Wife Quest Review: A Waifu With Plenty of Laifu
As I booted up Wife Quest, I anticipated something akin to the early Xbox Live Marketplace Indies selection; off-brand anime games as far as the eye can see. Sometimes you’d come across something unplayable. Other times, you’d find a hidden gem in the rough. Wife Quest starts off strong with a fanservice-y, simple-is-as-simple-does vibe, with a surprising amount of charm and challenging yet satisfying platforming. But is this quest worth the walk? Or is this waifu out of laifu? Let’s find out!
Everyday Life With A Frequently Captured Husband
First impressions are important, and by the time the opening cutscene wrapped up, Wife Quest had already gotten a couple of chuckles out of me. This game takes me back to the simple days of gaming where a deep plot wasn’t necessary for fun times. You play as Mia, a struggling wife of a peasant farmer named Fernando that somehow has every monster in a nation’s distance after his “polearm.” Mia fends most off, but one day the dark elf witch, Morganna, is next up to play capture the peasant. And there’s where you start your quest, (literally) swearing vengeance to defeat that “stinky witch.”
I can’t stress enough that this whole venture isn’t meant to be the pinnacle of writing or a deep, epic adventure. It’s supposed to be simple, charming, and fun. When I finished Wife Quest, I couldn’t help but smile seeing even the credits working its humor and charm. Was this game fanservice-y and occasionally crude or juvenile? Yeah, it definitely wasn’t shying away from it, with the occasional jiggle physics on the monsters and ecchi sounds they would make. But the fanservice didn’t pop up enough to ever be annoying. I was more chuckling at watching Fernando and Mia’s skits with the various bosses than observing the “plot.” It was ultimately lightly lewd but lighthearted fun, and I guess that’s what makes this game stick out for me. Mia being hammy, the bosses being lewd goofballs, it’s all for a good laugh, so I’d definitely advise going into this with an open mind and a good-natured sense of humor.
Now to talk a bit about how this pixellated platformer appears. While the sprite-work here isn’t super-duper detailed, it doesn’t really need to be. It’s got just enough where it counts to keep the eyes entertained but let you focus more on the gameplay. The character designs look nice, and the sprites are well-animated. However, it’s the bosses that are the stars of the show. Mia also gets a nice set of armor which changes as you purchase upgrades. Not only does this spice up the visuals as your adventure unfolds, but it also provides a satisfying sense of progression.
Is It Wrong To Beat Up Monster Girls In A Dungeon?
The gameplay in Wife Quest is fairly basic. At the start, you get five hits to a life before you restart at the latest checkpoint. You get checkpoints for every screen change and occasionally get checkpoints mid-section. Should you die, you’ll respawn at these with all your mana and health restored, making death painless. Monsters along the way can be slashed into submission with your sword, then finished off execution-style. That’s right, there’s even this kinda adorable execution system where Mia will strangle, jump on, and throttle the enemies to a death. There’s really no added bonus to doing this other than it’s cute and funny to watch (technically its for 100% completion as well). Should you get tired of watching the rampage every time, you can always skip it, but honestly, it’s just so damn cute that I didn’t unless I was in a hurry. Don’t worry about getting blindsided while you’re doing it; enemies and traps halt while the carnage occurs. While I would’ve liked to see the little executions have a chance of rerolling the loot table, it’s ultimately no big deal that it doesn’t.
You’ll also get a shield early on you can use to block damage and reflect projectiles. It does run on mana, so you can’t just abuse it willy-nilly. As you conquer bosses, you’ll come across more tools and abilities that also use mana, so it’s a well-integrated system. Throughout the levels, you’ll be picking up coins as well that you can spend in a shop run by a dwarf named Ymir for various upgrades and supplies. It’s surprisingly in-depth and well thought out, with more shop upgrades showing up as you progress. Also, there are a few collectibles you can gather as you go, like photos you can view in a gallery and soundtracks you can listen to. It gives a reason to go poking and prodding around old levels, if not to grind up some more coins.
Lastly, each level has something called Ymir’s Challenges, where you have various objectives to clear for a level, like defeating all of the monsters or finding all of the treasure chests. What makes this nice is that it lets you know how many are left of the treasure chests and monsters, and the monsters even get a green checkmark next to them to let you know if you have already defeated that monster. It’s great foresight on the devs’ part that made finishing these challenges much simpler.
One thing I would’ve liked to see is a bit more usage out of late-game tools. For example, you get an Ice Bow as the last upgrade, but it’s really only used a few times. I would’ve loved some special hidden areas in previous levels that you need that bow to get to, or maybe introduce some late-game enemies with shields that need to be shot with the Ice Arrows to dispatch. It feels like a bit of a missed opportunity to really encourage taking your newfound powers to other areas. While it’s nice to have for the sake of making traversal easier to gather collectibles, I feel it would’ve added an extra layer of depth for the game to make the real juicy stuff hidden behind late-game upgrades.
On the topic of bosses, they’re probably the highlight of the game since a good amount of thought and attention was put into them. That said, do be warned: they pack a punch and will not hesitate to put you in your place. While the first boss, Tania, is a bit of a wake-up call, she does introduce you to the gimmick of the bosses. When you whittle down enough of their health, they’ll modify the battlefield to match the primary hazard for the level. For Hellcano, it’s a raft floating on lava in the middle of the battleground, and for the Freezing Plains, the whole arena gets coated in slick ice. The bosses want you to think on your feet and be ready for a real challenge. They never feel entirely unfair, but they will require a lot more work than the levels do, and I can appreciate that, because the bosses all had well-designed themes and designs that were creatively incorporated into their environments and attacks.
