). It's romance stripped of the complicated social intangibles; though never turning into porn, it's definitely running on porn-logic. If it actually acknowledged that it was D/s lifestyle fetish, it'd be rather less unnerving.
The writing is going for a sort of charmingly-awkward effect, the sort of not-quite-fluent style you often get with second-language writers or patchy translations. It doesn't always sustain this, frequently dropping into Generic IF Bland. Other anime-derived stuff -- overuse of ellipsis in dialogue, busy upbeat music, template characters and settings -- is likely to annoy anybody not already enamoured with the form.
Gameplay wobbles between linearity and go-everywhere-to-see-if-anything's-changed, although this is largely a conscious design decision; the plot's streamlining is sacrificed at various points to allow for lots of optional content. On the other hand, the map tends to be designed with an eye to its effect on pacing the first time you run through, to the detriment of re-exploration, and there's a narrow inventory limit. Conversation is rather stunted; when it breaks into multiple-choice menus, it's often a matter of one Good Choice and several bad ones that end the conversation.
If you can get past all this, it has a number of things to offer: it's quite long and has considerable replay value. It may appeal if you like games which involve hunting out optional content, of which there is a great deal. Its use of multimedia is genre-appropriate and executed with skill, and for a game of its size, particularly in ADRIFT, it has a more than respectable level of polish. But this is like saying that GTA has really immersive world design, if you can just get past the violence and reckless driving. Slow pacing and lots of optional content is fine if you enjoy the basic texture of the world; if the world makes your skin crawl, it becomes a liability.
There are 8 girls that you meet, and you can build up romance with any of them. If you build a romance high enough, you get a special ending.
I was unable to complete the game, as you have to select options a, b, c, or d to travel to different places, and this version of the game in Gargoyle understands 'c' as 'close', rendering me unable to select this option.
As for the sexism, here's the description of the first female lead. I'll let you decide what to think:
"The girl is clothed in a silky blue dress. Long vibrant hair cascades over her shoulders and
down her back. Her countenance seems to reflect all feminine virtue, inclusive of kindness,
empathy, and consciousness of time and place. Her deportment is modest, and there is
propriety in the way she patiently sits waiting for someone, a gallant knight to ride up and
sweep her off her feet perhaps. Certainly that cannot be the case, nor do you look anything like
a knight, but since when was there ever harm in entertaining a fanciful thought?"
Edit: After downloading Adrift 4.0, and replaying, the game was much better, with graphics and sound and no game-closing bugs.
The male-wish-fulfillment aspect may come from the dating sims PK Girl partly emulates. All the same, I found the premise fundamentally unappealing and did not want to play to the end.
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