I didn’t necessarily go into Waifu Impact expecting it to be great, but I hoped it’d at least be a bit of silly fun. There’s potential in the concept of a shooter given a fanservice-filled makeover by replacing firearms and combat gear with swimsuits and water blasters is a neat premise, as Senran Kagura: Peach Beach Splash showed, despite its shortcomings. While Waifu Impact is clearly made on a smaller budget and was never going to be as ambitious, I hoped at least for a little burst of carefree, lewd frivolity.
Instead, I found something that feels more like a prototype than a fully-realised game. After being unceremoniously dropped onto a paradise island—as a bikini-clad young “waifu”, of course—you’re tasked with searching around for 25 stars hidden around the place, while using a water gun to fend off attacks from other girls. Every five stars lets you unlock another character, getting all 25 unlocks a wave-based arena mode, and reaching certain “kill” thresholds with each character unlocks artwork for them.
And… that’s the whole game. Being short isn’t a problem—if anything, concision is a blessing in an industry obsessed with filling games up with meaningless “content”—but Waifu Impact is the kind of short that just feels uninspired. There isn’t even the flimsiest of narrative framing, and despite the storefront description of “increasing your affinity with the girls”, that’s on a purely mechanical level: get a requisite number of kills with a character, and you’ll unlock a new piece of artwork for them. Without even simple, one-line character profiles or facial expressions of any sort, and with the most generic animations, the closest thing these waifus have to personality is their choice of hairstyle, bikini, and weapon.
“Waifu Island” (yes, really) is mildly enjoyable to explore, with some light platforming challenges and nice topographic variety. Finding all 25 stars isn’t exactly the most captivating experience, but there’s a smidge of mindless fun in collecting them all—think a rudimentary form of a collectathon platformer.
But even that’s held back by the most unwieldy shooting mechanics that turn the core of the game into a slog. With sluggish character movement, inordinately large hitboxes (insert oppai joke here), a general lack of reliable cover, and imprecise controls for aiming, the idea of any sort of skill-based shooting dynamic goes out the window. Instead, it turns into a game of downing your enemies before they get you—which isn’t difficult, thanks to their weak pistols, similarly massive hitboxes, and terrible AI. It is, however, incredibly boring, a fact made worse by there being literally only three different enemies in the whole game: a regular waifu copy-pasted all over the island, a giant version of the same who appears as a boss when you reach a certain killstreak, and the final boss of arena mode, who at least gets a different character model.
Even as a vessel for a bit of lewd entertainment, Waifu Impact struggles. The character designs aren’t terrible, but are stock-standard “anime girl with big boobs” without any real defining characteristics. There’s a single piece of hand-drawn, pinup-style artwork for each that is generally quite attractive, if generic, but the rest of the unlockable images are just posed screenshots of their far less enticing in-game models, with that lack of personality just sapping the life out of everything. As fanservice, it’s neither entertaining nor sexy, which seems to miss the entire point of what makes that approach appealing in the first place.
In other words, Waifu Impact doesn’t really have a lot going on, and it’s not very good at what it does do. But there’s a drop of potential here: tighten the shooting mechanics, add a little bit more enemy variety, and introduce even a hint of narrative context—even just character profiles and an introduction—and you’d have something that still isn’t great, but is at least a bit of fun. Go a few steps further with multiple maps, a fleshed out story mode, more unique artwork to unlock, and some sort of multiplayer mode, and you might wind up with something genuinely enjoyable. That’s why I say it feels more like a prototype: it doesn’t have a lot going for it as it is, but it could be the framework for something much more substantial and worthwhile.
Sadly, it’s been released as is, and barring some massive overhauls and updates to come post-launch, Waifu Impact is going to be stuck feeling like a prototype. There’s a lot of promise in the more playful, “bikinis and water guns” breed of third-person shooter, but what’s here needs a lot more substance and refinement before it gets close to that potential. And when even the fanservice falls flat—cup sizes notwithstanding—there’s really not much else left.