PREVIEW: She Will Punish Them

Carve your way through countless undead, while wearing very little.

Released: Steam Early Access
Type: Single-player
Genre: Action, RPG
Developer: L2 Game Studios
Publisher: KK Softworks
Release Date: 29 Apr, 2020

Introduction

She Will Punish Them is the debut Steam title from L2 Game Studios. It’s a sort of “Diablo-lite” action RPG, with many of the RPG elements being developed while the game moves through Early Access.

It’s been on my wishlist for a while — together with L2 Game Studios other upcoming game, Beauty and Violence: Valkyries — mainly because of the gorgeous protagonist: in this case, an angry succubus. Screenshots of the game also showed a very Diablo-like ARPG interface, and I’d be lying if I said I didn’t enjoy a bit of senseless fantasy hacking and slashing every now and then.

Swing, Swing, Swing, Swing … My Finger Is Getting Tired!

The core of the game is melee combat. Yes, it has some missile and thrown weapons, too, but the variety of melee weapons is huge in comparison, and many enemies are fast enough that trying to play a ranged-only succubus is bound to end in tears. With no character development yet available, however, melee combat essentially devolves into swinging your weapon over and over and over again, while occasionally moving to the next group of enemies, drinking a health potion, or dodging out of the way of an incoming attack.

Combat in early builds felt clunky and slow, but the developers have addressed that, along with a few other balance issues, in a recent update. So while repeatedly swinging and occasionally dodging is still the only way to play, it at least feels much more responsive and fun now. It can still be quite hard to aim at times, however, and I’d like to see a target lock or similar key implemented to improve this.

Different weapon types have different attributes, including a hidden speed attribute that governs how quickly you attack with that weapon — linked to the swing animation. They also have a certain chance to stagger an enemy (what a friend used to call “making them go urgh” in Diablo), interrupting their attack and knocking them backwards. As you progress through the game you’ll also see occasional damage adders and elemental effects on weapons, such as fire, poison, or “lightening” (sic). Different enemy types attack very differently, too, though they’re roughly grouped into two: melee attackers who charge at you and attack, and ranged attackers who hang back and take pot shots at you from a distance. As you progress further, new and more powerful types appear, too, as well as boss enemies every now and then.

What this all means is that, even though combat controls are very simple, it all feels much more tactical than you’d expect. I quickly learned which weapon types work best against certain enemies, when stagger was important, when to dodge, and so on, though I still often find myself surrounded by fast-moving enemies. Speaking of which, the enemy AI is actually very good, using strategic positioning and flanking to great effect. It doesn’t realise when it’s hitting its own allies, though, so one useful tactic is to get melee opponents between you and the ranged enemies, and let friendly fire decimate your opponents.

The game also includes shields, which I’ve tried to use a few times. These don’t seem to have any useful effect, however, but it’s possibly I simply wasn’t using them correctly. I tried holding right mouse button to block attacks and seemed to take the same damage I’d taken without the shield.

But How Would THAT Possibly Protect Her!?

The only real progression that’s been implemented in the game so far is based on equipment: as you earn mountains of gold from killing enemies and looting chests, you can buy (or find, if you’re lucky) more and more protective armour and damaging weapons to aid you in your quest. While the weapons gradually begin to look more wicked and torturous, as well as adding special effects, improvements in armour don’t always look as though they’d be any more protective.

Of course, that’s nothing new in fantasy RPGs, but there’s a pretty good range of armour styles and colours already available, with matching boots, leggings, arm wraps, and sometimes necklaces to round out each set. I don’t know if completing a set provides any bonus, but if not then that would be a great addition to increase replayability. Personally I think I’d like to try completing this set.

Hmm, or maybe this one. I just can’t decide!

Unfortunately, the succubus’s inventory is very limited, as is her personal storage chest back in her lair, and you’ll quickly find yourself with more equipment than you can store. I found this disappointing because I wanted to take screenshots of my succubus in complete armour sets, but ended up giving up; storage space was just too precious.

There are also a small number of improvements to be made to the succubus’s underground lair, again unlockable with gold coins as you play, but most of these seem to be purely aesthetic, there to provide a little more fan service between fights. It’s great that these use your current outfit and equipment — though they do tend to expose some of the equipment clipping issues more than the main game does — but they’re sadly not interactive at all, and unlocking all of them only takes a few hours at most.

The developers have mentioned that future updates will bring more customisation and progression options, though, so fingers crossed all of this grows into a much more engrossing part of the game.

Mmmmmmm

But I have to admit that I’m a little disappointed in the succubus.

She’s gorgeous, yes, and she’s customisable to a degree: a small number of pre-set face shapes, skin tone and make-up combinations, hair styles, hair colours, wings, and horns are available, altogether no doubt making millions of possible combinations. But I want more! Her body is not adjustable at all, her starting outfit looks like a couple of bits of hessian or something, and, worst of all, there’s no nudity, and no jiggle!

I know. I was shocked, too.

In fact, her poses and animations mostly look a bit wooden, though there are a few exceptions. It’s another of those cases where the character looks fantastic until she moves. I’d like to see a ton more customisation options — more of what’s here already, as well as body customisations — and more natural-looking poses and animations. As for the nudity and jiggle, the developers have promised both are coming soon, along with other “adult content” as well. Hooray!

Rogue-like?

