Originally announced back in late 2013, Toronto-based writer and game developer Christine Love's Ladykiller in a Bind is the most recent visual novel from her studio Love Conquers All Games. NSFW in nature, the game deals with steamy social deception on a cruise ship in the middle of the Atlantic. As the official website states, it's a story "about social manipulation, crossdressing, and girls tying up other girls." It's certainly not for the faint of heart.
Love, who first broke onto the indie scene in 2010 with her Ren'Py hit Digital: A Love Story, has always been applauded for her interest in the role that gender norms, social expectations, sexuality and technology play in everyday life. Ladykiller deals with these issues upfront, too. While the game is billed as an "erotic visual novel," it differs from the traditional eroge VN because it deviates from the genre's approach to sexuality. Instead, the game tackles such issues as consent, performativity, masculine gender roles, queer sexuality, interpersonal sexual expectations and the relationship between romance and sex. Like Love's other works, Ladykiller in a Bind is a smart game intended for an audience that is traditionally left out of the visual novel market.
But don't hold your breath for a Steam release; Ladykiller in a Bind isn't coming to Valve's platform any time soon. According to several tweets posted by Love, Valve has decided to bar the game from reaching Steam, most likely due to the service's view on adult content. Instead of censoring the 18+ scenes within the game, Love has simply decided to host the game online at the Humble Store. And if Steam changes their mind, Love promises to allow Humble buyers (warning: NSFW) to bring their copies over to Steam.
@AMindHalfFull It won’t be available on Steam, unfortunately, at least not in the near future. Maybe they’ll change their minds? WHO KNOWS
— Christine Love (@christinelove) October 9, 2016
@lapo_it That’s up to them, unfortunately. If somehow it does get on Steam, all Humble buyers will get keys, though.
— Christine Love (@christinelove) October 11, 2016
It's unfortunate that Love's work won't be hitting Steam any time soon. Ladykiller in a Bind features beautiful writing, and there's a variety of ideas and themes floating around inside the work that aren't simply adult in nature. Steam's decision is definitely a harrowing one, too, which could adversely affect other games through a highly subjective "I-know-it-when-I-see-it" approach to hosting (or removing) adult content.
In the meantime, Love's game is available for 10% off for launch week, so go ahead and grab a copy if you're into that sort of thing.