by Jason Parker (Ragachak)
Now I know this is some kind of crazy hot-take, and it’s going to make some folks on the internet boil with anger, but here goes: Immortal: Unchained is a Dark Souls style game. Yes, yes, I know. Dark Souls is a pure, unique creature that nothing can ever be but a pale imitation of, but hear me out. Immortal: Unchained takes that formula of “die often, learn a lot” and puts it in a more futuristic setting. Instead of dodging forever, and swinging a few times, you . . . well, you still do fancy rolls and dodges, but instead of wielding medieval weaponry, you have a host of different guns to equip, each with their own stats, sprays, and damage to account for. Instead of “souls” you have “forgotten bits”, and that is your currency to up stats and do a variety of things. You’ll see a lot of similarities, but that’s not a bad thing. I’m universally bad at this style of game, so my time spent learning was a little higher than normal. But you know what? I did it. I learned what I was doing, even if it meant I spent well into eighty minutes on the tutorial stage, mostly because of the final boss. I was trying to do too much at once, and dying for it.
Immortal: Unchained has you playing a nameless man, muscular and mute. Awakened with no weapons, no memories and no chance, he travels through these tombs, scrounging for a pistol, a knife, and a prayer. The game will give you some brief tutorial hints, like which button does what, how to reload, how to equip weapons (at Obelisks), and briefly mentions the targeting system. This is what makes this stand out from its brethren in the genre. You can aim and shoot, which is normal, but you also have a body-part/aiming system.Each enemy has a set of body parts you can target, and in addition to their health meter, there’s also a stun-bar. As you hit body parts, that meter will drop (less if they have a shield to defend themselves). When it glows red, they’re staggered/stunned, and you can really lay into them. This is harder to do when multiple enemies are on the field because you have to dodge one, shoot the other, dodge one, shoot the other until you’re incredibly powerful. That never happened to me, sadly. What I found worked the best, was aiming at a leg, swapping to the other leg, then to whatever arm they were shooting you with. I rotate parts until stunned, then shoot them in the head. Unless they’re very weak, then I just go for headshots and move on.
This is such an interesting system, adding a lot to the tactics and strategies of trying to fight for your life, because if you die, you lose all of your bits. Like the Souls games before it, you can go back and retrieve them. Just don’t be like me, store 5/6k bits, die, then die a second time. That’s the most frustrating thing because now you have to start farming again. That leads me to Obelisks. Obelisks are where you upgrade stats, equip weapon blueprints, restore your medkits/grenades, and upgrade weapons if you have the requirements to do so. Activating it also resets all the encounters, so you can’t just kill something, run away, heal at the Obelisk then move on unmolested. This is a great way to learn patterns, and farm up bits because leveling stats is expensive. Oh my goodness. Each time you level a stat, you level up, but I highly advise waiting to level stats too quickly. The cost ramps up very high, and I learned this lesson the hard way. The first “random” weapon I picked up was a sub-machine gun (to compliment my pistol and assault rifle), and it was a higher rarity, had an elemental effect (acid) and was, in general, amazing.
However, it required 15 in two stats, one of which I had been working on, the other I was not. So I had to farm for what felt like an eternity to just get the second stat at 15, so I could equip this amazing gun. It was worth it, but at this stage of the game’s development, there are no resources to look online as to what you can equip, what it’ll cost, and what you should focus on. In this case, Finesse and Perception. Each stat has its own purpose, and you have eight of them. I feel like something could be modified here. Either fewer stats, or decrease the costs just a little. It’s very overwhelming, to except the most hardcore players, I imagine. I’m not suggesting you make it easy, but the early gun stats I found were just nuts in terms of stat requirements. I didn’t need it to defeat the first boss, but I bet money it would have helped. I do wish you didn’t have to activate Obelisks to simply equip weapons, but here we are. I’m not a fan of it, but it is an interesting concept. It’s also important to note that every weapon has a “power” ability, which is used via the R1 button. It uses your blue/mana meter, so don’t spam these either, unless you’re farming via Obelisk.
