We’ve seen a number of different types of games in our Weekly Spotlight Program so far, and this week is no different. Our newest feature is a throwback adventure/RPG game that pays homage to the classic games of the 80s and 90s. It is available on the Xbox Store now, and it is called Unepic – $5.
Unepic takes you back to the days of classic NES style adventure/RPG games. With its 2D platforming, no guidance in exploration and very high difficulty, Unepic is a throwback to games like classic Ghosts and Goblins for original NES. The game is incredibly funny and features a lot of jokes about other video games. It’s the classic breaking of the fourth wall where the characters believe they are in real life opposed to a video game. In a game of D&D one night, your protagonist Daniel decides he needs to take a pee break. Playing with a bunch of guys of course, one of them thinks it will be funny to turn out the light. After a “come on guys” comment by Daniel, he ends up being whisked away to a dark and looming castle where Unepic begins. A ghost named Zeral tried to take over Daniel’s body and steal his soul. Unfortunately for Zeral, he is stopped short of the soul sucking and must settle for occupying the same body. The result is incredible dialog between the two with references to classic movies and games of the late 80’s and 90’s. Spaceballs, Star Wars and even the classic NES title Dragon Warrior are referenced in the ongoing comedy skit that is Daniel and Zeral. There are a whole bunch more, but you’ll have to play as we’re not going to ruin it for you.
Although paying tribute to games like Ghosts & Goblins, the primary source of inspiration for Unepic appears to be Castlevania. Right from the very beginning it becomes evident how difficult Unepic is going to become. It doesn’t hold your hand in exploring, but instead features a game map that fills in as you progress. Areas you have not explored yet are shrouded in darkness on the map. While you are exploring, you’ll find every area chock full of enemies. The classic orcs, goblins and other D&D type enemies are all there for the fight. If that wasn’t hard enough, the rooms are also pitch black. You’ll need to locate different torches in order to light up the room as well as complete various quests to proceed. These quest givers, of course, are playing the best game of hide and seek there is as they aren’t indicated on the map.
You are able to choose which type character you become in Unepic, opposed to most RPGs where you choose between wizard or melee at the beginning. You’ll have to be careful, however, as some enemies are only vulnerable to certain types of attacks. Therefore, you’ll be stuck if you are out of items or don’t have a skill unlocked. Leveling up has a much higher amount of customization that you are used to in games of similar setup. Five skill points are earned each time you level up, and you can allocate these over five categories: Weapons, armor, constitution, magic and potions. Where the difficulty sets in with Unepic is there is no way of knowing what you need until you reach the point where you need it. Be prepared to die a lot if you are a warrior and have to fight a boss that is vulnerable to fire. It can be a bit frustrating, but bosses have more than one way to beat them. It may, however, just take you a little longer than you may have liked.
Perhaps my favorite part of Unepic was the amount of customization involved. There are over 100 different weapons and 70 magic spells in the game throughout seven categories : swords, maces, daggers, bows, axes, magic wands and pole arms. You’ll need to keep a decent inventory of items as not every weapon will work on every enemy.
The map is your best friend in Unepic as there is absolutely no guidance whatsoever provided in the game. There are also over 200 individual rooms you can enter, making it absolutely gigantic. Secret passages let you jump to faraway rooms, scrolls let you teleport back to the vendor and you can even notate on the map exactly what is in each room. Since you won’t be able to remember all of these rooms by heart, this is the best tool in the game by far.
The most amazing thing about Unepic has nothing to do with the gameplay. The ironic thing is there is no development team. It’s just one guy. Francisco Téllez de Meneses is from Spain and spent two years creating Unepic in his free time. The score, coding, design and everything about Unepic is the result of one man’s work and dedication.
Unepic is a really fun, enjoyable game and a recommended purchase for any fan of the genre. There are hardly any flaws in the game, but instead I like to call them challenges. They are minor oddities that challenge you to alter the your approach to play. Doing this allows you to experience a lot more of the game that both RPG and platforming fans will love. I should note that with all of the options included in the game and the time I spent playing, it is still currently available for only $9.99 on the Xbox Store – $4.99 with Xbox Live Gold.