nepic, originally released back in 2011, is currently up for bid on Steam’s Project Greenlight. Many people have already played this game, but after looking it up I decided to give it a shot. I have to say that I am thoroughly impressed with what I played. While it has a few problems, being that it’s an indie game from a small team in Europe, I can honestly say that I came away feeling like this title could be released as a boxed game. I think that everyone deserves a chance to play this wonderfully cheeky gem of a game.
Unepic begins simple enough. While playing a game of DnD with your friends you get up to take a piss. The lights turn out and you start stumbling in the dark. When you can finally see, you find yourself in an ancient castle of unknown origin, and now all you have to do is find your way back.
You are accompanied on your quest by a shadow that has attempted to possess your body. The interaction between you and this shadow are the main source of character development, and you will run into some funny moments and pop culture references along the way. Some of the references feel a bit forced but overall the game’s writing can be funny with only a few of the jokes being groan worthy.
I initially took interest with this game primarily because of its visual style. Unepic’s visuals make me feel like I’m playing through a '90s cartoon -- that’s the best way I can describe it.
The characters move stiffly but fluidly at the same time. The only thing I can compare it to is Paper Mario in the way the characters move and interact with the environment. Each section of the castle is visually unique and the bosses are screen filling monstrosities that are a joy to look at.
For all intents and purposes, Unepic is a metroidvania game with its own unique style and feel. You’ll go from one end of the castle to other, finding keys along the way which unlock different sections of the castle until finally facing the big bad boss at the end. This is not a small castle, by the way. Entertaining side quests along the way can take you up to 20 hours to complete. The level-up mechanic also forces you to specialize in a specific combat type, which coupled with the enjoyable combat, can make multiple playthroughs a definite possibility.
What sets this game apart from most of the other games of its ilk is the way it approaches combat. There are dozens of different weapons, armors, spells and pets that you can buy and find that allows multiple different gameplay styles. The enemies are varied, and the multiple boss monsters force you to rethink what seem like traditional enemy encounters, making the combat surprisingly balanced and fun. Animation priority is also an important thing to consider in Unepic, as spells and weapons have different swings, casting times, and ranges, making blindly running into battle with something you haven’t tested a probable death sentence.
However, there are some issues that mars the face of an otherwise great game. For one, there's no native controller support. The game utilizes very few keys on the keypad, but this is a necessity for a game with this much platforming.
The inventory system also seems like a chore to manage. While you can separate the inventory into four sections, nothing auto-sorts, so all of the alchemy components, weapons, armor, rings, potions, scrolls, and pets have to be sorted manually. And since the game does not pause when you bring up the inventory, it can cause unwanted damage while you’re looking for a specific scroll that you decided not to hotkey. Quest tracking is also an issue since no icon shows up on the mini map to show you where the quest giver from your current quest is located.
While Unepic has its problems, the wealth of content, enjoyable combat, look, and feel of the game simply cannot be ignored. If this game was launched on XBLA you’d be hard pressed to tell it wasn’t made by a staff of 50 guys in an office building. Indie cred aside, Unepic stands toe-to-toe with similar games like Castlvania: Symphony of the Night and more recently Shadow Complex, and in some areas I would say surpasses them. While it hasn’t been green-lighted on Steam yet, it should be.
Get on there and vote, people. Unepic deserves recognition.