Lets take a look behind the curtain here. I’m at a bit of a loss over how to review this. I’ve written this opening about 6 times now and each time I decide it’s not good enough and try to approach it from a different angle. I think the best option here is to be blunt. Ouroboros is a really fucking good game. In fact, it’s probably the first game I’d recommend to someone who hasn’t played an adult game before. Unfortunately I can’t say anything else about this game without ruining the experience for someone who hasn’t yet played it. If you haven’t played Ouroboros yet go download it here and play it right now. It’s a short game. At least play the first couple hours. Just trust me on this. It’s a good fucking game and I don’t want to spoil the twist for you. Everyone else, read on ahead.
Are you done yet? Have you at least beat the Vizier and gone to the North West forest area? Do you know the big twist? Alright cool. Now I suppose I’ll write the rest of this review as if you haven’t played it…except you should have by now. Fuck this is difficult to write.
Ouroboros is an RPG Maker VX game made by Sierra Lee and continues her history of placing clever protagonists in worlds of bullshit fantasy tropes to watch them break the system. The game starts off like a normal RPG protagonist named Atreyan doing normal RPG bullshit. Wake up from the dead in a clearing, find out he’s immortal, do pointless fetch quests for idiots for pitiful amounts of money, go get 3 magical macguffins, go rescue a princess from the evil Vizier that took over his city. Then everything freezes, the game cuts to black, and you wake up in the clearing again. As you continue to rescue the princess you’ll notice some weird inconsistencies. Why does this town of ~30 people have like 11 beds? Why are these powerful magic artifacts being guarded by lever puzzles instead of guards? Why did someone make an ancient magical artifact for the purpose of removing grates? Then the player character starts to notice these too and you realize that instead of lazy writing there’s something weird going on.
After some more questing it’s revealed that Atreyan’s not in the real world. He’s in a magical matrix-esque simulation. Apparently having a chosen hero with a combination of immortality and plot armor thick enough to deflect tank shells is a pretty big fucking issue so the big bad decided the best way to defeat him was to stick him in a simulation of one shitty town with a made up plot to defeat a fake version of the antagonist and then mind wipe him and start again. Over and over. Forever. Yeah, apparently time goes much faster in the simulation than it does in the real world and he’s gone through this charade a few million times. Bare in mind 2 things. First of all, it’s implied the simulation doesn’t always end as soon as the big bad is defeated. Sometimes it goes on for decades and he ends up marrying a potion merchant and dying peacefully in bed surrounded by loved ones at 82. Secondly, he now has all of these memories. Millions of lifetimes of different careers, skills, and knowledge all in your head at once.
So now that you know there is no spoon what does you do? Establish ground rules. You learn a couple things. Everyone but 3 other people in this town are mindless automaton who just spout lines at you. The Vizier, your annoying slime sidekick, even the princess you’re trying to rescue has no brain. You don’t want to break the cycle’s mechanics too much because it might alert the fuck who checks in on things every once in a while. Lastly, there are some ways to make changes that stay between cycles.
Now you go about waking up your friends. It’s interesting to see how Sierra wrote each of them reacting differently to getting millions of lifetimes of memories all at once. Teira, the brash bold tomboy, basically breaks down and cries because she lived through a million lifetimes of doing nothing but teasing one dude. Amiel, the nice and innocent Stepford waifu decides that if everyone in this town is an unfeeling automaton than there’s no reason not to burn them all alive and then schlick herself with the ashes. And Emantha, the town’s resident mage, freaks out when she realizes that since the real magic is too complex to simulate and the creators of the simulation used simplified baby magic she just spent millions of lifetimes studying bullshit fake magic that has no practical use in the real world.
As you continue to go through cycles things go faster and faster as you start sequencing breaking existence. Why use this bomb to open the path to the 4 magical maguffins when I can just use it to blow open the castle? Why go to the inn to rest when I can use my Neo powers to just trick the simulation into thinking I did every time I go to town? Why stab enemies with my sword when I can unmake them from the cycle of existence. Eventually the time it takes to complete a cycle shrinks down to about 15 minutes as you dig deeper and deeper into the guts of the simulation. Eventually you dig deep enough where you get to the point where you’re slaying “monster” by stabbing them with “the physical manifestation of sharpness”. This is the point of the game where you bend physics and reality until it snaps in half and it’s written beautifully. Finally you reach the bottom level of the simulation and murder the mind of the guy in there with you keeping an eye on things and you can finally escape!
Except you don’t. This is where the game ends. Why? Why would you honeydick us like this Sierra? The worst part is that there isn’t a sequel planned. I asked Sierra. She told me “As much as I tend to plan sequels, Ouroboros was meant to be completely self-contained. While there’s obviously more to the characters’ lives, the game covers their essential story. There won’t be a 2 Ouroboros 2 Furious or anything”. In all fairness Ouroboros was a side project made to take a break from TLS so it’s somewhat unfair to expect a 42 hour epic but to end the game before the goal you set out to accomplish is complete just feels like a slap in the face. This is like Kill Bill ending right after Elle dies or a Zelda game ending after getting the second Triforce piece.
Honestly I-Oh wait! This is an adult game so there’s porn yeah? Well yeah. It’s alright. There’s only 12 scenes in the game and the art style is decent but nothing special. Here’s a file containing all of the extracted art because I just love you all so much.
Honestly, I can look past the abrupt ending and sparse porn because the game’s story and writing is just so good. This was actually the first adult game I ever saw on the weg threads and it really served to hook me on the genre. It’s short, it’s clever, it’s fun, it really does have it all. This is probably my second favorite adult game of all time outshone by TLS only because of the massive amount of content available in her fulltime project. That works in this game’s favor though because it’s that much easier to get into knowing you’re not going to have to sit down for a 28 hour novella. I would suggest everyone play Ouroboros and I guarantee you you’ll enjoy it the first time through. I mean…not now since I just spoiled all of the fun stuff in the story but that’s your fault for not listening when I told you to stop earlier.