A DOOM reference may not quite be what one first expects from a review of an anime-esque action platformer about hunting succubi who’ve kidnapped your husband, but Wife Quest is such a joyously vicious time that I felt I had little choice but to acknowledge the number of broken bodies I left in my wedded wake.
How’s that for an opening sentence?
Wife Quest is yet another action platformer (I seem to review these a lot), this time focused on protagonist Mia’s journey to reclaim her husband, Fernando. Fernando has been kidnapped by Morganna, the Dark Elf, and is being passed around between Morganna’s companions, the Monster Girls. The reason behind this dastardly plot?
Well, Fernando’s hot, you see.
That is about all the plot there is. Fortunately, that is about all the base plot there needs to be. Fernando’s been taken by homewreckers — not for the first time, mind you — and Mia’s pissed. It is with this motivation we set out with the titular wife on her quest to rescue her husband from a most unholy harem. Equipped with nothing but sword and grimace to start, we set forth to rip and tear until it is done.
Or, we will, right after covering more of the game’s charming aesthetic. Simple as it is, Wife Quest has a style that immediately captures your attention. The classic pixel graphic look is married with a bright colour palette to produce an art style that is incredibly fun to take in. Add the visual flair that comes over time as new abilities and enemy types are introduced, and the game never stops being a joy to look at.
References to general anime culture also abound. The art style evokes 90s-era magical girl shoujo. Almost every -dere archetype is represented. Bosses are powerful women with condescending smirks who radiate ara-ara energy. There is pouting. And, of course, Wife Quest boasts degeneracy in spades.
Not quite the segue into gameplay I imagined, but here we are. Yes, this is a mildly degenerate game. I do not say that as a criticism, nor as a warning. Wife Quest is in many ways the lighthearted romp it appears to be. Platform through levels and bash your enemies, nice and simple. What comes after bashing your enemies, however, is where the fun begins. Walk up to a foe’s unconscious body and a prompt to press down on the d-pad will pop up to entice you. Obey it, and enjoy a variety of brutal-yet-kawaii back-breaking finishers for the different enemy types. Moans included.
How we get to these finishers isn’t half bad either. Combat revolves around the usual swipe-and-dodge mechanics I have developed a love-hate relationship for, but Wife Quest adds enough variety to the mix to keep things fun. As the levels progress, new abilities are unlocked. A shield can be held to block attacks and parry projectiles, even able to be drawn in mid-air. Arrows and charged attacks even come into the mix later on; the latter is almost useless in actual combat, but false walls tremble at the sight. Enemy types are also nicely varied, with unique foes sporting different skins, skills, and finisher animations for Mia to unleash upon them. Each level’s enemies are repeated throughout their respective areas, but there’s enough diversity to avoid monotony.
What the game can’t entirely avoid, however, is the occasional cheap shot. While it is thankfully a rare issue, I would be remiss not to mention the odd enemy popping up from out of nowhere, be it from the ground or off-screen. The former gradually becomes identifiable, and never appears at times when you’re focused on platforming. The latter, however, happens enough times to frustrate. Audio cues do clue you in enough to avoid most off-screen foes, but even these fail at times. A small issue, but an issue nonetheless.
Fortunately, the boss fights do not suffer any such problems. Wife Quest boasts six levels, with one of five Monster Girls to fight at the end of each. Each boss fight is an immediate ramp in difficulty from the level that precedes it, which never stops being harsh enough to notice. That said, the girls’ movesets are fun to fight against, spicing up gameplay with a classic “easy to learn, hard to master” approach. Despite becoming mildly tilted during the first proper boss fight, I had a great time. Fria the Frost Queen was particularly satisfying to defeat, though I’m not entirely sure who it was satisfying for…
Maintaining the overall flow and fun of Wife Quest is its gracious checkpoint system. Checkpoints are present within certain longer rooms of the levels, never forcing you to restart from too far back. Each level also has one to two overarching checkpoints, allowing players to leave and come back later without losing progress. These include an extra save point right before a boss room. This system allowed me to leave any boss that was giving me a hard time, buy some upgrades from the store, and come back ready to stomp some homewrecker hide. Difficulty and convenience are truly a match made in heaven.
Speaking of the store, that too is a delightful mishmash of brightness. I initially found the store screen a bit too busy: a large grid of items, all with floating idle animations, sandwiched between massive sprites of Mia and shopkeeper Ymir on either side. The care is apparent and appreciated, but still dense. Luckily, this busyness doesn’t make upgrades and items difficult to navigate. Ymir offers handy explanations of what each item does. She also pesters Mia with enjoyable banter between levels, teasing the jealous protagonist for her spousal struggles. The Monster Girls aren’t the only ones with their eyes on Fernando.
This simple yet effective approach to humour echoes developer Pippin Games’ attitude towards level design. Levels in Wife Quest are simply designed, with the occasional secret to find here and there. Some fun gimmicks also shine; the tense challenge of Fria’s pleasure room (yes, really) stands out. The lack of a moveable camera does hamper exploration a tad, but each stage is designed well enough to make sensing a secret feel almost intuitive. Platforming is also satisfying to execute. The glider and dash mechanics are put to good use here. Zipping and floating in rapid succession never stops feeling cool.
There are some noticeable rough edges, however. During the Hellcano level, for example, annoying clipping and the odd bit of slippery physics forced more than one unfair failure during an on-rails platform challenge. Another slight complaint is the use of DualSense controller vibration. It is on by default. It is also such a powerful rumbling that Eren himself may be given pause. The intensity lends itself to the violence of Mia’s finishers, but no slider meant it was swiftly divorced from my active settings.
All said and done, these issues pale in comparison to what the title gets right. Wife Quest is a game that takes nostalgic anime tropes, classic platformer design, and adulterous adversaries, and ties them all up with brilliant bits of animation. The attention to detail is wonderfully apparent. Gameplay is tight. Mia is incredibly expressive despite — or perhaps because of — the pixel art style, as is most everyone she encounters on her matrimonial mission. Every enemy has a (mostly) unique finisher animation and… moan. Seriously, play this game with headphones if you don’t live alone. Dialogue is fun, minimal voice acting is used to great effect, and the game is undeniably fun to play throughout its short run.
Degenerate violence has never been quite so wholesome.
Sarim played Wife Quest on PS5.