How much sex does a slasher need? The answer: not that much, but it still makes for a nice break from the action. In this review, we find out how well SUCCUBUS strikes that balance.
SUCCUBUS, developed by the Polish-based Madmind Studio, is a brutal first-person melee combat game about a demoness racing to save her lover. The game was developed as a sequel to the studio’s previous game, Agony.
In SUCCUBUS, players take control of Vydija, a succubus once revered as the Queen of Hell alongside her beloved, King Nimrod. A brutal and sadistic person at heart, she eventually grew tired of the comforts more befitting a life in Heaven, opting to abandon her castle entirely. She instead decided to live alongside other demons, turning each passing day into a battle for survival. While roaming through Hell, she comes across the ancient demon, Baphomet, marching an army toward Nimrod’s castle. Vydija now has to chase after Baphomet through the entirety of Hell and hopefully butcher her before the demon can lay hands on her beloved.
The story in SUCCUBUS offers a solid enough justification for the carnage that plays out throughout the game, but don’t get too attached to the story: SUCCUBUS simply isn’t a narrative-focused game. Between the first cutscene and the last, there're only a handful of notable events that take place, with the main meat of the game exclusively being its sadistic first-person combat.
Vydija chases after Baphomet, armed with a colorful set of 9 gruesome weapon types and a decent selection of spells. Each weapon has a light attack and a charged special; the same is true for spells, which can be either tapped for quick effects or charged to decimate larger groups of enemies. While mincing through foes, the succubus can also kick them straight into numerous environmental traps — like pits, wall spikes, hanging chains, fire, and so on — for quick and brutal kills. An aggressive playstyle is highly encouraged, as Vydija’s defensive options are limited to a swift dash and an impractical shield spell.
Managing each combat encounter comes down to herding the group of 5-12 sinners trying to overwhelm you, while still keeping your guard up just in case a special enemy is lurking nearby. Environmental kills are instant, making them an extremely attractive prospect, but even basic slash attacks have their advantages as well. Softened enemies enter into a weakened state, allowing Vydija to execute them through a brutal animation, restoring some health in the process. While they're far from the most memorable glory kills around, these executions help keep the pace of battle varied. My only complaint is that the opportunities to execute enemies are easy to miss, with the only tell being an enemy flashing faintly, usually when they're crowded by their friends.
The weapons in SUCCUBUS feel notably distinct, with the offerings available including throwing daggers, swords, scythes, talons, hammers, pitchforks, bladed staffs, a special bow, and — as of a recent update — even a selection of whips. While they’re all melee-oriented in nature, many of these weapons’ charged attacks are ranged. The sheer variety on offer here is fun to play around with, if somewhat wasted. Despite their unique characteristics, none of the weapons feel particularly necessary in any combat scenario: while the hammer might be stronger against shield-bearing losers, you could make similarly trivial work of them by simply dashing behind them. You might as well pick whichever weapon seems like the most fun for a prostate exam.
Your armory also comes with upgrades: beating levels yield currency to spend on stronger weapons and new armor. When it came to the murder devices, I often skipped ahead to the strongest tier available, since each weapon is just an upgrade and there’re too many to unlock all options in one playthrough. The abundance of weapons honestly made the idea of weapon progression a bit meaningless.
Thankfully, the armor system is a wholly different story. Each armor set has its own configuration of available spells and player stats, effectively making each armor set sort of function as a separate character class. They don’t offer as much variety as one would expect, but the differences are just novel enough to incentivize to trying each one.
The game's combat is definitely fun, albeit not perfect, feeling like a more refined and punchier version of what you’d find in a common RPG. Swinging your weapons around in SUCCUBUS can feel a bit shallow at times, as there are no deeper combat mechanics like parrying or directional swings. After all, the game’s not about fencing: it’s about slashing. What really makes SUCCUBUS entertaining is Vydija’s mobility and the gratuitous violence involved.
Throughout your carnage, you’ll traverse Hell from its furthest depths all the way to its current ruler’s palace. The 20 levels that make up SUCCUBUS are a distinct wasteland of lava pools and gore. While you’ll be mostly moving around caves for much of the game, there're surprising bursts of color to keep things visually interesting, even in the earlier stages. Later on, you’ll come across more varied locales, such as temples, towers, and even the frozen reaches of Hell.
When I slowed down to admire the game's scenery, I found it was definitely praiseworthy; when you're actively playing the game, though, the levels tend to become a bit of a blur. I can’t even say which mission had which specific areas off the top of my head, since most of them amount to a collection of arenas adorned with tortured or hanged sinners.
