If you like sexualizing women on the basis of their youth or light skin, you’ll love the demo of Do Not Love: Violators Will Be Shot from Team Bisugo.
The most frustrating thing about this game is that the concept, in theory, is incredibly strong and wholesome. A black market, hand-holding dealer? Adorable. I wanted to play the demo of Do Not Love: Violators Will Be Shot immediately.
Unfortunately, the execution fails to live up to expectations in nearly every way. Although the idea of hand-holding as a profession is thoroughly cute, Do Not Love: Violators Will Be Shot insists on being needlessly edgy right from the start, full of melodramatic and sometimes even suicidal prose. Now, to be fair, the idea of a world in which hand-holding is outlawed is decidedly dark. However, it can’t seem to make up its mind when it comes to its aesthetic. While the prose is full of nihilistic pontification, the character designs verge toward kawaii in their round cuteness.
Essentially, you play as a 21-year-old man in New Manila, where physical intimacy has been outlawed. Illegally, you offer your services as a hand-holder. Apparently, in order to do this, you must target the ideal client, most of whom are teenage girls. These girls are sexualized by the protagonist at the same time as he pressures them into physical intimacy (hand-holding). This alone was enough for me to give up on the demo entirely.
But I kept playing so that you, dear reader, wouldn’t have to. If you choose not to prey on the high schoolers (one of whom very conveniently discloses that she’s 18, so that you feel less like a creep), you may encounter another female character shrouded in mystery whose face is hidden for the duration of your first conversation with her. When she’s finally unmasked, the protagonist remarks upon her paleness and youth, and her occupation as a maid is disclosed as well. Though Do Not Love currently exists as a demo, it is heavily implied that she is a romanceable character.
Another character who appears to be romanceable is given considerably less screentime than the others and is the daughter of a shadowy figure who’s in charge of dozens of mercenary. Again, the protagonist describes her appearance largely on the basis of her age (somewhat older than the others) and her skin (really white). He also describes all of the female characters, with the exception of his business partner, as “girls” rather than “women” or “people.” I’m tired just thinking about it.
I realize that this is all quite genre-typical for many visual novels and dating sims. However, Do Not Love seems to attempt to contain some sort of emotional depth based on Team Bisugo’s press materials, and I see no reason not to hold it to that standard.
Here’s the thing about dystopian settings: they’re never really all that fictional. For certain people, intimacy is a crime in the contemporary world — namely, for queer people in a great many countries. In numerous cultures, people who are attracted to others of similar genders often face severe violence as a consequence for engaging in any sort of physical intimacy with their chosen sexual or romantic partners. To make a game like this, where that same sort of violence is treated so shallowly and frivolously, and where women are continuously denied agency, exhibits blatant disrespect to people whose intimacy is already regulated by governments and other structures.
In short, I wouldn’t recommend this game to anyone that I like or respect. If you want a good and weird dating sim, stick to something like Hatoful Boyfriend or Hustle Cat.
The demo of Do Not Love: Violators Will Be Shot can be downloaded from itch.io.