Negligee is an interactive visual novel that exposes the lives of several young women thrust into exciting new roles at the lingerie shop where they work. The anime-style yuri reveals the hidden struggle of the main protagonist, a woman torn between responsibility and desire for her new employees.
The artwork for the game is top-notch. Although the physiques of the cast defy the laws of gravity, it plays into the fantasy feel. The dialogue box has a lacy pattern which seamlessly integrates what would otherwise be an awkward black bar into the frilly, lingerie theme.
Don’t start this game thinking you’re going to get to the good stuff right away. Negligee takes a slow burn approach to reaching the climax of the story. While there are plenty of teasing moments to tantalize the player, the majority of the game is devoted to conversations and relationship building between the characters.
Interacting with the game is simple. The reader can have the story run on autoplay, or click to advance the dialogue. When a decision point is reached, the player chooses from the available options, but not all choices lead to a happy ending. If the player selects the wrong path, the protagonist may end up alone or even lose her job. Fortunately, the game has a “quick save” function which makes it easy to reverse bad choices.
Negligee has several “good” endings in addition to its “bad” outcomes. The player decides which person they wish to woo, and their actions from their determine the result. Available in-game achievements suggest an elusive ending where the protagonist gets to be with everyone, but it is not clear how it can be unlocked.
The placement of the text box seems designed to taunt the reader. During intimate moments the screen is filled with detailed, suggestive artwork. Whether by coincidence or design, the box always seems to cover the most interesting bits. Fortunately, encountering a scene unlocks its correlating image in the CG Gallery. Most cinematic scenes have a series of associated images that can be perused at leisure. An unexpected perk of the CG Gallery is that it reveals missing images in unlocked sequences which provide a clue that there is more yet to discover.
Negligee’s hero differs from what is seen in most games and novels. In a typical storyline, the protagonist drives the narrative. When the plot moves, it is due to player choice or scripted actions. The protagonist in Negligee is Hannah, who is the ultimate shrinking violet. She chokes on her own feelings, pushing away her lustful thoughts, and attempts to pretend they don’t exist. She carries on the pattern of denial, refusing to believe that other characters return her interest even when they make their intentions clear.
Although player choice dictates which path Hannah takes in some instances, overall her story isn’t defined by her actions. Rather, it is written by what other people do to her. She evades making decisions until no other options are available to her, and then second guesses her choice. She is dragged ahead in the story by supporting cast who inexplicably desire her in spite of her anemic personality.
The ladies need more outfits. The story leads us through several days, but in that timeframe, they never change clothes. Although there are wardrobe changes at pivotal moments in the story, it isn’t enough. The storyline revolves around women working in a fashionable lingerie store. It doesn’t make sense that they wouldn’t wear different outfits every day.
The artwork in Negligee is stunning. Yuri fans will discover many enjoyable scenes and will appreciate the opportunity to choose their favorite partner. In addition to representing a variety of body-types, the characters have distinct personalities and behave in a manner consistent with their identity. This helps keep the storyline from feeling like a hollow prop used to facilitate moving forward into in the sexy parts of the game.
Unfortunately, despite quality personification, the plot and dialogue fall flat. The key to a compelling narrative is introducing problems for the characters to solve. The issues facing Negligee’s characters are painfully mundane. As a result, the plot flops without ever finding a meaningful hook. There are long stretches of stagnation while the protagonist vacillates between hesitancy and insecurity. Instead of excited, I found myself irritated and impatient, quick-clicking through conversations in the hopes of getting to the interesting parts. Sadly, by the time the game delivered, I was too bored to care.