Explorers of the Abyss is a lewd, turn-based RPG about Ophellia’s quest to undo the Kingdom’s curse by venturing into the deepest depths of the Abyss, an endless labyrinth of infinite monsters!

Adult Content?
(F, FxF, FxM) sexual content.

Censorship?
No. Woot! Woot!

Hours of Gameplay?
Ten to twelve hours.

Patch Available?
Download from Kagura Games.


Foreword


I received a free copy of this game for review purposes — thanks Kagura Games! For the purposes of this review, I will only be discussing the patched game. Kagura Games granted me roughly four days of “early access”, quadruple the time as their last offering. If this is because last time I complained. . . thanks for listening. When I write these articles, I need all the “early access” I can get.



Gameplay: overview (4/5★)


Descend into “layers” of the Abyss, navigating maze-like floors and fighting your way through waves of baddies! Each character has a unique toolset of skills and spells that must be taken advantage of during difficult fights. Effective healing items are rare and expensive, and all spells have limited, daily uses (including healing magic). It’s important to take advantage of enemy weaknesses, and perform damage control as needed. Characters are able to survive lethal damage via “vitality points” (or “VP”), but VP is the last barrier between life and death — anybody “KO’d” can only be revived via designated safe zones! Torches are an essential resource to illuminate the Abyss (well, until you learn “Illuminata” or “LaIlluminata”). Light reduces the frequency of random encounters and allows you to acquire loot that’d otherwise be hidden. Each layer is a complicated maze, and access to the map is strictly limited — you must rely on consumable “scrolls” and spells to take a peak at previously-discovered rooms. Each layer offers an assortment of “burial chambers”, rooms that contain one or more monsters with a guarantee to drop a single, loot-filled “chest”. Burial chambers are a great source of randomized loot. Enemies only get stronger as your descend — you’ll need whatever edge you can find to gain the upper hand!



From start to finish, Explorers of the Abyss is a challenging RPG. I spent the first in-game week grinding out the first layer of the Abyss. You can adjust the difficulty level at anytime, but I recommend setting it below “Heroic” (even if you fancy yourself “experienced with RPGS”). Combat is reasonably challenging at Heroic difficulty, but the grind is not.

By golly, the fucking grind. I nearly quit the game a few times because of it!

I spent hours fighting the same few enemies (and backtracking to restock my spells) — it wasn’t very fun, and I only continued to do so for the sake of this review. It was a grueling experience spending hours to purchase new gear and level-up, only to descend maybe a few extra steps. I found a nice spot to grind between layers two and three; there is a save spot and “burial chamber” that are close enough together to avoid random encounters as I entered and exited, saved and repeated. Oftentimes, the contents of the chest contained enough healing items to pull me through the next fight. I learned which monsters were worth the effort, and which ones were better to run away from. As progression is gear-heavy, I had hoped to acquire rare and powerful items through repetition (I didn’t — the quality of items are limited by the layer from which they are obtained, forcing level-ups as an alternative progression).

This isn’t fun, and no game should force players to abuse saves to progress.

Then I met the “Unicorns” from layer three’s chambers. Unicorns don’t fuck around — but not only are they worth a lot of experience points, they also drop “shining chests”. Shining chests are the only way to acquire the best equipment in the game. You may also slay “Behemoth Hawks”, but they spawn with friends (and unless you have reliable poison-type weapons, they aren’t worth the effort). Unfortunately, both are quite rare. I spent a three or four hours taking gross advantage of the “Auto Save” mechanic, reloading nearby burial chambers in order to quickly reload battles.

Allow me to explain — as long as “auto save” is enabled, the game is saved whenever you open a chest.

Then I had an idea — what if I didn’t open a Shining Chest, defeated enemies from another chamber, opened that chest to generate an Auto Save, and then used that save to “roll” for whatever I wanted? I found another Unicorn and kicked his ass (actually, he kicked my ass — which offers context to my reaction to what happens next). The moment I left the room, my shiny chest “lost its shine”, effectively deleting my loot. I was so pissed, I thought about quitting the game then and there. . . but I pressed on.

I pressed on for hours more, onto the next floor. . . until I gave up and switched to “cheat” mode.




