During my time with Unepic, I slew countless enemies, stumbled upon tons of great loot, and laughed at some seriously irreverent humor – all within the first two hours of the game. Throughout the rest of my time with the spunky platformer/RPG hybrid, I slew even more enemies, found even better loot, and even had the chance to copulate with some fantasy creatures. Needless to say, this is a game with some serious character.
Unepic feels very much like the myriad other ‘metroidvania’ titles on the market in terms of playstyle, but is one of the few games that are able to break free and transcend the genre thanks largely in part to its blend of familiar gameplay and smart writing.
The creative wit of Unepic takes center stage from the second the game starts up. Players step into the sneakers of Daniel, a sci-fi movie lover and RPG fan. Daniel is immediately relatable – his love for games and frequently foul language hits right at home and allows players to really appreciate him as a character.
Daniel’s journey starts simply enough surround by friends in the middle of playing a tabletop RPG. Amidst a few well-times D&D jokes, Daniel excuses himself to the bathroom. What he thinks is a simple trip to relieve himself soon turns out to be anything but that, as upon flipping out his zippo to illuminate the dark room, Daniel finds himself in a strange castle.
The castle, and Daniel’s subsequent journey to return to his home, is one of humor, violence, and pure fun. Unepic scores serious points for taking a tried-and-true formula and breathing new life into it. Through my hours with the game, there was never a point where the game felt stale. Even after hours of navigating the labyrinth hallways and slaying monster after monster, the game’s charm and entertaining writing kept everything feeling fresh.
Unepic’s humor often all of the attention and serves as a break from the rest of the game’s hacking, slashing, and platforming. Having a gaming nerd transported to a castle that seems right out of his imagination is a perfect set-up for countless jokes and spoofs of the genre as a whole. Throughout a playthrough, players will encounter great satires of RPG staples, characters that talk similar to Yoda and enough pop culture references to make any bar-trivia team blush. While humor and puns often take the place of actual narrative, this is not to be seen as a fault. If Unepic were to take a more serious approach to Daniel’s journey, the gameplay would do little to differentiate it from similar titles.
Gameplay in Unepic will feel familiar to anyone who has played a Castlevania title – or one of its imitators – before. Daniel navigates his way through the massive castle and its surrounding areas by leaping, climbing, and illuminating his surroundings. Daniel encounters foes left and right as he makes his way through various areas, and has the option of fighting them with various types of weapons. Bows, swords, axes, maces and spears are all par for the course, as well as different spells that can be unlocked as Daniel progresses on his quest.
There is not much to be said of the actual combat in Unepic, as it never deviates far from getting in close, slashing an enemy, and then moving back before getting hit. While there is nothing fundamentally wrong with this, sometimes it feels as though Unepic falls short in terms of combat depth – especially when dealing with the games noticeable difficulty curve.
Unepic is by no means an easy game. Many players may find themselves wishing for more of a challenge after breezing through the games tutorial stage and a challenge is surely what they will find. Later stages of the game, especially what is essentially the second area of the game – The Sewers – are markedly more difficult than their predecessor, which inevitably leads to some serious grinding and strategy adjustment.
All in all, Unepic is a fun fantasy romp. It is great to see a game be able to take itself lightly, while still deliver on classic gameplay. Thanks largely in part to the familiar feel of the controls and platforming, as well as the charming retro-inspired graphic, Unepic’s call back to the great metroidvania titles of the past is not one that goes unheard. The game’s shortcomings in terms of repetitive combat and large difficulty curve are easily overlooked when the game’s sparkling wit is mentioned. For lovers of the genre, this title is simply a no brainer.
[schema type=”review” name=”Unepic | Review Summary” description=”The Awesome: Well written and humorous throughout, handles and plays very well | The Not So Awesome: Gameplay can get repetitive, difficulty spikes can be cause for grinding” rev_name=”Unepic” rev_body=”Unepic is a fun retro-inspired game that banks on its wit instead of any gameplay innovation to hook players in.” author=”Ray Porreca” pubdate=”2013-07-08″ user_review=”8″ min_review=”0″ max_review=”10″ ]
*the reviewer was provided with a code from the developer to review the game for PC.
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