Publisher: Francis Cota
Reviewed on: Switch
Unepic opens with a few friends gathered around a game of D&D. Our protagonist Daniel gets up to use the bathroom, and finds himself trapped inside a mysterious medieval castle. Sound familiar? Unepic‘s setup is one of it’s more original and humorous aspects. Daniel is just an average guy that finds himself tasked with taking down the malevolent master a castle. Through plucky interactions with an evil spirit that posses Daniel early on, the journey through the treacherous castle always has a lighthearted tone.
In fact, the game enjoys poking fun at fantasy and role playing tropes. It even goes so far as to feature knock offs of famous characters and scenarios. It never loses sight of it’s own story, however, and the inclusion of the tongue-in-cheek gags only adds to the charm. The handful of side stories and quests do a lot to flesh out the world and I was always exited to meet a new character. The voice acting is also top-notch with all the characters sounding authentic and full of personality.
This wouldn’t be a proper send up of classic RPGs if it wasn’t a decent RPG itself, which it is. You’ll be managing inventories, spells, recipes, and of course character stats. Unepic is a fairly straight forward RPG in this sense. Each time you level up you get five points to distribute across various skills. You can choose to boost your proficiency with swords or resistance to poison. The game also does a good job of inspiring you to try different plays styles. For instance, you may be rewarded with a powerful dagger that can only be used if you have a high proficiency in daggers. Maybe this inspires you to put some points into daggers so you can try out your new blade.
Outside of the RPG mechanics, Unepic also features hack and slash gameplay and platforming. There’s little strategy to the combat, other than experimenting with to see what weapon-class works best on each enemy. For instance, maces work well against armored enemies and swords are best against unarmored opponents. Furthermore, ice spells cause more damage to fire enemies and vice versa. Outside of that, some of the special weapons you find will have bonuses like poison and damage buffs.
I honestly found the combat to be a little underwhelming. You have a single button for attacks and most of the encounters just consist of slashing away until the baddie dies. I found ranged combat to be even less intuitive because of the unresponsive lock-on system. Often times the lock-on button wouldn’t activate resulting in spamming the button hoping to get the desired result. This was especially frustrating in some boss fights that require you to lock-on as well as avoid attacks. While it’s possible to learn how to finesse it, I never truly felt confident when having to rely on the lock-on system.
If you can overlook the sometimes rote combat and iffy platforming, the castle in Unepic is actually a fascinating place to explore. Each area has a distinct look and feel and you’re encouraged to check every nook and cranny. As you explore you will find lanterns and other sources to light that you can ignite with your lighter. Find every light source in a room and will fill in on your map. This is the primary way to measure your progress because if every torch is lit you can rest assured you’ve explored every room.
If you can overlook the sometimes rote combat and iffy platforming, the castle in Unepic is actually a fascinating place to explore.
Unepic‘s art style also harkens back to classic RPGs with a very simple 2D representation of the castle and characters. You can zoom the camera out to get a full view of the entire room or zoom in to get a closer look at the action. The art also scales well between docked and portable mode on the Switch. Finally, dialogue is accompanied by comic-style representations of each character which adds more personality to them.
To Dock or Not to Dock?
Unepic is great example of game that works just as well docked as it does undocked. The game scales well to the big screen and everything is nice and clear on the Switch’s 720p display. The only issue you may find is that some of the smaller text may be hard to read on a TV. Other than that, there is no noticeable change in performance between the two modes. I played the game primarily in portable mode and ran into no issues.
Unepic is a throwback to classic RPGs. The visual style is on point and the writing is also top notch. Despite some combat and platforming short comings, the game manages to be exciting from start to finish. It’s a great addition to the Switch line-up that plays just as well at home as it does on the go.
Unepic is a throwback to classic RPGs. The visual style is on point and the writing is also top notch. Despite some combat and platforming short comings, the game manages to be exciting from start to finish. It's a great addition to the Switch line-up that plays just as well at home as it does on the go.