I’m pretty sure that no one has ever sat at home, thinking “What the Xbox needs, right now, is yet another retro styled side-on platformer”. No one that is except for the fine folk over at Eastasiasoft and Pippin Games, as that is exactly what they have brought to the table with their new game, Wife Quest. This is not, as you might expect based on the name, a quest for a wife, however, but you will need to ready yourself to run, jump and fight your way through a retro styled side scrolling world.
Every game needs a story, and Wife Quest is no different. Our hero, Mia, is a warrior who is married to Fernando, a simple farmer. Now, it appears that near to the place that they live, the world’s supply of amply bosomed monsters live. These Monster Girls, as they are known, are led by Morganna the Dark Elf, and they all appear to have the hots for Fernando. Being a warrior, Mia isn’t known for her tact and restraint, and so it proves here, as she shows by the way she reacts when Fernando is kidnapped. Strapping on her sword, she rushes off to rescue him, and to give these girls a good kicking. And this is where we come in.
The art style for the game is suitably retro and pixel art in style, with particular care, it appears, given to the animation of certain areas of the enemies anatomies. It’s like an old version of Dead or Alive in here. Still, the creatures and monsters that Mia has to fight, the NPCs that she can interact with, such as Ymir in her store, and Mia herself do have a good amount of personality expressed through their sprites. However, the dialogue in the game is pretty laughable, to be fair, portrayed as it is in speech bubbles, largely revolving around the Monster Girls calling Mia “flat chested” and our hero promising to kick then to within an inch of their lives. We’re not talking Oscar level storytelling here, let’s put it that way.
The rest of the presentation – the sound effects and the like – are as you’d expect; various squeals and sighs as the Monster Girls get a good telling off.
With the presentation all wrapped up, how does Wife Quest work in terms of the gameplay? Well, again, at risk of sounding like a negative Nancy there isn’t a deal here that is new either. You have a side scrolling level, based on caves, or woods, or some such environment, with a variety of platforms and enemies in. You have to jump on the platforms, defeat the enemies, either by using Mia’s sword and applying the pointy end to their faces, or by using the shield that she picks up to reflect projectiles back at the enemies. The shield is actually an interesting mechanic, as you can use it to reflect damage that causes a “block gauge” to decrease; when it is depleted, no more blocking. This means that it soon becomes second nature to save the blocking for the obligatory boss encounters, leaving you to live on your wits for the preceding levels.
The combat side of Wife Quest is pretty solid all round and there is an interesting extra bit to be done when the enemies are defeated. You see, when Mia beats a foe and they slump to the ground, a quick press down on the D-Pad will cause her to execute the monster. There are different animations to unlock for each different style of enemy, and range from strangling a snaky type enemy to ripping the wings clean off a fairy. Mia is pretty brutal, to be honest, yet while this brutality is satisfying the first time, it soon starts to feel a bit gratuitous.
As enemies are defeated, they drop gold, which can be traded at Ymir’s store for items to help you stay alive longer, as cutesy look or not, this is not an easy game. Luckily it isn’t Dead Cells level of hard, but the bosses are certainly a challenge, and taking them down does require quite a lot of grinding in order to buy the upgrades that you need to stay alive.
Are there any issues with Wife Quest? Well, not really. The controls are tight and up to the job, and even though it is sometimes hard to judge the jumps as there is a lot of movement possible in mid air, other than that, it is mainly the enemies that will give you a hard time.
What this means is that whether you will enjoy your time with Wife Quest boils down to two things – whether or not you like retro styled platformers, and if you’re up for a tough challenge. If the answer to both of these questions is yes, then you could do a lot worse than to take Wife Quest out for a spin.
Wife Quest can be downloaded from the Xbox Store