It was pretty obvious who was going to end up with this one.
As a fully paid-up member of the Waifu Appreciation Society, anything with anime inevitably finds its way to my inbox.
And a game called Wife Quest, featuring anime-styled monster ladies fighting over the same man, obviously fits that bill to a tee.
Now straight off the bat, I have to make a confession. I totally misread what this one was all about. I saw the waifus, the snake girls, the Oni, the succubi, and cute demons, then read the title and instantly jumped to the conclusion that this would be some Harem-style adventure. I thought we'd be playing as some high school boy who goes on a literal "Wife Quest" and heads out on an adventure to conquer the hearts and collect the bodies, of an ever-widening roster of hot anime monster girls...
But that's not what it was at all.
It was actually really cute and rather wholesome for the most part.
We play as a happily married young warrior woman called Mia, who lives on a farm with her cherished husband Fernando.
They live a happy life and love each other with all their little hearts.
Aw, so kawaii! I'm sure you'll agree.
But there's a problem.
It seems that Fernando is the only dude within a considerable area (in fact it seems he's the only man in the entire country) and all the other girls in the area are relentless in their pursuit of some good lovin'.
Mia has to be constantly on guard, ever watchful, to stop Fernando from being stolen by the competition.
And I do mean stolen.
You see, Fernando only has eyes for Mia. He's a good guy, absolutely faithful and while he doesn't want to hurt the feelings of the other girls, he definitely won't cheat on his beloved wife.
No way, no how, Fernando is a one girl kinda man.
So the local demon girls, monster women, succubi, and witches come up with a plan...
One night they'll creep onto the farm and, with the help of a sleep spell and some flying magic, abduct Fernando and pass him round each of the monster queens in turn, each can do what they want with him before passing him along to the next girl for similar treatment.
But obviously, Mia won't put up with this.
She won't stand for some big dumb witch, with her big dumb "charms", stealing HER man so she heads off in pursuit, stopping only briefly to grab her sword and armor on the way.
I found the story full of charm and humor, with Mia's interactions with any other woman being particularly fun. She's a well-known character type, really loving to her man and friends, but jealous and angry to anyone who even looks at Fernando. She calls the girls names and insults them constantly, all while getting wound up as they inevitably tease her back. She'll then change personality mid-conversation as she speaks to Fernando, flipping between raging anger and sugar-sweet love in the space of a heartbeat. I could easily see these scenes being played out in many different anime and I found these story parts; Mia's rants and arguments, in particular, to be a real highlight. It's all there is to the story really, no other elements to speak off, but I did find myself laughing out loud at the dialogue which can't be said of many other games.
One thing I'd also like to say is this. If you check the in-game description or eshop blurb, you'll see it dubs itself as "humourous and often naughty" which might lead you to think this will have a ton of "fan service" in it.
If you buy it for that reason you'll be sorely disappointed. It has plenty of big-breasted or scantily clad monster girls, and some of the conversations imply some lewd behavior towards our boy Fernando, but for the most part, it has a funny anime cartoon style rather than anything of the hentai variety. The sort of chibi-styled characters are more on the cute side than of the sexy variety and special mention should definitely go to the sprite work here for sure.
It's really beautiful and well done, they've chosen to give it a retro style but then added modern extra touches that really elevate the experience in many ways. For example, there is a portrait of Mia in the corner of the screen and this will change depending on her mood or what happens to her. She gets angry, it shows that. She gets hurt, it shows that. She talks sweetly to Fernando, it shows that. There are also things like her sword glowing or changing color as it powers up and other things like this.
Enemies too look great and are instantly recognizable, you'll know at a glance what each type does and, once you've dealt with them before, what attacks they use. They all have a cutesy 80s anime style that ties in with the overall aesthetic with snake girls, horned Oni, bat-winged succubi and more all making an appearance. They have a cheeky sexiness to them, bouncy and big-breasted as most of them are, but it's firmly in the PG department with a Saturday morning cartoon feel to the whole experience.
There's also a cool animation associated with each monster that unlocks a collectible animation in the option screens collectibles section. When defeated, you can press down on the d-pad at every enemy type to get a little scene of Mia dominating her fallen foe. She climbs on their back and pulls their hair, bounces on them butt first till they submit, and a ton of others that I never got sick of seeing even though you only need to do it once to earn the collectible.
When it comes to gameplay, Mia's quest to save her husband takes the form of a classic old-school platforming game but also has a bit of Metroidvania action sprinkled throughout it as well. Most, if not all, of the individual worlds on the map have secret collectibles, challenges, and hidden items that can't be obtained till you've gained powers from later in the game. Closed-off areas or unreachable platforms give a reason to revisit earlier stages and explore them completely to finish off the side challenges given in each one. Something for the completionists to get their teeth into.
So at its heart, it's a platform game.
