I was constructed by divine power,
supreme wisdom, and love primordial.
Before me no created things were.
Save those eternal, and eternal I abide.
Abandon all hope, ye who enter here.
– Dante Alghieri, Inferno
Succubus. Well, it sure is a video game. One that lets you do stuff. And things. Oh, and it’s set in Hell, so you’re mostly doing nasty things, but I guess that’s subjective, huh? I mean, this is Hell after all and it seems everyone here is just trying out-nasty each other – it’s like Mean Girls with more rage and existential angst, I suppose.
This game is also only $25, so that’s cool as most new games cost $60 these days. Have I mentioned the part yet where the player character, the demonic succubus, Vydija, rips an unborn fetus out of a female sinner’s womb, smacks the sinner (who is also crucified as this occurs) upside her head with said fetus then uses the fetus to “heal” herself thus killing both the fetus and the mother?
Yeah… that’s a real thing that happens in this game. And that’s a descriptive sentence I never thought I would ever write.
Not to be outdone (and not to discriminate, of course, because they care deeply about things like sexual discrimination in Hell) there’s also a male version of this “power up” where Vydija teases a male sinner so his penis becomes erect then she yanks it right off his body in a flurry of spurting viscera.
Abandon all hope indeed…
So, there’s a story here too, a blood-soaked revenge story, of course, because all the demons do in Hell is screw each other over as I mentioned previously. At its FPS core though, all this experience tasks you with is killing everything set before you, large or small. It does offer a nice variety of weapons (40 in all), upgrades (both to weapons and Vydija’s appearance), and special powers (20 overall) to accomplish this task, but where Succubus fails is in the implementation of all this unholy carnage, and for a game where this is your primary mechanic, that’s not good. At all.
- Fantastic art, environment, and music – really makes you feel like this Hell is “real”;
- A good amount of weapon and character customization available to the player;
- Seems like the game could/should be a stepping stone to something bigger and better for Madmind.
- Combat is a slog and just not fun – that can’t be in an FPS;
- Enemy AI is poor to say the very least;
- Seems there’s too much shock value here for shock value’s sake;
- Too Many Dicks on the Dance Floor
The arena-based combat is incredibly repetitive, the majority of enemies are just ridiculous dummies that run right at you, and the majority of your martial move set feels floaty and/or off. Not to mention the fact that Vydija moves with all the grace of a WWII-era Sherman tank, especially when she’s turning right or left to face the slew of enemies that inevitably swarm you. She has a dash move that’s helpful at times, but you still have to turn to attack the baddies all while they are inflicting damage upon you, of course. There’s an overpowered kick attack in Vydija’s arsenal as well that puts Duke Nukem’s to shame, and it’s helpful in tight spots, but I have a feeling that was only added to alleviate the slow turn rate and/or enemy swarming issues I already discussed.
Also, I was challenged with some technical issues as the game wouldn’t boot (just hang at a black screen) after my initial 3+ hour play session. This happened after a 1.6 GB patch was downloaded and installed the next day. I contacted Madmind, was told to delete my save files and the game should boot again. That did work…BUT...I did lose 3 hours of playtime. After that, the game did hard crash on me a few other times (twice while I was trying to upgrade/customize Vydija in her lair). Luckily, my save files weren’t corrupted either time, but this was still rather annoying. The team at Madmind assured me that these issues would be fixed at launch, so we’ll see…?
Where Succubus really does shine is in the overall look and aesthetics of this Hell they’ve designed with polygons and 1’s and 0’s. The concept designers and art team truly knocked one out of the park here as this felt like I was gawking at things ripped straight from the pages of Dante’s Inferno, a work I know rather well. I mean, all the things were still terrible and awful, but they were terrible and awful in a way that I could high-mindedly appreciate while I was snapping a screenshot and remarking, “Damn, that’s something you don’t see every day.”
Also of note in the overall artistry of this title is the Succubus Main Theme by Draco Nared and the Budapest Scoring Orchestra which is hauntingly epic and apropos, complete with Latin chanting and all that creepy jazz. There were couple times when I just let the game sit on the title screen so I could listen to it blast through my speakers for 15 minutes or so. Yes, my neighbors hate me… and I don’t care. Guess I’m going to Hell.
And there’s also sex. Sexy sex! Did I mention the sex? I did, didn’t I?? I don’t think I’ve ever seen as many dongs (both human and demon) in a video game as I have in Succubus. Honestly, I think this game’s title should be changed to Blood, Fire, & Dongs because that’s what you see the most of while traversing this Hellscape. Sadly though, the sexy times here are much like the combat – that is, lacking in any real resonance or feeling. The copulation scenes play out like badly choreographed porn that we’ve all seen and been… uninspired…by. At the very least, these sequences could have been made interactive in some way or other (i.e., quick time or rhythmic events) and that would have added to the overall player engagement.
I know this is a sequel to a rather poorly received game, 2019’s Agony. Succubus seems to be a step up from that title in many ways. It stands to reason then that Madmind’s next game, whatever that may be, will be significantly better. I hope that’s’ the case because there’s obviously talent in this studio… it just needs to harnessed in the right direction to make something truly engaging and memorable on the next go ‘round.
And you’ll have to excuse my overall shocked and bewildered tone at the outset of this review. I haven’t been what you’d call a “practicing” Catholic in over 30 years, or attended a “regular” mass, or partaken any of the Catholic sacraments in that same time period. But after playing Succubus, I have the very strong urge to go to Confession. So, I’m going to do that. Right now. Here’s hoping I remember my Act of Contrition…
Jerry Bonner | Gamepressure.com