Corruption of Champions is a free text-based fantasy browser game of the erotic persuasion, a community project from like-minded perverts rather than any official studio. I liked it a lot. A spiritual successor has been in the works for some time, taking the form of a free erotic sci-fi browser game called Trials in Tainted Space.
It quickly becomes apparent this is going to be even more ambitious than Corruption of Champions. CoC’s monsters are recognizable animals crossed with human DNA or common fantasy fare. Creatures like the Minotaur are so iconic, it isn't difficult to imagine one pile driving your character’s lusty hindquarters into the centre of the earth. Trials in Tainted Space takes the gloves off. We've gone from a planet to a galaxy, removing what little restrictions there were in regards to creature design.
The first screen of Trials in Tainted Space (TiTS) is the character creation page with a selection of race options. Offering much more than CoC’s default human, the choices here extend to Kaithrit and Leithan, among others. What is a Leithan and how does it mate with a Fanfir? This game gives you an idea through exhaustive encyclopaedic entries reaching upwards of a thousand words each. And even after absorbing this information, a spectacular imagination is required to pull off a love scene between what is at rough guess, a purple six-legged bull centaur and that dragon from The NeverEnding Story.
I can already hear veteran fanfiction writers bragging about how they've been dreaming up such debauchery for years. Well hold onto your butts (and not just because of the aforementioned pile driving) because there’s more. Body modifications are back and are readily available to the galaxy’s inhabitants. So now imagine a purple gelatinous six-legged triple-breasted winged bull centaur … oh and don’t forget the bunny ears. As if you would.
CoC’s design was so relaxed; players could continue playing even if they’d lost the capacity for rational thought. That game is set in a place where time and distance has no meaning (Wales?), going from a haunted forest to an ancient city instantaneously. With the exception of dungeons, exploration is just a single button press that cycled through area-appropriate events. TiTS adds a grid of connected tiles that can actually be navigated. There’s more depth to travelling and continuity on a fixed map. You get to be proactive and seek out events rather than wait for the right ones to fall into your eager lap.
Expanding on exploration also brings drudgery. Now a journey from that aforementioned forest to town involves weaving through a maze-like combat zone of potential random encounters. I say "potential," because the average tile isn't going to yield anything except a basic description of surroundings. That’s the catch when the entire journey is shown, rather than just the highlights—there are going to be intervals where nothing happens. Fighting and talking has been clearly separated between each planet’s combat zone and town, prompting a lot of consecutive fights or consecutive conversations, which can be tiring both mentally and physically. Scouting those content-rich towns for the first time has my eyes struggling to maintain focus, almost leaving me blind for reasons completely unrelated to the eroticism!
So to summarize, TiTS turns away from the simple yet robust framework of CoC and elects to delve into the simulation aspects. I think the elements I've spoken on thus far are unlikely to change, even if the game is far from finished. This is the path they've chosen, and it brings both advantages and disadvantages. It’s not like the world building and dense creatures force themselves on the player. Well, the latter do physically, but that’s not what I mean. TiTS has less precision and more options. Absorbing the insanely detailed world, romancing the more complex aliens, or spending hours on the encyclopaedia isn't strictly necessary. That information is made available for those who want to ascend to an advanced tier of smut—the fabled epic levels. However, the sheer bulk of data still leaves a lot to sift through, and as a result TiTS doesn't quite have the ease of dipping in and out that CoC had.
Playing Trials in Tainted Space sometimes felt like punching above my weight class. I need to step back from this one and build myself up by researching some depraved hardcore filth (definitely counts as a business expense) to prepare for the full challenge. I've explored half a dozen planets so far and shall await future builds of TiTS before renewing my journey. Those interested in following the project can check out the head honcho’s blog (NSFW), and the patreon page, which offers early access to pre-release alpha builds for supporters. Heck, maybe you’ll even end up contributing by writing some scenes yourself.
Have you tried TiTS or CoC? Are you waiting for the finished version? Let us know your thoughts in the comments!