HIGH Great combination of titillation and gameplay.
LOW Needing to click like crazy to disperse crowds.
WTF Women have an inner moustache?
The observation has been made many times, but I still find it strange that as a culture we hardly blink at violence – even extreme, gory violence – yet we cringe and recoil from anything showing a little skin.
Personally, I have no issue with nudity, sex or sexuality as long as it’s handled with care appropriate to the situation, and I’m all for seeing more of it in games as a change of pace from exploding heads and impaling enemies. After going through a string of grimdark titles killing countless foes with extreme prejudice, I was in the mood for something completely different. Max Gentlemen Sexy Business! was absolutely that.
The premise is that the player is a wealthy person in a vaguely ‘ye olde timey’ England. Things are going along swimmingly (as they do for the rich) until they discover their entire fortune has been swiped by their Rival. The only thing to do? Get it back as quickly as possible, of course!
From here, the player creates an avatar from hand-drawn 2D assets. Although the range of choices in clothing and accessories isn’t massive, the creator is surprisingly flexible in that players can be male, female, transwoman or transman. Interestingly, they’ll also be asked to craft the appearance of the Rival and have complete freedom to design them as any sort of person they wish.
Gameplay is incredibly simple. The entire world of MGSB! is a single screen overview of a town with several buildings, and each building generates a specific resource. At the beginning, the player has only one employee at their disposal, so they must choose to send them to the Bank (earns cash), the Boxing Ring (increases attack power of the employee), the Slums (generates followers) and more. The employee will then passively collect that resource until they run out of energy, at which point they must be taken off the map to recharge.
Although the resource map never changes, the player will have to fight their way through several zones populated with the Rival’s henchmen, each one ending in a boss encounter. In order to overcome the evildoers, the player must collect more employees, harvest multiple resources simultaneously, grow their resource pools, toughen up the employees, and eventually reclaim their empire.
It might sound a bit overwhelming in this description, but when all is said and done, it’s as easy as clicking an employee icon, dragging it to a location, and then watching one meter rise while another falls — it’s a straightforward numbers game that, while fairly hypnotic on its own, wouldn’t be quite enough to sell MGSB!. No, that’s where the sex comes in because the player’s employees are also their romantic interests.
Max Gentlemen Sexy Business! offers six men and six women who can potentially work for the player. Each one is a fully-scripted character with a distinct personality, a multi-step relationship quest and stats which make them more or less efficient at gathering certain resources or performing tasks.
At this point, it’s important to call out that Max Gentlemen Sexy Business! is not necessarily an ‘Adults Only’ title. The devs offer settings which can scale the risqué stuff down to almost nothing, and the most explicit content must be downloaded into the game as a separate free patch. For players who only want the economic resource side of things, it’s entirely possible to play it that way. As for me? I’m a mature, consenting adult who chose to play this game intentionally, and I wanted the full meal deal.
After downloading the ‘adult’ patch and cranking all of the settings to max, I was delighted to find that the devs do a wonderful job of blending the economics with dating sim-style content in a way that elevates the entire experience.
As the player collects resources, story-based events pop up and offer a chance to earn the affection of an employee – figure out what they like to drink at teatime, +2 hearts. Beat them at arm wrestling or blackjack, +3 hearts, and so on. Once enough hearts have been earned, an option to go on a date unlocks. Each date advances their individual story, and it’s here where MGSB! shines thanks to wacky hjinks, a script that’s totally irreverent and full of great laughs, and plenty of innuendo and nudity.
Bonbon is out to make her brothel the preeminent establishment in town, Penny is obsessed with time travel, Vicki’s working hard to summon dark spirits, Pip is out to solve a murder, and every one of the remaining eight characters all go on one sort of personal journey or another, bringing the player along for the ride. I was always eager to get the next installment, and I was honestly sad when I’d wrapped up most of their stories – when the upcoming DLC is released, I’m coming back immediately.
In terms of how explicit MGSB! can be, with the DLC installed and all the settings topped, players can expect to eventually unlock several still images of both male and female characters completely nude and in various poses. Characters can also be fully disrobed during gameplay if those specific ‘costumes’ are unlocked, and many dialogue scenes (especially towards the end of each character’s arc) offer detailed descriptions of sexual acts, but only in text form – there’s no visual depiction of sex at any point.
Again, this is all optional content that isn’t required to enjoy the economic side of the game, but I found the balance between crunching numbers and then laughing a bit while ogling a good dose of T&A (or D, if preferred) before getting back to business was exactly the right way to break up both halves of MGSB!. Each aspect kept the other fresh, and the contrast kept everything exciting and enjoyable for the length of the campaign.
I may be an experienced game critic with over 20 years in the biz, but I can’t say that I’ve played many games with the kind of sexually-oriented content that Max Gentlemen Sexy Business! offers. However, I had an absolutely great time with it. The eye candy is appealing, it’s LGBTQ-conscious, the writing is on point and the gameplay is just engaging enough to keep a player’s clicking finger busy on the quest to reclaim their fortune. Spending time on the spicier side was exactly the change of pace I needed, and I’m 100% on board with whatever these developers cook up next.
Disclosures: This game is developed and published by The Men Who Wear Many Hats. It is currently available on PC. This copy of the game was obtained via paid download and reviewed on the PC. Approximately 10 hours of play were devoted to the single-player mode, and the game was completed (the Rival was defeated but there is more content coming this fall.) There are no multiplayer modes.
Parents: This game is not rated by the ESRB, but it would most certainly be an AO if it was. Although it can be tamed a bit, any kid with access to this game would be able to read racy passages and see plenty of skin, if not every inch. Absolutely for the grownups, this one is.
Colorblind Modes: There are no colorblind modes available in the options.
Deaf & Hard of Hearing Gamers: No problems here. I played the game entirely on mute and had no issues at all — dialogue is subtitled (font can’t be resized or recolored) and there are no audio cues needed for play. This game is fully accessible.
Remappable Controls: No, this game’s controls are not remappable. The game is entirely mouse-driven. The majority of play is clicking on an employee’s picture and dragging it to a location, or simply clicking on text. Occasionally the player will have to rapidly click to disperse crowds when people “riot” in town.
Brad still loves Transformers, he's on Marvel Puzzle Quest when nobody's looking, and his favorite game of all time is a toss-up between the first Mass Effect and The Witcher 3. You can catch his written work here at GameCritics and you can hear him weekly on the @SoVideogames Podcast. Follow Brad on Twitter and Instagram at @BradGallaway, or contact him via email:
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