Once in a Lifetime (2020?) review

Have you ever wanted to play a game where you get to bang your step-sisters, your step-mother, your teacher, a rich bitch, your step-sister’s best friend, and a female ninja (sometimes in a threesome)? If not, then this game might change your mind.

Rated: 3.5 / 5

Wokeness: 1/5

In case you are wondering, this is an adult visual novel.

Introduction (non-review portion of the review)

It was only a matter of time before I got around to reviewing a game like this. The kind of game that all lonely men and (fated to die as) virgins are bound to play. You know, a game that only requires one hand to play, which is therapeutic for war veterans who had an arm blown off (who don’t mind blue balls). And don’t get fancy with the masturbating and try doing it with internal rotation of the shoulder. Save a friend and tell them to stick with the old-fashioned method of external rotation.

You just click through dialogue until one of at least 2 different decisions has to be made, and then you make a decision. Unlike games such as School Days, Shiny Days, or whatever other kind of “Days” hanime-like visual novels are out there that are basically movies you watch with voice-overs until a decision-point comes up (all of which are inferior to Sisters: The Last Day of Summer in terms of animation/art quality), this is a game where you see a still image with some text. Because it’s too difficult to make adult visual novel games where you can animate dialogue sequences. Then again, it’s usually too difficult to animate most 2D (let alone hand-drawn) adult visual novel (VN) games as well. All that’s important is that the sex scenes are animated (you’d be lucky to get even that in most of these types of games).

Animations, 2D, 3D, and art quality aside, there are 2 types of VN games. Those with multiple endings and/or paths (MEP), and those that are linear as fuck (LAF). The former discounts the existence of those games where there’s only really 1 correct path, meaning there’s only really 1 realistic correct choice to make for each situation lest you get a lesser ending. I’m not the biggest fan of that, mainly because I’m a firm believer in player choice in something like this. You know, to give the feel of a role-playing experience (without being a grindy J-RPG in the process; too many of those exist, and they’re more monotonous than most VNs). I figure I mine as well as be watching a movie at this point, because it would just be frustrating going through this whole game multiple times as opposed to having a more lax experience.

Which is why I initially delved into this genre with the classic MEP VN School Days. While it certainly provided multiple paths and endings (albeit with a very VERY glitchy gaming experience that crashed most of the time; a common trend with all those “Days” games), it was a dull experience 80% of the time. Sure the dialogue and characters could be interesting at times, but fuck me did it get boring seeing the same talking heads for most of the game (the budgetary workaround of all animes). And the dialogue and characters weren’t interesting enough to make me want to sit through it all. Hell, even the fucking sex scenes went on for too long and became as dull/monotonous as the in-between portions of the game (the part everyone slogs through just to get to the parts they’re all playing the game for). Despite a few high points, it goes to show that having multiple paths/endings doesn’t mean much if virtually all of them aren’t interesting.

Cue the more linear games, like Sisters. Pretty much the same style as “Days,” but scaled back in terms of setting and number of characters (there’s only really 4 in the entire game, including the protagonist), higher quality drawing, and much more satisfying sex scenes, and a rather intriguing mystery story to it all. It’s at that point I realized I’d rather play a high quality LAF than a low-medium quality MEP. So I became more open to MEPs, and eventually came across this game (I had reservations with 3D model VN games, until I played City of Broken Dreamers, but that’s a story for another time, such as when that game actually gets finished).




The Actual Review

So it’s your typical wish-fulfillment scenario, playing as some high school guy. Who has a father, a deceased mother, a newly married stepmother, and 2 step-sisters, all of which are bang-able (except for the father; this isn’t a faggish game, thank Christ). And they are all over the age of 18, or so the first image that pops up when starting the game claims (*cough*bullshit*cough*).

You know, like Sissy Spacek in Carrie. And Michael J. Fox in Back to the Future. And Keanu Reeves and Alex Winter in Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure. And everybody in Grease, Happy Days, and Beverly Hills 90210.

Not knowing anything about the game other than it being an adult VN, naturally, I was expecting this to be a game where you get to seduce your step-sisters. And, well, I wasn’t exactly wrong about that. I mean, at least the game doesn’t subvert your expectations in a negative way in that regard like a Ryan Johnson Star Wars flick. But you are able to do more than that. You can dream big in this game; it acknowledges that this is a harem game, so long as you don’t make any wrong choices.

Oh yeah, and you also get to decide early on if you want “pregancy” in this game. Don’t be a pussy. Get these chicks pregnant and raise a bunch of babies to be manly men who will go on to dominate the world like they were supposed to in that anime DNA2 (but with a better ending… a happy ending).

Anyway, the game does take its time eventually getting to the sex. Because, shock of all adult VN shocks, it attempts to make these relationships develop naturally. So of course it’s not normal for you and these babes to get into each others’ pants, no more than it’s normal to have a consensual sexual relationship with several hot chicks where all of them are ok with you doing them all (with them knowing that you are having sexual relations with them all). You have to slowly progress into becoming that much of a chad who makes it all work out in the end. Of course, this only really works because the protagonist has one thing we all wish we had: the perfect cock. Plus the perfect set of circumstances, but that’s all secondary to the power of the rooster that rises each morning.

Code Monkeys reference

I was ok with this slow pacing of things starting out normally for a while. It eventually got a bit dull for me, but I think that was due to impatience on my part. Though I did find some portions of the dialogue here and there uninteresting, like those “Days” games. Thankfully, it was considerably more rare for that to happen. This is a game that does reward your patience. Hell, even the first “sex scenes” that you do get are more like teasers than anything else. You have to work your way towards actually losing your virginity, getting beyond 2nd base and all that. It gets better as it goes on.

