Editor's note: The content in this feature is NSFW.
When putting a game onto Kickstarter, the hope is that the title will reach its funding. With Kickstarter, you either get the funding or you fail. There is that chance, however, that your Kickstarter funding will rocket beyond expectations, and your game will become a hit before being fully developed. That is the case with adult indie title Subverse.
Subverse is an adult video game by Studio FOW, a company known for its geeky pornographic videos. A tactical-RPG shoot-'em-up hybrid, Subverse asks the question: "What is out there in the universe, and can we bone it?" The answer is yes, as the title features a number of pornographic scenes with many of the female characters. The game originally had a goal of $130,000, but it has raised more than $1.8 million before the final day of its Kickstarter campaign. I had the chance to reach out to Studio FOW and talk about Subverse's positive reception. Here's what to expect from the upcoming title.
When asked about the Kickstarter's success, Studio FOW's Executive Project Manager Kristoff König stated that the team was not expecting it.
"The entire team feels an extreme a level of validation from our crazy space boobies game gamble paying off in far greater dividends that we ever could have imagined," he said.
"We were expecting the mainstream gaming journalists to completely sweep us under rug because of their commonplace policy to not cover adult content," König said. "That being said, we were happy to receive the coverage and hope that the other big boys can see this thing for what it is and give us the attention that we've proven our project deserves."
Despite Subverse's popularity, Studio FOW does realize that the game has to separate itself from other adult titles. The studio is putting in the extra work to make sure that the game is more than just a porn simulator. The team has produced a top-tier engine for Subverse, and it's thanks to a staff full of members with years of experience.
"Once people play the game," König said, "we think the thing that will separate us from the pack the most is how cohesive Subverse is in that sex, gameplay and plot all flow into each other."
König also states the team's level of passion is why people are reacting to the game so positively. Studio FOW is also trying to show that they have something to prove.
"... we think Subverse proves that there is a market for high-budget adult games done right," said König. "Everyone on our team is passionate about the project and it shows in the work we've already done on the game, in our Kickstarter campaign, our business model and customer service, etc."
Before working on Subverse, Studio FOW was known for doing high-end pornographic videos featuring beloved video-game characters. The studio had made a number of movies and shorts, but always wanted to create a video game. Things really took off when studio director DC decided he wanted to do a more interactive project. That desire then became so much more.
"What started out as a small test game created to fulfill a crowdfunding stretch goal quickly became so much more," König said. "The quality we were able to create in Unreal proved to us that it was the right time to create our own OC and move into the gaming market."
Not only did Studio FOW know that they wanted to make a game, they also knew what genre of game they wanted it to be.
"Subverse had always been conceptualized as a science-fiction game, as the setting allows to do basically anything we want," König said. "Shmups are something that immediately come to mind when thinking of that genre, so we knew space combat was in order."
However, the team knew that they needed a system for ground combat, as well. After trying many different types of gameplay, the studio decided on which direction to take.
"In the end, we decided turn-based tactical grid combat was the way to go," König said, "as it offered us the biggest opportunity to showcase the waifu models and would also serve as a nice balance to the fast-paced gameplay of the shmup sections."
König also spoke on some of the gameplay elements that we could expect from Subverse. Players will be able to fly around the galaxy in their home base ship and travel to different systems through warp gates. There will be planets and other locations to interact with.
"Interacting can lead to a variety of things occurring, and two of those are the tactical grid and shmup scenarios," König said. "Both combat systems were built from the ground up to be arcade-style, which means a faster pace and lots of action."
König also states that the shmup gameplay is unique as it will feature vertical- and side-scrolling sections, as well as a free-roaming mode. This will allow players to strafe fire and use objects like asteroids for cover.
"The grid combat is also interesting in that it has a reinforcement system that spawns waves of enemies, and the tempo of your attacks plays a huge role in your success," he said.
Along with the shmup sections and the tactical combat, Subverse features porn scenes with the various "waifus." König spoke on the balance between the two elements, and how one fed into the other. Completing scenarios will earn players loyalty with their female companions. The more battles players win, the more the waifus trust them. When that trust grows enough, the waifus will allow the player to perform dirty sex acts with them.
"We feel there's a very fair balance between the work you need to do for the adult content and the quantity and quality with which you are rewarded," he said.
Not only are the waifus there for sexual pleasure, but they also serve a purpose in combat. There are a number of waifus, all whom are different. Each one has a unique fighting style and move set, in both shmup and grid combat.
"For example," König said, "our crimson-skinned femme fatale Killision brings a dual-horned rail gun on board with her for space combat and offers an offensive stat boost to your ship. In grid combat, she's an anti-melee fighter who will punish you [sic] enemies."
When asked about how waifus leveled up, König was a little secretive.
"Unfortunately we're not ready to reveal those features at this time other than to say that the waifus do indeed have a loyalty system that will earn you lewd rewards as well as increase their effectiveness in combat," he said. Guess we'll have to wait to learn more about that.
Other than the waifus, gamers will meet other crazy characters, including an imp with six testicles who happens to be the ship's mechanic. When asked about what characters gamers can expect to meet in Subverse, König was once again secretive.
"We can't say too much more without getting into spoiler territory, but I will say there is an enemy named William Dildofingers that punches you in the face with a fist full of dicks," he said.
Along with the waifus, there are other characters that can be sent into battle. König gave a few details on these creatures, and what they do. Called Manticores, these bio-weapon monsters can fight alongside your waifus.
"It's best to think about them in chess terms: the waifus are your queens and the mantics are your knights," König said. "They have a more limited moveset, but they serve as effective bodyguards." Players start with a few, but will be able to create more in their lab. Each one is different, adding depth to the grid combat system.
Of course, If you are going to have all these capable fighters at your command, you are also going to need something to fight. That is where the government, also known as the Imperium, comes in.
"You lead your team in a revolutionary war to overthrow them because they're puritanical fascists that basically hate anything sexy," König said. Once again, no more details were shared to avoid spoilers.
The first chapter of Subverse is expected to release later this summer on Steam. When asked if the title will be coming to any other platforms, König's response was simple: "Nope, We've been approved to publish on Steam, so we're Gaben exclusive for now and that's it."
You can follow StudioFOW on Twitter and join their Discord for future information.
If you're curious about our reactions to Subverse, check out last week's episode of Project Rusty, the podcast where we take a break from playing video games to play with the news.