This review was written based on the demo version of the game - Say goodbye to hentai VNs, furry harems and school romance. Private Dick is a dark VN inspired by noir detective films where rain is pouring and colors are scarce. You will follow the story of Sam Steele, a private investigator with close to no business who's diet mainly consists of whiskey and prostitutes.
A sex game that feels like a well-written thriller novel
Get to know the private detective Steele and follow his narrative
Private Dick quickly introduces you to Steele, a private investigator who seems to be in his late 40's and who's business has gone to shit. He can barely pay his assistant Evee (not like she really deserves a pay anyway) or pay his bills. His usual disappearing cases don't come as often since internet makes it so easy to track down people. You could call him a lost old man and a drunk but his brain is still intact and he never stop believing in potential new clients, patiently waiting for someone to knock on the door.
The demo that we played currently takes you on a 45 minute journey with Steele in which you'll be introduced to half a dozen characters and three cases to solve. You'll meet Bree, a hooker paying her clients to film them while she fucks them. Bobbi, a waitress at McGinns, the worst bar in town. Lumpy, another private detective, pretty much as desperate for work as Steele if not more. Roxi, easily the most fabulous and mysterious redhead you'll meet, and also Steele's ex girlfriend. And more characters that all seem to have their share of shit life in this peculiar and noir themed town.
Came for the sex, stayed for the story
In every Visual Novel, the two most important parts are writing and artworks. I would also add soundtrack but that's not something we can judge Private Dick on since it does not have one on the demo version yet (it is planned though). Yet the writing is where Private Dick really shines. Narrated by Steele himself, you will feel no less than being thrown in a thriller novel with highly descriptive scenes, old cop humor and a free access to the detective's thoughts. The artworks are really just supporting the story here, and that's what we like when playing a good VN; an engaging story supported by adequate artworks.
You'll find plenty of interesting elements in Private Dick such as the FaceParty app which is pretty much a Facebook or Instagram inside the game, but also Steele's personal notes in which you can track the different cases and contacts along with his personal notes to get more information about each character or case. A great way to keep up with the narrative and stay in tune with the developing story.
On the artworks side, the game feels like what you would expect from a noir themed game: fifty shades of grey colors and the pink neon style or occasional light among the city that seems to be forever living during the night. We've seen better artworks, but we've seen worse too. It is also obvious that the demo is an unfinished product as some artworks seems to be drafts rather than completed works. Nevertheless, Private Dick comes with its own style and we like the art direction. It fits the story and the theme and we can't wait to see what the finished product will look like.
The sex scenes and adult content in Private Dick
The balance between story and sex in Private Dick is my favorite type: sex is a consequence of the story, not a separate instance or a fuckfest with little to no story, a format we have come to love in games like Eternum. Since the game reeks of alcohol and depravation, it's only natural that sex is part of it. From the hooker blowjob to the improvised fuck on Steele's desk, the author of the game Cisco Donovan shows in the demo his intent of making this game a story-first experience and we're very happy with it.
The demo currently proposes three sex scenes which sounds about right for the short duration of the game, and we expect to see more in the future. The scenes are not animated and I don't think there is any plan to animate them but this is a 2D game and we usually see more animated scenes in 3DCGI games.
At the end of the demo though you get a glimpse of what's coming next in terms of sex scenes and I couldn't be more satisfied to have had a glimpse at some real deepthroat action. After all, in such an atmosphere I'm not really expecting some boring casual sex, I kinda want to see some depraved action.
Our conclusion on Private Dick: Lipstick & Lies
It's always hard to have a proper opinion on a game in development, let alone a demo that "doesn't do justice to the game as a whole" in the author's own words. In any case, Private Dick is a unique title with its own strengths and we're kind of excited to see where it will go, and if the soundtrack will live up to the hype of the game itself.