Review by Iyamtebist
This game is just downright pathetic.
Im not even going to try and be discreet here; No Male Heroes is embarrassingly bad. It is nothing more than an incredibly shallow satire meant to speak on the subject of
wait for it
sexism in gaming. This satire, however, holds no real weight and does not even attempt anything of substance. Unlike Nondecimals Social Justice Warriors, this game is simply one strawman after another with every character portrayed as, and every character written as, a two dimensional stereotype. The plot abandons any semblance of logic and only exists to force a ham handed message down the players throats, and said message is bafflingly immature and detached from reality.
To clarify, it isnt that I am against the concept of being more accepting to female gamers, or even that sexism in the industry doesnt exist. What makes me hate this game so much is that something like this is going to make it far less likely for anyone to take sexism in gaming seriously because of how forced this is.
Furthermore, satire is supposed to serve the purpose of convincing your detractors to challenge their beliefs through exaggerations. The only people that will find any legit form of merit to No Male Heroes, however, are the ones that already believe what it is saying. As such, it completely fails in that regard.
No Mans Land
Our story takes place in an alternate universe where gender roles are flipped and women are the supposed privileged gender. Even though the premise itself has been done to death in various forms of media (mostly very poorly as well), it could still work if enough thought and detail went into how it is handled. Things such as the circumstances that lead to the establishment of standards that are drastically different, and why they are the case for example. Unfortunately the extent of the creativity in this game is to have the exact same stereotypical dialogue without any regard for the natural differences between men and women in terms of culture, or why people tend to emphasize these things.
For example, the reason those women typically are associated with the being house wives who handle the chores are because, in nature, it was men who did the hunting while women raised kids. It is a result of our own biology and history. However, in an alternate universe where gender roles are reversed, surely there must be some sort of back story to why this was the case right? Well the explanation to why this is the case comes down to oh who am I kidding there is no explanation; cant have any legitimate depth or thought in our stories now can we?
For goodness sakes, you do not need to have things be exactly the same as our universe to get your point across. There is this thing mysterious thing known as allegory. This is used to create a universe similar to our own but under different circumstances, which naturally allows more room for creativity and allows for your story to make a lick of sense. One could have maybe made this take place in an alternate universe where humans had a different biological setup which caused the females to be the more active dominant party.
Another idea would have been to not have male characters that act stereotypically female and female characters that act stereotypically male.
Contrary to popular belief, there are legitimate differences between men and woman on average. When your biology is different, this is bound to be the case. The message for this type of game should be that we shouldnt treat each other differently based on said differences; not that said differences dont exist. This also severely limits the possibility of exploring the male point of view and trying to create insight into why these supposedly sexist standards exist.
A particularly egregious example comes when our main character is cat called by a few teenage girls. The literal line that is delivered by one of the girls is nice crotch. First of all, as small as it may be, this proves that this game was written by a male. Im going to need to go into some sex-ed stuff here in order to explain this.
The female equivalent to a man staring at a womans chest is not a woman staring at a mans crotch. If anything, the sexual equivalent would be, get this, a mans chest! The difference is that there is no taboo against men being shirtless and showing their chest while women would get arrested for the same thing. Maybe it would have been a good idea to explore that double standard seeing as how fiction does not seem to talk about it that much, but no, because god forbid we acknowledge that there are different perceptions that men and women have of each other.
That is one of the key issues with No Males Heroes; despite being a game to tackle the subject of misogyny, it never actually delves into any serious female rights issues. All it does is portray men as a bunch of misogynist chauvinist strawmen and women as helpless oppressed victims. Every single character is as unlikable and as shallow as possible. Our main character is a typical feminist (and from now on Ill just refer to the expies as what they are expies for since it is clear that the writers did not want them to be perceived as any different so I will not acknowledge them as such) who sometimes is in the right but other times is misandrist just for the sake of being misandrist.
