Dohna Dohna Review – This Colorful Game Can’t Be This Dark?!

    Title: Dohna Dohna
    Developer: Alicesoft
    Release Date: October 29, 2021
    Reviewed On: PC
    Publisher: Shiravune
    Genre: Visual Novel, RPG, Simulation

Dohna Dohna is the newest game from developer Alicesoft, most famous for creating the Rance eroge series. Released in Japan just last year, publisher Shiravune surprised everyone with this swift localization. There have been several surprise announcements this year, but this one was probably the hardest to anticipate.

Before diving into the review itself, be aware that this game features heavy topics such as abuse and prostitution.

Dohna Dohna is a story about a criminal group called Nayuta and their adventures in a futuristic setting. Living in a city controlled by megacorporation Asougi Corp, these characters do their worst to dethrone the tyrants. However, while other games would likely present them as marginalized good characters, things aren’t that simple here.

Raiding the Asougi domains would be too difficult without money. As such, instead of only causing havoc wherever they go, Nayuta also runs a second business. The group kidnaps young girls and forces them to sell their bodies. By the time players get to know the characters, this heinous act is already second nature.

But the main characters are all young people who still act just as you’d expect from a group of kids. Most events show how immature they are, and the tone of conversations is usually lighthearted even when the subject matter is far more severe. The story’s tonal whiplash can be a little aggravating at times, even for people already used to eroges.

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Regarding gameplay, however, Dohna Dohna is an absurdly addicting experience, mixing strategic management and turn-based RPG battles. Every day the player has the chance to select a variety of actions. These include interacting with party members, training your “talents,” shopping for new items, hustling, and hunting.

Interacting with the team raises their feelings, a statistic that unlocks special character events at specific milestones. Initially, the party includes five people, with the somber Kuma as the protagonist and de-facto leader of the gang since the actual boss, Zappa, delegates everything to him. Besides those two, the team also has the appropriately-named Porno, Kirakira, and Torataro.

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Porno is obsessed with sexual acts and, despite her youthful appearance, has the most experience. She is essentially naked when fighting, and her moves are all based on abusing enemies. Kirakira’s a much simpler girl and somewhat brainless, as is Torataro, the usual butt of the jokes.

More characters join the team as the player advances through the story missions. The objectives usually consist of exploring new areas or getting a certain amount of money in a single night of hustling. It’s impossible to beat the game without taking care of both gameplay components.

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Hustling depends on attracting clients to what the game calls talents. These girls have three main stats, which the player should try to raise as much as possible. The first one is their looks, which is the main factor for being chosen. There’s direct competition with other groups, so raising this value can make a vast difference when competing for high-ranking individuals.

Additionally, the amount of obtained money is dependent on the client’s satisfaction. The girls’ technique will affect this, making it another aspect that’s paramount to raise. Last but not least is the characters’ mentality. The work will exhaust the girls and can cause a deep scar on their psyche. As such, it’s your job to give them items and talk to them to make them feel more comfortable and avoid complete mental collapse.

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Outside those primary stats, the player should raise their defenses against pregnancy. By giving them pills, you can modify this value from red (totally unprotected) to yellow (may still get pregnant) or green (protected). Anytime a character goes through hustling, their attributes change, usually raising TEC and reducing the other stats. When they’re pregnant, the penalties are harsher and even affect TEC.

Some clients may also gift characters with specific effects and traits. Those can have positive and negative impacts, and evaluating their worth makes a vital difference. This whole management system offers a solid, compelling experience that is hard to put down. Though, at the same time, I’m admittedly unsure how to deal with the moral implication that treating people as merchandise can be enjoyable from a practical point of view.

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The other side of the game, hunting, is a turn-based RPG with unique systems. Firstly, the player picks one of the city areas to explore. There, multiple lines will serve as alternate paths that the player can take to find an exit. It’s possible to leave at any time using the scram button as long as you’re not in the middle of battle.

Each spot you move to may have a symbol that defines what you may encounter there. Besides enemies of various strength levels, there are items and girls to kidnap (by fighting a group and leaving her for last). The player can only pick a spot directly ahead of the one they’re currently on, making it impossible to explore a whole area in a single day.

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Despite exploration being simple, battles shine with increased complexity. The party is composed of four people in a line, and you can change characters with the reserves at any time. Positioning is everything here because each attack has different ranges. Using items on allies also depends on having a person behind the target.

By leveling characters, they’ll learn new moves, ultimately affecting their effectiveness in battle. Some attacks affect multiple enemies, while others may become impossible to use when only one target is available because of range restrictions. Support techniques may affect everyone by moving the character to the last position in the line. And the same can be said about manipulating the party positions according to enemies’ ranges.

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These limitations force players to rearrange the order constantly. With stronger enemies to face, the strategic element makes it a truly fascinating system for RPGs. As such, it’s essential to master both the turn-based RPG and brothel simulation systems to get the most out of the game.

Besides everything I already mentioned, Dohna Dohna excels at its presentation and sound design. The visuals are colorful with great attention to detail, the soundtrack is filled with catchy upbeat music, and the Japanese voice acting provides immersion for viewing the cast.

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Dohna Dohna is an addicting eroge RPG experience. It boasts colorful graphics and solid gameplay, mixing great RPG and strategy/simulation systems. I do have some qualms with the story, and the brothel mechanics are morally horrific, but I can’t deny how fun it is.

Score:
8.5/10
A review copy of the title was provided by the publisher for review purposes

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Ivanir Ignacchitti

Random Japanese games are my jam. Handhelds, RPGs, VNs and PC banzai.