Captain Tycho Minogue is back for his second outing in Escape from Pleasure Planet, and developer Up Multimedia has come out of the starting blocks eager to show it’s learned several lessons since its debut release.
While Tycho’s first adventure, My Ex-Boyfriend the Space Tyrant, was good, campy fun, its basic game design made for numerous, frustrating experiences. Pleasure Planet seeks to correct those amateur mistakes, offering up gameplay that shows refinement and polish all throughout. A handful of fail states present themselves immediately after the title screen, urging players to get accustomed to a type of trial-and-error gameplay that wasn’t before present.
Taking heavy inspiration from Star Trek’s Risa – and countless other sci-fi properties that have used the trope of a perfect planet that isn’t what it seems – Escape from Pleasure Planet begins as Tycho descends upon a ruthless (yet beautiful) villain who’s crashed upon the resort planet of Arcadia. Armed only with his wits, a bi-corder that is DEFINITELY not a tricorder and his trademark midriff-bearing muscle tee and short, short shorts, Minogue soon learns that his bounty pales in comparison to the mysteries of the planet itself.
While Escape from Pleasure Planet is a self-proclaimed gay game, that can take away from the fact it’s a meaty point-and-click adventure that just happens to feature gay themes, campy humour and psychedelic, 1970s science-fiction. Phillips’ artwork suits the project perfectly, painting Minogue as the super-charged, homosexual version of Barbarella (ignoring the fact that Barbarella is that already).
Phillips, who has worked on projects from comic publishers DC and Marvel, once again offers up top-notch work, filling Arcadia with colourful, vibrant characters. Thankfully, dialog trees provide characters with personalities that match. In the vein of Monkey Island, you’ll want to click on everything in sight to get Minogue’s take on a person, place or thing. I often found myself trying to combine ridiculous inventory items with one another or using the bi-corder to analyse items just to get a reaction from Minogue or those around him.
As you begin to peel away at the mysteries of the pleasure planet, players can choose to go with the gay allegories that present themselves or simply remain focused on the story at hand. Minogue can confront a bigoted space alien, or simply choose to let him be. As things progress, it becomes clear that the hedonistic planet is working hard to hide that side of itself, mirroring the internal struggles some homosexuals face as part of the coming out process (or simply in every day life). Things get quite dark, admittedly, but themes are continually managed with respect and — far more importantly — a wicked sense of humour.
Pleasure Planet excels in every way over its predecessor. Puzzles are challenging but fair; each failure made is clear-cut and understandable (though with that said, it’s best to save more often than simply rely on the auto-save). One or two puzzles suffer from a logic gap or have elements that simply work themselves out, inexplicably, to progress a thread, but they’re quite uncommon and largely forgivable. I never experienced the states of hopelessness and futility that Space Tyrant was often plagued with. When stuck, it was because of my own doing instead of a sloppy bit of code. While there are some rough edges in places, they actually work, helping to entrench the title as a B-grade, schlocky adventure.
Up Multimedia delivers a quality point-and-click adventure with same-sex attracted characters and gay culture in a way that doesn’t alienate players of any sexuality, religion or creed. While its very nature clearly targets those in the LGBTI community, fans of point-and-click adventures will have a splendid time exploring Arcadia alongside Minogue and his motley crew.
Escape from Pleasure Planet was reviewed using a promotional code on Steam, as provided by the developer. The author has previously pledged $20 AUD to Escape from Pleasure Planet‘s Kickstarter, and will gift the retail copy of the game it provides to a friend. Stevivor has in past, interviewed Up Multimedia’s Luke Miller. Click here to learn more about Stevivor’s scoring scale.