In the wake of the enduring popularity of Dark Souls, games with a similar checkpoint and stamina system flooded the market. The “Soulslike” subgenre quickly became so densely populated that it takes a lot for a title to really set itself apart from the crowd in the current age of gaming. Thankfully, the demo for UNSIGHTED proves that a dedicated and diverse team of creators can accomplish this even without the backing of a massive publisher.
UNSIGHTED places you in control of Alma, an android who awakens in a ruined underground laboratory, alone save for the mechanical monsters appearing in her path. Once she acquires a means of defending herself and a way to the surface, she must quickly flee the lab while being pursued by a strange, bio-nightmare creature that seems to have taken over the place as its own. Alma then narrowly escapes to the decimated city above with her life.
This is rendered in a moody, high-contrast pixel art style that quickly establishes the game’s identity. As you navigate through the rainy metropolis, trying to reach a huge tower in the center, UNSIGHTED slowly unfolds its story and teases at things to come later while also revealing its “Metroidvania” gameplay style and puzzle-oriented exploration. You acquire a furry companion (and yes, you can pet the dog) who assists you in combat with the quickly-growing groups of enemies you face and go up against a boss that takes excellent advantage of the top-down camera perspective.
Speaking as someone who gets anxious at the thought of committing to a permanently-ruinable character build, UNSIGHTED‘s methods of character advancement are simplified and welcome.
Speaking as someone who gets anxious at the thought of committing to a permanently-ruinable character build, UNSIGHTED‘s methods of character advancement are simplified and welcome. Rather than upgrading individual stats a little at a time, the player can find “chips” by opening treasure chests and solving puzzles. Experience points are spent on slots in which those chips are placed. When the game releases, this will allow for more easily swapped customization options while also maintaining the choice not to upgrade Alma and increase the challenge.
Speaking of challenge, UNSIGHTED does a pretty solid job of easing you into the experience while also making it clear that the enemies will make swiss cheese out of you if you aren’t vigilant about dodging, blocking, and countering. Alma has a minimal ability to heal herself. She has a vial of healing fluid that recharges as you defeat enemies (or fills up completely at a “terminal,” this game’s version of the bonfire). Still, it’s single-use and takes many enemies to be charged up again afterward.
The demo includes a super-challenging boss fight meant to be played after you’ve completed the main story and it tested my knowledge of how the game’s dodge and parry system works. The player has access to a massive war axe weapon that is actually not best used aggressively but rather in conjunction with parrying to stun the boss and open him up to a critical hit. He only took me a few tries to get through, but it’s an exciting taste of the way combat will force you to change up your strategy, as simply dodging attacks you could have parried will only make the next hit harder to avoid.
UNSIGHTED is coming to PC-via Steam, Nintendo Switch, and Xbox One in 2021.
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