Mia must make her way through each world, which is split up into several stages, to reach the boss fight at the end. This involves loads of jumping across chasms, jumping up ledges and, of course, fighting enemies. Combat is fairly simple for the most part, you swing a sword and whittle down the opponent's health bar, but each enemy has its own unique appearance and attacks. Some just walk back and forth, while some will throw rocks, hide underground, rapidly fire arrows, fly, and many more. It isn't particularly complicated, not much more to say really, but it feels like a classic Mega Drive-style platform game with many stages that have little gimmicks added to keep things fresh. Mushrooms appear that propel you high into the air, you'll be chased by walls of instant death through a stage or some other thing that changes up the action.
And while I say it isn't complicated, I just mean to explain what it is, the action itself is very well balanced with plenty in each stage to keep you entertained. It's a well-put-together experience. Difficulty wise it's pretty fair, challenging enough to not be a cakewalk and each death feels like your fault rather than something caused by annoying enemy placement or cheap tricks.
And then you reach a boss fight.
Now story-wise these are some of the best parts. Mia and the boss will have a huge back and forth, calling each other names and fighting over Fernando, the animations are cute and well detailed with loads of the game's charm and humor coming from these sections.
But my god are the boss fights annoying.
This will be different for each person but to me, they almost seem to be from a completely different game with a huge spike in difficulty appearing around them specifically. The very first real boss, a fairy queen, caused me some real problems at first with a few moves that were really annoying. She attacks with an energy ball wave that can't be dodged unless you get below her before it comes. If you don't, you'll have to use your shield to block it, but your shield runs on magic and quickly gets all used up.
She also drops seeds that become a plant that chases you across the bottom of the arena, can hurt you through platforms and can reach halfway up the screen. However, through careful pattern recognition, magic power management, and some luck, you'll eventually get her energy bar to hit zero.
Which is when the second health bar appears.
And the floor falls away to reveal spiky plants.
You'll receive damage by touching the ground, you still have those annoying plants chasing you and need to make sure you have enough magic to block any attacks you don't manage to be in the correct place to avoid.
And at most, if you've leveled up completely, you'll be able to take 6 hits.
It's not impossible, far from it, by being careful and remembering the pattern of each attack, you'll get through but it was a spike in difficulty that felt really out of place and genuinely marred the experience for me. It felt frustrating, irritating rather than challenging, with a difficulty that felt huge compared to the level that came before.
There was also an annoying thing about how checkpoints worked for the boss fights too. You can buy healing potions at the store between worlds, and take these through the stages and into the fight with you. At this point I could carry only 1 and I fought my way through the fight but died after using it. The fight starts again but with only the items I currently had upon death.
No healing potion.
Like if you had trouble doing the fight WITH a healing potion, it's going to be even worse without one. So why not start me with what I had when I entered the battle instead of starting over each time with dwindling supplies? It was a really strange choice to do this. One I don't understand and really didn't like.
There is a good reward for winning against bosses though. The defeat of each one grants a new ability that gives a new mechanic to deal with. The ability to float with fairy wings, which Mia literally rips from the back of the fairy queen after the fight, being the first you'll receive but with others unlocking as you progress. This is where the Metroidvania element kicks in, allowing you to backtrack to previous levels and find all the collectibles, do the challenges, and so on. It expands the playtime beyond the basic 10-12 hours of straight A-Z gameplay, and gives something for the completionist crowd to strive for.
To sum up Wife's Quest I'd say it's a game that's deceptively simple at times. It's a 2D platforming game with simple combat involving enemies scattered throughout the levels. As it opens up and you gain more abilities, you find you can go back to previously completed levels and find hidden secrets, obtain unreachable collectibles as well as complete challenges you couldn't previously beat. Excellent sprite work gives it a real nice retro style but with little additions that make it feel modern too. Animations and dialogue have a real charm to them, with Mia's interaction with bosses being a total and complete highlight. Levels themselves are well balanced and designed, with plenty of new mechanics introduced as you go to keep things fresh feeling and interesting.
What lets it down, in my opinion, is the boss fights. Feeling like they're ripped from another game entirely, they have a huge spike in difficulty that feels out of place compared to the easier (but still challenging enough) platform sections. Expect multiple deaths to moves and attacks that feel unavoidable until you work out the patterns and exactly where to be and when. This begins with the first boss and only gets worse as the game advances. Add to this the checkpoint system which, after each defeat, starts the fight over with whatever inventory you have left rather than what you started with, and you might fight these much more frustrating than you'd expect from the cutesy aesthetic and easier level that lead up to it.
If you're willing to deal with that though and fancy an old-school feeling platform game, then you could do worse than Wife Quest. Its budget price makes it worth a look, despite its difficulty spikes, as its charm and delightful sprite work can carry you through.
*Note: A copy of the game was provided for the purpose of the review.
Final Score: 7/10
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