Unepic is a game with a storied history of release. The game has been available on PC for some time, but before Steam’s Greenlight initiative, developer Francisco Téllez de Meneses had a terrible time getting the game on Steam. It was rejected multiple times without solid reasons. That’s why it’s interesting to find the game on a console, where Nintendo readily snapped up the opportunity to publish the game and because of that, Meneses made the game even more polished for the Wii U release and it really shines through.
At its heart, Unepic is a puzzle platformer RPG that takes the chance to make fun of the very genre its mimicking at every turn. The premise for the game is that the player had to pee while playing the tabletop Dungeons & Dragons at a friend’s house and once the lights go out in the bathroom, the player is lost inside a huge castle that mimics what was occurring in the game before. It sounds silly to spell it out in such a manner–and perhaps it is–but it works. The whole game is a tongue-in-cheek poking at some of the biggest tropes in RPG gaming, while providing a solid RPG experience itself.
My main concern for the Wii U release of the game was that the developer would force some contrived inventory management system using the GamePad, but I’m happy to report that isn’t the case. The game can be played on the GamePad only and the daunting inventory that the game features is no harder to manage for it. Inventory management plays a big part in the game, because each weapon has specific uses, unlike most RPGs where a single weapon will suffice.
Sure, a sword is great for slicing through flesh and as an all purpose weapon, but when it comes to breaking open barrels or smashing in a skeleton, you’re going to want a mace or an axe for their bashing ability. Daggers also have their use if you can manage to sneak, as sneaking up behind a humanoid will award double damage in a backstab. There are over 100 weapons in the game so it’s impossible to describe all of their effects, but it is safe to say that each weapon will feel different when you find it.
Swinging an axe is not like swinging a sword, and using the bow requires good aim in order to hit your targets. Overall I found using weapons in the game to be one of the most enjoyable experiences, outside of solving the various puzzle rooms in order to progress further into the dungeon. The game doesn’t come pre-programmed with keys set up to certain weapons, so you can customize your arsenal how you see fit in a rather intuitive way using the triggers and bumpers on the GamePad. It works well for switching between the multitude of weapons and you’ll quickly find that certain weapons are your favorites.
The potion crafting in the game is also interesting, as instead of being able to craft a potion no matter where you are in the dungeon, you can only do so when standing next to one of several boiling cauldrons littered throughout the game. You also need to have purchased or found the recipe from the denizens of the castle, which is an experience of its own. I found myself carefully stocking up on ingredients I knew were in health potions so that I could be sure I had them when learning the strike pattern of a new weapon. It’s inevitable that you’ll be hit a few times.
Graphics & Audio
The graphics might turn some off with just how small they are, given that they’re originally designed to appear on a computer screen, which many people sit closer to than their TV. The developer has included a way to zoom in so you can see what you’re doing in the various rooms, which is handy as you traverse new territories. When it comes to getting back to one of those previously mentioned cauldrons, zooming out so you can see the rooms you’ve visited is handy as well.
The audio in the game is superb. Every character has a fully voiced dialogue and there are multiple dialogue trees so it’s interesting to hear the characters. This is something that was originally missing from the version of Unepic I played on the PC several months ago, so it’s nice to see the inclusion of it for Wii U owners who want to try the game. The story is a clever one, but there are a few curse words littered here and there, if you’re sensitive to that kind of thing. Tons of pop culture references permeate the dialogue as well, so if you’re not as familiar with the world around you some of these jokes might fly over your head.
Wii U Specific Features
As mentioned previously in the review, the game takes full advantage of Off TV mode with the Wii U GamePad, so you can play it either using the GamePad to manage your inventory, or on the GamePad entirely. You can’t use the Pro Controller with the game, but to be honest you wouldn’t want to because of the ease of inventory management the GamePad brings. In fact, I can’t see this game hitting any other console with the exception of the PlayStation 4 with its trackpad, as inventory management with a standard controller would be a nightmare.
The game is single player only as well, but there are 9 save slots so don’t be afraid of handing your friends the controller and letting them experience the world of Unepic themselves.
Overall, if you’re looking for a humorous dungeon crawler with a unique feel to the weapons and a unique brand of humor, Unepic serves quite well. There are quite a few boss encounters in the game to keep you entertained and the dialogue and humor are second to none compared to other eShop releases. For RPG fans who have been dying for an experience on the Wii U outside of Monster Hunter, definitely try Unepic.
+ Good inventory management for an inventory heavy game
+ Fully voiced characters bring to life the dialogue
+ Some of the puzzles are downright devious
+ Over 200 rooms to explore so you’ll be dungeoning for a while
– Sometimes the jump feels awkward