[dropcap size=big]I[/dropcap]n early 2013 developer Taosym took to Kickstarter to crowdfund their visual novel Dizzy Hearts. After that success they moved over to Patreon. This service allows for folks to support their favorite content creators on a per-creation or monthly basis (depending on how the creator sets up their page). With an excited audience willing to fund development continuously, Taosym also went hard to work on a game called The Menagerie as well. Although neither are out just yet, a demo (NSFW download page) recently released for The Menagerie. Please note that while this preview will not showcase adult imagery that the demo itself features explicit sexual sequences. As should be obvious, the full game will also be an 18+ title too.
The Menagerie begins by introducing us to a young woman named Rao-Ji in her lavish room. She has been having strange dreams which seem to only be growing more frequent. We, the readers, have no idea about much else that is going on but are quickly introduced to Rao-Ji’s profession. A rich woman enters the room, an apparent recipient of our protagonist’s services, and proceeds to have sex with her. Along with being introduced to the fact that “The Menagerie” seems to be a sort of brothel we also discover that Rao-Ji is intersex – or in the preferred terminology of the anime community – “futanari.” In any case, once her sexual services have been rendered she passes out.
Thus we are introduced with very little pretense into a landscape steeped in sex. For a little while it’s difficult to get a handle on what’s going on beyond these escapades. As one progresses through the demo the sex becomes a little less frequent to allow for a plotline to blossom. Of course, I’m sure that the full version will have enough story and smut to appease readers. It becomes apparent that a woman named Sabei is Rao-Ji’s mistress and has just come back from an excursion with a host of new playmates. Well, it seems at least one of them is more than willing to accept this new lifestyle but the other wants nothing to do with it.
It’s when Rao-Ji is introduced to this new character, Monkey, that things begin to get complicated. She is small but strong and wants to have nothing to do with a life of vice. Yet, what else can she do? If she does not conform then Sabei will send her off. Rao-Ji must therefore guide her to enjoy her circumstances, but that is one hell of a task to accomplish. Through Monkey players get to learn a bit more about the Menagerie and the City of Alabast itself since she effectively knows nothing about its workings. Just when the story finally begins to open up in many directions the demo ends.
There’s a lot about The Menagerie which proves intriguing. The world is wonderfully dreamlike thanks to the fantasy aspects of each character. This is a place where elves, reptilian and even water-based women co-exist. On one hand it feels focused very heavily on appealing to a variety of fetishes, as is expected of eroge (erotic games). However, the demo reveals The Menagerie is about more than just sexy scenes. You’ll also work through a storyline with multiple choices that lead to different decisions. And, because the story itself is tantalizing, it’s exciting to replay to see what different options effect. All of this was shown with just a half hour long demo. As such, visual novel fans should definitely keep an eye on this game.