The game also includes some Rogue-like elements, though these are mainly focused on procedural generation of levels, enemy groups, and loot, and they’re fairly limited in scope. The game is divided up into a number of stages — I’m not sure how many; I got to about 15 before the bugs made me stop — across a number of different, but fairly similar-looking themes. They all tend to feature ruins, rock walls, and trees, with various other props, depending on the particular stage. Each stage is made up of a number of “rooms” with short connecting “corridors” between them (though all are outside, so they’re not really rooms; more like fields, perhaps?). Enter one room and magical barriers spring into place behind you and at the room’s other exit, while the room’s inhabitants — enemies, all — spawn in designated areas in the room. Defeat all of the enemies and the barriers disappear, allowing you to proceed to the next room. The final room on each stage has no exit; defeat the enemies there and a portal appears to take you back to your lair.

Each stage is, I believe, procedurally generated, with a pre-defined ending room. The procedural generation seems fairly limited, however, with only a small number of room layouts available, and a small number of props — both lootable and not — available for adding to each room. Each stage seems to have only a small number of enemy types available for spawning, too, in keeping with the theme of the stage. This ends up making replaying a stage feel very repetitive, and even progressing through the stages feels like not much changes. But I think it’s still better than totally hand-made levels. I’d just like to see a bit more variation: more room layouts, more props, even more enemy types, etc.

Loot seems to be randomly dropped as well, at least within a range of levels, but it’s nowhere near as diverse as Diablo. While there’s a good range of specific equipment types — including the considerable array of sexy attire / armour for our heroine — it’s rare that you find any differences between anything of the same type. For example, one iron dagger is the same as every other iron dagger; I have yet to see a +x damage or fire element iron dagger, for example. This applies to everything: there’s no magic armour and no modifiers applied to basic weapon types to produce individual loot. I’ve found some “magical” weapons, but each time I pick one up it’s exactly the same, for example.

While the game doesn’t feature permadeath, death is pretty severe: your succubus loses all buffs, spells, equipment, gold (including anything that should have been stored in her lair, though I think this is a bug), and her inventory, and respawns back at her lair with nothing but a starting weapon. Anything lost in this way can’t be recovered, so it feels similar to permadeath, even though it’s not quite as severe.

Returning your succubus to her lair without reaching the end of a level is similarly devastating: though the game’s warning tells you only that you’ll lose any loot gathered on that stage, you’re actually effectively killing your succubus and starting her back at her lair — sans her precious equipment and gold.

Presentation

Apart from the gorgeous protagonist, the game features a reasonably large array of mostly interesting creatures: skeletons, ghouls, goblins, zombies, spiders, … and many variations of some of these, all populate the various stages through which you fight, and most look really rather good. The game also includes boss enemies on some stages, with each of these being larger and fiercer than any of their followers. Animations are, for the most part, fairly smooth and easy enough to understand, in order to dodge attacks in time.

The UI looks very much like Diablo’s, down to the window skins and font. They’re not exactly the same, but they’re very similar. In-game text is mostly understandable — perhaps except for some of the lair furniture — but there are numerous spelling errors and it definitely needs an editing pass or two before final release. The game could use a lot more in-game information and help, particularly regarding the buffs. Though I think I’ve worked out that they add extra maximum health and mana, and a higher gold drop amount, tooltips or other descriptions would be great. More information on spells, in-game attributes, and such would also be great; at the moment it’s a lot of guesswork as to exactly what effect some of the numbers have during combat.

Sound effects and music, too, are good, though a few more music tracks wouldn’t go astray. Sound effects play an important role in combat, and I’ve found myself listening out for the tell-tale sounds of a skeleton archer drawing back its bow. Melee weapon sounds are suitably loud and raucous, though a larger range depending on the weapon’s construction and its target would be a nice addition. The succubus’s voice is sultry and sexy when she speaks: “I cannot carry any more.” Mmmmm.

There are a handful of graphics settings, but you’re only given fairly high-level control. Performance is great, however, the lack of a vsync option occasionally makes my PC sound like it’s about to take off.

Bugs Galore!

She Will Punish Them has only recently entered Early Access and it really shows in the number of bugs. I won’t list everything I’ve found here, but it’s safe to say that I haven’t managed to play a session without at least a handful of them interfering.

Bugs range from minimal interference, such as the succubus’s hair returning to blonde and all buffs disappearing when reloading or infinitely regenerating loot slowly appearing in a pile on some levels — and drifting across the landscape on others; to more serious, such as a +3 damage, +5% creature damage gold ring also silently adding 13 armour to my succubus; to game-breakers, such as barriers closing an entrance as I’m walking through it, trapping me, or the game spawning a skeleton archer where I couldn’t physically get to it. (ProTip: if either of these things happen to you, don’t return home or you’ll lose everything; instead just kill the game from Task Manager and then at least you’ll still have your equipment from your last visit to your lair.)

The autosave doesn’t work that well at times, either, as it only seems to save upon entering the succubus’s lair; buy or sell anything and then quit and the game will lose those changes, reverting back to the last time you entered the lair.

Verdict

She Will Punish Them is a strange one. In its current state it’s a titillating repetitive action RPG with fairly limited combat actions and spells, little progression, and lots of bugs, with its primary appeal coming from a nicely modelled main character. It doesn’t have any jiggle, nudity, or adult content (yet!), but it does have a damn hot succubus and some reasonably satisfying, if rather repetitive, Diablo-like combat and equipment progression — when you don’t lose it due to the bugs.

Sticking with my usual attitude towards Early Access games — that I can only review what’s here, and not what’s promised — I have to hold back on my growing enthusiasm for the game a bit. At the moment it’s a nice diversion for a few hours, but I wouldn’t sink days of my life into it. That said, it’s definitely worth a look now, and if the developers’ recent performance continues — and some of the game-breaking bugs are fixed — I could see myself becoming rather fond of the game, indeed, after a few more development releases.

Written by
Genkipro
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