I think one of my favorite cases of seeing some well-placed leniency is in the level system. When you venture into a level, the levels are actually broken up into sections. Hit a checkpoint, and you can duck out of the dungeon to go hit Ymir’s shop. You can even do this at the boss fight! So if one of the bosses is really ruining your run, you can simply pop out, maybe run a different level for some coins, then hit Ymir’s shop for upgrades before taking on the boss again, right where you left off. Let it be known that this is absolutely a viable strategy, as getting upgraded can make all the difference in a fight. So if you need to peel out and buff up for a boss fight, by all means, don’t be afraid to do so.
For a little bonus, once you complete the main game, you unlock a much more old-fashioned platformer called 1 Percent mode, which makes the game feel more like an early Genesis game. While super basic, it’s a neat little add-on for the game. There’s also Magic Mode, which lets you start a new game with all your boss abilities and infinite mana. So if you just want to breeze through the game and maybe sweep up the collectibles while you’re at it, here’s where you do it. These two modes didn’t need to be added to the game by any means, but I certainly appreciate them being there as little extras for a game well played.
Is This A Struggle?
While there are plenty of good things to say about Wife Quest, there were a few irksome things that stood out for me as well. The most problematic is the boss abilities you can gather. While they do wind up having their uses, their in-game functions frequently tend to be problematic. For example, you get a dash ability that’s fairly cut and dry (literally, since you chop off a boss’s tail for it), but it relies on you dashing into rather small nodes to either give you an extra mid-air boost, an extra dash in any direction, or a sequence of directional nodes that will give you a forced boost in its specified direction.
The first problem is there’s no homing at all for the boost to reach these nodes, so you’ll likely just barely miss the node you wanted and fall right into an environmental trap. I struggled very often to get that dash aimed in the right direction. There are also the directional nodes that will often be in a longer sequence, essentially boosting you through paths around the environment. The problem with those is sometimes they’ll abruptly stop and have a node that gives you an extra boost that requires you to very quickly press the dash button in the right direction, or you’ll fall out of line, or fall right into the environment. Even when I knew that extra boost node was coming, I’d often miss the next chunk of the directional chain or the environment because of how little time you have to boost to where you need to go. What I would’ve liked to see is even an optional upgrade you can purchase from Ymir’s shop to have a limited homing for the dash towards the nodes or allow a second or two of being suspended in the air after a dash. This is just one example of the abilities being good on the surface but problematic in practice.
Another issue is difficulty spikes. While I’m no slouch when it comes to playing platformers, sometimes Wife Quest’s mechanics fought back to torturous degrees. Normally, it’d take me about fifteen to thirty minutes to clear a level, assuming a few restarts or getting stuck on a part or two in the environment. While challenging, most of the platforming sections felt fair, utilizing the various boss abilities you earn well enough while making you pay attention to the enemies, how to overcome them, and where they’re at in the environment. Everything was as it should be, competent, challenging, and understandable. Then I got to Hellcano, and it took me a full hour and a half just for the level, never mind the boss. All of that because one particular segment with a raft on lava became a righteous pain. See, the lava is an instant kill, so falling in assures you’re restarting. Add in a raft that has a limited jumping mechanic, and you have a recipe for suffering. If you try to use the raft’s jump to give yourself a higher platform to jump off of (which the game wanted you to do to reach some moving platforms that would be out of reach by the time you got to them), you better be able to perfectly jump off the apex of the jump, or you’ll probably fall off.
I wound up having to just take hits from environmental hazards to wait out the out-of-reach platform’s descent back down to a reachable height. I also forgot to mention that you need to do all this quickly because that raft is constantly going and will not wait for you if you fall behind. Most of my playtime on that level was repeating that segment over and over because of the speed and dexterity required to clear that section. I feel like that sort of difficulty spike should’ve been reworked, as that’s the only part that caused me this much grief. Everything else I encountered through the game was manageable to some degree.
Finally, some minor quips come from various things that I came across along the way. The final boss was a bit hit or miss, often literally. You basically need to chip-damage her because she wanders up and down, barely entering your strike zone. It’s more tedious than anything. Also, there were a few times when I got stuck because I couldn’t see some destroyable walls. One of the boss upgrades you get is an Oni’s spiked club that can destroy breakable walls, but the problem is that, in a lot of environments, it’s tricky to see these walls.
As you can see in the image above, the texture difference is slight and makes it tricky to spot. Other environments tend to wind up in the same boat, with the slight texture difference making it hard to spot where to use my spiked club. It would’ve been a bit better to have the tiles past the surface layer be cracked or discolored a bit, anything to help some with spotting the breakable surfaces.
The Best Kind of Monster Mash
Wife Quest‘s cutesy aesthetic and straightforward mechanics belie a competent yet surprisingly difficult platformer. You’ll need to approach this adventure with patience and dexterity (and an appreciation for a bit of ham and lewdness certainly wouldn’t hurt, either). If you’re up to the occasionally unforgiving challenge this platformer offers and don’t mind some fanservice here and there, then this is a quest well worth undertaking.
Final Verdict 4/5
Available on: PS5 (Reviewed), PlayStation 4, Xbox Series S|X, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, PC; Publisher: Eastasiasoft; Developer: Eastasiasoft, Pippin Games; Number of players: 1; Released: March 15th, 2022; MSRP: $7.99
Full disclosure: The publisher provided a review copy of Wife Quest.