At first glance, Strive for Power seems unassuming enough. In this PC game, you have a mansion that’s fallen into disrepair and you have a servant, some stockpiled food, and a bit of cash. With that, you’re expected to survive. Then things get… sexy.
(NSFW warning for partial cartoon nudity.)
This world is peaceful, more or less, with mages and their ilk mustering tremendous energies to control and placate much of the world. What makes life hard is basic scarcity: With little money and even less food, it’s up to you to build up the estate so that it can and will be self-sustaining.
And that’s where the pornographic twist comes in. Magic, in this universe, has one source—life. According to the game’s mythos, that leaves two options for gathering the energies needed to create magic spells: pleasure and pain. Yes, this is going exactly where you think it is.
You play as an unnamed mage with some rather mundane initial goals. You’ll need to build some farmhouses and start pulling in cash and food to keep the pantries stocked. From there though, things get weird. You’ll soon be given a series of quests that set up small expeditions to neighboring territories. You’ll need to curry favor with the mage’s guild, occasionally head into town for supplies, and contend with monsters and bandits along the way. All standard fantasy-setting stuff. But as magic becomes more important for the success of your estate, you’ll need to start pulling in mana. And that means boning, or torturing.
The game plays out like a sex slave management sim, and it’s not half-bad on that front (unlike another recent game Deep Dark Fantasies, which bastardized the subculture for cheap yucks). There’s plenty of layers and challenges, and there’s complex sets of decisions that the game leaves entirely up to you. But that’s the bizarre bit. As a game, all of these mechanics and ideas make sense and fit well together. Plus, there’s a nice interaction between your strategic choices (how you run your mansion) and more minute-to-minute ones such as combat tactics or how you talk to the people who work for you.
What can be a little hard to escape, though, is the fact that almost everyone who works for you is a slave. If that’s your kink, then there’s little better, though. The entire concept is handled through the lens of gothic aesthetics, and played off largely as a means to an end—this is a sex game, after all.
But it wields its concepts far better than many of the half-assed, capital “P” porn games that have hit Steam of late. Here, you need to take care of your slaves, and unless you want to be an evil jackass, they’re all too happy to help with missions or train up to fight alongside you. Occasionally, light spankings will be needed to coax them into a mission, but it’s obviously tongue-in-cheek.
Where things get a bit dicier is with the evil routes. While it’s common in games to commit horrific atrocities when you’re flirting with the dark side, Strive for Power can get dark. Really dark. You can lock people in prison, starving and torturing them, and that’s where the bad stuff starts.
Depending upon how you feel about the politics of kink in general, that could be a deal-breaker, but, if it isn’t, there’s nothing else that’s nearly as effective at scratching that strategy gaming/home management play itch while also blending in its fair share of kinky sex.