Welcome to This Is Not A Review. In these articles we discuss general impressions, ideas and thoughts on any given game, but as the title implies, it’s not a review. Instead, it’s an exercise in offering a quick recommendation (or dismissal) after spending enough time to grasp the ideas and gameplay of a thing without necessarily playing it from A to Z.
The subject of this installment: CLT, developed and published by notagamestudio.
CLT is a game about the experience of sex and masturbation from a female perspective.
The art style features images clearly reminiscent of female genitalia, but in an expressive, ‘abstract art’ vein, similar to in resemblance to a Rorschach test’s famous inkblots.
The gameplay mostly consists of clicking on tarot cards, choosing between two at a time, and trying to select cards that haven’t been clicked yet. That is how we… reach “a climax”.
Each new card contains a very small piece of narrative. They’re usually based on masturbation or a sexual encounter of some kind, featuring enough details to paint the picture while keeping it all very vague and not explicit. In one situation the woman searches for a safe place to masturbate, while in another she takes part in an orgy.
While the experience can be interesting, the cards all come “censored”, with letters removed. It’s a choice that left me scratching my head — I suspect it will only cause confusion in players and also might exacerbate difficulty with dyslexia. It was troublesome and I sometimes had to pause to understand what each word meant. For example, a phrase might read “I’m sore byt I can’t step. I need another yrgesm“.
According to the devs, this text choice was done to avoid being censored as “a protest against the idea that games are meant to be nothing more than infantilized escapism”, but will probably end up hurting the users who might have difficulty with decoding the message, rather sending any kind of statement to the storefronts that might sell it.
While CLT isn’t pornographic or explicit, the aesthetics are vaguely discomforting — I don’t know if it’s meant to be taken as a statement against the act of masturbation or what this style might be trying to say otherwise, but everything is painted in abstract shades of red. It reminds me of blood? In terms of audio, music pulses and drones in the background, other sounds are distorted. The developers want us to know this is not an erotic game and I agree with that — it comes off like something closer to horror, really.
CLT is a very strange, minimally-interactive experience that might be best recommended to those interested in the weirder, more experimental side of gaming. As non-erotic game about sexuality I think it misses the mark, since I feel aspects of the interface will end up frustrating some, and it also might be too detached for others — and neither of these feelings are what I would associate with sexuality.