There’s been three different posts I’ve been wanting to put out there this year. I’ve even gone as far as planning out sections of them and attempting to write drafts but hit a wall every time. This post is not one of these three.
After hitting all kinds of walls I found myself desperately looking for something to shamelessly comfort myself with and ended up landing on a series of games that I’d had in my peripheral for quite a while. The original Yami no Koe was released in 2001 and was the first work released by Black Cyc, known for games like Extravaganza and Gore Screaming Show. Being a fan of Black Cyc’s major titles I was curious about this piece of history but the biggest reason I wanted to get into the series was the cover character known simply as “Sayoko”. Sayoko set off my “absolute queen” radar just from a glance at the cover of the first game and I desperately needed to know if my readings were correct (spoiler: they were).
While reading the first and second game of the series I started to feel like it was being slept on, why wasn’t anyone talking about these games? I felt like I needed to write a big analysis and recommendation post talking about this hidden gem of novel game history. It then dawned on me that there wasn’t really much for me to talk about. I was just having a good time. This post won’t be a big brain serious analysis nor will it be an uncovering of a long forgotten alt kamigem. This is a casual lil chat about a series of games that did some funky weird stuff I had a good time with. I don’t know what kind of spoiler warning to use for this post since the games don’t really have much of a plot to spoil, I’ll try to not ruin any of the fun surprises though.
The series consists of arguably 3 main entries and 4 side games. I will probably mostly talk about 1, 2 and Zero since I consider these the actual main games of the series which might be a bit confusing since there is a 3 as well but I’ll explain why 3 is basically a side entry when we get there.
Yami no koe
There’s quite a bit that needs explaining when talking about this series since it does a lot of stuff a bit differently from what most people think about when they think novel game. The original game opens with Sayoko talking to the titular “yami no koe” or “The voice in the night” as it’s translated in-game. We’re then introduced to our cast of “victims”. A group of university students and their lecturers on a boat as well as a stowaway who’s looking to get on an island that’s not on the map. The group end up in a storm and stuck on said island. Pan up to Sayoko’s mansion as the theme song hits. A beautiful little B horror opening. The group find themselves in the mansion and in the clutches of Sayoko and her mysterious maid called “K”. This is where the game truly begins.
Up until this point it’s been a pretty standard fair horror opening but it’s important to note that this whole opening was all dialogue. The yami no koe games generally do not have any narration, the side games that do use it fairly sparingly. Another important thing to note is that by this point there’s no clear protagonist. This is because there is no protagonist. Okay so we’ve established that these games have little to no plot, no narration, and no protagonist. So what the hell are they?
Let me introduce you to the gameplay of Yami no Koe. The gameplay of the first game lays a good groundwork to discuss what later entries switch up or improve on. The stated goal of Yami no Koe is to “corrupt” the group of outsiders who ended up in Sayoko’s mansion. You accomplish this through the screen above. Characters in red are “uncorrupted” and you drag and drop “corrupted” characters on them to level up one of two “corruption” bars, a red and a blue one. The fire at the bottom is your energy and the fire on the top left of character portraits is how much energy it’ll cost to to drop someone on them. You’ve got thirty days, as you can see in the bottom left, to “corrupt” everyone and if a character remains completely “uncorrupted” after a couple of days they’ll flee the mansion. Each character has two levels of “corruption” and to get the true ending everyone needs to have a full “corruption” bar and be at level 2.
Now here’s where it gets real fun. Once a character has reached level 1 “corruption” you can use them to “corrupt” other characters, which is to say you’re no longer limited to just Sayoko and her maid K. That’s right you can ship characters in this. Different combinations of characters and levels of “corruption” will lead to different scenes. Which leads us to the most important screen in a Yami no Koe game. That’s right. The scene gallery.
Posting my full completion screenshot to flex. Hearts means there’s sex scenes, squares means there aren’t, and the percentage is of course completion of scenes for the specific ship. The points where a character is crossed with themselves are scenes of them being alone (occasionally masturbation scenes).
Okay now here’s where it gets real real fun. So as mentioned earlier characters have two separate “corruption” bars. This is because characters in Yami no Koe have two different paths they can be “corrupted” down. It’s basically sex pervert Pokémon, they of course even look a bit (sometimes very) different after evolving. So not only do you ship different levels of” corrupted” characters but also different types of “corrupted” characters. All ships of course don’t yield sex scenes but all ships at least have some kind of short throwaway scene.