For example, in the earlier segment where I mentioned said character being rescued from being raped, our main character has the option to later turn on the friend who rescued her by accusing him of just doing so to have an excuse to hug her. The sheer fact that this is the first thought that comes to her mind shows that she clearly hates men even when they are nice to her and try to help her. That only reinforces the idea that feminists just hate men no matter what they do and it is not worth it to try and be nice to them, which somehow assumes that people hate them because they are women and not because of their bad attitudes.
The remaining characters can be described as the same way. Most of the time the male characters are chauvinist for the sake of being chauvinist, but other times they actually dip into that strawman actually has a point territory. In addition to the above, maybe the other characters are right when people should laugh at themselves occasionally, or that you should be more appreciative to the people who saved you from being sexually assaulted, and maybe, yes, a lot of female gamers due tend to mostly play social games on their iphone more than guys because mainstream AAA titles appeal to guys more. Of course in game you cant justify any of these, but none of these are going to occur nearly as stereotypically as they did in real life because every character is a strawman.
To top it off, most of them are not even accurate. The game portrays our main characters husband as being uncaring and chauvinist towards his wife who almost got raped and almost overdosed on medication in the same day. Since when was it ever an acceptable standard to be unsympathetic towards rape? Rape is typically taken very seriously as a crime and I cant imagine even the most chauvinist husband being so flippant towards his wife almost being sexually assaulted. In the few cases where this is the case, it isnt a problem of sexism; its a problem of being a sociopath.
This game cannot decide between whether it wants to say that people see women as precious or that they dont care about them. It is not impossible to handle such a thing; just look at Henrik Ibsens A Dolls House. The problem is that our husband and every other character jumps between the two as the plot demands him to be. Furthermore, during the games climax, both our main character and her friend are kidnapped, and when the friend gets rescued, he refuses to rescue our main character because thats her husbands job. Uhhh, I really dont remember that ever happening in real life or even in any form of media; it was just pulled out of the writers ass because patriarchy.
Lastly, the game even has the gall to mention Anita Sarkeesian by name to our main character by saying that, in an alternate universe where men are privileged, she is speaking up against sexism only to be harassed and threatened. Ignoring how laughably bad writing it is to just randomly mention Anita like that, or any of the actual logistics of said incidents; it does not even make sense plot wise. At this point, in universe (meaning Im going back to referring to them by their canonical genders), our main character was growing to hate women due to being mistreated by them. So why would he feel sorry for that happening to her in an alternate universe when he grows to resent women? Our main character is no humanist by any means, and if anything, he would have found that cathartic. In fact, if the game ended with a humorous, ironic scene of him coming to that conclusion, it probably would have made up for everything.
Conclusion (No More No Male Heroes)
To quickly touch on production values, with what little there is to say, I will just mention that it is a low budget RPG Maker title with mostly stock sound effect, incredibly bland music, and no option to display a window that isnt 400x400. There is also no gameplay other than walking a couple inches, making choices between dialogue, and scrolling through text. I guess there is more replay value, but to be honest, I could not stand to replay this game more than once. In fact, I almost decided not to review this because I did not want to give it any undeserved attention, and because Desura was not known for quality titles.
I am also aware that this review is at serious risk of being rejected due to being a bash review. The reason this is the case is because I legitimately cannot think of a single positive with this game. The closest I can think of is that this game MIGHT appeal to some feminists, but even then, the most that even the most radical and man hating feminist could get is that it agrees with them. It does not offer any insight and is the intellectual equivalent of repeating your opponents argument in the sarcastic, high pitched girly man voice.
The game is free to play but I do recall seeing it being listed as costing $3.00 a while back, but I will acknowledge that I have nothing to really go on with that and that I could be remembering incorrectly. Either way, even the download space and the time spent to play the game is not a fair price for this travesty of a video game. DO NOT PLAY THIS GAME!
Product Release: No Male Heroes (US, 01/03/15)
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