It’s been a long while now since I made a review of The Unliving’s beta phase. Back in January, it gave off good impressions, and I was excited about the game with only a few reservations. The game is now available for early access, yet, to my disappointment, there are glaring issues not seen during the beta phase. This review will focus on my experiences in the early access phase of the game, not the beta, and will deal with the technical side of the game, looking at what has improved and what is lacking.
The Good: Visuals and Replayability
The visuals remain intact, with the pixel art as beautiful as ever. The early access version also introduces the hideout of the Necromancer, which I really like. Here, the game showcases the upgrades for the Necromancer and his randomized skills after each death. The replayability is increased as well; every time you fudge up and die, you earn points and invest them towards the randomized skills.
What I like even more about this update is that you can now control your horde’s sacrifice with bindings of 1-4 keys for each type of undead. This is helpful for making quick judgments in a fight, but there are still issues. I feel the need for more horde controls since basic things like moving tank units to the front can be a mess. Overall, micromanagement of hordes needs to be reconsidered.
The Bad: Sound and Stability
Kicking off the bad, even given that it’s an early access game, there is a real lack of interactive sounds. For example, the upgrade room/lair of the Necromancer has no sound whatsoever, and there are no sounds to acknowledge upgrade choices. Also, using skills often triggers lackluster sounds and can be overpowered by the screams of the enemies. Combine that with sounds being too similar and there being some real input delay on certain skills, and it can really make combat confusing.
An example of this confusion would be skills in the game that require resources like blood, bones, or echo. There are no deny sounds to let you know you need more resources when you try to activate an ability, and there aren’t unique enough sound signatures that a skill is activated or not. What sounds there were felt like generic gurgles and moans. I suggest the sounds should have a unique signature, like bones rattling for bone powers, bubbling sounds for blood, and ghostly wails for echo resource powers.
There were, of course, issues beyond the sound. As mentioned, the game has input lag problems that can trip you up in combat. Another glaring issue is the load times and the game’s tendency to crash. Oh, and for some reason, windowed mode is not working as intended. However, these issues seem less systematic and well within expectation for early access.
The game has grown in its features but also has glaring issues that have popped up only in its early access phase. It’s one step forward and two steps back, in my view. Overall, I have low to mixed feelings about this game in its current state. I trust the developer, RocketBrush Studios, to make changes so players like myself can get back to snowballing the undead to towns and cities. In terms of letter grades, it’s a C+ right now, but hopefully, the changes on this game will make it into a B+/A for us to enjoy.