Subverse Review: NSFW Game Cracks Top 50 on Steam


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Two and a half years ago, a company got kicked off Patreon for animating a werewolf doing obscene things to a girl. Shortly after that, they turned up on Kickstarter suggesting a high-quality adult game that would actually be good.

There were more than a few raised eyebrows and plenty of scepticism about a particularly deranged animation studio making a game without any prior experience. Regardless, 58,730 backers, $2,301,200.45 USD, and two years later, StudioFOW’s Subverse is out on Steam. 

And, naturally, we went ahead to review it.

After all, it made it into the top 50 games on Steam. 

The game is over a year late and launched in Early Access instead of a full release. That said, it went way over its milestones and is, according to the developers, over twice as long as they originally planned. 

That’s all well and good but what is it like?

Does Subverse have performance anxiety?

While there are plenty of Kickstarted, Early Access games that launch a buggy mess, Subverse is well polished. There aren’t any particularly egregious bugs and the game runs smoothly on my system while still looking great. Suffice it to say, this game doesn’t need more time in the oven for polish. 

Some of the Steam reviews allude to problems starting the game as well as some users experiencing less than expected performance though such experiences appear to be rare. 

Combat: Bang bang, pew pew

The combat is broken up into two, very straightforward modes. The first is a shoot-em-up mode where the player flies a ship through space, dodging asteroids and enemy projectiles. It’s entertaining but doesn’t have much depth in the initial release. There is some variety gained by choosing a co-pilot from the currently small roster of female companions to change the ship’s secondary weapon. 

There are a couple of boss fights in this mode that are pretty fun and mix up the way the SHUMP mode plays. One mechanic had the player chase an enemy ship like a classic bullet hell and the other had the player deal with duplicates of an enemy ship.

The other mode is a turn-based strategy game that is similar to XCOM but nowhere near as complex. There are different enemy mechanics to be mindful of and the occasional terrain hazard to plan around but is quite simple overall. 

That’s not to say that they aren’t fun. They are entertaining and somewhat challenging but aren’t really enough to carry the game by themselves. 

Players are also able to explore the galaxy using a Mass Effect 2-style system that has the Mary Celeste ping planets to find missions and loot. Like the rest of the gameplay, it’s pretty basic.

Subverse’s not-very-subversive story

This game is, at its core, an adult game that can’t be bothered to pretend to be mature. The dialogue is over the top and doesn’t take itself seriously. Characters hurl swear words every other sentence and finding a screenshot with language fit for publication was harder than combat ever was. 

The entire plot revolves around the player character staging a revolution against a puritanical empire in the name of depravity. Just about everyone is unhinged and exists somewhere between degenerate and insane, just like the story as a whole. 

Overall, it’s almost refreshing to see a game that doesn’t have any pretenses about what it is and doesn’t just lean into its tone but falls headfirst into it. Kind of like DOOM but, well, really for people over 18. 

Special mention needs to be given to the talented team of voice actors who have worked on this game. They’ve said things not many humans have had the need to say while delivering the lines with charisma and make up one of the best parts of the game. 

Unfortunately, the game has shipped with about five hours worth of content which seems far too little for the asking price.

This is a common problem with Early Access titles and asks for some trust in the buyer that the game will be updated to its promised level of content. 

The squishy, unpixelated stuff

Subverse’s adult content is mostly delivered through the PANDORA system, which basically amounts to a system that queues up scenes featuring one of the three female companions available in the game.

The animations are good though it’s not exactly surprising given StudioFOW’s reputation.

Some players have found that to be disappointing, however. Some posts on Reddit and Steam wish for more interactivity in the scenes or context integrated with the story. 

The voice acting is still solid though. 

Final Thoughts on Subverse

It could be worse. The game runs great and isn’t buggy. Combat is dead-simple and doesn’t have much depth. Story-wise, it’s incredibly immature and over the top but that could well be its appeal.

Of course, the game is currently really short which is definitely something to consider. And the stuff StudioFOW made its reputation on can’t be described in language fit for print.

Go look online or something.

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