Sexual Content: overview (3/5★)


There are forty unlockable sex-scenes. Each scene offers a single, static base with variations for progression and climax. Unfortunately, sexual content is seldom tied to gameplay; rather, it is typically relegated to optional side-quests and hidden events. A few bosses have a sort of “rape” mechanic, where a sex-scene plays whenever you take too long. Beating the game does not unlock the full gallery — but the perks of beating the game will make it easier to backtrack and discover new content. The artwork is pretty hot, but the sex-scenes could use a little more written content. A variety of fetishes are covered, such as tentacles, rape and futanari sex. There’s a few scenes with loli content (but they’re considered taboo even by the main protagonists. . . most of them anyways). Character development is poor, but it’s nice to see the main protagonists get into all sorts of sticky situations and experience sextortion. They have it coming!




Story: overview (3/5★)


This game wastes no time bringing the main heroines together. Each of them is introduced via a a brief cutscene, and once everybody has been gathered “Ovelia’s adventure begins!” It kind of strikes me as a half-assed introduction for a D&D game — when the DM wants to get character introductions out-of-the-way right away. The Kingdom of Lescardia in trouble; long ago, the King’s court mage Crocell placed a curse on him. Soon after, the Abyss came into being. The Abyss is a labyrinth of infinite monsters, explored only by the bravest (or most desperate) explorers! Ovelia, princess of Lescardia is determined to lift the curse. Joined by her personal guard Hinagiku and her friends Fau and Rorsche, they dive head-first into the labyrinth — for the peace of the kingdom! Together, they have what it takes to reach its deepest point. The abyss is more than a curse — but only through unbridled friendship will they learn its true purpose.



The story disappointed me from the get-go. Endless towers and labyrinths with “cursed” origins are a tired idea from Kagura Games. Every once in a while, they have a creative twist — but not Explorers of the Abyss. Before I continue ragging on the story, I’d like to point-out a twist that I enjoyed (don’t worry, I won’t spoil it). It wasn’t telegraphed whatsoever, but Ovelia’s party offers a genuinely interesting character twist (that’ll make you reconsider more than a few sex-scenes!) Unfortunately, character development isn’t great. Out of nowhere relationships are declared, and the main protagonists shrug-off rape and difficult situations. They’re one-dimensional characters that abide by loosely defined guidelines. During the last thirty-forty minutes of the game, everything is just sort-of lumped together. It wouldn’t have been that hard to drop clues about the ending. Instead, the writers clocked-out with a rushed conclusion.




Sound: overview (NA/5★)


I played this game muted — I won’t be judging it by audio quality.



Visuals: overview (4/5★)


The titlescreen looks great! It offers a wonderful background with cool visual effects (but the menu could be centered a little better). From “Settings”, you may adjust audio and gameplay preferences. You may even full remap your keys! To borderless-fullscreen the application, hit the “F4” key. To hide the user-interface (or the dialogue box), hit the “CTRL” or “ALT” key. This “feature” comes in handy while viewing sex-scenes! A gallery can be accessed in-game once you’ve reached a certain point (via a “pop-up book” in Ovelia’s room). Overall, the user-interface is a delight. I particularly enjoyed the combat interface; it’s beautifully arranged, and it manages to showcase the status of each team member (in terms of how torn their clothes are — woot!) The sprites are nothing special. They appear to be premade RPGMAKER assets, and like so many other titles from the Kagura Games library every floor (or “layer”) offers thematically inappropriate tile-sets. I think Kagura Games is just pulling them out of a hat instead of customizing pre-existing sprites.




Verdict: wait for sale, tuff combat (3.5/5★)


Though more-refined than the average, lewd RPG, Explorers of the Abyss is a mixed bag. If you value gameplay over sexual content, you’ll surely enjoy the turn-based combat! There’s an adjustable difficulty setting (and you’re probably gonna need it). Explorers of the Abyss was a challenging experience at the recommended “heroic” difficulty level; but the novelty of getting wrecked wears off when progression is tied to painstaking “level-ups” and randomized loot. Every hour was a struggle between life and death, and every floor presented new foes which that reminded me about how little I’ve actually progressed. Maybe fifteen hours into the game, I set the difficulty to “cheat” (which instantly kills foes the moment you encounter them). Then, I spent the next few hours running about the last few floors like a headless chicken — if I was forced to continue playing at “heroic” difficulty, I would have happily quit and wrote about another game. Though I was frustrated by the difficulty and repetition, I think Explorers of the Abyss offers a challenge most Kagura Games RPGs lack. As long as the adult-patch is installed, there’s some hot sex-scenes to see between major transitions in the story. Unfortunately, the sexual content has little effect on the story or gameplay. It’s just a nice “bonus” that separates side-quests and hidden items. For the most part, I enjoyed this game. . . but in the interest of wrapping-up this review, I had to wrap-up my playthrough.