Yup. It’s that time again. As ever, if you’re reading a review of a game like this, you’ve probably got a good idea if this is your cup of tea or not…but let’s dance the dance and sing the song once more. Behold the power that is NIS America’s Criminal Girls: Invite Only: a dungeon-crawling RPG, but more pertinently it’s a fanservice game. A blessedly buxom anime fanservice game at that. You can guess what’s coming.
In Criminal Girls you play as a trainer for a group of delinquent girls who have died and been sent to Hell. They’re not actually “criminals” just yet, so they’ve been given the chance to redeem themselves and be reborn in the real world. Your job is to keep them on task during their reformation, which takes the form of ascending through a monster-infested dungeon in the traditional top-down style.
The combat system is most directly reminiscent of a lesser-known Square-Enix title called The Last Remnant. In both games, you don’t directly command your party so much as act on suggestions that they make. Your characters will make different suggestions depending on their level of, uh, “motivation,” and you can only act on one suggestion each turn as well as using an item if you wish to do so. It’s important to motivate your characters fairly evenly in order to avoid ending up in a situation where you don’t have any useful combat options. The game is fairly difficult, so you’ll need to save often and level up regularly to keep going.
So, yeah. About that motivation…your party members are delinquents and need to be pushed into doing what you want. In other words, as mentioned earlier this is a fanservice game and this is where your fanservice is coming from. It’s basically a little touchscreen minigame like you’d see on mobile. You pay “gold” to do this, and doing well earns that character experience points; there’s different methods of motivation which are essentially different skill trees that your girls can gain experience in. It’s an interesting gameplay idea, but the content therein isn’t going to be for everyone. Or most people. Or anyone, really. It is what it is.
Looking at it strictly from a gameplay standpoint, Criminal Girls: Invite Only is a pretty decent RPG. It’s fairly challenging and the different party members and, er, skill trees they have available allow for a variety of ways that you can approach combat. Your view on the content is probably going to color your decision here, but regardless, Criminal Girls gets a “Yay” because it’s good at what it does.