Little Angels: Maid Survivors preview [PlayX4] — A Brotato-esque horde survival game with anime packaging and evolutions to the genre

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Recently I was lucky enough to attend PlayX4 in Gyeonggi, South Korea. During my time there, I was able to sit down with developer MilkEmpire and play an early build of Little Angels: Maid Survivors, a top-down horde survival game that was inspired by Brotato, a game of the same genre. While the two titles have many similarities in gameplay, Little Angels adds its own twists on the tried and true Brotato formula.

One aspect that sets Little Angels apart is that it has some lore. It’s nothing deep, but it adds context to the events of the game. In classic anime fashion, maids and demons are locked in a millennia-long conflict, with maids fighting to protect the world and demons fighting to end it. You play as one of four maids (they aim to have ten by the end of development) working at a maid bar called “Little Angels”, which is run by a woman named Mori Ika. On top of running the bar, Mori established “Twin Tail Corp.”— basically maid warrior high command.

As a maid, you’re sent out onto the streets of Akihabarize—a facsimile of Akihabara, an area in Tokyo known for its dedication to anime, manga, gaming, and idol culture, as well as maid cafes. The street crossing you’re fighting at is rather sizable, giving you plenty of room to juke around the constantly spawning demons while fighting them. You don’t need to fight forever, though, after a set amount of time, the remaining demons will disappear and the shop will appear. The currency the shop accepts is called “eru energy” which drops from the monsters you kill during the round, and doubles as XP for leveling up, which grants you stat boosts. Up to four weapons and upgrades will be in the shop at any given time, but you can spend eru energy to re-roll your selection, and you can lock items to prevent them from disappearing on re-rolls and in between shop visits.

There are plenty of stats to upgrade, some of which are self-explanatory, such as damage, health, and speed. Then there are more complex stats like luck and bonus. Luck increases the chance of getting higher tier upgrades when leveling up, and the drop chance of capsules—little toy pods that drop from enemies on occasion which grant free items. The Bonus stat grants free eru energy corresponding with its level at the end of the wave.

Items are a careful balancing act; while they grant stat boosts, they often come with drawbacks as well. For example, the gas mask item will increase your range stat by a flat two points and decrease your speed by five percent. If you’re not careful, then you could go into the negatives. When that happens, for some stats, you just won’t receive a bonus, and if the stat goes too far into the negatives then you’ve pretty much dug yourself into a hole with that one. For other stats, you’ll be actively debuffed. Take the bonus stat for example, if it’s in the negatives, then you’ll actively hemorrhage eru energy at the end of every round.

There are currently four maids in the game, each of whom has their own dodge and special abilities, as well as starting stats. The first is Otohime, a clumsy princess maid with her own entourage of riflewomen, when summoned, they form a circle around Otohime and gun down nearby threats to protect her. Otohime’s dodge is just her tripping, falling, and sliding on the ground. That got a chuckle out of me the first time I saw it. Otohime gets a plus five to luck and bonus and a plus ten to max health.

The next maid is Shirai, and she’s… utterly unhinged. She has a violent, obsessive personality. For her special attack, she beats up a stuffed rabbit toy, then channels her hatred and wrath before smashing it into the ground, causing a massive explosion. The game even switches to a view of the globe, where you can see the explosion engulfing a large portion of… Baja California? Back on the stage, just about every enemy will be caught in the blast radius, instantly destroying most of them. Shirai’s dodge places landmines behind her, making it great for baiting enemies. Alternatively, you could just dive right into the horde like a bomber plane dropping its payload. Additionally, she starts out with twenty life steal, twenty crit chance, and negative five armor.

Moving on to the third, we have Genius. She’s a pain, but a smart pain. In the story, she has a massive ego, and refuses to respond unless she’s addressed as “brilliant mad scientist Genius”, but she does have the competence to back it up. Her specialty is engineering, which she gets ten points in, but she’s also agile, getting six points in speed. Her agility is reflected in her dash ability, which, unlike Otohime’s, is a graceful leap through the air with a good bit of power behind it. Genius’ special attack unleashes three laser-blasting robots that patrol the stage.

Finally, we have Kanekuma, an oni with a blank expression. Her red outfit makes her aesthetically fit in more with the demons, and she carries around a big spiked club that she makes use of in her dodge. Well, it’s more of an attack, as she leaps into the air and smashes the ground. Her special move is called “Insanity – God of Hell Rampage”, and she’ll spin around with her club forming a cyclone, all without ever losing the nonplussed look on her face. She gets a plus ten to damage and melee attack, and a minus ten to ranged attacks.

From Otohime’s incompetent dodge slide and anime girl arm-waving run to the juxtaposition of Kanekuma’s personality and attacks, this game has a fair bit of humor—some deadpan and some slapstick. One of the items is called the master key… It’s a rock. Little Angels: Maid Survivors leans unabashedly hard into its anime themes (I’m surprised none of the maids run around with toast in their mouths), and that gives it an identity. The game will be released in early access on the Korean game service, STOVE, in August, and on Steam by the end of this year. They aim to release the full game in the first half of 2025. For now, you can try the demo on either platform.

Jackson loves to play and write about video games. Rogue-lites, FPS, and RPG games are his favorite. He's a big fan of the Battlefield series and Warhammer 40K.

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