Note: Review copy provided by Sekai Project.
It has been a while since I last reviewed a game from Winged Cloud‘s ongoing Sakura franchise. The last time I had done so was Sakura Fantasy Chapter 1. Still waiting for Chapter 2! I heard Sakura Beach and Sakura Swim Club feature content worthy of the Yuri Nation’s attention but since the main protagonist is male I did not bother. While waiting for that sequel something unexpected came up, another 100% yuri Sakura game. I was intrigued. Is the game worth checking out for yuri fans who enjoyed Sakura Fantasy? Let us find out as we take a look at Sakura Dungeon, published by Sekai Project, Denpasoft and Nutaku.
Note: I played through the game with the uncensored patch but the review will feature images from the censored version.
Genres: RPG, First Person, Dungeon Crawler,
Themes: Monster Girls, Animal Girls, Ecchi, Fanservice, Yuri
Length: 20+ hours for the main story (Give or take) and 5-10 for the extra content.
Plot Summary: In this story players will assume the role of an ancient fox spirit named Yomi who awakens after several hundred years of deep sleep to find that possession of her lovingly made dungeon has been taken from her! As if that wasn’t enough cause for alarm, she has also been robbed of her power, leaving her weak and vulnerable. She soon discovers that it was a heroic knight named Ceri who woke her from her slumber, and after a brief fight and “negotiation,” the knight decides to join her on an adventure to reclaim the dungeon!
The main protagonists are Yomi and Ceri but the story is told from Yomi’s perspective.
Sakura Dungeon differs from its visual novel counterparts (excluding Sakura Clicker) in that it is a first-person dungeon crawler that shares similarities to the Lightning Warrior Raidy series and especially Demon Master Chris (Warning! Link is NSFW). Basically outside of cutscenes and battles the gameplay is in a first-person perspective as players explore maze-like dungeon floors breaking barrels and vases, finding treasure chests, avoiding occasional themed traps in certain floors like hidden passages and dealing with random enemy encounters as they fight gatekeepers until they reach the bottom floor to face the new dungeon lord.
The village, dungeon layouts and other “non-dungeoney” areas are pleasant to look at as is expected with Sakura titles. At first it may seem like the game has very few dungeon layouts but patience and perseverance will pay off. The soundtrack, while not vast features some nice tunes. This is a good thing in a game with random enemy encounters because if the battle themes were lame that would be a shame. Thankfully SD’s are good.
Let us discuss what will make or break the game for some readers, the core gameplay and its features. Sakura Dungeon’s battles are turn-based and as mentioned above encounters are random. It initially starts off easy with each side beating each other up but like any other good RPG strategies will be needed to survive such as elemental weaknesses and resistance, which monsters have favorable moves and abilities for future battles, item management (Especially Warp Stones and Revival Balm) etc. Depending on the difficulty the need to level grind differs. Besides taking on tougher enemies and bosses grinding serves a second purpose, this being one of SD’s top draws: The “Capture” system.
There are three ways to recruit new party members.
- 1: “Capturing” them.
- 2: Fulfilling certain requirements to unlock their recruitment event.
- 3: Super Rare monster girls where players have only or two chances of “capturing” them.
The “Capture” system is simple:
- 1: Ceri or whichever other party member that has the “Capture” attack in their moveset must knock out the monster using said attack.
- 2: The user’s level must either equal or be higher than the target monster girl.
There are over 50 monster girls to capture. Basically like Pokemon or any other monster catching-recruitment game. A party can consist of 6 members at once. The one nitpick with this otherwise neat idea is that as the game progresses and stronger monster girls appear it is more than likely that past girls will stop being useful because other than the attacks they have and can learn from special scrolls found in the dungeon or bought at the town shop, most girls do not have support abilities that makes them irreplaceable or useful in later parts of the game unless the player has a strong attachment to earlier girls. Just a nitpick as it is still cool to play as many kinds of monster girls.
Besides capturing monster girls and exploring the maze-like floors, there are special kinds of goodies alongside regular and key items, costumes. Sexy costumes are scattered throughout the dungeon for the girls to find. The one downside is that only Ceri and Yomi can wear them. Both are beautiful women and look great in them but it would have been nice for some of the other party members being able to get alternate costumes, especially Sylvi.
The story is as simple as the plot summary described and that is not a bad thing because the conversations between the ladies are fun to listen to. Since most of the story takes place while exploring a dungeon the conversations are about following:
- The dungeon layouts: traps, items found (regular and key items) and the various monster girls within.
- Discussing the past: We learn about Ceri’s dungeon raids with past parties and how it molded her into the knight she is, Yomi’s own past and even the monster girls and other party members talk about themselves.
- Even discussions in the town with the residents and some of the recruited party members. More on this in a bit.
Basically while the main story is simple it is still neat listening to the girls talk about stuff and each other. The trip down to the dungeon lord’s chamber and the surprises along the way are also worth the time of the interested.
Before getting to the main event let us briefly go back to the battles again. When landing strong enough critical hits (Not all critical hits work) the girls’ clothing slowly get ripped to shreds. This is not only for fanservice but should it happen twice the girl’s defense drops significantly. In the censored version it is limited to torn clothing. In the uncensored version, do this twice and the girls’ private parts will be visible from top to bottom. Nothing is blurred from the vulva to the labia in certain CGs.
Last but not least the yuri. The yuri is 75% consensual raunchiness and 25% romance. This is why for readers who want the full experience it is recommended to install the uncensored patch or buy the uncensored DRM version on Denpasoft in order to relish the yuri in all its no holds barred glory…at least for readers who are up to the challenge. Without giving too much away it is made clear very early on that Yomi is a disciple of the Great Iono-Sama (Iono-Sama Fanatics). There is one scene in the game that heavily hints that Yomi was mentored by the legendary yuri harem queen. Combine these teachings with her divine power and…yeah. Sometimes the ladies “get to business” “unarmed” and other times they go to their…”special toolbox in the right corner”. As mentioned, besides the naughty goodness there are some girls who end up falling in love with each other. Unlocking these scenes have various requirements like defeating and or recruiting certain monster girls, finding key items (some you need to find before facing a boss), watching as many available events in town as possible etc.
It is all about collecting cute and sexy monster girls and steamy CGs.
Overall Sakura Dungeon is an enjoyable game but not for everyone. Veteran dungeon crawler fans may find it simplistic but for a first time effort from a game company that is mainly known for their ecchi visual novels it is a solid entry. It has enough content, gameplay mechanics and dungeon exploration to make the trek an entertaining one. Recommended to readers who have played Demon Master Chris and even Lightning Warrior Raidy and Yuri fans who liked Sakura Fantasy’s “lots of ecchi with some cute romance” style of yuri content. For readers who have never played Sakura Fantasy…if the yuri in Valkyrie Drive Mermaid did not bother you then Sakura Dungeon is worth checking out. For readers who dislike random encounters and level grinding this may not be the game for you.
Get the uncensored patch for the Steam version HERE. ” Go to Computer>Program Files or the alternative > Steam > Steamapps > Common. Drop the file “patch0x.rpa” in the “game” folder inside the Sakura Dungeon directory.