Long ago, when I was a younger man, I had to endure the harsh trials of Latin classes, much like the rest of my peers. At the time, I assumed that knowledge of such an old language would never possibly come in handy in today’s society, and opted instead to kick back and think about the new flavor of the month. After all, besides lampooning Square-Enix’s hilariously incorrect use of the language in recent Final Fantasy games, what good would knowledge of Latin possibly bring? Thus, we arrive at the present with a game that should have been covered long, long ago. Shortly before I was about to include several puns in this review about the “Kuro” in the game’s title, I was informed that “Kurovadis” is a play on the Latin phrase “Quo vadis,” which translates to “Where are you going?” I then received a call from my old Latin teacher, who proceeded to lecture my negligence.
Kurovadis is a PC game developed and published on April 6th, 2012, solely by one man by the name of Kyrieru. Since the game’s release all those years ago, Kyrieru has taken on other projects, such as tempering his abilities as an artist and developing a few other games. Of those games, only one has been distributed as a fully-featured title, while the rest were either canceled or weren’t major focuses in the first place. At least, this is what a quick glance of the developer’s official blog brings forth.
Befitting of the “Kuro” in its title, the first screen in Kurovadis definitely has black in it.
Ordinarily, I would try to summarize the story of the material I’m covering in this specific paragraph, but I’m honestly not sure what the story of Kurovadis even is. It all begins when a red-haired girl wakes up from a capsule tucked away deep within a cave crawling with zombies, giant mantises, and turrets. Somewhere along the line, a mad scientist, a castle, and a womb level become involved, culminating with a sunny day in Philadelphia. It isn’t comparable to the type of sparse in-game narrative you’d see in, say, the average early NES game, the likes of which at least had manuals to justify why anything was even happening in-game. Kurovadis leaves you with a girl and a scenario, but lets you fill in the blanks. This really isn’t much of a detriment in the long run, though I would’ve at least liked to know what the protagonist’s name is.
I have no clever way of writing a segue into the gameplay of Kurovadis, so here we are. It’s a 2D exploration-based sidescroller, albeit a rather linear one, comparable to the likes of Metroid and company. Kurovadis only barely qualifies for the category, as it’s a rather linear adventure with no other paths to truly explore. There are optional sections of rooms one can venture into for an attempt to acquire a power-up, but these don’t enhance the protagonist’s core abilities in the same way defeating a boss. Presumably, part of the reason the game is so linear may have to do with its length, as it can be beaten in just a few hours upon replays.
None of this actually matters that much, because Kurovadis will snap your dick off and serve it on a plate with a helping of sauerkraut faster you can say “TANTALIZING TESTICLE-TIGHTENING TRENCH TENTACLES.”
Better start getting used to this picture now; you’re gonna be seeing a lot.
Alright, maybe I’m getting a bit ahead of myself here. Let’s dial things back a bit: The protagonist in Kurovadis, upon starting the game, comes equipped with the ability to jump, shoot projectiles, and use melee attacks. All projectiles in the game are charged automatically, which is represented by a gray circle atop the left side of the screen. This does not hold true for her melee attacks, which must be charged manually in order to unleash a devastating punch. Surprisingly, the protagonist’s melee abilities are quite developed at the game’s start, comprised of a three-hit melee combo, an aerial kick, the aforementioned charge attack, and a downward punch that helps for stationary enemies the player can stand on. Most of your attacking will probably be from shooting enemies, but some melee attacks are particularly useful against certain enemies, making the protagonist’s arsenal a reliable asset.
Reinforcing this are the only two mobility upgrades in the game, which are obtained very early on: an invincible roll that extends air time and a wall jump. Both are somewhat tricky to use at first since the roll has different properties when used on the ground depending on what key you use, but they’re extremely invaluable assets. Adapting to the roll and its use in the air is critical to progression of the game, especially in the latter half of the game. The added movement options make Kurovadis a very enjoyable game to mess around with, providing a sense of speed as you soar through certain areas, dodging enemy attacks and leaping off walls like a true champion of the night.
Sadly, despite my best efforts, the giant mantis was not impressed by my feats of strength.
