+ Very challenging & rewarding
+ Huge variety of skills and items
+ Multiple difficulty levels and rewards
+ Gamepad play & inventory management
- Some of the humor is mysoginistic
- Some quests are recycled
Having recently released on the Wii U’s eShop, Unepic seems like a standard action RPG platformer in the vein of Castlevania and Metroid. However, the important thing to note is that Unepic tends to stand out from the crowd by providing a very challenging campaign, witty dialogue, and the way the game utilizes the Wii U gamepad so that it actually differentiates itself from the PC version. And for a mere 10 USD, Unepic is very affordable and a great value.
I have to be honest, the story is nothing to write home about. You play as Daniel, a typical young adult male who is playing D&D with some friends when he suddenly appears in a castle. Thinking he’s hallucinating, he plays along and eventually meets a ghost who tries to possess him, but instead gets trapped inside of Daniel’s body. From this point, you’re basically let loose and supposed to explore the castle and find out just what you need to do to wake up from your hallucination.
Throughout the game, Daniel will interact and converse with Zera, the spirit that is trapped in his body. Their conversations are actually highly entertaining, as Zera is constantly trying to get Daniel killed so he can escape his fleshy prison, while Daniel seems like he just enjoys the company. Throughout the castle, there are various inhabitants that will have different things to say as well. There are quite a few Star Wars references, but that is only the tip of the ice berg as I’m sure I haven’t even realized the rest. Unfortunately, some of the humor and references grow pretty tiring by the end of the game. Some of the humor is even a tad misogynistic and juvenile, which is a little off-putting.
As Daniel, you get to roam around the castle’s 200+ rooms and discover all manner of secrets and boss monsters. Combat is based largely on skill points that you receive when you level up. You’ll get to pick between a dozen or so different skills to place points in, including all sorts of individual weapons, magics, armors, and even potions. Seeing as there are a ton of different skills but only limited points available, you need to be very careful where you place your points.
Speaking of being careful, odds are you’ll need to play this game with a cautious attitude. It’s tough, especially on the higher difficulties, and enemies will literally tear you apart without a moment’s notice. You’ll also need to utilize certain weapons in order to be effective against certain enemies. For example, if you don’t put any points in a blunt weapon, you might not be very effective against skeletons or certain bosses. It’s certainly a game of give and take.
There are multiple difficulty levels, and the game even rewards you with extra skill points if you’re playing on harder difficulties. This actually gives an incentive to go back through the game on Hard++ mode, where enemies do significantly more damage and have more health. It’d be great if more games took this approach, as it really gives a sense of accomplishment upon completing a tough fight and leveling up.
Visually, the game shows nothing in terms of technical prowess. However, in terms of artistic style, it is very reminiscent of older NES and SNES games. The bosses look absolutely phenomenal and are very creative, but I can’t quite say the same thing about the standard enemies. I can only describe the audio as typical for this sort of game. A few of the tracks are awesome,such as the theme in the Garden section of the castle, but others aren’t worth remembering.
Seeing as how Unepic was ported to the Wii U, you might be wondering how it takes advantage of the gamepad. For the most part, the gamepad is used as an inventory shortcut screen. Now I know what you’re thinking, that sounds completely lame but it’s actually one of the most useful additions to the game. You’ll need to switch your weapons often, use many magic spells and items, and keep track of how many materials you have as you play through the game. Fortunately, the gamepad offers the perfect opportunity to do this without hogging up a portion of your television screen. Instead of fumbling through a menu, you can simply tap a button on the gamepad screen to equip your weapon, summon your pets, or use an item. There is also gamepad only play, but the down-side to this is that you won’t have a second screen to use as your inventory. You can tap the screen while playing in gamepad mode to open the shortcut menu, but that will take your eyes off the action for a moment.
It’s important to note that Unepic was released a few years back on PC. The differences between the Wii U and the PC version is largely between the gamepad on the Wii U, and online multiplayer on the PC. It is possible for the Wii U to get multiplayer in a future update, but as of today, it has not been announced. However, playing on the PC is a bit tedious in my opinion because of the controls. It’s much easier and more immersive to play with the gamepad, and it helps that the gamepad keeps track of your inventory as well.
I have to applaud Francisco Téllez de Meneses, the creator of Unepic, for his work on the Wii U. The PC version of the game is wonderful, but the Wii U version might just win me over because of the gamepad only functions. Needless to say, Unepic is a wonderful game if you’re into platforming and roleplaying games. It’s needlessly difficult and has a steep learning curve, but that is part of the charm.
Buy, Rent, or Avoid?
If you’re a fan of challenging platformers in the vein of Metroid and Castlevania, you’ll definitely want to snag a copy of Unepic off the eShop.