A gamer thrust into the game – UnEpic
Indie studios with only one developer are often the most clear and precise in their vision. Admiringly, Spanish programmer, artist and composer Francisco Téllez de Meneses knew exactly what he wanted to achieve when crafting this little gem. UnEpic puts you in the shoes of Daniel, a sci-fi nerd and keen gamer. When taking a quick toilet break from a heated RPG with his friends, he somehow winds up deep in the bowels of a mysterious castle. Believing he is merely having hallucinations and is still playing with his buddies, Daniel ventures forth to complete the game and find the exit, but not everything is as it seems…
Upon starting the game up it is immediately clear what Meneses’ influences were in creating UnEpic. In homage to early NES platforming/adventure titles such as Castlevania and Metroid, players explore a large 2D environment, banishing foes and scoring loot along the way. With over 200 rooms to explore, the vast scale of this dungeon can be daunting at times, but torches can be lit along the way, helping to mark areas which have previously been explored. I often found myself opening the essential – and brilliant – map screen, where personalised notes can also be added; useful when you want to remember the location of a certain locked door or shop.
The game is riddled with elements from big name RPGs such as World Of Warcraft and The Elder Scrolls series. Defeating monsters is rewarded with XP, and points can be allocated amongst different attributes upon levelling up. Players who prefer to fight safely from a distance with bows or magic would do well to sink as many points into those categories as possible, rather than developing their skills with a mace. Combat is a fairly simple affair, and requires little more effort than aiming in the direction of your foe and bashing the SPACE bar, although avoiding enemy attacks and keeping an eye on your all-important HP is gradually more challenging the higher the chosen difficulty level. Better weapons and armour are obtained or purchased throughout your journey, and also offer an aesthetic change when equipped; always a nice touch.
One thing that sets the game apart from its peers is a thoroughly tongue in cheek approach: Daniel makes many quick quips and pop culture references throughout his ordeal. While the jokes are often hit or miss, it is good to see an RPG adventure not taking itself too seriously. The gags are also offered in visual form, yet seeing a fan-favourite Matt Groening character running across the screen for no reason is particularly odd. UnEpic’s humour knows no bounds: one early side-quest sees you competing with other goblin-like creatures in order to be the warrior worthy of fornicating with the species’ eager females. Thankfully Daniel is rewarded for his valour behind some garish pink curtains, with only the bed’s comedic squeaking to aid players’ imaginations.
For gamers who fail to be content with a solo single player experience, UnEpic offers more options ready to be unearthed. Multiplayer may still be under construction, but there are enough game modes currently available to grab your attention, including a co-op campaign, ‘deathmatch’ and ‘capture the flag’ among others. Unfortunately, finding an existing group to join was a fruitless task, and as no-one in my Steam friends list owns the game, I was unable to explore these options as much as I’d have liked. Under-populated servers are always a shame; however, playing UnEpic close together with a group of friends is where the multiplayer will truly thrive.
I find it challenging to find flaws in my experiences with UnEpic. Both the graphics and sound do what are needed to be done, yet neither are distasteful nor lacking. Exploring this particular world may not be the most interesting pastime available, but it is an addictive one, and you shall find yourself constantly longing to scour one last room before closing down the game. As an Early Access title on Steam, Meneses is continuing to adapt and evolve his creation, and is most welcoming of user feedback. Taking all aspects of Daniel’s journey into account, it’s difficult not to enjoy your time spent here, and with the additional features of an expanded multiplayer and voice-acting to be added at a later date, UnEpic only aims to become the opposite of what its name implies.