Rounding out the list of gameplay features is a quaint experience system; killing enemies yields EXP, with the amount depending on the enemy, the location, and your current level. Once your EXP reaches 100%, the protagonist levels up, which increases her health, but doesn’t raise any of her four stats whatsoever. That’s up to you to choose for yourself, as you can manually select which of the four stats will be getting your wonderful skill points. You could even opt not to spend the points at all if you choose. Each stat serves a different purpose, ranging from the obvious “ATK buffs attack” to the less obvious “CON raises HP.” I went through the game dumping most of my points into attack and charge, becoming a glass cannon that could decimate and be decimated with ease.
Unless you dump most of your points into DEF, you will get your shit throttled in Kurovadis. It may be a short, linear adventure, but at least one of the game’s many enemies will rock you and proceed to have their way with your helpless body. This game has it all: ridiculous knockback, extremely common spiked pits, tight platforming, vorehounds that deal anywhere from 1/4th to 1/2 of your health in repeated damage, and one of the most annoying bosses I’ve seen in a long while. Kurovadis usually has optional power-up pellets strewn throughout the game, some of which are sitting behind boxes you need a future upgrade to break, and some of which require a little more ingenuity to reach. This “ingenuity” ranges from “letting an enemy carry you into it and hope you survive the trip” all the way to “a bastard wall-jumping sequence that’d make I Wanna Be The Guy proud.”
Perhaps I’m overstating the difficulty in Kurovadis just a bit. Certainly, the game is challenging, but much of that challenge is either due to not knowing how to properly deal with certain obstacles or comes from the second major area of the game. When you know where to stand, where to move, and when to attack, Kurovadis isn’t all that challenging. While it may seem like I’m complaining, the challenge in Kurovadis is actually extremely welcoming. You can’t simply kick back and work your way to the game’s naughtier moments; you’ve gotta earn your keep just to stay in the game. Sure, save points are placed a reasonable distance apart from each other and it’s entirely possible to take the easy way out by grinding up stats to power through enemies easier, but you can’t get too comfy.
Then again, grinding only goes so far.
Many of my grievances with Kurovadis don’t even stem from the challenge, instead being attributed to smaller, niggling things that add up over time. For instance, upon being stricken with an attack, the protagonist will either stand there and tank the hit of be stricken halfway across the screen. I can only imagine the likelihood of this depends on the player’s defense stat, in which case, I can completely understand why most of the attacks practically turned the protagonist into a projectile that shot halfway across the screen.
A more egregious example happens during the second boss, who possesses an attack that momentarily incapacitates the player character. Should the player be knocked out of this status before manually breaking out of it themselves, the game will register them as technically still being in that state and, as such, prevent them from wall-jumping until they break free. Collision detection also seems to be a bit fickle in Kurovadis, as a late-game spider-girl gave absolutely zero fucks and walked through an entire mountain structure just to attack me.
Kurovadis also seems to lack any sort of map feature from what I could see, though I imagine it wasn’t a priority since there isn’t much to stray off the beaten path for. It does make looking for the optional stat boosts a bit of a hassle, though, since you might forget about a few early game ones. The lack of a map isn’t a terribly huge detriment, given how hard it would be to get lost in the game to begin with, but it seems just a tad perplexing when considering other games in the genre.
On the technical side of things, Kurovadis is certainly a weird dame. The game seems to be built with a 4:3 aspect ratio in mind, but can stretch to accommodate a 16:9 ratio. If the screenshots in this review look stretched or grainy, it’s due to them being stretched out, as there’s no options menu to configure the settings. Much to my dismay, this also applies to the controls, forever locking X/C/V as your main attacking and jumping keys. It was an abstract sort of Hell, given how standard Z/X is when it comes to keyboard controls for games such as this.
The most bizarre experience I had with the game was the part where I barely even got the game to work right at all, due to a strange conflict with vJoy. Enabling it locked most of my controls, while disabling it traded that off for a silky smooth sub-20fps. For some unknown reason, updating the vJoy driver and disabling it somehow resulted in the game functioning properly. I seem to be part of some exclusive club (in which I’m the only member) who experienced this issue, so my experience in getting a simple Game Maker game to work right probably won’t reflect yours.
