Yesterday Army Gals came out with a new DLC where the four main characters play strip poker! Considering I complained about the lack of a dynamic poker game in my review of the base visual novel, I had little choice but to try this new content to see how it fared.
My expectations going into the DLC were pretty lenient. I wasn’t expecting Deep Blue levels of expertise from the AI, to be honest I mostly just wanted to see what would happen when you played strip poker without the corresponding off-Steam patch that allowed nudity. Basically, turns out each character starts off with six “hit points” represented by clothing, and they subtract a hit point (and an article of clothing) every time they lose. By default the characters ended the game in their underwear, so I suspected that the nude patch would up everyone’s HP values so they could remove more articles of clothing.
But psyche! It actually doesn’t do anything! These four characters are the worst strip poker players I’ve ever met. The Steam Discussions are already raking the developers over the coals for the fact that their DLC doesn’t come with nudity, so I won’t belabor the point, but it is a pretty silly cherry on the top of an overall disappointing DLC.
Edda’s “card sharp” comment highlights another major problem: the writing has definitely taken a nosedive compared to the visual novel itself. There are grammatical typos and awkward phrasings galore, not to mention they kinda gave up on giving each character a unique personality. In the visual novel, Edda was no-nonsense, Raen was bubbly and Andrea was suspicious, but here they’re mostly all blandly spouting out liberally-reused lines. The most notable was “Is this good enough to win, or at least not come last.” a line that desperately needed a question mark instead of a period, and Kyle said it after every single hand.
The poker AI itself was very well done. I dunno if they programmed it in-house or found it from among the many, many custom scripts available for Ren’Py, but the girls usually ended the rounds with sensible hands and the game would even let you know of the best value for your cards before you chose which to get rid of. I still won more often than not with pretty rudimentary strategy, but I don’t think anyone buying this was doing so for a challenging high-stakes poker experience.
But hopefully I’m wrong, because those who bought this title for the Poker AI are likely to be the only satisfied customers. Anyone hoping to spend more time with the characters will be disappointed by the very stilted writing, and anyone looking for nudity will find nothing. I doubt the devs are going to bother touching this DLC now that it’s released, but fixing either of these problems would do a lot to making this DLC feel like a worthy purchase. Right now I’m glad it was free for owners of the Deluxe edition, because I’d feel pretty stupid right now if I’d bought this standalone.