Despite the fact that as you are reading this, someone somewhere is almost certainly enjoying an intimate moment of some description right now, sex remains the ultimate taboo in video games.
This is one of many reasons why I find it so endlessly fascinating that Japan, a nation whose society is not stereotypically known for being particularly open about such things, leads the way in terms of sexually explicit entertainment, be it interactive games or non-interactive formats such as anime and manga.
Up until now, our exposure to Japan’s thriving “sex game” industry in an officially licensed capacity has primarily been through eroge and nukige visual novels. But with Western hentai localiser and publisher Fakku’s partnership with Illusion, now everyone can get their hands on one of the most world-renowned “sex sims” out there: Honey Select Unlimited. It’d be rude not to take a peek, right?
NSFW warning: This article discusses strong sexual themes and features explicit imagery after the jump. If you read it at work and get caught, I accept no responsibility whatsoever!
As you’ll recall from our exploration of Honey Select Unlimited’s demo version a while back, the software as a whole is split into two main areas: a comprehensive character creator and the “game” component. The full release also comes bundled with a separate application called Honey Unlimited Studio, which we’ll discuss more a little later.
Honey Select Unlimited’s setup is simple. While out for a stroll, you stumble across an enormous, mysterious building and naturally, you decide to wander in to see what sort of place it is. You’re met by a refined young woman named Sitri, who explains that you’ve entered “a place to find partners; a special place where you can find the perfect partner for you and you alone, one devoted to allowing the two of you to spend sweet moments together.” Thus begins your journey to… well, just have a lot of sex really, and develop your relationships with the other girls in both positive and negative directions.
While the demo version of Honey Select Unlimited required you to use the character creator to put together a partner for yourself, the full version offers two alternative means of finding someone with whom to spend some intimate time. The character creator is still present, of course — only this time around with a lot more in the way of clothing and personality options to customise your creation once you’ve designed their body to your exacting specifications — but you can also ask Sitri to “find you a girl”. This takes you to what is essentially a character randomiser, though you can specify certain preferences such as height, breast size, build, skin tone, personality, whether they wear glasses and, uh, whether or not they are an elf. The game will then come up with someone for you that you can either accept as-is or customise further using the character creator.
The flexibility of Honey Select Unlimited’s character creator is such that you can create a wide variety of possible partners for yourself, ranging from flat-chested, shy, skinny waifs to painfully thicc nymphomaniacs who are, like, totally into you from the moment you meet them. While the overall art style is somewhat more realistic than its rivals such as Kiss’ popular Custom Maid 3D 2, you can still create stylised creations, too, thanks to the ability to make use of custom skin and hair tones (complete with variable “shininess”) and the ability to tweak and adjust everything from the size, shape and position of the pupils within a character’s eye to how saggy their arse is.
The male character that represents “you” can also be customised in a similar level of detail, with the only non-editable feature being his formidably enormous and extremely rigid penis (which can be made invisible if you find yourself feeling inferior); alternatively, you can choose to represent the male character as a translucent outline or make him disappear altogether if you really want that “immersive” feeling. The translucent outline provides a good balance between being able to easily see what is going on and getting a feel for where the male partner is and what he’s doing, though it does have a strange glitch where looking “through” it causes certain accessories and pieces of hair on the girl’s model to disappear. You may well find yourself wanting to turn the male model off altogether once you get into the sex scenes, as there are a few other issues in this regard, most notably if there is a significant size discrepancy between the two models — let’s just say in that scenario certain bits don’t line up quite as well as they should.
So how do those sex scenes work? Well, you can simply use them as a form of interactive pornography if you wish, and indeed there’s even an “auto” mode that allows you to just enjoy the show with a variety of different positions, speeds and animations. But take control and there’s actually a lot more going on under the hood than you might think.
The basics of the sex mechanics in Honey Select involve selecting a position from those available — more unlock according to where you are, the girl’s experience and mood and what achievements you’ve unlocked — and then using the mouse wheel to adjust the speed of what is going on. According to exactly what you’re doing, you’ll find a “sweet spot” for speed indicated by a heart symbol that causes either the male or female pleasure meter to rise, and each position has three levels of intensity, two of which can be selected when you start, and a third of which automatically occurs once the girl’s pleasure passes a certain threshold.
If you find yourself particularly enjoying an animation, you can lock the male or female pleasure meters at their current values, preventing them from passing the threshold that leads to the intense animations and stopping the girl from having an orgasm when her meter fills completely. There is no penalty for doing this, and indeed with the relatively quick speed the meter fills you may wish to take advantage of it if you want to take your time over a particular scene.
