Trigger Warnings: This game contains themes and references that may be extremely uncomfortable for some people. This includes references to child abuse, rape, human trafficking, suicide, self injury, medical malpractice, drug and alcohol abuse, and gender dysphoria along with sex, violence, and gore. Play at your own risk.
If you aren’t already turned off by the game, I can officially announce that this post will go over my own first impressions and thoughts on the BL game, Slow Damage, brought to you by the same developers who gave us the iconic BL game, DRAMAtical Murder which I also covered and reviewed on this blog. This particular first impressions post will be slightly different as I have played almost 10 hours of this game and have yet to meet all the love interests (I believe) let alone reach a specific route. This game is very different from DRAMAtical Murder, but let’s start by laying out the story and our protagonist before I get into my thoughts on the game.
Slow Damage tells the story of Towa, a hedonistic artist living in a yakuza-controlled city of the near future. Intent on painting people’s darkest desires, Towa seeks out extreme sensation and seedy underworld connections. But in exposing the truths of those around him, Towa may have uncovered more than he bargained for…JAST BLUE Official Description for Slow Damage
I honestly don’t have much to add because the description is fairly accurate to at least the 10 hours I have played the game. It basically feels like you’re following Towa’s day to day life as degenerate artist who seeks to paint the darkest desires humanity can possibly come up with and if the trigger warnings are anything to go by, I think you understand how dark we’re talking.
Needless to say, society and a lot of people are pretty messed up in Slow Damage. You can look no further than Towa to see that.
Our Protagonist – Towa (CV: Hiiragi Santa)
Towa is our hedonist artist who lives in a small atelier-styled room above the clinic his friend owns. He owns his keep by acting as a secretary for his friend’s clinic, if he even wakes up in time to get to work (work that is literally one floor below). Not to mention that the only thing that seems to provide him some sort of hobby besides painting is alcohol and cigarettes. One cool thing about him is that he can see the color of people’s auras which he calls “Smoke.” Apparently, he may have a form of synesthesia which can be a neat thing. For Towa, it can certainly help him identify potential art subjects and inspiration for his paintings.
However, I’m still trying to wrap my head around Towa. He isn’t as cute and “pure” as our protagonist in DRAMAtical Murder but Towa isn’t really an awful person either. He is definitely far more mature and calm to the point of appearing apathetic. However, he is also more of a twisted dark individual especially when you see him working towards his artistic goals as “euphoria.”
euphoria is the name Towa goes by as an artist. His paintings are fairly popular especially amongst the regulars at a certain bar who posts his work on their blog. Yet, his paintings are inspired by the darkest desires of people he happens to come across in his life (some seek him out as well, but rarely are given a chance).
Regardless, my personal feelings towards Towa are actually still rather convoluted. He isn’t as affable and pleasant like Aoba (DRAMAtical Murder’s protagonist) and his rather indifferent and dry personality can be hard to mesh with especially when he says stuff like this:
Still, like I said, he isn’t a bad guy. Actually, Towa can be quite mischievous and slightly petty (in a good way). I just worry about his health but being in a place like he is, well, I can’t blame him for turning out the way he did. I will just have to see how I feel about him as the game advances, but one thing I can say is that I love his voice. Hey, Towa’s is voiced by a seiyuu I like, so automatically I have to kind of like him for that at least.
Gameplay and Mechanics
Slow Damage is quite unique in the fact that unlike DRAMAtical Murder, they added a few interesting gameplay mechanics that sort of spice things up. For instance, when you first boot up the game, you’re greeted to this screen:
Very nice, right? But then it launches you into a tutorial on “Interrogation.” Yup, that’s right boys and girls, you’re about to play bad cop, good cop. In all seriousness though, this Interrogation part of the game is important as you will have to utilize it in order to reach certain outcomes you need to progress in the game. It sort of replaces the normal pick and choose your own answer except that if you fail certain Interrogations it’s game over. Still, it’s not as convoluted as it may appear in the tutorial…sort of.
Honestly, it’s best to just play through the game and you’ll get it! To help you with Interrogations, you can also use “Inspiration” you gathered while exploring the city. Inspiration is collected when you explore different areas of Shinkoumi, the city our game takes place in.
In the Free Exploration mode, you have the choice to talk to different people and entering into Interrogation mode, depending on the choices you make, you can receive certain statements to use in future important Interrogations to your advantage.
The use of using Inspiration is optional however. Free Exploration is also optional as you can just travel straight to the current objective if you don’t care to explore, but sometimes you may need to travel to a couple or so places before being allowed to go to the actual objective so be aware of that!
Personally, I would advise to explore everywhere and anywhere you can in order to pick up valuable pieces of inspiration and just to get to know the characters a bit more. The game isn’t quite as fun if you’re zooming to get through exploration as fast as possible, but that’s just me.
Chapters 1&2 Thoughts
So far I have completed chapters 1 and 2. Usually for a first impressions review, I tend to wait until I have cleared the common route/prologue of a game before I lay out my thoughts but with Slow Damage, it was kind of hard to do so when it wasn’t clear when and how I would pass the prologue and get on a certain route. The game doesn’t have the traditional system of you get choices and you pick one to raise the affections of a certain character which was present in DRAMAtical Murder. Instead, it feels more like a linear path of storytelling as told by Towa.
