By now any visual novel fan understands the standard harem eroge concept, a guy meets a group of girls and each one fulfills some particular fetish. This is a tried and tired concept by itself. So the question is, how do you shake up the pre-existing formula?
Well, Matchasoft takes a crack at doing just that, with their debut title Hard Work. Now it’s time to see if they put in the work or if this is just another flaccid title in the sea of already existing eroge.
You take the role of Gary Stuart, a sexual counselor, who spends his days running his small business ‘Bedside Logistics’ wanting to get some more work. Luckily for him, a former client, the now president of the bizarre fiction 500 company ‘Industriocorp’ wishes to begin a partnership with ‘Bedside Logistics’ to increase productivity within their company. And so, a test run begins, in which Gary puts his skills to the test to understand the needs of the girls.
Gary’s new clients are Scarlett, the HR manager infamously known as ‘The Demon of the Industriocorp business’ due to her temper, Katya, a genetically modified catgirl who acts as a cheerleader to improve how much her workers enjoy their jobs, and Celeste, an extremely popular and highly praised worker, who is unaware of what her job actually entails at the company. These three girls have drastically different routes and they all get fleshed out just enough that you can’t really dislike any particular heroine. It’s rather interesting to note that the protagonist has no prior established relationship with any of these characters. In fact, every other character with a portrait is someone Gary already knows, just not these three.
Hard Work is not a serious game. I mean, you should have guessed when I said the main character’s name is Gary Stuart, or perhaps when the catgirl’s name is Katya. It’s a relatively short kinetic visual novel and will probably take the average player approximately 5 hours to read all the content the game has (unless you get distracted by “other things”), with a story that primarily exists to justify its H-scenes (the other things).
The general pattern of a single playthrough boils down to selecting the girl whose route you want to pursue at the start of the game, then you follow the path you’ve chosen down a seven-day long joy ride of witty and amusing dialogue leading into the actual H-scenes. It’s truly a fun ride too, as the dialogue makes it very clear that the writers understood their audience and knew exactly what jokes to make.
As far as visuals go, Hard Work looks extremely good. The backgrounds are nice and crisp, and there are actually a few more than I expected from a game of this scope. The character sprites are all drawn with lots of bright shades which helps give them all cute and colorful tones. The developer has also drawn a collection of different poses as well as different facial expressions for not only the main girls but for the other minor characters too, which is a very neat touch.
The explicit CGs are also spread throughout each character’s route, so you don’t have to worry about having to push through to the end because you really want to see boobs, they’ll come to you early on and they’re nicely spread throughout the tale. However, The game does lack CGs for scenes outside of the explicit ones, but that’s completely understandable given the game’s rather small size. It does make up for this by inserting a few of cute chibi graphics in to help even out the momentum in the ‘counseling’ sections of each character’s story.
I wasn’t expecting good things when I first booted up the game but it actually managed to surprise me with more than enough comical dialogue and interactions to make the actual ‘plot’ (as thin as it is) quite enjoyable in more than one route. The game’s soundtrack merely exists, resting in the background for the title, but I can confirm that there is one standout track. The only other criticisms of the game I can really give stem from the genre itself and are in no way the fault of the title. So take from that what you will.
At the end of the day, if you want a good looking eroge wrapped in buns of witty dialogue with a light-hearted dressing, then Hard Work is a game that would definitely be worth checking out.
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