Joe is an office drone. Joe is miserable. Joe is unhappy. Joe is repressed. Joe is horny.
NSFW Warning: This post contains NSFW imagery!
Luckily for Joe, Strange Flesh is all about breaking free from all that — not through therapy or medication, but through the magic of getting beaten up and seduced by a big beefy bartender with a cock the size of a loaf of bread.
I wasn’t sure what to think of Strange Flesh at first. The website is hypnotically beautiful, a mash-up of neo-classical and neon (neon-classical?) that seems sinister and sexy, like a smoke-filled sex dungeon. The music matches the aesthetic vibe, with thumping, pounding basslines that wouldn’t be out of place on the soundtrack to Drive.
The game is described, simply, as “a sexy, gay, adult beat ‘em up game”, and none of that is lies. You play the bartender — the aforementioned beefcake who’s packing a serious amount of downstairs meat — as you go on a journey to rescue Joe, your latest patron at the Strange Flesh bar, from his own depressing lifestyle.
Your moves are limited in number, but not in power: You can grab, throw, punch and blow smoke from your cigar onto your enemies. That last move will seduce them, slowly, until they either briefly fight for you or collapse onto the floor in a state of sex-crazed sudden nudity.
Punch or seduce enough people into exploding and you’ll gather power-ups. One increases your punch power, another increases your smoky seduction power, and the final one is basically your special attack meter — only the bartender’s “special attack” mostly involves putting his loaf of bread in the breadbox, if you catch my meaning.
Every single person you fight is a manifestation of Joe and his troubles: There’s Disinterested Joe, Frenzied Joe, Fiery Joe and so on. Breathe enough sex-smoke on them and they change, mutating from Joe’s troubles to Joe’s secret fantasies: Horny Joe, Corrupted Joe and Lust-Mad Joe, accompanied by Joe’s tongue-lolling stupidity as the blood rushes to somewhere other than his brain.
By the time you make it to the end of the game, through multiple levels of Joe’s subconscious, from the office to the streets to a sort of orgy-cave where Joes of multiple types wank each other off merrily in the background, you’ll have one more Joe to fight: The final Joe, Boss Joe, a large demonic punk prince who refuses to be anyone’s slave.
Of course, when you beat him, you have three options, leading to three endings: Corrupt Joe, dominate Joe or release him. He’ll end up happy and fulfilled whichever one you choose, but with emphasis on the “filled”. Once the bartender has beaten up all of Joe’s fears and repressive behaviours, he’s free to be the sexy demon he secretly is inside.
Thank god for Strange Flesh, a game that’s about fucking and being fucked, a game that explores and celebrates kink and male sexuality, a game that rewards its devoted players with some extraordinarily lovely vignettes about extraordinarily girthy dongers.
Not to mention that it’s a beautiful game, like Van Gogh translated into pixels, with wistful art nouveau-like smoke tendrils and so much phallic imagery that it’s hard to tell what isn’t a penis.
This is everything sex games should be: Unashamed, beautiful, lovingly and lewdly made. Strange Flesh is not afraid to be silly and hyperbolic as its various Joes ecstatically spurt milky streams of goo across the floor. It knows what it wants, and it knows what it is, and it manages to tell a sexy story without ever losing its heart.
A beat-em-up sex game could easily be about kink and nothing more, but Strange Flesh is, at its core, a game about making someone happy. With copious penis. Isn’t that just lovely?