In the end, I decided 10 hours of gameplay is enough to justify a first impressions post especially since those hours are approximately how much you’ll have to play to get through 2 chapters of the game – each taking about 5 hours to complete. This time includes me playing Free Exploration modes to the fullest and failing a few times with Interrogation (specifically in chapter 2), so please factor that into my time.
Chapter 1: Towa and the Flower Boy
I’ll try to keep this quick. Chapter 1 introduces us to our protagonist Towa along with a couple of his friends, Murase Takuma or Taku (CV: Munakata Jin) and Izumi Rei (CV: Tanaka Ichirou) who are both interesting fellows in their own right. Taku is the one who owns the clinic Towa stays out and allows both him and Rei to work there despite the latter also having a job at the bar Towa frequents.
On the other hand, we’re sort of bombarded by a bit of exposition and background as we learn about how Shinkoumi came to be along with how the yakuza got it’s hands on the place before it turned into a city of debauchery, dark desires, and no hope. I’m not kidding, this place is so depressing.
But I digress as I really wanted to talk about the Goddess of Whimsy and Towa’s encounter with the flower delivery boy. Yes, I know how it sounds but it gets darker. You see, after a night of becoming wasted in a bar, Towa passes out on the streets only to awaken in a stranger’s house which is overly decorated by plants and greenery. He notices his arm has been patched up despite having no recollection of hurting it in the first place. After he leaves that place, he learns from Taku and Rei that he isn’t the only one who had such an experience. Thus, we’re introduced to the Goddess of Whimsy.
To make a long story short, Towa finds out this Goddess is actually a man named Ikuina (CV: Aguri Bunka) who he met a few times before starting at the flower shop Ikuina works at. Turns out Ikuina was the one to both cut and patch up Towa that night and found Towa’s scars dreadfully enchanting. This made him somewhat infatuated by Towa and led him to deliver flowers to the clinic under the guise it was from an anonymous admirer.
Despite being turned off by the flowers, Towa learns of Ikuina’s dark desire: to see inside the wounds of one who is physically scarred. And boy, does that lead to an interesting scene between Ikuina and Towa that leaves them both cut up and nearly bleeding to death.
Yes, the game sort of escalates whether quickly.
Honestly, I was more surprised with how far Towa was willing to go in order to find inspiration for an art piece, but here he was not even a day later after being treated for his cuts, painting away a piece thanks to Ikuina and his dark cutting desire.
Towa is amazing really.
Chapter 2: Towa and Angels
This chapter is really when things start to go on the deeper end of crossing that line that normal people would be uncomfortable of getting near. See, this chapter also follows a similar pattern as the last as Towa stumbles across another person who has a pent up dark desire that needs liberating.
Except that this person may be a pedophile.
Our first hint that this person needs some help is when Towa receives a prayer/poem laid out like this in his email and apparently it’s not the first that he’s received like this:
He soon meets a doctor, Asakura (CV: Kira Hasu), at the bar he usually goes to and after some investigating on Towa’s part, he learns this doctor is the one who not only sent him the poems but also is rumored to be too familiar with children. It doesn’t help that this Asakura has been put in charge of this young lad named Hayato because his mother is too much of a mess to properly take care of him. It also doesn’t look good that Towa finds Asakura in a church staring starry-eyed at a painting of cherubs (small baby-looking angels) – something he apparently does every evening before the church closes.
Yeah, the evidence stacks up against this guy pretty badly especially since Taku, who knew him back in school, doesn’t necessarily refute those claims once he hears about them.
However, once Towa finally gets the doctor to open up, we learn that the doctor’s true dark desire is to plant angel wings to create the angel he has been looking for.
…It’s indeed a pretty twisted desire especially when you realize that Hayato may have been his experimental subject if Towa hadn’t stepped in. And mind you, reading how Asakura operates on Towa to STITCH wings on Towa’s bare back without any anesthesia or numbing agent or something had me squirming in my seat. This chapter or game really is NOT for the faint of heart.
But don’t worry, you don’t see much thankfully.
Well, with that I can say that has been my Slow Damage experience so far. It’s certainly been a messed up one and my innocence has definitely taken a hit after being subjected to just two chapters of this game, but somehow I still want to trudge on through this beautiful twisted mess of exploring the darkest of human desires with Towa. I mean, it can’t get even worse, right? (sweats).
But I highly would not recommend this game to anyone who felt drawn away after reading the warning at the start of this post. I really do stress that the game is not lying when it warns you about the themes and references Slow Damage covers! Please don’t play the game if you find the warning or my review unbearably uncomfortable to read through.
So far, I have had fun. It’s a slow start (no pun intended), but I feel as if that the game will pick up even more speed as it progresses. It definitely does with Ikuina and Asakura’s storylines. The third chapter seems to focus on Taku, our chiseled doctor buddy here who seems to be facing his own demons so I’m looking forward to exploring his arc.
With that, I will conclude here. Thank you for reading this far and hopefully I will be back with a full review of the game once I finish it. Life is crazy right now for me, but I hope I can get to it sooner than I’m thinking! Take care and goodbye for now!