After I finished Boyfriend Dungeon, I still wanted to play more of it. This prompted me to dig up my Steam code for Max Gentlemen: Sexy Business! I’d backed MG:SB! at about the same time as Boyfriend Dungeon. MG:SB! had fulfilled a year and a half earlier, and it turned out I’d added my code to Steam already. Now I installed it!
Max Gentlemen: Sexy Business! and Boyfriend Dungeon are similar in some respects: they’re both dating sims with another game type added as the mechanic for advancing to the next romance installment, and neither of them are striving for a realistic/gritty/serious tone. But Boyfriend Dungeon is much more serious than MG:SB. MG:SB! is a goofy lampoon of Victorian England, wealth, wealthy people, gentility, capitalism, business, and imperialism. It is not a serious critique of these things; it is not serious in any respect. It is an absurd fantasy romp.
The game premise is:
You are a wealthy business owner in Victorian England, capably assisted by your servants, Business Maid and Battle Butler. Your company is stolen by your rival. In order to regain it, you must create a new business, forge alliances and relationships with wealthy business owners who will become executives in your new company, and grow your business until you can defeat your rival in Business Combat.
The relationships you forge don’t have to be sexual, but as one might guess from the name, the game offers that option and generally leads you in that direction.
So this concept is full of stuff ranging from “problematic” to “ZOMG NO.” From the “you are doing WHAT with your executive staff” to “business in Victorian England was a dystopian nightmare” to “wait you are sexually harassing your servants too” to the entire loyal-servant-to-rich-person trope. If it were played straight, it would be hard not to find it appalling.
But nothing about it is remotely serious. It’s a goofy fantasy, and it has no pretensions that any of this would be OK in any form of reality. It’s not saying “wouldn’t it be great it ...?” It’s much closer to “wouldn’t it be ridiculous if ...?”
I laughed a lot while playing this game. It’s not great for romance or erotica, but I did find its over-the-top absurdism very entertaining.
You get to design your own avatar and also, amusingly, the avatar of Your Rival, one of the game’s antagonists. The character designer lets you pick from six body types, three feminine and three masculine, with builds of slender/average/plump. You don’t pick a gender and all of the character options are available regardless of body type. So you can pick, for example, “thin feminine body in a suit with a beard”. You do pick one of three titles: “sir,” “ma’am,” or “boss.” The game never genders you regardless of the title or body you pick: it refers to you in the second-person or by your chosen title. There’s a reasonable array of skin colors and hair types and suchlike to pick from. You can redesign your own avatar or your rival’s at any time, no cost.
The game has 6 male and 6 female romanceable characters; there are no nonbinary characters in the cast. The romanceable characters are all protagonist-sexual (and frankly, no one knows what your gender is anyway). Two of them are POC (with wavy dark hair and brown skin) and the rest are white. There is very little mention of ethnicity or race for any of the cast.
The body types for most of the cast are “conventionally attractive”, although they cover a range within that -- slender, curvy, wiry, muscular. Likewise, they’re all young. The only one who’s fat/old is Sinterklaas, a white man with a white beard and hair. (His canon age is 42. I am So Old, folks.) Yes, he’s basically Santa Claus. When I first saw him, I thought: “... don’t think I want to date Santa but okay.”
By the end of the second date with him, I was like “nope, changed my mind, I am so here for the Santa romance line.” Unexpectedly endearing.
There are three basic elements to the game:
- Dating: After you hire an executive, you can raise your affection with them to unlock “dates”. (Many of the early “dates” are not particularly date-like). There are five different dates, plus initial meetings, with each of twelve different executives. During the dates, you make frequent choices about how to respond. The choices have some short-term effect on how the date goes, but no long-term consequences for the relationship, or impact on the next date. You can also replay dates you already unlocked at any time, and explore different options on them, which is a great touch.
- Business: This is a kind of leveling/worker placement game. You assign executives to various tasks. Some of those tasks require skill, and you can assign executives to train those skills up at a cost of money. Your overall goal is to pay back your loans (which gives you stuff) and conquer districts (which also give you stuff) and eventually defeat your rival (which lets you “win” and then repeat the cycle).
- Lunch dates: You can take your executives on “lunch dates” to increase affection with them, which involves a variety of simple minigames. The minigames are randomly chosen and the weakest part of the game for me. They are quick and most of them are luck-based.
I was much better at the business game in MG:SB! than I was at the dungeon stomp in BD, to the surprise of no one who knows my game preferences. Despite this, I found the business game too grindy. This is mostly because Max Gentlemen: Sexy Business! has a lot more romantic interests than BD (12 versus 7) and partly because it takes longer to advance in ranks. Unlike BD, where you get a big bonus to finishing the other romance lines after you finished one, there’s no change to the rate at which you increase affection in MG:SB!
I should note that I am enormously tempted to play more of MG:SB! even though I finished all the romances and completed what there is of the main storyline. So the business game may be grindy, but it’s still fun too.
The main storyline -- how your business is stolen, how you get it back, why you need to repeat this cycle -- was absolutely wild for the first two iterations of the cycle. At the end of the third cycle, a brief cutscene implies that when you max all the romances, there will be another significant installment in the main story.
Alas, there isn’t. I do not regret maxing out all the romances, but I was disappointed that the end of that cycle was just another brief scene that didn’t resolve any of the outstanding questions from previous scenes.
I don’t regret maxing out all the romances, but I wanted to warn other players that you should only do this if you want to see the romance lines. The third cycle and the final cycle have a few little bits of main story, but there’s no elaborate main story installments like the first and second cycle had.
The Kickstarter for Max Gentlemen: Sexy Business unlocked some stretch goals that were not included in the original game. The developer has been working on a DLC that will include that and other additional content. That DLC, “The British Is Coming”, isn’t out yet, but the studio’s twitter account says it’ll be out in October. It’s announced as a free DLC (and will be included with the Kickstarter at a minimum), so I’ll definitely dust off the game and play it again then. Assuming I don’t go through another round of it sooner. >_>
The standard version has three different censor modes, which really only apply to the gallery pictures and the eventual “nude” versions of the characters you can unlock. But the standard game’s “uncensored” version is still censored. There’s a free DLC called “Max Gentlemen: Sexy Business! Uncensored” which actually removes the censor bars.
None of the game content is what I’d call “porn”. Some of the gallery pictures are suggestive, but for the most part it amounts to “there’s some nude art of the dateable characters if you want to make a point of looking at that.”
I’ve covered most of the things that I might content-warn for under “tone”. But I do want to note that the second cycle of the business game features the antagonist mind-controlling people, including your avatar.
Fun, absurd and goofy, with some mild adult content that you can easily opt out of. I enjoyed the game. It took me about 32 hours to finish all the romances and the last playthrough of the business cycle. Do recommend.
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