The ‘Dune’ Porn Game Is Not a Terrible Adaptation

Dune is a horny franchise. You may think there’s nothing sexually compelling in a story about an inhospitable sand-planet full of massive, murderous worms, but you’d be wrong: the plot relies on a class of concubine women who can control every muscle in their bodies, people are continuously tripping on an addictive party drug, there’s a mantra about “the little death” with some interesting BDSM undertones, and there’s a lot of talk about rhythmic pulsations that attract The Worm. In God Emperor of Dune, a sequel to the original 1965 Dune novel, a woman orgasms while watching Duncan Idaho (played by Jason Momoa in Denis Villeneuve’s just-released film) climb up a wall

The books aren’t often explicit, however, and there are few actual sex scenes. Dune’s author Frank Herbert may have won a Hugo and a Nebula award, but he was not exactly an erotica genius. For that, we have French illustrator David Balsamique’s 2016 visual novel, Behind the Dune, a game that brings all of Herbert’s clumsy innuendos out into the open. 

You play Paul Atreides, heir to the family that aims to control the planet Arrakis, the only place in the universe where life-giving “spice” can be harvested. He’s only 15 years old in the novel, so we have to assume he’s aged for this NSFW adaptation in which he’s on a mission to fuck his way through the empire, harvesting spice.

Behind the Dune has all of the markings of a classic erotic visual novel and dating simulator. Lady Jessica’s (Paul’s mom) breasts are enormous and in your face all of the time, for example. Baron Vladimir Harkonnen, already odious in the books, in this game is an aggressively perverted man who is always sniffing after you (and any other young men he hears about). The Reverend Mother Gaius Helen Mohiam, in the books described as having “sunken cheeks and eyes, an overlong nose, skin mottled and with protruding veins,” is super hot.  

When it first launched, Behind the Dune received little fanfare. But the reviews that have been written are positive: critics loved the art style and soundtrack. What impressed most reviewers was Balsamique’s commitment to sticking faithfully to Herbert’s novels, while twisting scenes and dialogue that are already sexually charged in the original text into overt erotic parody. One of those scenes is Paul’s pain box test. In the novel, Reverend Mother, of the Bene Gesserit sisterhood, threatens Paul with instant death by poisonous stabbing if he can’t keep his hand inside of a box that feels like searing heat. 

In the book, and especially in David Lynch’s 1984 film adaptation, this scene is a sadomasochistic mindfuck. But in the game, instead of infinite pain, the box contains infinite pleasure. And instead of his hand, it’s his dick in the box, obviously. 

“Your animal instinct will be to stay inside. Will you follow this instinct?” the Reverend Mother says in the game, using the box like a Fleshlight. “Your penis seems strong enough to spread your good genes all day long.” 

Of course, there are spice puns. In the book, spice, or “melange,” is the addictive, psychedelic substance that the whole plot revolves around. It bestows longevity and health to those who possess it, and makes interstellar travel possible. Herbert mentions spice smelling like cinnamon multiple times throughout the book—and in Behind the Dune, at least one woman in the game comments on Paul’s “liquid spice” tasting “like cinnamon” as she plugs one of her nostrils with Paul’s dick. “My awareness deepens and deepens,” she says.

Balsamique also works in a few deep cuts—references you’d only understand if you read the Dune sequels. You get the chance to have sex with a Guild Navigator in her tank, a space-folding character that’s described in Herbert’s 1969 novel Dune Messiah as a humanoid fish. Interestingly, in Behind the Dune, you can penetrate her giant nipples with a dildo.  

Dune is a winding, epic space opera that’s proven to be really hard to translate to film without seeming too complicated or campy (see Lynch’s attempt, as well as the endearingly terrible 2000 SyFy channel miniseries Frank Herbert’s Dune). It’s been more frequently adapted into games, and at least nine of them have made their attempts over the years, including a text-based multiplayer role-playing MUSH, or Multi-User Shared Hallucination, in the 1990s. A few of them were done very well: 1992’s Dune II, for example, is a foundational game for the real-time strategy genre, developed by the same studio that went on to make Command & Conquer.  

A lot of online porn games are, frankly, not good. They’re weirdly demanding in their ultimatums to “TRY NOT TO CUM,” and the storylines, gameplay, and sex scenes are often half-assed. It’s rare to see a game that’s not just “beloved franchise, but with boobs.” Erotic games have their own legacy in the history of computing and game development, and some have argued that they helped drive the proliferation of CD-ROM drives and faster, more affordable home computers. But today, the ones that stand out are usually those that manage to be creative, funny, and bizarre, like Pierre Corbinais’ NSFWare, or take the nuances of sexual relationships seriously, like Christine Love’s Ladykiller in a Bind. In other words, they’re not just crude jerkoff material. 

Behind the Dune finds a balance between interesting art with fun dialogue, and what most people want from a porn game: boobs that twitch when you roll the cursor over them. As one reviewer pointed out, you are mostly flying from place to place to bang various women.  

Behind the Dune has multiple endings depending on your choices, and is free to download for PC on Balsamique’s website. It has an option to play a SFW version, in case you want to skip everything mentioned above. If you care less about the story and need to get straight to the sex, many of the scenes are available on Pornhub.

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