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Standard Review: Clothing & Alterations (PC) (NSFW)

CW: Discussion of kinks and fetishes.

Of the many statements I’ve made in my writing career, if I was told I had to choose one specific hill to die on, I’d probably choose the statement that queer people are better at writing erotica than cishet people. And no, this isn’t because I consider it the most important. It’s actually because I don’t want to die on a hill, and anyone dumb enough to argue against me on this one probably isn’t in good enough shape to climb up one, much less get past my army of highly trained antifa catgirls… unless someone throws a ball of yarn. If that happens then I’m screwed. Anyway, this is Clothing & Alterations by Rana Strange.

You can tell that this was made by a queer person because the main villain gives off some serious mommy dommy energy.

Clothing & Alterations is a fairly brief text game made in Twine, that is based around doll transformation and BDSM elements. I’m actually unsure whether or not this qualifies as an eroge since there is no sex involved, but it is explicitly based around dollification, dronification, and transformation kinks. Though the game is stated to be 18+, a minor could theoretically play this game and not understand any of the fetishistic subtext (though that’s not something we should test), which makes it fairly unique among the eroge that I’ve covered. And to take it back to what I just said, I don’t think most cis male writers have a decent understanding of how to write something like this.

I suspect that the reasoning for this is that queer people, especially trans people, are often forced to reflect on their sexual identity as whole due to them not fitting the societal norm. This in turn means that they are more self aware when writing erotic fiction, and are able to understand these things on a pathological level, as opposed to the shallow understanding that a lot of mediocre cis writers often have. And yes, this is a generalization. I’m sure there’s at least one cis guy who can write the perfect story for binaural ASMR cake fart fetishists or whatever, but I can only speak to my own experience.

Not even Phoenix Wright can get you out of this one.

Anyway, Clothing & Alterations stars Casey, who arrives at a mysterious tailor shop to do an interview for her blog. She is greeted by the shop owner Lutece and is asked to sign a contract for the interview. Unfortunately, that contract states that she agrees to give up her human form, and she is transformed into a doll. From that point on, you can choose to either go along with what Lutece asks of you, or defy her and see what happens.

In addition to the choices that you are given, you also have four different stats that will increase or decrease depending on certain triggers. These stats are vigor, curiosity, plausibility, and submission. These stats work the same way as your ability scores in Dungeons and Dragons, where a D6 is rolled and the result is added to your default score to see if you pass an ability check, which will effect certain plot moments. Vigor is a catch all stat for every combat or athletic based stat, curiosity effects whether nor not will notice hidden details, and plausibility is for one’s ability to lie or deceive. Submission, on the other hand, is a subversion of typical RPG stats in that the higher your stat is, the less likely you are likely to succeed with a certain action. This is used to excellent narrative effect in one particular ending.

From a narrative standpoint, Clothing & Alterations was interesting in the story that it told, but it also feels like it’s missing something. I guess it’s just cause of the game’s short length, but there are a lot of things that are hinted at and never address. The game’s best ending also ends on a cliffhanger of all things. I don’t know if any of Rana’s other games share the same characters, universe, or continuity, but I absolutely dig these characters and would love to see more of them.

As for erotic value, Clothing & Alterations succeeds as well if you have the fetishes this game deals with, which I do in case there was any doubt. I should mention for those who need visual stimuli to get off, then this game likely won’t provide much. There are only three images of the game, and they are actually quite tame. Personally, I think that specific situations and context can play a much larger role in sexiness than just “drawing girls that are hot.” It’s actually a recurring issues I’ve had with a lot of eroge I’ve covered, where the sex scenes often feel forced and there’s no effort put into anything other than the artwork. It’s because of this that I really appreciate games like Clothing & Alterations that really know what they are doing.

That being said, there are a few gripes I had with the game. The most noteworthy is the fact that you can’t simply save your game at select spots, and will instead need to start from the beginning every time. Given that Clothing & Alterations is a short game, this wouldn’t be too much of a problem if it were not for the aforementioned ability checks that are random by nature. This ends up being a problem when you have only a few endings left, and you have to pray to the random number Gods that you get the right roll. This ends up especially frustrating when you are going for Ending 3, where you have a pretty low chance of getting the result you need (although it is a literal joke ending based on a shitpost so I guess that’s the idea). Thankfully, it seems as if Rana’s 2nd 18+ game Null Event has chosen to forgo this feature.

Anyway, I think that should do it for this review. I will definitely need to check out some of Rana’s other titles in the future since they seem to have some interesting stuff.

Anyway, looks like it’s back to politics for now…… suddenly, living under Lutece’s spell doesn’t seem so bad.

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