To keep you interested in the game's exploration elements, SUCCUBUS features a variety of collectibles for players to seek out. Aside from in-game lore and character profiles, players can unlock pages of a short graphic novel by Maciej Jasiński and Jacek Przybylski, as well as find new sex scenes. These are much more attractive collectibles than most other games provide, but finding them is rarely challenging since the game mostly feels like a linear corridor; simply move from one combat challenge to the next and enjoy the ensuing bloodshed.
Up to this point, I’ve depicted the game as a brutal experience, and while that will be true for most people who come across it, SUCCUBUS is not a gore-centric game. If you’ve been around our news section or even read through some of Morpher’s articles in the past, you’ll understand just how far the gore elements in games can go these days. SUCCUBUS is indulgently violent, with some creative executions here and there, but in no way should the content traumatize an adult viewer.
In fact, when the game first came out, it actually caused controversy because of the ways in which Vydija can heal herself. For instance, one of these healing methods is to find a pregnant sinner imprisoned within the level and punch the baby out of her. This scene is now set to hidden by default and has to be activated in the options, though frankly, the entire scene is animated more in the vein of a parody than anything else. Aside from that, you’ll also be stepping on baby demons out in the hellish caverns, which is similarly played up for comedic effect.
Vydija’s erotic escapades during her slaughter are limited to 5 secret animations in the game, each of which requires you to find and interact with a horny demon resting somewhere in the marked level. They’re relatively lengthy looping cutscenes of the succubus having her fun. They aren’t particularly hardcore, but they can be satisfying to watch. As the screenshots thus far might’ve shown, there’s also loads more passive eroticism in the game: most enemies come at you fully naked and it's not uncommon to see chorts going at it with other demons or sinners in the background.
After each level, you’ll get the opportunity to take a break from the carnage and rest in Vydija’s lair. This hub area can be customized by choosing from sets of furniture items for each major room, adjusting the area's lighting, and so on. There are numerous choices to make in regard to room customization, though unlocking new sets of furniture takes quite a bit of time.
Vydija herself can also be customized between levels. There’s a huge selection of different hairstyles, horns, and face paints. Players can also use a multitude of sliders for the shape of her face, though options for the heroine’s body are limited to boob size, perkiness, body weight, and muscle mass. This player customization system isn't the most complex one around, but it's just robust enough to allow for personal expression. I’ve personally seen plenty of creative designs for Vydija shared by players using the game’s built-in selfie mode.
While I find Vydija’s design quite fitting for the game, I’m not in love with her personality. She’s the type of person who’ll talk shit to her oppressor while laying face down in a puddle of her own blood. Between the forced, raspy voice and her constant shit-talking, the heroine can come off as more cringe-worthy than properly edgy. I completely get the archetype — in fact, I find Caleb from Blood quite charming — but Vydija just seems like she's trying too hard. A prior DLC also added an extra character to the game: Agatha. Agatha is just as snarky as Vydija, only she doesn’t sound like she's huffed 30 packs of smokes per day. Even players without this DLC add-on can replace Vydija's voice with Agatha's in the options.
To balance out the heroine's presence, the game's cast also includes Shade, who follows her through most levels, providing narration of his own. His dialogue reveals consistent, decently interesting lore behind the game’s version of Hell. The developers even use these tidbits of lore to work in occasional jabs at people who disagree with own their tastes. These moments can feel very masturbatory, but they don't happen often enough to detract from the sheer fun of disemboweling demons.
On release, the game had a bit of a mixed reception regarding its performance. Since SUCCUBUS came out, it’s been receiving regular updates, which seem to have resolved the majority of technical issues that initially plagued the game, as well as adding in new armor and weapons.
The only issue I've personally come across was the game’s weird audio quirks in cutscenes. They’re still a bit odd, with characters cutting into each other’s lines, but this issue was alleviated over time. Though, I will also warn you now that this is a slow game to both load and update. If you decide to play the game for yourself, you'll definitely want to install it onto an SSD if you have the option to.
All-in-all, you'll like SUCCUBUS if visceral brutality is something you find appealing in video games, but feel like more gore-heavy games just go too far with the idea. The combat system isn’t revolutionary, but as an overall whole package, the game manages to stand out as uniquely entertaining. Likewise, while the erotic content elevates the experience and successfully sharpens the game's edge, SUCCUBUS isn't the kind of game I’d recommend if you just want to watch demon porn. If the idea of slashing through some nude demons in a straightforward, edgy adventure about violence in Hell sounds appealing, then definitely grab it.