So go on, indulge yourself; that’s right, kick off your shoes, put your feet up, and just enjoy the melodies.
The presentation in Kurovadis isn’t anything spectacular but is pleasant nonetheless. The character and enemy sprites are small and just detailed enough to give the cast a hint of personality, like the protagonist’s eyes closing during sex scenes or the playful catgirls. Environments tend to be on the blander side of things, as most of the screen will be occupied by repetitious tile sets that serve their purpose and little else. If there was one actual complaint I had with the presentation, it would be overlapping attacks: your projectiles can sometimes overlap with the sprite of an enemy or their attacks, making it harder to tell where the oncoming attack is in relation to you.
Surprisingly, the audio is pretty solid: the soundtrack contains plenty of ambient pieces, a few songs that are simply “there”, and a pretty hard rocking tune that may make you cum faster than anything else in the game. It’s a step above a few other h-games I’ve experienced, which delegated the music to cheap ambiance. The sound effects were also good, though, special mention goes to the attacks the player can execute. While it’s all the same one-two-punch from start to finish, the sound effects for attacks give them a suitable amount of “pop” that makes them fun to use, even if you really shouldn’t be punching that one skeleton.
Of course, I wouldn’t be so remiss to neglect the sex scenes in Kurovadis, but the issue is that they’re not all that great. Pushing the “H” key at any given moment will result in the protagonist playing dead, which leaves her nubile body available for any nearby enemies to ravage (and makes her invincible to all attacks). If you don’t mash out of this vulnerable state, enemies will proceed to have their way with you. It usually isn’t a big issue, as being sexed up rarely inflicts damage, but if the sex is harmful in any way, it’s usually really, really painful. There’re plenty of enemies eager to fuck an innocent young woman, ranging from zombies to giant vaginas with teeth, all the way up to dragons. Regrettably, the resident skeletons are one of the three enemies who aren’t even down to fuck, thereby dashing my hopes of taking a leaflet from the Great Big Book of Bone Puns.
What I wanna know is how there’re rays of sunlight in a castle when the game is set during a heavy rainstorm.
Earlier in this review, I stated that this was Kyrieru’s first game. When taking that into consideration, Kurovadis is actually a really tight game all-around, albeit one that could benefit from polish. Unfortunately, I can’t extend that praise to the sex CGs. The only way to view any of the CGs is by dying and subsequently being fucked by a specific enemy, though not every enemy is associated with a CG, meaning some will give you the default game over CG. The two extremes of the in-game CGs range from “average” to “no that’s not how hips work oh God why is her torso bending like that stop.” Usually, it’s not that difficult to rouse the years and years of unfulfilled sexual tension I’ve endured, but Kurovadis just didn’t do anything for me. Whether this is due to the dubious quality of the CGs or because I was too busy shouting otherworldly obscenities at a succubus, I’m not sure. Surprisingly, there’s no gallery feature present anywhere in the game, meaning the only way to view all the CGs (if you really feel the need to) is to find and screenshot them all yourself. You could also find someone else who did exactly that if you’re feeling lazy. Really, I won’t judge you. Honest.
NOTHING PRESENTED IN THIS IMAGE WORKS THAT WAY
In closing, there’re two different ways to look at Kurovadis, given its nature as a pornographic game. As a piece of adult entertainment, the game simply fails to titillate. As a video game, however, Kurovadis succeeds in being a short, fun adventure that provides healthy amounts of challenge. Its greatest strengths lie in the combat, leveling system, and the smooth movement options. I only wish the game had more content, such as an extra area or more motivation to deviate from the main course. As it stands, the foundation of the game is very, very solid, but I feel it has potential to be something much greater that incentivizes replayability. If you’re looking for a short adventure to hold you over for the next big release or a challenging game that won’t hold your hand, Kurovadis comes recommended. If you’re looking for something that’ll tickle your mind and touch your body just right, I’d advise looking elsewhere.