Content Warning: The Price of Flesh is an 18+ horror visual novel containing graphic depictions of murder, gore, and sexual assault. See the Steam page for a full list of warnings.
The Price of Flesh (TPOF) is a visual novel that mixes the genres of survival horror and horrorporn into an experience that is exhilarating for all of the senses. The creator, Gatobob, is most well-known for her contributions Boyfriend to Death and Boyfriend to Death 2, creating some fan-favorite killers in the process. In TPOF, the elements of survival are at the forefront, with each route offering a unique setting and new challenges to come with it. To find ways to survive or even just more ways to die, the player will have to think carefully about the setting they’re in and the personality of the killer they’ve been stuck with. You’ll die. A lot. And you’ll love every second.
This review also contains a section covering the free DLC: The Show Must Go On. This DLC contains spoilers regarding the identity of the Announcer, so if you’d like to go in spoiler-free, skip over that section.
TPOF begins in media res at a dark web auction, and you’re the hot new item for sale. Three silhouettes surround you, and the way you answer the questions will determine which bidder claims you as the prize.
If Derek chooses you, you’ll find yourself in the middle of the desert with a few other victims. Derek isn’t the only hunter, either; he has friends who will all be competing to be the one to claim your life. You’ll have to avoid multiple masked killers, while also surviving the brutal conditions of the desert. Stay outside too long, and you’ll wander the desert in a heat daze until the wrong person stumbles across you. Enter the wrong cave, and you might find yourself on the sharp end of a ritualistic killing. But if you can survive, and perhaps even form some alliances with the other victims, there just might be a way to turn the tables on your captors and escape.
If Celia finds you appealing, you’ll be taken to an abandoned office building. Celia is a high-strung businesswoman in need of some rest and relaxation, but her idea of a good time isn’t a spa day or some self-care. Instead, she’ll blow off steam by beating you into submission. The office building may not be as dangerous as the wilderness, but being trapped in close quarters with Celia will prove to be just as harrowing. If you say the wrong thing or get caught outside of the room you were confined to, you’ll find yourself quickly meeting your demise underneath her high heels. But if you can earn her trust long enough to find a way out, you’ll be able to escape her deadly grip.
If Mason is the highest bidder, you’ll go on a lovely hunting trip… where you are the prey. Released into the woods with a backpack full of camping gear, Mason will delight in quietly tracking you across the forest. The woods are full of dangerous things, from wild animals to freezing temperatures to the many traps Mason has set out within the foliage. You’ll also need to keep your wits about you; it’s easy to go insane in the wilderness, and if you lose your mind, your life will be quick to follow. If you can tap into your primal instincts and learn how to survive, you may just find a way to make the hunter become the hunted…
Derek Goffard is the son of a wealthy mogul with a serious lust for blood and violence. He’s often the punching bag within his group of “friends,” and as a result, he takes great pleasure in humiliating you in your fight for survival. He’s got a short temper, so you’ll often have to figure out how to negotiate with him to survive his little game. Ironically, he’s not even the greatest threat within the desert. Fellow hunters Jack and Machete are much more ruthless if they get their hands on you. But if you set Derek off or dare to say “no” to his degrading requests, you won’t last long in their little game.
Celia Lede is the most rational killer out of the three, though that’s an awfully low bar to pass. Unlike Mason and Derek, she’s the biggest threat within her route, as there aren’t other killers or outdoor elements to worry about. She would seem to be a strong and high-achieving businesswoman, but she’s become fed up with her awful husband, annoying coworkers, and the constant expectations placed on her. Her intentions for you are purely to use you as a torture toy, only killing you if you disobey. If you get to know her and earn her trust, you may also earn your freedom. But if you piss her off, then she’ll be quick to pounce.
Mason Heiral is a simple man with a simple goal: to hunt you down like the animal you are. He’s the killer you’ll get to know the least, as there are only a few moments in his route where you’ll get to have an actual conversation with him. Unlike Derek and Celia, Mason can’t be negotiated with. He won’t let go of his desire to kill you, so your only hope is to outsmart him. His brute strength and unrelenting determination to hunt you down makes him one of the scariest killers, and the one you’ll likely die to the most.
What TPOF excels in most is its choice system. It really encapsulates the feeling of survival horror within a visual novel format. You’ll have to keep track of stats like hunger, blood loss, and sanity in each route, while also managing your inventory and avoiding the many bad ends awaiting you. Finding each ending felt like a puzzle, as you’ll find yourself both figuring out ways to survive as well as wondering which choices may lead to a unique death. Each route has anywhere from 14-20 possible endings. The majority of them will be bad endings. Gatobob is known for her thrilling scenes of death and carnage, after all, but there are still a few endings where you survive. In some survival endings, you’ll flee, in others, you’ll turn the tables and kill the killer. In some cases, you may even be able to live alongside your captor… though whether that’s a “good” ending will depend on your perspective.
As a warning: the choice system is VERY difficult and may be frustrating for some players. There are few blatant hints about what the correct series of choices are, and it can require a lot of thinking and careful experimentation to figure out the patterns of the killers and the death triggers. You will die, repeatedly, and you’ll need a lot of save files and creativity to find all of the endings.
TPOF also features “secret” achievements in each route that will contain some easter eggs for fans of the Boyfriend to Death series. As a recommendation, if you’re trying for a 100% save, get the “Sacrifice” achievement from Mason’s route FIRST. It has a particular requirement that is VERY annoying if you discover it late in your playthrough.
