Disclaimer: A copy of the game was provided by its developers.
A closer look at Anduo Games’ Third Crisis, an indie sci-fi adventure that recently entered Steam Early Access.
Third Crisis is a sci-fi adventure game with turn-based combat. The title is being created by a duo of developers: Bearcore and Vilsa, who together go by the name Anduo Games. The first public release of Third Crisis was back in February of 2018. In the two years since then, the project has garnered a monthly budget of over eleven thousand dollars on Patreon, and was recently released in Steam Early Access.
Third Crisis takes place in the near future, where the world is populated by humans and androids, and there are heavy tensions between the two groups. In the past, the androids lived in servitude and had no rights of their own, which lead them to rebel in what is now known as the first crisis. During this time, an organization named AIRSHIP was formed, with the goal of fighting for the rights of all sentient beings. They succeeded in stopping the crisis, but in its wake, a terrorist organization known as the Peitho emerged, becoming AIRSHIP's new enemy.
The game's protagonist is Jennifer Wright — usually referred to as Jenna Vibe — a victim of a botched teleportation experiment. As a result of the experiment, her body is vibrating at unreasonable frequencies. This bestows her with superpowers like incredible speed, but also makes her unstable, causing her to violently teleport in time and space when out of control. AIRSHIP designed a special suit for Jenna that allows her to control her powers, at which point she became a member of the organization.
At the beginning of Third Crisis, Jenna is investigating tracks to the Peitho’s secret base, as they have kidnapped her girlfriend. She rushes in recklessly, worried about the safety of her beloved, and is defeated by the Peitho’s secret weapon. After that, the terrorist organization begins to conduct experiments on Jenna. In their attempts to study her physiology, they dismantle her suit, which sends Jenna’s powers out of control, causing her to teleport in to a different point in time. She awakens five years later, in a world controlled by the Peitho.
As it turns out, the Peitho were developing a mind control weapon, which also caused its victims to feel overbearing lust. They quickly capitalized on this unexpected side effect and began controlling humans by raising their libido, while also limiting their access to sexual pleasure. Finding herself in this abstract society, Jenna has to find her old friends and make up for her mistakes in order to free humanity from oppression.
Gameplay in Third Crisis is divided between exploration and combat sections. You have full control of Jenna’s daily activities, allowing you to freely explore the town and tackle various tasks for the NPCs. Most quests have a single solution, guiding you along with a list of objectives. The tasks themselves are mostly simple, contributing to the feeling that, at times, the game is holding you by the hand.
Many of the game's stories lead to sexual encounters, though you will often be asked about your willingness to participate. It bears noting that despite being able to refuse most sexual encounters, Jenna will still be molested regularly. Many characters in the game’s world don’t ask for consent, and those who do are usually lustful for reasons outside their control. Engaging in sexual activities will increase Jenna’s perversion, allowing her to act in progressively obscene ways. Exploring the game's world, you can also find collectibles, which will unlock journal entries and additional lewd pin-ups for the gallery.
Jenna happens to have a talent for making friends and won’t travel alone for long. Throughout the game, she’ll be assisted by people from all walks of life, with each of these characters being used as a vehicle to explore and flesh out the game’s world. So far, Jenna is able to visit only one town and its vast surroundings, but the people inhabiting these spaces and their stories help create a believable setting, which feels lived-in and coherent. After a few hours of play, I was able to imagine how society would look like anywhere in the game’s world based on my experiences up to that point.
The combat system is turn-based, taking place on a square grid. Each character has a set amount of actions they can take per turn — including movement, attacks, and special abilities — with some of these actions being limited further by cooldowns. Pacing for the game is set primarily by the story, meaning that, at certain points, there may be no combat for a long stretch of time and sometimes it will be occurring nearly non-stop. Each of the combat encounters is handcrafted and often introduce new enemies or circumstances, which keeps the system novel and engaging. Smaller encounters may be shorter but are often as interesting as the lengthier boss battles. Though, on the other hand, when the encounters repeat previous challenges or take place in short succession with one another, they can bog down the game’s pacing.
Some of Jenna’s friends will also assist her during the aforementioned combat encounters and come with their own skills. There’s no level-up system in Third Crisis, but cast members can be customized with clothes and weapons. Unfortunately, the selection is highly limited for anyone other than Jenna herself.
The current version of Third Crisis takes about eight hours to complete and splits into two routes after roughly six hours of play. The main route has Jenna work to make up for her mistakes, freeing humans from the lustful oppression put on them by the Peitho. It introduces the most characters; however, a large portion of them don’t get much screen time, for now, serving as more of a teaser for future content.
In the second route, Jenna gives up on her heroism and becomes a common slut of the modern world. This route has much more eroticism in it and explains the way in which the Peithos take full control over singular individuals. As this route lacks an end goal, it’s more of a free-form simulation of being a brainwashed slut in training. This route also contains the most robust minigame in Third Crisis, which is a highly customizable, interactive sex animation — similar to Super Deepthroat. Other minigames are dotted throughout the main and side story routes, including mixing drinks at the bar, and a hot-and-cold stealth section.
Third Crisis is being developed using the Unity engine. Its presentation is functional but unimpressive. Environments are detailed and colorful, but characters are represented as simplistic chibi sprites with little energy to themselves. This issue is the most pronounced in combat, which, as it currently stands, is lacking in terms of graphical flare. Artwork used for pornographic scenes fares much better in that regard, and this is where the art style shows the most improvement since the game's earliest builds. Additionally, the game already contains a plentiful amount of CGs, with 134 sex scenes and 26 pin-ups scattered across the game’s world.
Music in the game is very atmospheric and does an effective job at building the right mood for each location, but some places at the end of the game lack any music tracks at the time of writing. Similarly, the game’s use of sound effects is rather scarce, with their absence being the most apparent in combat, but they’re utilized with great effect when they are featured, making the future prospects of the game's sound design promising.
Third Crisis highlights the potential of crowdfunded games, having greatly improved in both the quantity and quality of content since its initial reveal. So far, the game has done a great job at world-building, and I have high hopes in regard to where the story will go from now. Its only noticeable issues are the occasional problems with pacing. An update to the overall presentation in combat and wider implementation of sound effects could elevate the game even further, but, even now, the parts of the game that don’t look great still play well. Third Crisis already contains a decent amount of content, and it seems like a lot more will await players in the future if the project remains consistent.
If Third Crisis captured your interest, you can get it on Steam for $19.99 or by donating $5 or more to Anduo Games’ Patreon. A demo of the game is available on Steam, Itch.io, Newgrounds, GameJolt, and the developer's blog. The Itch.io, Newgrounds, and GameJolt versions of the demo are also playable in browsers.
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