As for the sex scenes themselves, it’s like most 3D adult VN games. Static images.

Except for a few moments during intercourse when it finally gets animated.

Aliens GIF

It’s not on the same level as City of Broken Dreamers, but then again, nothing is. Regardless, they are good enough to get the job done. Or maybe I’m too easily amused by stuff like this. Maybe only guys who are never getting laid enjoy this stuff. Well… if it’s the latter, there’s good news. The story actually gets interesting. You know, for those who want something more than just a story about a dude seducing his step-sisters. The plot escalates into something that, honestly, I didn’t see coming (I usually don’t read much into the details of the game’s plot, and even if I do, I usually forget about it at some point between when I download the game, then wait several days/weeks/months before I actually get to playing it; so as to avoid spoiling surprises). I won’t go much into what happens, but let’s just say you’ll be forced to man up and take on an organization that threatens the lives of your family (among others). It got a hell of a lot more interesting than what I was expecting from something like this, elevating it above your average adult VN.

As I said earlier, the game’s pacing/characters/dialogue opts for a more “patience is a virtue” approach, thus opting for more realistic seductions that happen overtime (about as realistic as something like this gets). So the dialogue (attempts) to be natural too, and for a respectable portion of the game’s first half before it goes into “holy shit” territory (I did say things escalate), it succeeds. But then there are times during the sex scenes that I start to roll my eyes.

For example, the first one or two times the protagonist (you give him whatever name, from Alex to Fuckstick) gets into a sexual situation, he says something along the lines of, “Oh my God.” Pretty sure that’s the standard reaction to anyone getting laid the first time, or two, or three. But by the time it’s at the 4th sex scene and onwards and he keeps saying that like it’s another whole new experience for him, it starts to take me out of it like repetitive fan-subs in a hentai series. At some point, I had to start hearing this dialogue differently in my head from how I first started. There’s only so many ways you can hear the same guy say, “Oh my God,” before it gets monotonous.

Same thing applies to when he yells when he climaxes each and every time (cocktease moments aside, which are only for the first 4-5 sex scenes, out of, like, 30).

There was also some unused potential. There is self-awareness (and admittance) of this basically being a glorified harem game. Walking that fine line between fantasy fulfillment and natural relationship developments. But there’s only so far you can go with the latter without compromising the former. I say it’s impossible to have your cake and eat it too in this regard. It eventually crosses over to that point where the realism (if one could ever hope for that in a game like this) gives way to the fantasy. Not that I’m complaining, but at one point there was a vague implication that there was something to the protagonist being able to seduce so many girls and women that one guy shouldn’t be able to seduce (even in his position, with his dick). That he has this innate supernatural ability that allows girls to fall for him. Granted, his “capabilities” are relevant to the plot and take affect in various ways, but that one moment in the game between the villain and protagonist was the only point in the entire game where that idea was hinted at. It’s seemingly dropped as quickly as it was brought up, thus falling back on the whole, “the chicks dig him because of his cock,” cliche. Don’t get me wrong, I’m fine with it going that more simplistic route. But it just seemed like there was some thought-provoking potential there, and something that would make the player question their prior actions and if they’re unjustly influencing the chicks to bang him through some weird form of subtle supernatural persuasion/hypnosis. Might’ve elevated the game another notch, making it deeper than one would expect. Then again, the protagonist does do some mischievous (and ethically questionable) things in order to fuck his stepmother and teacher (and this one other chick). On the other hand, it all works out in the end. I can’t complain too much when it turns out to be (seemingly) harmless fantasy wish fulfillment.

The game isn’t perfect though. Aside from a few dull dialogue stretches (it’s really not that bad compared to others I’ve played that are more famous than this game), and aside from the general quality of the graphics (it was good enough for my standards, given the genre; I’m not going to let City of Broken Dreamers‘ high bar ruin my appreciation for games like these), there are a couple points where interactive games/fights drug things down too much. Like this one “random number” game you end up playing. Or this one fight you get into with this one bully. Or that one dream sequence with the doors. For most of those, the simple solution is to just rewind time (scroll up on the mouse, or do a quick save/load) and try again. Really kills the pacing. Thankfully, these moments are very few and very far between, and mostly minor irritations more than anything else (but that random number guessing game is VERY irritating).

But anyway, there’s a clear labor of love shown with this game. It takes serious dedication to make an adult VN like this, for all its pros and cons. This is one of the lengthiest adult VNs I’ve ever played. Most are only a quarter of the length of this game from beginning to end (discounting “to be continued” endings and multi-chapter games that aren’t finished). Plus it also has some really great jokes in it that occur from time to time. The game’s creator shares my sense of humor at a few moments. In particular, I liked some of the jokes in the prison portion of the game (turns out neo-nazis are the least racist group in a prison, ROFL). And when you wake up next to this one mysterious guy. And this moment on a game show. Add in a more ambitious story than one would expect, and this becomes a solid noteworthy adult VN I can recommend to anyone who is into this sort of thing.

https://caribdis.itch.io/once-in-a-lifetime

PS: While you can technically download the game for free using the above link, shelling out some cash for it is an option too. I’d recommend being like me and throwing some cash at Caribdis’ way.

PPS: The best girls are the teacher and the rich bitch.

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