Gibo — Stepmother’s Sin is a highlight of the visual novel genre of the early 2000s for the choices it provides to the player. The best and worst elements of this game are because of the vast quantity of choices you make. Also, being wishy-washy leads to game overs.
Gibo is the story of Yusuke, a young man who has a hatred for his mother because of one night when he witnessed her cheating on his dad with another man. Now an adult, Yusuke comes home from a walk to find a strange woman moving into his house. It turns out his dad has gotten married to a new woman, and he’s going to be living with his new stepmother and stepsister from now on. Yusuke isn’t exactly pleased to find out about his new family, and even if you choose to help them move in Yusuke clearly harbors resentment.
Now this is where the choices come in. Yusuke has a lot of decisions to make, and they affect the ending in one primary way: prerequisite stats! Not excited? There are two stats the game helpfully tracks on screen. Love level, and Lewdness level. Both reference Yusuke’s stepmother Misako. Help her out and be nice, and Misako loves Yusuke more. Convert her to the lewd side, and while she may not like Yusuke all that much she’ll definitely love his dick. Game overs like the above are heavily dependent on these stats. If you are too indecisive you can build both tracks pretty high, but will likely miss the level needed for the ending you’re aiming for.
Visual novels just don’t have this many choices nowadays, and it’s a shame, because it really gives the player a sense of accomplishment. There is a downside too though, because it can be hard to know what choices were most important for deciding how you got where you are. Getting all the content in this game requires a lot of trial and error, or a guide. Some routes are very unintuitive. For example, I only managed to get the harem ending with choices that didn’t pursue Yusuke’s stepsister, Shiina.
The artwork in Gibo is a classic style, recognizable from ’90s anime. Despite its age, the game’s scenes are enjoyable largely because of the quality of small details. The stills for general conversation are colored sketches by comparison though, and the backgrounds outside of scenes are similarly basic.
The soundtrack is short, but has good tracks that particularly emphasize the corruption which defines Gibo — Stepmother’s Sin. The voice work brings the scenes to life, but isn’t overly memorable.
There are a variety of fetishes in the game. MILF is obvious, as is step-sibling and step-mother. Bathing suit fetishists rejoice, for you’ll find Misako using one to try and maintain some distance between her and Yusuke for a while. There’s also BDSM elements, corruption, non-consent, gang-bang, and despite no interaction with Yusuke’s father, it can’t be escaped that Gibo highlights a type of NTR. Despite all the scenes you have to find, and routes that are tricky to navigate, the game has a distressingly small number of save slots.
There are three heroines in Gibo: Misako, the stepmother; Shiina, the stepsister; and Yusuke’s childhood friend Mio. All three have individual endings, there are a couple of paired endings, and there’s a harem route including all three heroines.
Misako just wants to be a good mother to Yusuke. She willingly accepts sexual harassment from him in an effort to be understanding of his broken home upbringing. She is almost always cheerful. As the titular character, Misako is the only character with a wide variety in her endings — ranging from perfect happiness in wedded bliss to descent into unending depravity.
Shiina hasn’t yet inherited her mother’s assets, but she’s got a similar color scheme. She’s shy at first, but can become perky and welcoming to Yusuke if you choose to give her attention. She has a few secrets related to her new living situation.
Then there’s Mio. Yusuke and Mio lost their virginity together, and are best defined as friends with benefits. Yusuke can bring in Mio to help with the lewd games he plays with Misako, which gives her a chance to display her dominant side.
Gibo — Stepmother’s Sin is a visual novel that combines simple mechanics with surprising depth in a way few modern visual novels do. For anyone looking for a quality budget eroge with replayability, you cannot go wrong with Gibo, available from JAST USA.