I was interested in Devilian, before it came out. Then it came out, people’s reactions came out, and I was pretty much done immediately. What can I say? I don’t particularly need another “girls in bikini armor and heels are somehow equivalent to guys in heavy armor” game, because that makes no sense. If the designers are so lazy that they don’t want the most basic things to be coherent in their design, why should I waste time on it?
Lack of Coherence
Fundamentally, it’s totally incoherent world design. Are the enemies dangerous enough that armor is necessary, or not? Do you need to be mobile enough to be in actual footwear, because nobody goes into actual combat in heels? If you’re wearing armor, why does it have a random hole for your boobs making it totally ineffectual at it’s sole purpose?
That last one is what kills me. If your world design is such that armor is a thing, then why is armor that can’t actually function at its purpose a thing? She’d be better off wearing something lighter so she can be more agile and maybe avoid the one hit kill that’s aiming straight at her chest. The one on the left whose armor has random cutouts on the back has the same problem.
“Boob plate” drives me nuts. If you don’t want to be armored, that’s fine. Lots of games forego armor in the character design entirely, and if you do it consistently, at least it makes sense in your world. Dragon Quest for example uses “orbs” for defense, which they explain away as a technology that gives the protection of armor without the bulk, so people can wear whatever they want. Sure, whatever. It works for everyone in the world, so it makes sense in that world.
Boob plate doesn’t do that. It’s the designers saying “the enemies are dangerous so you need protection, but female chests are impervous to heavy weapon fire if they’re sexy enough and are thus exempt.” That’s lazy and terribly incoherent design, and it blows immersion out of the water.
It doesn’t even have to be armor, either…
It’s The Inconsistency
Now, I don’t actually have a problem with sexy outfits. But they have to make some kind of sense. In a world like Dragon Quest where armor isn’t actually a thing because defense comes from something else? This is much less of a problem, and you see that when multiple characters aren’t particularly wearing combat attire (see: Jessica). Luceus and Aurora wear a breastplate out of style more than anything else.
You see the same thing in Disgaea games, where this stuff is driven by magic, and so both Red Magnus and Seraphina don’t need protective clothing because they’re demonic Overlords and loaded up with magical power.
Characters in Disgaea who are shown in full armor are doing it because of how it looks. Armor Knights for example wouldn’t look right without armor, because it’s literally the name of the class. Demon General Bloodis is fully armored, but Demon Emperor Void Dark wears what is effectively a trench coat, and he’s the stronger of the two. The armor is style only in this universe.
Final Fantasy XIV is another good example of where things are done well. There’s some really nice outfits, including the skimpy stuff like bathing suits, but they’re similarly skimpy for everyone. When you’re in combat gear for a given class, there doesn’t tend to be massive divergence between the male and female versions. There’s no case where a male Dark Knight gets full jet black head-to-toe death armor, and a female Dark Knight in identical armor gets bikini plate.
Consistency beats full realism
You won’t achieve full realism in most games, and that’s fine. The character design also has to look appealing, and that often won’t happen with what armor actually looks like (helmets especially).
That’s an issue with being able to be expressive and letting the player get into it. Helmets are in the way in that case. You even see that in military movies, where the heroes in Top Gun (and Star Wars) wear helmets that show their faces and eyes, while the villains have hidden faces behind their helmets.
That doesn’t bother me, but lack of consistency and outright absurdity does. Like, say, this.