January 15th, 2012

Review – That Cheap And Sacred Thing

The title screen

That Cheap and Sacred Thing is a kinetic visual novel, meaning if you bang on the enter key long enough, you’ll get to the ending. There are no branching paths, it’s like an electronic storybook.

What attracted me to this was the description of androids, male androids. I loves me some androids as they are uncommon compared to the gynoids that seem to populate everything. I can name very few pieces of art that have androids as a central character, but can name tons and tons of things with gynoids as a central character.

This novel didn’t disappoint me. Jude is the android in question and he’s a sex worker (or sex slave considering his status to serve humans) which is a double rarity. That’s what got me to download this as I don’t usually like kinetics.
The story is a simple one about robot love between Autumn and Elly, her MyPal that had to be destroyed. Jude comes in when her well meaning friends decide to buy her a sex toy (which is Jude’s function basically) for her seventeenth birthday.

The Good: The story was very emotional and the characters were well realized. The only one I felt that didn’t get too much of the spotlight was Rick. I liked his design the best :3 I also like the fact that nobody said anything disparaging against Nadiya and her love of AmorBots. The ending was satisfying and even the stinger wasn’t disappointing and added to the wrapping up of the story versus setting up a part two. The ending it should be noted, is quite emotional and might leave you crying or at least tearing up. So, don’t go into this novel if you want to feel happy/spunky afterwards.

The Bad: The world is very… sad. It seems even in the future men haven’t been taught to not rape people, thus women are assigned the MyPals and GuardBots. Even worse is that the male AmorBots are basically taught to rape women by coercing them into sex despite the fact they’ve already said no. Jude forcing the issue of sex. Jude does this to Autumn even go so far as to whining about it. If robots are to serve humans I would like to think that they’d program in the “No means no” and start to execute some other program. Maybe romantic cuddling, back massage or something else. It also seems the only reason Jude stops is because of the “error” that Autumn triggers in robots. This is stated in the “bonus” section of the novel. Bonus section stating that: Jude is concerned with romance and a good orgasm, so his love manifests by putting the moves on Autumn.
It’s something that seems to plague Sci-Fi novels and games, that humans can’t get over socially constructed behaviors such as that. (David Weber does it too and oh boy is it worse >.<)

The Extra: I’m wondering if the author knows about Phantasy Star Online and the CAst character :3 As CAsts are androids and TCAST and yes, my mind went there. Just an observation as I played a few CAsts in my day. (*sniff* Dannie ;^;)

The Nitpick: The music I felt wasn’t that good. At least one in particular I wanted to mute (Happy Mood). The rest were too short and the looping was a bit repetitive. Which some scenes can get a bit long. Having longer and more varied pieces would probably have been better. However the ending song was most appropriate. Another nitpick is that the sprites jump a couple pixels when they emote. I don’t know if that was intentional, but from other visual novels it seems that staying in place is the norm.

FreenessGenreKinetic NovelOtome GamePCPS0PSOPSUReviewThat Cheap and Sacred Thing

2 responses to “Review – That Cheap And Sacred Thing”

  1. Hey! :D Sorry, I didn’t find this until just now. This is carosene, author of TCAST, btw.

    Thanks for the review! I really appreciate it. :D

    I would just like to address some of your comments about sex in the game. :) Your read is totally legitimate, but I thought I’d throw in my two cents about Jude and sex and what I intended to write but often couldn’t explain. ^-^;;

    Jude would not have raped her or taken advantage of her. Yes, he keeps coming on to her, but he’s supposed to, he’s supposed to be infatuated with her and want her body, and he expects that whenever he’s bought that’s what he’s there to do. If she plays a little hard to get he can pursue her too–but he is strictly programmed if no means no then no it is. But he acts reluctant to follow the no, because he’s supposed to want her, because she bought him because she wants to be wanted and that’s what he’s there for. (You see how this works? ^-^;; Of course, she didn’t buy him, but he doesn’t know that, and that’s of dubious legality.) And secondly, if there were any problems on the rare chance his programming wasn’t working, (or more likely a client was communicating clearly enough for a robot to pick up) Autumn already signed a release form. Well, if she had bought him she would have signed it, remember it’s briefly mentioned that her friends forged her signature. So yes, her situation is a little in dub-con area, but Jude’s normal programming should keep him from doing anything she doesn’t want. (Plus the error should keep him listening to her especially.)

    (Though I realize in the story there’s a lot of gray area between normal programming and what he’s doing abnormally. ^-^;; )

    As for “men haven’t been taught to not rape people,” well, I don’t think rape is such a simple situation that parents can say “don’t rape” and then everything is fixed. o.o;; Rape in western culture is complicated by concepts of violence, perception of power, misogyny, patriarchy and male-privilege. And as long as there’s a few rapes out there, there will be people willing to make a few bucks on the resulting paranoia.

    No, I don’t know about Phantasy Star Online or CAsts. XD Sorry! Coincidence!

    Edit: (or more likely a client wasN’T communicating clearly enough for a robot to pick up)

    • Thanks for the response. :3

      I guess when she said no, I would expect the android to some how ask “Is this the “no” no?” and then proceed from there. You were using the Asimov rules right? (Can’t quite remember right now) so even if the programming was failing, there might be a redundancy check to default to no than to default to yes. Then the client could return the robot for a new non-malfunctioning one. At least I would HOPE there would be a check like that to “Not harm a human. make sure a human comes to no harm.” Thus the robot could powerdown/sleep/lock up etc.

      As for the waiver, I don’t know. Concerning that area, I would say there would be legal recourse. I mean if the robot exploded, dropped a glass, or something that did harm the client that’s one thing, but harming the client physically and mentally in such a way… The client should have recourse. I mean if I was the company I’d make sure that the robot could never do that and that any accidents are of a mechanical nature, such as catching fire, running out of power, etc.

      Actually for the parents saying “don’t rape”, the areas where there has been education and signage to the point of “don’t rape” sees a lowered percentage of rape, VS the areas of the “don’t get raped”. It is complicated on all that but in this culture rape isn’t nearly villainized as a speculative fictional culture. We have the “only really evil men rape!” and that being used as a plot trope, but then you see the people getting off for rape because “she was XYZ and wearing ABC” etc. Still very complex, but teaching “don’t rape” does fix a bit, not everything but it does help.

      Still I’d love to see a sequel to the game, maybe explore a bit of the government behind the androids a little more or not. :3 I did enjoy the game.