Now that you’re familiar with the system you might go “Oh I see so it’s a sexual corruption kind of game? That’s kind of off-brand, Zodi. I didn’t know you were into this kind of stuff”. To which I’d reply: “Did you not notice the insane amount of scare quotes I used???”. Yami no Koe presents itself as a horror and a corruption game but it becomes very clear very fast that this is simply an aesthetic. There are a couple of rules set up for the “corruption” by Sayoko. First of all a person can’t be turned into something they’re not, Sayoko doesn’t create a fetish or perversion. The goal is to give a character a context where they can live out fantasies or selves they wouldn’t be able to in society. Sayoko also doesn’t allow any non-consensual acts of any kind within her mansion. Sayoko’s stated goal is just… pleasure. She’s not a good character, she’s an unknown non-human entity driven by desire. You’re set up to expect the “corruption” to lead to some form of destruction. For characters to start harming each other or themselves. In the end though everyone just kind of has a good time. When you match up two level 2 “corrupted” characters who have no interest in banging they’ll usually just offer each other words of encouragement and understanding. When you match up a level 2 with a level 1 sometimes the level 1 will comment on how they’re still struggling a bit to find themselves and the level 2 will try to offer some advice.
Yami no Koe is about characters finding a safe space to stop trying to adjust to the norm and live out their deviancies and Sayoko is there to help them along the way. She even literally performs magical sex reassignment surgery, like no joke she does this in every game. Which takes us to the next key element of Yami no koe other than the sex pervert evolutions and the shipping: it’s just beautifully and amazingly queer. We’ll get into this more with 2 but keen eyed readers may have taken note of the gorgeous cursor in the screenshots. Nails are a recurring and important part of the series. There’s a burlesque or drag queen aesthetic running through the games but long painted nails take the top billing, being described as sex symbols (and tools) despite the uh, inconvenience they create in real life for certain acts.
So in summary: Yami no Koe is a game about a group of shitty normies ending up in the sweet fuck mansion of a queer queen and how they all end up freeing themselves from the norm and finding selves they’re more comfortable and happy with. And this is accomplished by shipping and Pokémon style evolutions.
Yami no Koe II
Yami no koe II switches it up a bit and now the maid K is sent on her first mission alone to liberate a stuffy isolated private school from the chains of normality. Unlike the first game the characters in 2 only have one “awakening” (gonna start using this word over corruption when relevant from now on) path but there’s twice the amount of main characters to make up for it. There’s also a support character style system where during the first stage of awakening you can seek help from a side character. Characters don’t flee this time but the time limit is a bit rougher. The shipping is left the way it was before so yes there’s that beautiful gallery screen.
Showing the original screen this time so you can see what it looks like without anything filled in, the hearts pop up as you get scenes. The game introduces one unnecessary and kind of dumb addition to the gameplay which is that you have to find characters before you can corrupt them and there are certain requirements to find certain characters. This really doesn’t add anything to the game other than some initial annoyance since once you’ve found a character they’re there on the shipping screen like in the original.
So without the queen you might expect things to tone down a bit but oh boy does Yami no Koe crank it up to 11. Yami no Koe II features a scene of a girl with a penis wearing nothing but a towel around her neck and drinking a can of beer while fucking a trans girl from behind and also putting a lit cigarette up the trans girls but since they “taste better” that way. I wrote earlier that I didn’t want to ruin the surprise but I feel like I just have to share this scene. Yami no Koe II also features a series of sex scenes where the gimmick is that the girl is wearing different coloured nail polish. Speaking of nails the game is just full of CGs dedicated to them.
Really I think images explain the game better than words. Yami no Koe II is almost pure aesthetics. From the high concept sex scenes to the flamboyant dialogue to the cute skeleton friend in the bottom right of the text window. The preface of horror is thrown out the window almost immediately to make way for characters having fun crazy sex. Oh yeah I forgot to mention this when talking about the original game but both the original and 2 feature straight, lesbian, gay, and none of the above pairings. You get almost the full rainbow. After you’ve beat the game once there’s also a hilarious side story you can get parodying “normal” corruption games.
I don’t have much more to say specific to 2 I think so I’ll drop another pic that I think really sums up the whole experience instead.
Yami no Koe III
Okay so Yami no Koe III is… very bad. Unlike the first two we’re given a random male protagonist who goes around using tools that break Sayoko’s rules to actually corrupt girls. There’s no shipping either so no shipping gallery. The game is set in the Yami no Koe universe and does feature characters from the first two for like two scenes total but even calling it a part of the series feels like a stretch to me. The only thing the system shares with any of the earlier games is that the characters have two corruption paths like in the original. Unlike the original these two paths aren’t natural “awakenings” caused by the same core struggle against social norms but instead the protagonist forcing girls to change using magical items.
