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Review: Criminal Border: 1st Offence —Where Crime Turns to Dark Comedy

If you’re looking for a new eroge to enjoy, especially one with a more nukige-like vibe and a controversial setting, you may have stumbled upon the ideal newly translated game for your interests!

Criminal Border: 1st offence (also known by the name of its all-ages version, Liminal Border Part I) had its English localization debut on November 14th, 2023, only a year after its initial release in Japanese on October 28th of 2022. Published and localized by Shiravune, the game was originally developed by the eroge brand Purple software, which is known for titles such as Chrono Clock or Hapymaher.

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Let’s start off with the game’s story. Our protagonist, Ninomae Itsuki, is a stereotypical otaku who finds pleasure in creating conventional MAD videos. Little does he know that this hobby of his is going to change his entire life. But that’s exactly what it does when, by total accident, Ninomae creates an “electronic drug video” that heightens a viewer’s libido, consuming their thoughts with nothing but the pursuit of sexual pleasure.

Such an instance is the perfect opportunity to take revenge on the girl who looked down on you all life…right? That’s what Ninomae thinks, at least. It’s what drives him to show the video to his childhood friend Akinashi Rin, which causes her to propose a plan that reveals a secretive part of her life which she’s been hiding for quite some time.

Inspired by Rin’s idea, Ninomae decides to attempt to make a business on the back of his lucky new creation.

Akinashi Rin

This doesn’t only mark the beginning of a controversial business, but also the opening of a whole new world for Ninomae. With his videos, he’s suddenly given the chance to form relationships with women in a way he most likely never would have been able to otherwise for the rest of his virgin life.

A business of this nature is unlikely to escape the Yakuza’s attention, however, and not everything goes according to Ninomae’s plan. From there, the events of the game unfold in fascinating ways.

To tell the truth, I initially perceived Criminal Border to be a nukige, just based on the setting and the bits of story I knew. As I got further into the game, however, my assumptions were disproved, and I found myself deeply enjoying the intriguing plot and characters, along with the great mix of story and H-content.

Sometimes, I’ve noticed that eroge run into the issue of repetitive music. When tracks begin to feel overused, they even start to drag down the reading experience as well.

Thankfully, Criminal Border: 1st offense doesn’t have this issue. Instead, its music is relaxing, and the ambiance each track creates really suits the various events they’re paired with. That said, there was no particular BGM that particularly caught my attention.

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As far as the art is concerned, it’s honestly what prevented me from wanting to start Criminal Border. Not necessarily because of its quality, mind you—it just gave me nukige-vibes at first glance.

Happily, after starting the game out of curiosity instead of excitement from high expectations, I found my opinion changing pretty quickly. It’s now my opinion that every character sprite, CG, and background dutifully created an atmosphere befitting the game’s content.

The CGs may look deformed to you at first—they kinda are—but the art style fits the setting of the game, I think.

Because Criminal Border is an ADV, the game doesn’t have any choices that allow the player to change the outcome of the story beyond choices that lead you to a bad ending instead of the true ending. There’s also only one heroine—Yorozuya Hina.

Hina, who is Ninomae’s classmate and crush, differs from him in every way possible. She’s extroverted and attractive, effortlessly maintains good rapport with those around her, and has a variety of skills under her belt, including cooking. Compared to Ninomae, who has had no skills whatsoever, she outshines him in every way. Hence, he always presumed that someone as sociable and gorgeous as her, with so many admirers, would always be beyond the reach of a nerd like himself. But is that really true?

As the plot of the game unfolds, it’s revealed that Hina isn’t as innocent as Ninomae initially assumed. Her involvement in shady business dealings helps Ninomae find a way to create a business of his own with his digital drug, which causes the two to grow closer. This eventually results in the peeling away of Hina’s facade, which reveals both an interesting and likable character underneath.

Ninomae also gets a chance to prove himself as a man through his relationship with Hina and a combination of various plot events, which is a contributing factor in changing the way not only Hina, but others around him perceive him.

It leaves us wondering, “How will these two overcome the challenges that lie before them?” and “Will they truly end up together in the end?” But alas, those answers are beyond us for now, since Criminal Border only has one of its three parts released in English as of now.

Regardless, I found that Part I was a memorable reading experience, and it certainly gave me a reason to look forward to the upcoming parts!

While Hina is the only character Ninomae has sex with, that doesn’t mean there aren’t 18+ scenes featuring different characters. These additional scenes aren’t just fluff, however, where Ninomae randomly engages in intimate encounters with any girl in sight—they contribute directly to the plot.

Not every eroge can get me to like its H-scenes, but Criminal Border—as mentioned before—is really good at striking an enjoyable balance between its story and more intimate moments. On top of that, the game manages to avoid the pitfall of making its H-scenes overly lengthy to the point they grow tedious.

That said, you can skip all the H-scenes and likely not find yourself misunderstanding any portions of the plot, but I’m of the staunch opinion that they’re worth reading.

In conclusion, as someone who finds joy in reading VNs with controversial settings, I was pleasantly surprised by Criminal Border: 1st offence. It even made me look forward to the upcoming parts without closing out with the typical eye-roll-inducing cliffhanger, leaving us with an open ending instead. Overall, the game was a refreshing change of pace, and I’m definitely willing to read the future parts whenever Shiravune chooses to provide them to us.

Interested in checking the game out for yourself? You can purchase it now on Shiravune, Johren and Steam!

Plot/Setting: 8.5

Length: ~7 hours

Characters: 8/10

Music: 7/10

Art: 7.5/10

Overall Rating: 8/10

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I am just the average degen hiki weeb from next door. Enjoying Anime since over 10 years and Eroge since 2016, also a Lost Ark addict

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3 months ago

What kind of connection does each chapter, each “offence”, have with each other? Does each chapter continue the story where the previous one left off, or are they like routes branching from a single point, and these routes are released as chapters?