When I sat down and played ‘Strange Flesh’ after coming across it on the Bara subreddit community I thought I was going into a standard side-scrolling beat’em up game with a top coat of bara aesthetic, but as I delved deeper into the game I came to realize that there may be more here than a barman with hypnotic smoke and a very naughty bara beat em up. This is a game that delves right into the psyche of its target audience and the first hint of this comes in the game’s title ‘Strange Flesh’.
“And Angels who did not keep their own domain, but abandoned their proper abode. He has kept in eternal bonds under darkness for the judgment of the great day just as Sodom and Gomorrah and the cities around them, since they in the same way as these indulged in gross immorality and went after Strange Flesh, are exhibited as an example in undergoing the punishment in eternal fire.” Jude 1:6
A quote from the Holy Bible might be a strange way to start this review but there is a lot of comparisons within the game that can be found within this one quote that for decades upon decades or perhaps even longer has been used to condemn those within the LGBTQ+ community and that makes it a very stark contrast with one of the other big themes in the game. Self-acceptance, even if those around you won’t approve. One of the most annoying enemies in the game is a flying angel called ‘Father Figure’ that takes the form of a priest with wings. Religion in society is used as just another restraint against those who are not necessarily evil but are made to feel guilty because of their lifestyle choices.
You play as the Bartender in this game as you work your way through the subconscious of Joe, a miserable salaryman who has spent so much time suppressing his true self from a society that it has left him alone and well miserable. This is a scenario many within the LGBTQ+ community can relate to, having to act ‘normal’ in front of the world so that you are not judged or ostracized for not being what everyone else thinks you should be. As you work your way through the game, you work your way through Joe’s subconscious and meet much of what Joe has suppressed in the way of enemies. You can choose to attack these enemies with punches and kicks or you can choose to seduce and hypnotize with your smoke. Your actions throughout these levels towards these enemies determine which of the three endings you can give Joe. Two could be considered bad endings that have Joe giving into this temptation and becoming either a cocky rock star of the bar or the biggest cock slut in town. There is a third ending that can also be unlocked after you have done the first two and I like to think that that one is the true ending for this game and it is something so beautiful I do not want to spoil it.
There is a large lack of video games out there aimed directly at the LGBTQ+ community and I am not about to say we should change the games and franchises we already have to be more inclusive, I am saying however that when these kinds of games come out we should support them. I myself am not a huge fan of side scrolling beat em up, but when I learned the premise behind this game I just had to give it a go. Even though, yes I know I am not the target demographic for this game, but I thoroughly enjoyed this game. Also, it’s free to play so there is no reason to not give it a go unless of course, you are not a fan of hardcore bara content, this game is most definitely not safe for work. You can download the game directly from the creator’s website and it is available to play on both Mac and Windows pcs and can also be played through the browser if you would prefer that. If you enjoy the game do not forget to perhaps tip you barman so that the team behind this amazing game can create future projects.
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