Core of Innocence is a Strange Little Metroidvania

It’s hard to know what to make of Core of Innocence.  On the one hand it’s a nicely serviceable metroidvania, a bit low-budget in the art department but well animated, and with plenty of exploration as new abilities make areas you had to abandon earlier accessible.  The heroine of game, Lila, earns abilities both for her human form and the cat she can shapeshift into, as well as a large variety of weapons and magic scattered throughout the levels and stat-enhancing clothing dropped by defeated monsters.  The level design is good even though the graphics are pretty basic, with secrets and side-quest objective happening just often enough to keep you on your toes.  All this and the game is donation-ware, meaning you can download it for free and decide how much you want to pay.  But you’ve never seen quite so many pixel-art boobs in your life as in this game.

Most of the monsters in Core of Innocence are undeniably female and not too interested in shirts.  Harpies, pixies, dyads, and many stranger creatures all want to stop you from advancing, and they don’t have convenient hair covering their curvy bits.  In addition to this, your character portrait on the equipment screen shows whatever clothes you’ve picked up along the way, or none if you decide you don’t want them showing.  It’s completely non-sexy, unless you can somehow get turned on by the two-pixel long straight line representing her (shaved) female bits.  Like most of the nudity in Core of Innocence it’s there for the sake of being there, with only a few enemies calling attention to it.  Oddly enough Lila starts out sensibly dressed, and the clothing you find shows up on her large character portrait on the equipment screen, but her in-game sprite changes from a shirt and overalls into a black bra and miniskirt within a few minutes of the game’s start and never changes back.

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Nudity is no bid deal, honestly, but the reason Core of Innocence earns a quizzically-raised eyebrow is due to its strange combination of matter-of-factness and utter gratuitiousness.  On the one hand, topless female monsters have been around forever.  Mermaids, lamia, succubus, etc.  It’s always nice to see them in unedited form, but when 90% of the monsters in the game have breasts then maybe there’s a small problem.  Core of Innocence bills itself as mature but is actually little more than pandering.  As a disclaimer, I have to admit that I’m easily pandered to, and all that nudity is probably the reason I paid attention to the game instead of tossing it on the back burner to get to… eventually.  Someday.  Maybe.  Point is, I’m aware there’s a certain level of hypocrisy here.

Anyway, Core of Innocence is a pretty good indie metroidvania that’s also a lowest-common-denominator pander-fest.  If using the female form as a cheap way to grab attention leaves you wondering when the hell video games will ever grow the hell up, believe me, I’m there.  But if you can put up with/don’t mind being led around by the balls, or don’t care and just want to enjoy a good indie metroidvania, Core of Innocence is worth a look.