Immortal: Unchained Review21/09/2018
Souls-like is a genre that has spawned because of the massive success of games such as Dark Souls, Demon Souls and Bloodborne, while not officially recognised by publishers it’s known commonly within the gaming community. Immortal: Unchained described as a third-person shooter for the hardcore action-RPG genre, more widely known as the Souls-like genre. Games such as Dark Souls and Bloodborne are widely recognised as some of the best games on the current generation of consoles, it’s hard to find anything to fault them for, gameplay is fantastic, and it’s challenging while preserving a level of entertainment. Unfortunately for Immortal: Unchained, this isn’t the case, it’s clunky movement, poor animations and frustrating gameplay make this game a chore to play.
I can’t help but feel disappointed by Immortal: Unchained. Its premise is one that has long been requested, but Toadman Interactive fail to pull it off in any meaningful way. To put it into perspective, when I’m writing reviews, I (As well as many other reviewers) will make notes as I’m playing, the good things I like about a game, the bad and occasionally, the things I would like to have seen. The list of bad for Immortal: Unchained is more than two pages long, whereas the good is a mere quarter of a page. It’s not all doom and gloom, but it’s tough to recommend Immortal: Unchained to anyone.
Let’s start with movement; it’s the most glaring issue that’ll haunt you throughout your playthrough. I managed to adjust at about the 10-hour point, although it occasionally still bothered me even 20-hours into my playthrough. Usually, I’m complaining about a games movement feeling stiff and awkward, well in the case of Immortal, it feels light and awkward. It almost feels as though you don’t have complete control over your character. In a hardcore action-RPG game, the movement is arguably the most critical aspect, as you need to be able to move out of the path of oncoming enemies, slide and roll your way to safety. This is a massive oversight by Toadman Interactive, one that will hinder the success of Immortal within the souls-like community.
Forgotten Bits are Immortal: Unchained’s version of souls, the currency used to upgrade abilities, stats, weapons and other gameplay related attributes. You’ll earn these by defeating bosses, picking up Forgotten Bit containers, finding them spread throughout the Cosmos and scrapping unwanted items such as weapons. Should you die with a vast quantity in your possession, you can retrieve these by merely fighting your way back to your death location and picking them up. Immortal: Unchained does nothing new in this aspect, but it works, and it works well, so no need for any intervention.
This might be a personal gripe, but the camera and ADS sensitivity are tied together, meaning you can’t fine-tune the ADS speed. You can push R3 and lock onto enemies, which for 90% of your playthrough, is fine. However, it doesn’t lock onto heads or weak spots, and it’ll only lock onto the body. Meaning if you’re up against particularly tough enemies with shield or armour and you need to find headshots, it’s difficult to do so without the ability to change the ADS speed.
Level design is some of the worst I’ve seen in a video game this generation. That may sound harsh, but unfortunately, it’s true. I found myself running through the same areas and struggling to find my next destination, as not only is it not explained well, levels are a maze to explore. It’s unfair to say all worlds are like this, as some are relatively well thought out, it’s just hard to look past the poorly designed levels as they intrude on the overall experience. To Immortal: Unchained’ credit, each level is distinctly different from the last, from icy tundras to lush forests, Toadman Interactive’s art team produced one of the standout features. The atmosphere is spot on, from small audio cues to the overall soundtrack, everything here really helps immerse you in the world around you.
This frustrated me during my playthrough, especially on Veridian as the vast majority of the world is plant life and water. For some reason, the developer thought it was a great idea to hide vine traps inside of plants. Sure, they’re also in the open, visible so you can easily navigate around them, but when they’re inside(under?) plants, not only can you not see them, at times you’re forced to run through those plants to avoid visible traps. It might not sound like a big deal, but when you’re just surviving with a fragment of health, you think you’ve managed to navigate a death-filled pond, only to be destroyed by what you believed was a safe passage. This makes exploring the world needlessly hazardous.
If you’re picking the game up, don’t expect this to be a run and gun, fast-paced shooter, because it’s the complete opposite. Ammo is extremely scarce in Immortal: Unchained, forcing you to think about each engagement and encouraging you to dodge, move and slide your way behind your enemy to attack their weak spots. You can restock ammo by returning to Obelisks, which also act as your checkpoint. It’s here that you’ll do all of your weapon crafting, upgrading and cypher decoding. At first, the scarcity of ammo makes for an exciting approach. However, it’s not long before you realise that it’s extremely limited. Sometimes it’s impossible to hit enemies weak spots, forcing you to engage them head-on. When this happened, I quickly found myself running out of ammo and thus forcing me to return to an Obelisk, which when used, respawns all enemies you’ve just destroyed, it’s a never-ending circle of misery. I understand how difficult this must be to balance, too much ammo and the player is free to engage however they please, too little ammo is you’re forced to navigate your way behind every enemy to find the weak spot. It wouldn’t be as bad if the game didn’t respawn every single enemy you’ve just defeated, if it were only a select few, it would have been much more tolerable.
Boss fights are the most enjoyable experience within Immortal: Unchained. Usually, before a boss fight, you’ll find an Obelisk. This not only allows you to restock on ammo and upgrade attributes but also means should you fail the upcoming boss, you don’t have far to run back for another attempt. Boss’ were varied, all providing a unique, challenging experience and at no point did I feel as though I wouldn’t overcome the challenge.
So, the big question is, would I recommend Immortal: Unchained to a veteran Dark Souls or Bloodborne player or even a casual RPG player? Well, it’s hard. Although this review has been mostly negative, it’s not all bad. The foundation is there, the parts Immortal: Unchained does well in, it does excel. Unfortunately, it doesn’t do it often enough to stand out in a genre that is so heavily dominated by the big boys, but let’s not forget, this game didn’t have a budget similar to Bloodborne. There is hope for the future, should Toadman Interactive decide to turn this into a franchise, although that would weigh heavily on sales. I’d imagine it won’t be too long before Immortal: Unchained hits the bargain bins or PS Plus/Games with Gold. So, unfortunately, I’m going to suggest waiting for that. Sure, I’d love to see a sequel, but it’s hard for me to support spending £40 on a game that’s bug-ridden and frustrating. If you’re picking Immortal: Unchained up, I’m sure you’ll find something you enjoy about it, but strap in because it’s going to be a bumpy ride.