There’s also a “memelord mode” that’s unlocked if you 100% your save (all endings, achievements, art, etc.). It essentially just swaps out some dialogue and art with goofy jokes. It makes repeat playthroughs rather fun!
Gatobob’s art manages a good blend of realism, while still having a cartoony flair and some wonderful color palettes. The game contains 150+ unique CGs, which makes the experience particularly immersive. CGs are drawn from a first-person perspective, which makes the kills even more personal, as you see from your own eyes the carnage being brought unto you. The gore never felt excessive or pointlessly shocking. It works alongside the writing rather well to create some very striking scenes of slaughter.
Each character has a memorable design, and their expressions help to complete the whole package. Derek’s rage is palpable, Celia’s cruelty is written across her face, and Mason’s callous disregard for your life is visible in his cold and unflinching stare. The spritework is incredibly well-done; I especially loved getting to see some of the more “unique” sprites featured in the game.
The soundtrack for TPOF is incredibly atmospheric. In the base game, the music comes from a mix of sources. A majority of the tracks are from the creative asset-seller Envato with a handful of tracks being supplemented from BARBATUS. The credits theme is by Graveyardguy, which was very cool to see! For the DLC, the entire soundtrack was composed by BARBATUS.
The tracks in the game are perfect at setting the tone. They give a feeling of fear and urgency, while not distracting from the game itself. I’m particularly fond of BARBATUS’s contributions to the soundtrack. His music is visceral and perfectly encapsulates the feelings of terror and dread elicited by these scenarios. This is especially effective in the DLC, where the soundtrack just oozes with fear.
The sound effects are also well done. You’ll hear bones crunching and flesh squelching in some of the death scenes, which always sent an extra chill down my spine. There are also some lovely soundscapes for each environment, which fill the exploration segments of the game with some nice ambience. The game is not voice acted, so the sound design helps to fill in the gaps, making for a very intense experience.
As a masochist and a lover of all things horrorporn, the bonus erotic content makes this visual novel a favorite for me. However, as a note, all sexual content can be disabled, and the protagonist’s genitalia are left ambiguous for each scene. It’s also worth acknowledging that this game is primarily targeting women, queer people, and those into sadomasochism and kink. Most of the sexual scenes involve men, and all of them are violent and non-consensual. If you’re strictly into vanilla or penis-averse, the adult content in this game may not be for you. Or maybe it’ll just make the scenes even more horrific!
TPOF only has a handful of CGs that explicitly depict nudity, but each route contains multiple scenes of sexual content within the writing. Derek’s route contains the highest amount of sexual content. His scenes often contain elements of humiliation and degradation, given his characterization. Mason comes next, and his scenes are a bit more brutalizing in his complete lack of any feeling toward your pathetic fate. Celia’s route contains the least amount of sexual content, though her businesswoman aesthetic and her penchant for torturing those who are weaker than her tinges the route with some serious femdom energy.
The adult content is not the main attraction here. It supplements the elements of horror and adds a little something extra for those who enjoy hardcore BDSM fantasies. If you’re looking for something with a prominent focus on sexual content, this won’t meet your expectations. But if you enjoy horror and don’t mind a bit of spice on the side, it might be up your alley.
Spoilers ahead for The Show Must Go On! To unlock the free DLC, you’ll need to get the “CONTROL” achievement.
I decided to talk about this route separately since it’s a bit aesthetically different from the base game in the best of ways. This route will involve you being forced through multiple “snuff shows,” with an older Ren Hana taking requests from “chat” to see you used and abused for a live audience.
What most impressed me with this route is its art style. Rather than distinct sprites overlaid on backgrounds, the sprites and backgrounds work together so well it feels more like you’re watching interactive CGs. The background stays mostly static, with Fox moving around within. He’ll be typing on the computer one second and then holding a knife to your throat the next. There’s a moment where Fox will push a wedge in front of you while doing unspeakable things to you from behind, and from your POV you won’t be able to see him; only the wedge and the bright-lit screens in front of you. By maintaining that POV so consistently, it really feels like there’s never a moment of relief within this route.
This route is also oppressively dark. On a literal level, the grayscale art style and BARBATUS’s brutal compositions heightened my feelings of anxiety and terror when compared to the primary routes of TPOF. The deaths, and their descriptions, are also extremely visceral. It’s a perfect finale after finishing TPOF, and as a long-time fan of Boyfriend to Death, I was delighted to see Ren take center stage once more with a truly show-stopping encore.
The Price of Flesh is a bit of an acquired taste. You’ll need a strong stomach for scenes of torture, while also having a high tolerance for gameovers and trial-and-error gameplay. If you’ve enjoyed other games in the murdersim genre, TPOF will make for a wonderful addition to your collection. It’s one of my favorite horror visual novels, and seeing the progress Gatobob has made since her initial experiments in Boyfriend to Death has me excited for her upcoming projects. She’s currently working on a complete remaster of Strade’s route from Boyfriend to Death, and updates on the project can be accessed via her Patreon.
The Price of Flesh normally retails for $14.99 on Steam and Itch.io. During the 2023 Steam Scream Fest, it will be discounted on Steam for $10.49, so celebrate the spooky season by meeting some bloodthirsty bastards and experience the thrill of the hunt. Happy hunting… and have a good death!