Waifu Uncovered was a real delight. Part of the quiet resurgence in lewd Japanese-style arcade-inspired games, it offered surprisingly solid shoot ’em up action alongside fun, irreverent humour and some saucy pin-up style artwork. It was a game that revelled in what it was, and it was all the better for it.
Now, the team behind it — the delightfully named One Hand Free Studio — is back with Waifu Discovered 2, an all-new sequel that recently launched into Early Access on Steam. So let’s take a closer look, shall we?
The fundamentals of Waifu Discovered 2 are pretty similar to its predecessor. A series of beautiful girls have had their clothes infected by a malevolent presence, so it’s your job to fend off the intruders and destroy the clothing before the darkness spreads. In order to do this, you’ll need to blast enemies and collect the items they drop — rune stones in the case of Waifu Discovered 2 — in order to destroy the various articles of clothing. Once you reach the end of a stage, you have a boss fight, then repeat the process.
So far, so shoot ’em up. Waifu Discovered 2 distinguishes itself from its predecessor in a few ways, however. Firstly, and most simply, the overall visual theme of the game is different: here we’re dealing with a series of characters inspired by medieval fantasy rather than the modern day. While not particularly important to the core gameplay, this gives the girls a nice feeling of consistency between them and helps the package as a whole hang together nicely.
The overall quality of the art is very good, too; the images of the girls have a somewhat “storybook illustration” feel to them — a storybook with tiddies, obviously — and some nice use of colour and shading gives a feeling of depth and polish.
Secondly, and more significantly, the way Waifu Discovered 2 handles ship upgrades has been completely revamped. Now, rather than collecting power-ups that appear during gameplay, you now have the opportunity to collect coins and acquire money — with a fun bit of “risk versus reward” showing itself in the fact that the more you shoot these coins, the less they’re worth when you actually grab them.
The money you earn can be spent between levels on various upgrades for your ship. Like in Waifu Uncovered, each unlockable ship has its own maximum upgrade level for various areas of its performance, but you can also level up the ship as a whole in order to increase these maximums. Power-ups very occasionally drop during gameplay — more frequently if you’ve increased your ship’s level — but for the most part you’ll be purchasing upgrades between stages, which actually has a surprising impact on the overall pace of gameplay.
Because you can’t necessarily rely on grabbing enough power-ups to max out your ship immediately during gameplay, Waifu Discovered 2’s core shooting gameplay feels a little more deliberately paced than its predecessor, particularly in its early stages. And this isn’t a criticism, either; it’s another way that the game makes itself feel distinct.
While Waifu Uncovered placed a strong emphasis on frantic gameplay and clearing yourself a path through screens full of enemies and bullets, Waifu Discovered 2’s various tweaks to the central mechanics place a stronger emphasis on accuracy and target prioritisation than spraying bullets everywhere — particularly as not every enemy drops the precious rune stones that allow you to progress.
The new bosses are good, too. King Khee (geddit?), who bears an uncanny resemblance to a Gremlin, is a particular highlight, as his headbutt attack that breaks alarmingly convincing cracks “inside” your screen obscures your vision more and more the longer the fight goes on. Elsewhere, you’ll have to deal with the dreaded four-handed armoured monster Magic Fingers, who lambasts you for “interrupting a fingering” before attacking you, and the wrinkly old bollock named Bombastic, each of whom have their own unique attack patterns for you to learn and master. Simply delightful.
Waifu Discovered 2 has launched into Early Access in order to solicit feedback from the community and give players the opportunity to try the game for themselves while the developers put the finishing touches on the remaining waifus and game mechanics. For the most part, the game feels very complete — and quite a bit more polished than its predecessor — but there are a few areas where there still seems to be a little work to do. There are a few reused music tracks from Waifu Uncovered, for example, which sound a little out of place alongside the new music, and some Early Access players have reported having difficulty getting options or unlocks to save.
Perhaps most notably, the current Early Access release lacks the Uncensored modes that its predecessor became known for. A free piece of DLC to unlock the uncensored mode will be available when the game leaves Early Access, but at present you’ll either have to play in one of four “Fully Censored” modes, which obscures the nudie ladies in various ways, or “Censored” mode, which covers the naughtiest of naughty bits with some sort of graphic.
From the look of what the developers have been saying online, the lack of an uncensored mode at this time is at least partly due to some difficulties they’ve been having getting the game released in Germany. They seem confident that they’ll be able to resolve the issues, though — and you can always look on the late addition of the “Exposed” DLC, as it is known, as an incentive to check back on the game after the Early Access period to see what has improved.
For now, bare nips or no, Waifu Discovered 2 provides more of what made the first Waifu Uncovered so enjoyable — with enough tweaks and twists (oo-er missus) to make it a worthwhile addition to your library even if you already own the original.
The Early Access period looks set to continue for about two months or so, depending on any issues that arise during that time, so we’ll check back on the game when it finally reaches its 1.0 release. In the meantime, if you want to give it a try for yourself, you can pick it up or add it to your wishlist on Steam.
Here’s hoping for another fully uncensored physical release for Switch down the road!
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