The game is more or less written around a joke where the protagonist never personally gets to have sex with any of the heroines and the punchline is kind of funny but really doesn’t carry the game at all. It’s a worse version of the side story you unlock in 2 really. Anyone interested in the serious could genuinely skip this entry and only miss some references made in one of the side games I’ll talk about in a bit.
Yami no Koe Zero
I’m jumping in release order here to keep the spin-off games for last. Yami no Koe Zero is the game I’d call the third main entry of the series and it takes place before the events of the original game as you might expect from the title. The game establishes a lot of lore for the Yami no Koe universe and shows the origin story for “K” which I have avoided talking about since it’s probably the one spoiler sensitive part of the series so I won’t get into it here either.
Back to a familiar screen. Zero’s system is an improved version of the system in the original game. The biggest change is that rather than a hard time limit you know have a very limited amount of days to get everyone to level 1 but after that you can spend as much time as you’d like. This makes the game a lot easier and more fun to 100% but also removes most if not all the challenge. Zero’s presentation is a big step up from the original two games which makes sense since it came out 7 years after the original. The individual scenes are more substantial both in length and content and the visual evolution of characters is a lot more striking and fun. Sayoko also gets a much more active role which is very welcome after two games of her having basically no presence at all. We get more lore on her and the titular voice in the night as well, who wasn’t in 2 or 3 at all!
Yami no Koe Zero is a polished and modernised Yami no Koe game but is lacking a bit in shipping variety since we’re down to five characters for ships. The biggest loss is the lack of a male on male gay ship and sadly 2 is the last game in the series to feature it to any degree, 1 being the only one to inarguably feature it. There are still lesbian scenes, magical SRS scenes, and a variety of fetishes though. And of course the gallery!
A bit less of a flex this time since Zero is much easier and quicker to 100%. Zero definitely lacks a bit of that wonderful burlesque aesthetic but is in terms of polish and substance the best entry in the series. It stays true to Yami no Koe being a series about sexual liberation under the guise of “corruption”. There’s a married couple in the game and without getting too deeply into spoilers they don’t have a single sex scene in the entire game no matter what awakening path or level you try to match. This wonderful diss of the institution of marriage will be important for a later game!
Since Yami no Koe Zero is the last proper game in the series I think this is a good spot to go over what makes the series special to me. What made me want to write a post about a series of games that’s basically just a collection of sex scenes. Talk about you know some bigger context stuff now that you hopefully have a bit of an idea what this series is.
Short Break for Thinks
Eroge, or at least the Novel Game variations of eroge, tend to be aimed at the demographic of men in their 30s or 40s (my source on this is what scenario writer Kazuki Fumi has said on stream) with games that make it big also aiming at men from 18 to 30 (games that make it even bigger aiming for younger boys cough yuzusoft cough). The demographic is also Japanese (surprise surprise) and I think it’s pretty safe to assume straight. This of course does not mean that every eroge reader is a straight Japanese male in his 30s, I say this with confidence as an asexual Swedish enby in my 20s. It also doesn’t mean that the eroge userbase is a representation of the average Japanese 30s dude since I’d hope the average grown-ass adult man would be less hung up on virginity and NTR. What it does mean is that you can get a general idea of what kind of person these games are written for and if you’ve read enough eroge it’s very easy to tell what sexual content is considered normal and what is considered extreme enough that it has to be locked away with DARK brands like Black Cyc or Clockup. Sex scenes in eroge tend to be so homogeneous that you can guess with fair accuracy not only what scenes a game will have but even in what order they’ll be in. For the people this content is aimed at this is like delivering on a promise, a well known and practiced model. For the people this isn’t aimed at this means that despite reading hours of porn games every day you still have to resort to obscure self-published online porn comics to get any kind of sex related stimuli whether it be physical or intellectual, or both maybe you have a very smart nut I won’t judge.
