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UnEpic Reviewed by Cyril Lachel on . Although it gets a lot of the customization and role-playing right, UnEpic is a game plagued by stiff combat and some of the most maddening boss fights of the year. It's funny at times, but that isn't enough to make up for the bad checkpointing and frustrating enemies. Some may find the extreme challenge and old school quirks to be endearing, but Daniel's adventure didn't click for me. Rating: 57%
UnEpic
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  • Review Score:

  • C+
Ever since the Bothered About Dungeons & Dragons campaign of the early 1980s, out-of-touch religious figures and clueless parents groups have warned that table top role-playing games are dangerous. If you listen to televangelist Pat Robertson, you might think Dungeons and Dragons is tantamount to a daily diet of heroin and eating a bowl full of razorblades. But don't believe the hype, because I'm here to tell you that it's not the pen and paper games you need to be worried about, it's virtual reality.

While you may not need to worry about the long-lasting effects of Dungeons & Dragons, the same cannot be said for Daniel, the unlucky hero of UnEpic. This misleadingly-titled adventure game begins with Daniel doing what he does best, role-playing with friends. However, during a trip to the bathroom, the nerdy gamer discovers that he has been warped into a fantasy world full of magic and monsters.


His first instinct is to not believe his eyes. Daniel is convinced he's in the middle of a massive hallucination, but doesn't care. As long as he's in a fantasy world, he's going to make the most of it. Unfortunately, this recklessness leads to our hero getting inhabited by a mysterious shadow who is trying desperately to escape from this dangerous land. But there's a catch, because there's always a catch. The only way the dark spirit can leave is if Daniel perishes.

This sets up an exciting but deeply flawed adventure game where Daniel explores his new surroundings and attempts to light every room of a large and spooky castle. This all plays out in a Castlevania sort of way, where players find new items and keys to open up different parts of the castle. Along the way there will be quests to complete, hidden areas to unearth and plenty of large bosses to beat.

What I like about UnEpic is how customizable certain aspects are. Instead of simply having a few hot keys to choose from, we're able to cycle through up to a dozen different weapons, spells and items. Basically anything usable item you pick up can be assigned to the game pad, making it a little easier to switch between a wide assortment of weapons and magic. And you better believe there's a lot of it. The castle is bursting with loot to pick up and collect, or simply sell back to the shop keeper for extra gold.

UnEpic (PlayStation 4)Click For the Full Picture Archive

Picking up items also plays into a lot of the quests you'll take on along the way. The castle is littered with random people who are in need of serious help, and completing these quests will help Daniel find the best weapons and loot. A lot of the quests will boil down to a scavenger hunt, such as finding shrubbery in the sewers, locating pages of a book in the library and nursing sick plants back to health in the garden.

Beyond the typical quests and loot hunting, Daniel will spend a lot of his time simply bringing light back to the castle. Everything is dark and spooky when he shows up, so he'll travel from room to room lighting candles and making sure everything is visible. It feels like busywork at first, but you'll quickly realize that it's a great way to chart progress and know where you've been. Completed rooms show up on the map, so there's rarely any confusion about where you need to go next.

A lot of the game's charm comes from the writing, which knows and understands gaming cultures. Daniel is quick with pop culture references and gaming jokes, many of which are funny. The back and forth between our nerdy hero and the fantastical creatures of this world is a lot of fun, and I especially like how he is constantly quizzing those around him. There isn't nearly enough of this, but the silly story kept my interest for nearly twenty hours.

UnEpic (PlayStation 4)Click For the Full Picture Archive

Sadly, no amount of pop culture references can save UnEpic from the frustrating combat and bad checkpointing. Normally, these types of games will give our hero double jumps and extra moves to make the melee action more exciting. There's none of that here, just a squat guy picking up weapons and spells. While switching between long- and short-range attacks will usually get the job done, the slow movement and imprecise mechanics leave our hero open to deadly attacks. Even when I had high-level gear, I never felt like I had a command of the combat.

This can be especially bad when dealing with the game's many bosses. Beyond simply being cheap, these giant monsters will often be able to kill you in only one or two hits. Worse yet, some monsters can only be defeated if you have leveled up your character in a certain way. The difficulty feels almost sadistic at times, often daring the player to make it to the end. And while I'm typically up for this type of challenge, too much of it feels purposely unfair.

All this is made substantially worse by the awful checkpointing. There are times when the game will save reliably every few steps, but other times you'll die and be sent back to a time before an incredibly difficult boss you defeated after a half hour of frustration. That's not fun, nor does it make any sense. I found myself having to replay incredibly difficult scenes multiple times because the checkpointing simply didn't work properly, and that left a real negative taste in my mouth.

UnEpic (PlayStation 4)Click For the Full Picture Archive

It's probably worth noting that UnEpic is cross-save between the PlayStation 4 and PS Vita. While this aspect is handled well and I never ran into any issues, I was shocked by how difficult it was to go from the console to the handheld. It's not the graphics, but rather the major changes made to the control scheme. After spending a dozen hours with the PS4 game, I found it nearly impossible to make progress with Vita version. I was constantly fumbling to find the right button, which is the last thing you need when Daniel is in the heat of battle.

Although it gets a lot of the customization and role-playing right, UnEpic is a game plagued by stiff combat and some of the most maddening boss fights of the year. It's funny at times, but that isn't enough to make up for the bad checkpointing and frustrating enemies. Some may find the extreme challenge and old school quirks to be endearing, but Daniel's adventure didn't click for me.
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