Othercide

You may or may not remember that way back we reviewed a game called The Void, which would have been a very fascinating and atmospheric work of art if it wasn’t also blatant porn with a focus on watching women suffer. Othercide is very similar, minus the part where the non-porn bits are good.

The plot of the game revolves around a quasi-deific entity known as the Mother who seeks to save a boy whose suffering has made him so misanthropic he has become an evil god capable of destroying the world. In the opening she fails to stop him from doing so, dies, and spends the rest of the game as a naked spirit with a lovingly-modeled butt.

This is your “home base” screen, which you will be seeing constantly, with said butt on full display.

You spend the game fighting against the Child’s nightmare monsters (which is supposed to free him from his suffering… somehow) with the Mother’s “Daughters”, who are born naked and all have a waifish, attractive appearance:

 

At this point, you might assume you’re playing as the Mother. Not so! For some reason, the player character is the Mother’s “Dear Friend”, who we never see, implying they’re supposed to be a full self-insert. So, despite being a powerful god and the hero of this story, the Mother isn’t even allowed to direct her own daughters; she cedes control of everything to some ordinary shmuck, to the point she refers to the daughters as “ours”. This abstraction is so bizarre and unnecessary I can only assume it’s done so that male players won’t feel alienated by a female avatar.

Furthermore… you know how everyone claims that Puella Magi Madoka Magica is just misery porn centered around the suffering of girls? Well, that’s actually true for Othercide. The daughters, who are voiceless except for their remarkably loud screams when they gruesomely die, become visibly bloodied as they take damage and can only be healed by sacrificing another daughter. You also fight “corrupted daughters” later on, who are completely naked sexy-evil counterparts. Additionally, the Mother, who provides the narration, sounds incredibly mousey and pathetic; her voice trembles with fear any time a new enemy shows up, and any time she manages to say anything aggressive or triumphant she sounds scared of her own voice. She also gets tortured in some cutscenes, in case you thought she at least would be exempt from the misery porn.

So, taken all together, the game is about sending sexy, mindless girlclones to their deaths in droves to save a boy who actively refuses help and makes them suffer. But it’s very important we care about his suffering, he’s very sad and innocent you see.

On top of that, there’s also a bizarre subplot about doctors being evil and using a plague as an excuse to do torture experiments on people in flagrant violation of the Hippocratic Oath, which sure is awkward to read during the era of plague and anti-intellectualism we currently find ourselves living in.

…But the gameplay’s good, right???

The game is a roguelike that desperately doesn’t want to be one. I’m genuinely not sure why they did it this way; roguelikes are trendy, I guess? Whenever you beat a boss and clear an area for the first time, you get two special items: one that automatically boosts the starting level of your daughters to the point they’ll trivialize earlier sections, and one that lets you skip the boss outright on future runs. Not that you even really need the second one, because you can challenge the boss of each area right from the beginning. This means there’s no actual point to making you start from the beginning when you lose a run: The early areas pose no challenge and you can get back to where you were almost immediately, so why even bother with the formality? It’s just wasting time.

Additionally, the game works really hard to deliberately screw you over and ensure you can’t beat bosses on your first try. Every one is a puzzle boss of mounting complexity, with a gimmick that’s nearly impossible to counter without a specific setup. The first boss, for instance, has a devastating counterattack if you ever try to hit him with melee… and only one of the three classes has ranged attacks. So if you do the sensible thing and come in with a balanced party, you are screwed because two-thirds of your fighters are dead weight. Then you think, okay, surely they won’t do the same thing twice, surely the second boss is designed to counter ranged and I should bring melee instead? LOLnope, his gimmick is immobilizing your daughters so ranged attackers are still crucial.

Soulslingers in general were really overpowered compared to the other classes, I thought. They might have the weakest base attack, but it’s still strong enough to oneshot weaker enemies and they can do so without having to waste AP moving. Every one of them starts with a long-range interruption that can completely protect you from powerful enemies and bosses, and as they level up they get useful area attacks too. In most battles I found them pulling the weight with Blademasters and Shieldbearers only doing clean-up.

The Exalted-like timeline system was interesting, but I found it very hard to use effectively because everyone tended to get their turns all at once, making it difficult to execute complex strategies like “If an ally attacks before your next turn, make a follow-up attack if the enemy is within your range.” It was rare I got things to line up such that both me and the enemy will remain in position and an ally will be able to attack after the current daughter but before their next turn. I was also irritated by the lack of an “undo move” option, especially because the AP system means moving and attacking works differently than I’m used to in tactical RPGs.

Overall, the game’s challenges just aren’t diverse enough to justify an endless roguelike setup. They quickly got very repetitive and samey, made worse by the fact that as a tactical RPG, everything takes ages. I got bored of it by the time I beat the third boss (about halfway through) and just watched YouTube for the rest, which confirmed I wasn’t really missing anything.

5 Comments

  1. Seed of Bismuth says:

    Puella Magi Madoka Magica is just misery porn centered around the suffering of girls?

    Except interviews with the creator have him state that misery porn was his intent?

    1. [citation needed]. If it’s the one I’m thinking of, he does not say that at all and it requires very deliberate misreading to be interpreted as such. There’s also, you know, the text itself, which involves the girls winning and getting a happy ending.

  2. EC says:

    “At this point, you might assume you’re playing as the Mother. Not so! For some reason, the player character is the Mother’s “Dear Friend”, who we never see, implying they’re supposed to be a full self-insert”

    Uh, no, we know who they are, it’s central to the plot. It’s not a very good plot, so you haven’t missed much, but here it is: The kid is a chosen one, bound to the demon (or other, in the game’s less cool lexicon) Suffering; the mother is also a chosen one, bound to the demon Memory. The two of them fighting has collapsed space-time, as you get told several hundred times on the loading screens. The player is Memory, or a fusion of Memory and the mother.

    It’s a bit too pop-Freudian for me, but I don’t think it’s that hard to follow.

    “The game is a roguelike that desperately doesn’t want to be one. I’m genuinely not sure why they did it this way”

    It functions as it always does as a sort of natural scaling difficulty, but yeah, that’s about it.

    “Every one is a puzzle boss of mounting complexity, with a gimmick that’s nearly impossible to counter without a specific setup.”

    They’re all fine with a balanced party. Playing blind with SB+SS+BM, I got to the first boss on my first go through, and the last boss on the second (Switching to BM+BM+SS+SS). Roots don’t really effect blademasters, because you can use movement abilities in them. The first boss’s anti melee attack is avoidable in some way that I can’t remember, the maid alternates who she screws over, and the kid isn’t particularly prejudicial to any one class.

    “Soulslingers in general were really overpowered compared to the other classes, I thought.”

    Opinions seem to differ. I’d say all classes are good, with SBs and SDs a little harder to use due to low mobility.

    I’d agree that it’s sexed up for no good reason – although if the evil daughters are naked it completely escaped my notice, they just looked pitch black to me – and overly repetitive. I did like the quick animation option and quick loading times, though.

    1. Yes, I know the player character is Memory, and also that Memory is actually responsible for all of the Mother’s powers and accomplishments for bonus misogyny. My point that there’s no good reason for the PC to be a blank-slate self-insert instead of the Mother still stands.

      1. EC says:

        Okay. I don’t really see people protecting themselves onto an abstract memory demon (yes, this is me, this is me in the story!) but perhaps some of them do.

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