Just like how the mansion in Yami no Koe is a safe haven for all the weird lil sex perverts who end up there, the games are for real weird lil sex perverts. The sexual content is varied and creative without dipping into noncon (okay there’s a bit of noncon RP but like nothing TOO bad). The view on sex in Yami no Koe is extremely fresh in the context of eroge. It’s fun, silly, weird, open, and most importantly it’s horny. Yami no Koe is a series where an unknown all-powerful being shows up on earth to drive people into sexual insanity turns out to be pretty chill and fun compared to the crushing social pressure especially around sexuality in society. It’s like an analogy for what it feels like when I’m just done with “normal” eroge and have to venture down the clockup pit. The games aren’t even particularly progressive, they say some pretty unfortunate stuff at times and since the whole point of the series is people being horny there’s some erasure of asexual folk (although the games are pretty cool about people who only want to jack off and aren’t into sex which is nice). To me the series just felt like a reminder that hey sex scenes can be a ton of fun and get real creative.
Yami no Koe Ibunroku
Alright so I haven’t actually mentioned the staff before so I’ll do that now since better late than never. The games are written by Maboroshi Sakuya and the art is by Ueda Metawo. Except for Ibunroku which is written by Izumi Ban’ya and has art by Kotomi Youji. Despite not sharing staff with the other games Ibunroku is much truer to the series than 3 but in a kind of odd way. I would describe Ibunroku as a fanfiction more so than a spin-off. The system switches things up and now there is a protagonist who can be awakened down a plethora of paths rather than the standard two. Because of this there’s no shipping this time but the game takes a slightly more usual novel game approach with the protagonist and narration and more linear story. Characters from 1 through 3 appear in the game and help the protagonist with her awakening in various ways. Now this is the first part of the game. The second half of the game is a lesbian romance story between the protagonist and an original character and how they have weird fun sex in the mansion with everyone else. The game makes some lore claims that Zero later disputes and it’s set after the normal (not the true) end of Yami no Koe 3 so it’s arguably not canon which adds even more to the fanfiction feel of it. Now I do want to make clear that I do not use fanfiction as an insult. Ban’ya has a very good understanding of what makes the series what it is and plays with that in interesting ways, it’s the kind of thing only a fan could write. He also adds scat to it which wasn’t in any of the other games which seemed like a bit of an odd choice but hey more power to you.
Oh yeah and there are some good nails in this one as well even with the different artist.
Natsu no Kotou no Yami no Koe
This one is a really short little crossover scenario with Gore Screaming Show so not much to comment on but I felt it would be weird to just not include it. Ban’ya wrote this one as well and did a good job of translating the Yami no Koe formula to a real brief three choice experience.
The last entry to the series titled after the queen herself. Sayoko is a… weird one. If you’re a fan of horror film series Sayoko is like the fifth entry in the series that gets like real weird with it. I’d call it the Jason X of Yami no Koe. In this game Sayoko is the protagonist and she’s tasked by the Japanese government to make people fuck to increase the birth rate. Yes you did read that right that is in fact what the game is about. It takes a more standard novel game approach and has narration and a protagonist and no real gameplay, just picking characters on a map to get scenes. The game is very funny but I’m very split on how I feel about it since it goes against what the series is about in some really strange ways and seems fully aware of it. Sayoko is established to not care for pregnancies, in fact she doesn’t even necessarily care for sex just sexual pleasure which can come in many shapes and forms. In Sayoko however she’s asked to make people have straight sex with the goal to bear children and for the whole game it just feels off. Like yes she does perform magical SRS and makes it so a trans woman can get pregnant which is pretty rad but she’s also making gay people come out as bi which just feels… strange. Sayoko herself constantly remarks how she’s prefer doing things differently and how she’d love to take care of people properly in her mansion which is also odd since then why is she doing any of this at all. Again it feels like the game was made based on a joke and while it was a lot more fun than 3 it still ended up missing the target. The game does have an insane amount of Sayoko growing a penis and fucking people which is very very good though so overall I’d say it was pretty alright.
Yami no Koe is fun y’all. The games are real short as well so if you feel in the mood for some funky weird sex go give em a shot, they’re all available on DMM but sadly there’s no package deal. The download versions work on modern systems as well but you might have problems running the OP in which case the video file is just sitting in the folder waiting for you.
I will hopefully have more free time soon but Sweden is dark and cold right now so I might not have the energy to do more posts. Expect a 2020 retrospective sometime in early 2021 at least. The three posts I want to write if you’re CURIOUS are: A political/philosophical look into how the games Kurashiki Tatsuya wrote for Clockup discuss violence, a post on my top three Izumi Ban’ya games and the common theme they have of a girl growing up to be a woman, and a more lore focused explanation/look into the STX series by Nanashoshi Dentou including an unofficial timeline I want to draw up.
Thank you for reading!