You also have a variety of consumable items, from items that increase your resistances, grenades, medkits, and possibly the most interesting, Cyanide. Yes, you can commit suicide in this game. At first, I thought this was just insulting and stupid, then I came to a realization. Maybe you’re out of health, in a bad position, no other handy items, but don’t want to give up all of your bits. Retreat somewhere near an obelisk, perish, then go back with full medkits/etc, and acquire your bits. So it made way more sense than I was giving it! You also uncover these items called “Cerium Decree”. They open doors, activate levers, open some treasure chests. What I like about this, is that they aren’t consumed once you activate an item. So, think of them like Super Mario 64 stars, and you need to collect as many as possible. They’re very important, and it looks to me like you’ll have to backtrack to use some of them. I found a chest that required 10 very early on, and there was no way I’d have that many. So I have a feeling we’ll be going back and exploring areas as we grow more powerful. I don’t think it will be required, but will certainly be useful.
Combat is as complex as it needs to be. You have a finite amount of ammo, but the Undead you fight are pretty good about dropping caches of ammo for you. You have a melee attack (which is honestly, for lack of a better phrase, absolute godawful), your aim, using the right stick to aim at body parts, a run/dodge/jump button, and your item button. The melee just feels weak because almost every enemy I’ve encountered has a gun, and the melee units hit incredibly hard while you do not. How you press the dodge button changes what it does. Tap it lightly, and he hops in the direction you’re holding. Pressing harder is your roll, and holding it down is run (which consumes stamina). If you press R3, you’ll lock on to your closest opponent, but can shift to others with the Right stick. This is definitely a sticking point for me because once you’re in that lock-on mode, your movement is seriously hampered. If you’re trying to move back behind cover/around a corner, it’s going to be very stiff and slow going, and that is the cause of about 40% of my deaths. If you could perhaps use the targeting system without locking your movement down, that would be a huge benefit. I’m, of course, not discounting that I could simply be doing it wrong, that’s feasible. But as a newcomer, it definitely felt stiff and unforgiving, even in that movement system. Bosses are powerful, big, and mean. They have predictable patterns that you can certainly learn and will have no choice but to do so if you want to survive. All enemies have some kind of pattern, and as all things in this style of game, you learn or you die. It’s all about learning. Learning when the enemy needs to reload, what points you need to hit to stagger them.
Hype Train: On Schedule:
Normally, I don’t really play these kinds of games. I’m bad at them, and while I can learn how to get good, I don’t really have that kind of time in my day-to-day. But Immortal: Unchained feels solid, the world is intriguing, the controls are pretty smooth and are definitely responsive. They recommend using a controller, and I certainly agree. There’s already lore in the game when you click on certain monuments and other in-game items, where you learn alongside your character. The maps are well-designed, and so far, a lot of them feel like mazes, which I assume is the idea. I kind of wish I had a mini-map to use, but I feel like that would take away from the game. I just want it because I’m bad! A tactical, careful approach is definitely the way to tackle this game. Don’t assume just because you have guns you need to go in blazing, because you will die, repeatedly.
Immortal: Unchained is in Alpha, but it’s definitely got the right idea, and I’m certainly looking forward to seeing how it is adjusted, and how it grows from here. I was disappointed that my file got reset until I realized that it would be a great way to see just how much I’ve learned over the last couple of days. And for the most part, I just blew through the first stage, until I got cocky. Then I paid for it and lost 4,000 bits. But it was my own doing, and I cannot blame the game. It’s still in need of some polish but it is in Alpha after all. The major issues I involved the targeting system and movement. I stand my thoughts of adjusting the stat system somehow. It just seems too high for what you’re getting off of regular enemies, especially with that many stats. Or perhaps making it more clear what weapons need what stats? But it’s coming along, and I’m excited about it. I think Souls-fans will enjoy it and get a ton of new challenges and excitement out of it.
Note: A game key was provided for preview purposes.
More Immortal: Unchained Screenshots