By: Jeff Cater
Say you’re sitting around playing some good old-fashioned Dungeons and Dragons with your pals, and that familiar tingle starts tickling your pickle. You excuse yourself from the session for a moment to go for a quick piss. But it’s not a quick piss. As soon as you enter the bathroom, the lights go out and you’re in a castle. As Daniel in UnEpic, you begin to explore the dark castle. Or is it your friend’s bathroom? You’ll find out eventually.
Moving Daniel about the castle is a bit finicky, his jump is just kind of weird and carries momentum strangely. Swinging and timing your strikes takes quite a bit of practice, but the worst thing is the item-switching function.
In your menu you can set shortcuts to your weapons. You can literally bind L1 or R1 plus any other button and bind an item to it, and the amount of item switching required is just insane, so it’s easy to forget or have to reset your bindings constantly.
While the castle is huge and the enemies are quite varied, the two available zoom modes are almost infuriating. On one end you have a camera set extremely far off to display the entire stage. This wouldn’t be too terrible, but once you enter a new area it is pitch black. So that camera mode is useless 75 percent of the time.
Meanwhile, the other camera is set so close that it often blocks your view of enemies that are within agro distance, so you’ll simply be trucking along and get bombed by three or four guys that have been chasing you down off-screen for minutes sometimes. The animation sets are swell, but they’re too difficult to really appreciate.
Thankfully, the voice work is very well done and provides great comic relief. Daniel and Zera (the underpowered NPC that unsuccessfully tried to possess Daniel) bounce off one another constantly with regular references to other games and other D&D-esque tropes.
As noted, the camera makes UnEpic very difficult to deal with, but it’s not impossible to play. The map does indeed start pitch black, but with the help of Daniel’s trusty Zippo, you’ll be lighting torches and illuminating the various halls and dungeons you come across. It’s just that every enemy you encounter is initially shrouded in darkness, creating a barrier of retries every other room.
As you explore the castle with Daniel and Zera, you can stat him however you see fit. You want Daniel to be more of a tank archetype? Solid choice, but certain late-game bosses and environments are extremely unforgiving toward a melee character. It’s much easier to take out enemies as a ranger-like class, or even as a mage due to the range of their attacks.
Whether Daniel is just having a hallucination about a really dark castle, or if his friend had some sort of portal to another dimension in his bathroom, the tale of UnEpic is unique and interesting to say the least. Plus, there’s definitely fun to be had if you can get past the balance issues and brutal camera choices.