UnEpic review (PS4/Vita)

Some indie games have slowly spread across platforms over a number of years. Fez is an example, and Super Meat Boy is another. An indie title that has done just that while staying a little more below the radar is UnEpic by Spanish publisher A Crowd of Monsters. Originally released for PC almost five years ago, it has seen releases on the WiiU, Mac, Linux, Xbox One and now the PS4 and Vita. Time to take a look at this title, developed by a one man team!

In UnEpic, you assume the role of a stereotypical anti-hero in the shape of Daniel, a nerdy guy who enjoys playing videogames and the odd game of Dungeons and Dragons – the board game variety. During one of those games, Daniel heads to the bathroom for a short break and – after the lights go out – suddenly finds himself inside a dangerous castle that’s filled with monsters and traps.

The name of the place is Harnakon’s Castle, and it features over 200 rooms, 100 weapons and dozens of magic spells. Essentially a platformer, it’s this wealth of content that adds an RPG element to the game – developing your character is important, especially when you consider that you start out as a nerdy guy and not a fearless knight. There are two main elements to the story that propel the experience forward – your main goal of course being to find out how you ended up in the castle and how you can get back to reality.

Daniel initially thinks that he’s just imagining everything and will probably just wake up from a bad dream, but before long he gets possessed by an evil entity called Zera. While Daniels plays this off as part of a dream – resulting in some hilarious banter – Zera is serious about getting rid of Daniel. This introduces the second main narrative element of the game, as Zera constantly keeps trying to steer Daniel into deadly situations – for death is the only way Zera can get rid of Daniel’s defiance.

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The game divides itself into “chapters” by restricting access to certain areas of the castle until you complete that part of the game first. This – like in Castlevania – requires quite a bit of backtracking in order to acquire a key, open a door or get hold of an item you need. The way the game is split up into parts also fits the RPG elements of UnEpic. By gathering and using magic rings, spells and weapons, you are able to tackle foes and bosses that you have no chance against early on – making the experience feel less like a grind and more like a natural progression.

UnEpic isn’t the most gorgeous title around, but you have to remember it was developed by one man – justifying the retro look and feel. It’s also an “issue” that doesn’t bother you as much on the Vita, although screens like the inventory can get a little small when scaled down to a handheld format.

While UnEpic doesn’t sport the tight platforming controls of a game like Super Meat Boy or the excellent level design of a Castlevania title, it’s a game that’s filled with a lengthy campaign and enjoyable action platforming. The RPG elements add some depth to the experience, as does the banter between Daniel and Zera. At its budget price, it’s well worth checking out UnEpic even when it doesn’t excel in its genre like some of the other games mentioned do.

Score: 7.0/10

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