Most action RPGs generally play in similar fashion, harkening to their inspiration of the most popular in the genre, Diablo. Where players command their characters in a top-down view as they take on hordes of enemies.
While this is the main way many reason, one of the most important being that its fun, Unawake takes this approach down to the more immersive first person perspective to give players a view of things closer to the action.
Ahead of developer’s RealityArt’s demo for Steam Next Fest 2023, we had the opportunity to try out the game to see how it stands out. What we found is something that looks great and has a good concept around it, but also some growing pains too.
What wowed me the most is the game’s atmosphere right from the beginning. It shouldn’t come as a surprise given the game is built using the Unreal Engine 5 with all its next-gen enhancements. Yet there’s more than just high resolution textures that bring it together.
There’s a dark and gritty atmosphere that sets the tone beautifully for Unawake. Where players can immerse themselves into the world through its stunning visuals and excellent sound design. From the small snippet so far, I’m excited to see what other locales the developers will take us.
There’s a polish to it that’s amazing, but unfortunately hasn’t been given to the core gameplay. Though there are solid fundamentals within that if tweaked can deliver a great experience upon Unawake’s full release.
Combat, even with just a sword and shield, has a plethora of ways to approach each fight. There are the basics one would expect, such as light and heavy attacks which must be charged, to numerous ways to stagger a foe holding up their shield.
Mixed in with that are also special skills that players gain through leveling up that range from and AOE burst to knock surrounding foes to throwing your weapon as a means to deal with enemies at range.
Hopefully the developers stick to their action RPG inspiration by adding in tons of different weapon types that have become staples in the genre as well as put in the same attention to detail as they’ve done so far. It would be awesome to swap between bows, magic at range. While also using heavier or lighter weapons to find a playstyle best for each player.
However my praise for the preview we were given ends there when it comes to the gameplay. As there are a few things that should be worked out before Unawake can be considered finished by any standard.
For example, I appreciate core combat, but enemies could be a little more interesting than just bodies to charge at you. There has been work towards it that can be seen with mages and bow-wielding foes, but fighting against them was less fun due to their knockback mechanics and rapidly firing attacks.
This is a challenging game, but it leans closer to being unfair rather than a challenge for players to truly work on their skills to improve. Some tweaks will have to be made across all their foes for the experience to be enjoyable.
Unawake is ultimately a title I believe can be a great indie title for action RPG fans looking for a fresh experience. But a lot has to be done for it to be ready, including some of the bugs and UI issues I had that I expect to be fixed in the final release.
Their plans on launching in Spring of 2024 are ambitious considering the state I played it in, though I have great hopes on it being a gem of a game when it does launch next year.
Unawake is set to launch on PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X|S, and PC (via Steam) sometime in Spring of 2024. The game’s demo is currently available as part of the Steam Next Fest 2023. This preview build was provided by Toplitz Productions.