Titles like this are objective proof that video games are art. Perhaps even ascended above a status so meagre. That might be my covid-addled brain speaking, but I know that true waifu connoisseurs will understand.
Deep Space Waifu is a comedy hentai space shooter. You play as the motorcycle-riding King Bear, who is a half-human, half-bear pixelart creature in a cool jacket. You want two things out life: an easy job and a sexy girlfriend. Both of these you try to attain through a dating app, which takes you from one level to the next.
Each level is a space shooter stage where the girl you’re “dating” acts as an interactive background. You fly a set course around her, during which you shoot down enemies and eventually defeat a boss. However, you can also hit various targets on the girl itself, which will tear away bits of clothing from her once you’ve done sufficient damage. This increases your score and also clears the screen of projectiles whenever you completely remove a piece of clothing.
The shooter gameplay is quite robust. You can pick between different bullet patterns and choose a special power-up that you can activate after collecting enough stars, which are left behind by defeated enemies. You can tweak the gameplay to make it faster or slower, change the overall difficulty, or alter how fast your ship goes. There are also power-ups to collect that add modules to your ship during gameplay.
Having to target the girls’ clothes also adds a layer of strategic movement. Missing a target can leave you stuck until you fly by that spot again. Focusing on them leaves you vulnerable to enemies, though, so you’ll have to weigh your options on the fly.
The game is no bullet hell, but the screen can sure get busy when there are a bunch of enemies that all have different attack patterns. The challenge I found to be quite satisfying and I dipped into the higher difficulty modes a few times to spice it up even further. Your performance is graded in stars, by the way, and you need to collect quite a few of those to unlock later levels.
What the gameplay does lack is some on-stage hazards. The enemies are the only obstacles you deal with, of which there only a few different types. The patterns in which they appear vary from level to level, but not to such a spectacular degree that any stage feels particularly new. Even the bosses loop through the same 3 foes that you fight over and over again, with only two unique exceptions.
The designs for the girls aren’t stunning, but run through a variety of (anime) stereotypes with sufficient self-awareness. The dialogue sequences with them are quite funny and effort is put into making some unique, like putting a streaming animation on the stage where you’re taking on a sexy Twitch streamer. You do have to manually go into the game’s data folder (Steam\steamapps\common\Deep Space Waifu\Deep Space Waifu_Data) and add an empty nude.patch file to get rid off the censorship, however. Otherwise all the nudity is smoothed out in a way that looks plain hideous.
Deep Space Waifu is a fun novelty game. It only barely clocks in at over an hour, though with various follow-ups that can be purchased separately. It’s not too simplistic for a modern shmup and it’s cheap enough—even outside of its frequent sales—that the brief length is not an issue.