Once of the many nice things about Honey Select Unlimited’s sex scenes are the subtle little touches. Hit a girl’s sweet spot in terms of speed and both her facial expression and voice will change to indicate the fact she’s enjoying herself more. Characters will become sweaty over time. And giving a girl a series of thundering orgasms in rapid succession will cause her to become exhausted, giving you a whole new set of animations to enjoy for each position.
More long-term, Honey Select Unlimited models the psychological impact of various sexual activities on the girls you interact with. There are a number of different relationship statuses a girl can hold towards you: normal, affectionate, horny, disgusted, servile and “broken”. Each position you pick during a sex scene influences how the girl feels about you. These vary according to the girl, her experience with different types of sex (vanilla, painful and anal) and also change over time. For example, a position like missionary, which is regarded as very intimate due to, you know, actually having to look at each other’s faces, has a significant impact on both the “affectionate” and “horny” levels; conversely, getting too hardcore with a girl who is inexperienced or not into that sort of thing may either make her disgusted with you or push her towards that “broken” state.
The way you behave outside of interacting with a girl directly has an impact, too; for example, create a “glass-hearted” girl, then neglect her completely in favour of all your other partners and she’ll inch herself closer towards being “broken” with every encounter that isn’t with her. Jealousy is an ugly thing. Alternatively, getting a girl to hate you can mean she leaves forever, so don’t feel you have completely free reign as to what you do to her when you’re alone. On the other hand, getting a girl too horny sometimes means that she’ll break into your room at night and rape you, leading to a scene where she calls all the shots.
There’s no real end goal in Honey Select Unlimited; unlike the aforementioned Custom Maid 3D 2, in which there’s a whole metagame about running a successful business and levelling up your maids’ skills in various sexy and non-sexy areas, in Honey Select Unlimited it’s just about you, the girls and how you interact with them. There are achievements to unlock that provide access to additional game functionality as well as giving you hints as to what is possible in the experience as a whole, but there’s nothing specific to aim for besides those goals you choose to set for yourself.
It can perhaps be most accurately described as a “sandbox sex game”, which provides a safe environment for one to experiment with a wide variety of behaviours and discover what they enjoy. Should one be lacking a suitable outlet for certain darker desires, Honey Select Unlimited has that covered, too — though if you’re anything like me, you’ll find the characters so surprisingly believable that you’ll actually find it rather difficult to do anything deliberately “mean” to them, let alone “break” them completely. The option is there if you do want to explore that side of yourself, though.
In fact, in terms of fantasy material, the main areas where Honey Select Unlimited is lacking is anything outside of one-on-one heterosexual sex — although this is nothing unusual for Illusion’s work in general. It would be neat to have the option to play as a female player character, for example, or to create trap or futanari partners to play with — though these would likely require a whole new set of animations. However, it’s worth bearing in mind that Honey Select has had an extensive and enthusiastic modding community since its original Japanese release, so chances are if the base game doesn’t provide something you’re into, some resourceful modder out there will be working on it before long if they haven’t done it already — particularly now the game is out in English officially.
Alternatively, you can play with the included Honey Unlimited Studio, which allows you to take your created characters into a completely freeform environment devoid of any “game mechanics” and pose them as you see fit, either within any of the game’s built-in environments or against a coloured background. You can then save your dioramas and take copious amounts of screenshots for your own gratification — or for sharing with others.
Honey Unlimited Studio is extremely flexible in that you’re not just limited to the built-in poses and animations of the main game — though these can be a good starting point. You can also make use of a combination of the free movement options and the “IK” (inverse kinematics) system to create your own custom poses for whatever reason you might desire; since you can also switch facial expressions, mouth and eye positions and even play back voice lines, you can create your own fantasy scenes with a bit of effort — even situations that aren’t directly handled by the main game itself, such as girl-on-girl encounters.
While the interactive pornography aspect of Honey Select Unlimited is a lot of fun for when you have the raging horn and want something with a bit of customisation to get your rocks off to — plus the psychological angle is an interesting twist on how these games typically do things — the real long-term appeal for the package as a whole is in its creative aspects. Between the character creator, the modding community and the extensive possibilities of Honey Unlimited Studio, the sky’s the limit for anyone interested in exploring the possibilities of 3D polygonal character-centric digital artwork — whether you’re making erotic scenes, realistic portraits or just playing digital dollhouse.
Honey Select Unlimited is an absolute delight to play around with, and I’m sincerely glad we finally have the opportunity to officially enjoy it in English thanks to the partnership between Illusion and Fakku. All aspects of the game provide potentially limitless enjoyment in rather different senses — and if you do find yourself tiring of what the base package offers, there are already plenty of mods out there just waiting to revitalise your digital sex life.
Go get ’em, stud.
More about Honey Select Unlimited
FAKKU! provided a review copy of the game for the purposes of this article.
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