In my younger days I thought real life was incredibly boring. I wished I could live in the fantasy worlds that only existed in movies, video games, and books, where I could slaughter endless hordes of monsters, and come back to life good as new whenever they got the best of me. Daniel, the hero of Unepic, is lucky enough to live out my dreams, especially the part about dying a ridiculous amount of times and coming back to life unscathed. The game starts with a group of friends playing something that resembles Dungeons & Dragons. Daniel excuses himself to use the bathroom only to find himself teleported into a Metroidvania game, which he initially writes off as being a drug induced hallucination thinking his friends put something in his drink. He is then possessed by a spirit who he eventually names Zera. Much to the spirit’s dismay, Zera is unable to control Daniel and is trapped in this fleshy prison with death being his only escape, so naturally Zera does make a few attempts to trick you into falling into an early grave. Daniel quickly bonds with his spectral parasite and they banter throughout the game with the comradery of Kaine and Grimoire Weiss. The game’s sense of humor is the area in which this game most excels. It makes entertaining references to some obvious choices such as Star Wars and Lord of the Rings, and less obvious ones like Futurama. As far as game play is concerned this an old school game. You make a map as you progress throughout the castle but receive little guidance as to where you need to go to. Every room you enter is filled with denizens of the castle that are eager to kill you, and in addition to them you have limited visibility until you light the torches and candle with your trusty lighter. It is an interesting device but does get old. Fortunately once you light something it stays lit forever. You come across doors to many different areas of the castle that you cannot access right away, you need to find keys to open up these areas, which can be obtained as you progress through the story, usually by completing a quest that involves killing a boss monster.
There is a hub for fast travel between areas after you’ve unlocked them, which does help a lot with returning to earlier parts of the castle to advance the story along. I was pleased to find this game does have little optional side quests to complete, and I delayed the main story progressive messing around with these. The first one of these I found was a quest to battle an alpha male goblin for the privilege of mating with a few goblin maidens. This was of course done with the same levity the rest of the game has shown at the point, and appealed greatly to my shamelessly immature sense of humor. The reward for this completing this quest was the Horga’hn Axe, and to add realism to the mating portion the game unequipped my character’s armor rendering him naked. From this point on I ran through the castle inspiring fear in my enemies with my pixelated nudity brandishing a large battle axe. That is until I got to an area where the enemies were strong enough I needed to put some armor on if I wanted to survive. The second optional quest I found was a goblin girl I found in the mine shaft who lost her doll and was now in possession of some yapping poodle looking dog. I was not eager to do battle with the canine, but the idea of this battle taking place in the mine shaft allowed me to channel the rage of Catherine Martin after being hosed down too many times over forced lotion slatherings, giving me the necessary bloodlust to heroically charge into the battle with the vicious poodle and return the missing doll to the goblin girl.
Unepic does not have a traditional class selection found in most RPGs, but instead allows you to customize your character’s development through skill points you get whenever you level up. You can distribute these points into different types of weapons, armor, and make him into an archer, melee warrior, wizard, or hybrid of these classes. The game goes for a retro 8-bit look which it actually pulls off well. The voice acting is well done, and the while minimalist music does not make me want to buy the game’s soundtrack it is appropriate for the atmosphere. Thecontrols are responsive and there are no major issues in accomplishing what you want you, but sometimes ducking after immediately jumping doesn’t work and using the trigger to aim projectiles does not always go as smoothly as one would hope. Basically, as I said earlier this is an old school game. It has the charm of an old NES game with some modern advancements, but it also has some of the frustrating bits of those old platformers, like having to try the same jump a few times because you were standing a couple pixels away from where you need to be. Unepic has four difficulty levels, the hardest being extremely unforgiving and the easiest allowing you to fumble through most situations with the finesses of a drunk elephant trying to navigate an antique store. Even on the easiest setting I died quite a bit, but health regeneration and autosave made the deaths pretty easy to shake off. A word of caution though, make sure you buy teleport scrolls as soon as you are able to, because when Zera says there is no way out of a portal without them that is one of the few times he is telling you something that is in your best interest. While this game does not redefine the genre, the creators of this game were obvious fans of this style of game, and did put in the effort to make this an enjoyable experience. The humor is geared towards adults with some pretty foul language, and the retro graphics make the sexual content and violence more comical than offensive. If you enjoy enjoy games like Symphony of the Night or Metroid, or the unforgiving challenge of the NES days, this game is very worth checking out. As fan of 2D platformers and old adventure games, I found this game to be quite enjoyable.