One thing that can be said about Unepic is that it’s very modest. The castle it’s set in is enormous despite the name and while it’s obviously no Skyrim, there’s a surprising amount of depth. The player can level up skills, buy and sell items and even make potions. There are swords, wands, bows, spells, elven underwear… we’ll explain that last one later.
The game itself is a platformer with heavy dungeon crawler influences, though the most obvious inspiration is Castlevania: Symphony of the Night. The player moves from screen to screen, most initially shrouded in darkness, with light sources sitting around waiting to be ignited.
Side-quests break up the exploration. Though some of these are great fun, such as navigating a room full of traps or bedding Orc women, there are also quite a few painfully tedious fetch quests. Second to exploring, the player will spend most of their time killing things. Orcs are among the more interesting adversaries, providing plenty of opportunities to be sneaky with backstabs and attacking when others aren’t looking.
Unfortunately most combat isn’t quite as engaging, boiling down to using the right weapon and attacking at the right time. The variety of enemies helps distract from this, but all too often it still isn’t enough to prevent it feeling like a chore when clearing out room after room, especially when wandering through previously explored areas.
The seemingly random autosaving doesn’t help, never letting the player know how much they’ll be replaying after they die, and they’ll be dying a lot. Inventory management is also a nightmare.
Unepic tries to have a little fun with the story, as the earlier mention of elven underwear suggested. The game world is very much the generic Dungeons & Dragons variety, except the protagonist, Daniel, is from the modern world and has found himself here for unknown reasons (though initially he suspects it’s a drug trip).
After an evil spirit accidentally traps himself inside Daniel (which sets up some fun dialogue between the two, reminiscent of a buddy movie), he goes off to defeat all the guardians of the castle. So yes, the overall plot isn’t terribly original, but at least Unepic tries using humour, even if it misses more than it hits – an overuse of pop-culture references primarily being to blame and a protagonist who, quite frankly, is a bit of an obnoxious twat.
Still, even with its flaws, Unepic has a way of making you come back to see what’s next and raise some numbers. If the combat was more engaging and if it were paced better, this would be great. As it is, it will still entertain for quite some hours, but there is a chance it will eventually feel more like work than play.