Our Score: 8/10
In the underworld of The Unliving, you can become a terrifying Necromancer by resurrecting the dead. In this rogue-like action role-playing game, you command an army of the undead in a never-ending war. Destroy cities with powerful spells, kill epic bosses, and transform your enemies into ghoulish servants.
Rise from the Dead
In The Unliving, you play the part of a Necromancer who is responsible for a gruesome crime. Your tower has taken significant damage from a spell gone terribly awry, and you were almost completely incinerated yourself. You might not be here today if your phylactery hadn’t held together. As you come to, a mere shell of your former self, searching fruitlessly for pieces of your soul that have been dispersed around the world. More so if that weren’t bad enough, the local werewolves and the church have joined forces to destroy you. If you want any hope of survival against the oncoming enemy horde, you’ll need to get back to where you were before.
Necromancers’ default ability is to command the dead to rise from their graves and do their bidding. Additionally, the undead army that follows you around has varying abilities that reflect the hero classes you’ve murdered and resurrected. While zombie clerics are useful for their healing abilities, undead werewolves can be very disruptive to the opposing force. Killing good servants increases the number of willing followers you may recruit to do your bidding. You should always be surrounded by strong people. You are tough, yet you can’t handle everything by yourself.
You have your own spells and powers in addition to your army. There is a metric tonne of them, so I won’t go into detail here, but roughly speaking, they can be categorised as one of three broad categories. Each of these categories is useless without its corresponding resource. Thus, life and skeletal tissue make up these assets. You can always make more of this on the battlefield, so you don’t have to worry about running out. Vitality is the third factor. I think it’s a fantastic idea that you have to use different sources of energy to activate your spells and abilities.
Your army is the major emphasis of the game, and your powers are there to assist them to succeed. So it’s not a good idea to simply discover a set of talents you like and keep using them over and over. That would be totally counterproductive, turning the game into a generic roguelike. As a nice bonus, you can’t even if you wanted to.
Every roguelike game has a central location where NPCs congregate, and its levels are generated procedurally. Your tower serves as your central location in this game. Every time you die, you’ll be thrown out without any sort of ceremony. In addition to being the place where you can purchase stat boosts, new spells, and skills after dying and reviving, this is also where you’ll learn fresh bits of the story. With this improvement, your hub is no longer just a place to rest your money between excursions, but rather a destination in its own right. So the longer you play, the more content you’ll be able to unlock, making this an ever more valuable tool.
The pixel visuals in The Unliving are fantastic. Deliberately vintage games are my jam, and this one didn’t disappoint. The retro role-playing game aesthetic that’s evident in so many recent games is something I never grow tired of. The visuals are gorgeously gothic, and the soundtrack is just as dark and foreboding. Everything about this fits the mood the game is aiming for.
The Unliving is an addictive rogue-lite APRG that has gorgeous pixel art and a very interesting story to keep you coming back. With a lot of content, and continually being updated, this game is one you should definitely check out.