euphoria is a 2011 rape eroge from Clockup.
euphoria begins with the protagonist, Takatou Keisuke, waking up to find himself trapped in one of the many life or death escape games that have apparently become quite common in the (fictional) world since Saw. In this particular game Keisuke is trapped with 6 girls he knows from his school, and they must unlock 5 doors to escape the facility. Just like any other doors you unlock these ones by sticking a key in a keyhole. The keyholes in this situation are the girls, and the key is Keisuke (well technically he’s the “unlocker” and the “keys” are various fetish/torture items he uses on the girls, but I prefer my way of thinking of the game). In short, to unlock each door he must choose one of the girls and rape them, each time fulfilling specific unlocking conditions.
The rules of the game are very straightforward and simple and they don’t appear to have much potential for an interesting story. However what the story appears to be on the surface is just the tip of the iceberg. A very twisted iceberg that extends deeper into the cold dark ocean than man was ever meant to go. euphoria forces you to disabuse yourself of the assumption that a nukige can’t have a good plot. The story keeps you on the edge of your seat and defies your expectations every time you think you understand what’s going on. It’s full of twists and even some genuinely moving emotional moments, and the true end is amazing. The writing is also surprisingly good, especially in the scenes where it really counts. Given the nature of the game I can only talk about it in such vague terms to avoid treading into major spoiler territory.
Having said all that, euphoria’s story certainly has its share of flaws. Some events are too convenient, some explanations less than satisfying, and some motivations questionable. In the end the story is one meant to keep you surprised, engaged, and above all entertained, and if you stop to think about it too much you’ll start noticing aspects that don’t add up as well as they should. There aren’t any outright plot holes or inconsistencies, however, so it’s more a matter of how much you can suspend your disbelief. euphoria also has some minor pacing issues and the division of the plot into routes is less than ideal. Some only offer small, almost negligible, pieces of new information while others are perhaps double the length and completely change the nature of the story. The routes overlap enough that the shorter ones seem nearly pointless, especially if you do them after one or more of the longer routes.
Manaka Nemu: The unattainable beauty of Keisuke’s class. In contrast to her graceful and pristine beauty she’s twisted and cruel. Nemu’s sadistic personality has its charms but by the time I got to her route it had actually become rather boring. Maybe that means it’s too one-dimensional.
Hokari Kanae: Keisuke’s childhood friend. I’m something of a connoisseur of osananajimi characters, and it’s my opinion that Kanae is an awesome childhood friend. She takes the kindness and devotion standard in the archetype to new levels and backs it up with an admirable and charming strength of will. Easily my favorite heroine in the game.
Byakuya Rinne: A girl in Keisuke’s year who has a quiet and cold personality. She’s somewhat typical but has some interesting nuances to her personality that make her feel relatively fresh.
Makiba Rika: Keisuke’s cute and spoiled kouhai. Holy shit I cannot recall when I last encountered a character this irritating. But she’s supposed to infuriate you so in a way she’s a good character, just not a likeable one. It also leaves lots of room for character development, which occurs during her route and makes her much more likeable.
Andou Miyako: The class rep of Keisuke’s class. Pretty standard class rep character. She gets the least development of any character in the game.
Aoi Natsuki: A teacher at Keisuke’s school. Like most young female teachers in eroge (which seem to make up most teachers in eroge to begin with) she’s a somewhat unreliable adult despite her best attempts. Seems very flat until you get to her route.
Takatou Keisuke: The protagonist. Other than his secret (which is revealed early on but I won’t spoil it) he doesn’t have much of a personality. On the plus side his secret results in some internal conflict that makes things interesting, and he’s proactive and competent enough.
The BGM is decent but limited. Most of the tracks are the kind meant to create atmosphere and tension, and those always get old quickly. They also have a small range of use, and euphoria really suffers from that. In addition to the suspenseful tracks there are a couple of emotional ones, but they’re mediocre and don’t do much to enhance the scenes they’re used in. Lastly there are a few assorted other tracks that are forgettable. On the other hand the OP is damn good. One of the best I’ve heard it a good while. It’s such a shame that the BGM isn’t of similar quality.
The voice acting is of an average, acceptable level, until you get to the ero scenes. The ero voice acting is good, until you get to the more hardcore stuff. Then the voices just get ridiculous. At one point early on I literally laughed at how silly they sounded. I realize they’re trying to convey the intense pleasure/pain the girls are going through in those extreme scenes, but I’m not sure it worked.
I really enjoyed the art in euphoria. What I liked most about it was its striking theme of predominately black and white colors. It contributed largely to the game’s atmosphere and the sterile feeling of the facility in which the characters are trapped. They also used a filter or something to give the art a unique flair. One significant complaint I have about the art lies with the ero CGs, a major component of any nukige. Most of the time the composition is poorly done and detracts from the hotness of the scene. Additionally the girls’ bodies are often drawn in a loose, unappealing fashion. Of course the latter is a matter of taste and some people might find it attractive.
euphoria isn’t just a rape eroge, it’s a hardcore rape eroge. There’s a wide range of really sick shit here. Many of the unlocking conditions straddle the border of rape and outright torture (well I guess rape itself is a form of torture) and some clearly cross over it. I’m not a sadist… is what I thought before I played euphoria. This kind of ero wouldn’t normally appeal to me but it’s so well done in euphoria, despite my complaints about voices and CGs, that even I could get off to it.
One major merit of the ero is the unique situation under which the rape takes place, where the girls are semi-willing because they know they need to complete the unlocking condition to survive and escape. Each girl reacts differently, and these different dynamics keep the ero fresh and enjoyable. The unlocking conditions can also get very creative, so across the roughly 60 ero scenes so many different situations and fetishes are covered that the sex is always interesting. As is inevitable, with so many different situations there were some that I just couldn’t fap to. I still forced myself to fap to most of that stuff (I admit with great shame that my will was insufficient for a couple of scenes), and I hope I don’t develop any weird tendencies because of it.
Another noteworthy aspect of the ero is the heroines’ absolutely ridiculous dirty talk. Seriously I don’t think any high school girl would ever talk like that, and maybe not even any real girl ever. Sometimes I found it humorous enough to chuckle at, but as I got used to it I actually found it added to the appeal of the ero scenes. So I guess I did pick up some strange interests from this game.
euphoria also has its share of vanilla scenes, which are pretty good. Of course this being euphoria it isn’t your standard vanilla: the girls cum like crazy to the point where they sometimes ahegao, they usually go for 3-4 rounds at a time, and plenty more of that damn dirty talk. How the hell do you “semen pack” a girl’s face anyhow?
Pros: Entertaining story that’s actually pretty damn good; great ero; good art
Cons: Some flaws in the story; ero will be too extreme for most people; weak BGM
euphoria’s extreme ero content makes it hard to recommend. Which is unfortunate, because it’s the first time I’ve encountered a nukige with such a strong scenario. If you’re into the sort of hardcore shit euphoria depicts (or just have a morbid curiosity for it like I do) then you definitely owe it to yourself to play this eroge.