The peculiarly named UnEpic was originally released back on the PC in 2014, but now with its release finally coming to console, it allows us Xbox One gamers to see whether or not UnEpic lives up to its name, or if actually there is rather an epic adventure hidden under that name.
UnEpic: Xbox One [Reviewed], Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 4, PlayStation Vita, Wii U, Mac OS, Linux
Developer: EnjoyUp Games
Publisher: EnjoyUp Games
Release Date: 8 December 2015
Price: £7:99 [Disclosure: Game copy supplied by Developer/Publisher]
UnEpic sees you enter the shoes of an, at first, unnamed man who stumbles into a bizarre world after the lights go out on him in the bathroom. After appearing in this world somehow, he wanders about a bit and is possessed by a demon. However, the possession doesn’t go quite right, and the demon gets stuck in the man’s body. From there, you lead the two of them through the castle you have unexpectedly ended up in, searching for a way out. The game’s story is one of its strongest aspects, and you will find it hard not to get completely involved and follow it through right to the end.
UnEpic takes its inspiration from an older time of gaming and plays out like a retro dungeon crawler/RPG. You have to wander from room to room in the castle, each taking up the whole screen as you do, and fight enemies along the way. Items will be dropped by enemies and can also be found in chests and hidden rooms, and different weapons have different stats and abilities, which you can use to your advantage. With swords, maces, bow and arrows, magic and other weapons to pick from, you can fight through the game however you want, although some items may be more or less effective against certain enemies. The freedom this game gives you with the choice of how to play is a welcome change from being forced into a certain fighting style, you can similarly explore different areas of the castle at your own free will (although some areas will be locked off until a certain boss is defeated). Sometimes there’s a bit of a difficulty spike in particular areas, which seem to hit you suddenly and can be annoying, but you can usually find a way to get past areas of difficulty eventually, whether that’s with a pet to help you do extra damage or by simply levelling up and increasing a certain skill.
There’s a range of different enemies you’ll be facing on your journey too, with everything from suits of armour to leeches to bats and everything in between. The bosses you face add even more fun and excitement to the game, with you coming up against giant worms and giant hands playing scissors, rock, paper. Each boss has a unique way of fighting and beating it, and conquering some of them may have you pulling your hair out, especially when you controls are being reversed. This just makes the victory all that more sweet though, and the number of different rooms and bosses will keep you busy for a number of hours.
As you travel from room to room, there are a few things you’ll need to be looking out for. Each room has a number of torches that need lighting, and you need to try and light all of these in each area of the castle. This can be tricky when being chased down by enemies and when the torches are hard to see, but adds a nice extra objective to the game. There’s also a number of quests scattered about the castle, which when completed upgrade your magic skills or give you important items. The magic quests are given by giant spirit boxes and involve collecting certain items, whereas others will have players fetching items, killing certain enemies or doing other fairly simple tasks. There’s a nice variety in questing without being overwhelmed and having them shoved in your face every minute. To add to these, there is also challenges to complete, but annoyingly you have to find the hidden challenge icon in the game somewhere before you can complete the challenge. So even if you do manage to do what is needed for the challenge, it won’t count unless you picked up the icon first.
Humour is a big part of the game, and some of the conversations between the central characters will definitely have you laughing out loud. The game’s look is a definite throwback to an older style of game, but the 8bit look works really well and the game flows perfectly from room to room with barely any loading. The design of the main screen with the border showing items and quick prompt items, as well as recently happened activities gives the game its retro feel but is updated to work well with a current game design. A creepy but fitting soundtrack follows you around the castle, and some of the music for the bosses especially might very well have you dancing round the room whilst you fight them.
For a game with a name like UnEpic, it certainly doesn’t disappoint but instead surpasses everything you thought it might be. A great story with engaging main characters, whose opposite personalities play together so well. Pair that with a quick flowing game that you are free to explore at your own pace, enemies that will challenge you without driving you mad, and a location that is both fascinating to look at and play through. The game has few problems, and nothing that should put off fans of the genre for sure, but it would be mad not to recommend this game to anyone who wants to play something a little different, a little addictive and a little epic.