So I took the time to look into the whole craze that's been going on Steam and Kickstarter about FOW's foray into the wider gaming market with their pornographic "space opera"(?). A lot of buzz and support around this game seems to come from the more edgelord/anti-SJW/drama mama side of the gaming community, so I had some expectations or notions of what this game was trying to do. Mainly, that this was a style over substance type of game, where it relied on some polished visuals or mechanics to carry its basic designation as a game, but its main fuel was the edginess and drama it could generate both ingame and in the wider gaming community.
Indeed, it seems that prediction was proven both correct, yet somewhat "subverted". I will say that, against my expectations, it was actually the gameplay loops, and not the game's edgy personality, its "story" or the porn, that carried it.
The arcade style space shooter mode was solid, with various options to play. Smooth controls and polished visuals kept things interesting. That gameplay loop in particular proved to be the highlight of the entire game.
The tactical grid ground combat sections, however, felt very mediocre, with few interesting options. It very much feels like a watered down XCOM with more flashy effects. While the prospect of other characters and tactical options are expected to come later, it doesn't leave much to be anticipated outside of box standard turn based tactical combat gameplay.
Indeed, the sharp contrast between this and the space combat epitomize the often fragile structure this game has perched its identity upon. That becomes even more apparent when you take in its "story". It is a parody space opera that very much tries very much to lean into irreverence and edginess to the very breaking point. It'll lean into every gamer in-joke or politically incorrect jab under the sun in order to spark some reaction from ingame characters or the players themselves. All while presenting highly polished Gif porn as icing on the cake.
To sum it up briefly, it very much leans into concepts that Noah Caldwell Gervais discussed in his video "Postal, Hatred, and Weighing the Worth of Asshole Simulators":
"Random violence and random humor can carry a game, but they won't carry it far as a games that seek a wider audience or choose to contextualize their randomness"
Subverse, as a game, very much presents a personality that is meant to appeal to a rather specific niche in the gaming community. A personality that has no qualms with leaning heavily into the spiteful edginess that only the most seasoned and resentful of neckbeards dare to channel. For people in that demographic, this game will be right up their alley, and they'll probably continue to champion this game long after the hype and drama has faded.
As for everyone else….if you're that keen on getting into it…. don't bother throwing your cash onto the proverbial internet bonfire and just wait till the clips are uploaded to Pornhub.
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