Undead Horde: Worth Raising the Dead?
Necromancy in video games has taken many forms. Apart from the Diablo series, none of these games made me feel like the Necromancer I’ve always yearned to be. At least none that were single player. There’s giant pocket of opportunity in the market, and 10tons. is looking to fill it with their newest release, Undead Horde. You play as Orcen, a powerful necromancer who has previously been imprisoned by the Paladin, Benevictor. Thanks to the help of a friendly chicken, the urn in which Orcen was imprisoned is shattered. Orcen escapes with only one goal in mind: to take back what is rightfully his. I had high hopes for Undead Horde the more I looked into it. I’m usually hesitant in my excitement for an indie role playing game, but I couldn’t help myself this time. 10tons has produced a ton of similar top-down, action games and their experience shows by how refined Undead Horde mechanics feel, although the RPG aspects aren’t there by comparison.
The A.I. for Undead Horde is simply fantastic. Not once did I ever find myself cursing at the screen, wondering what on earth was going on. This is due to the fact that there are are only two options for controlling your minions in the game; attack or follow. There aren’t a lot of options, but it helps keep A.I. from running amuck. The enemies are highly aggressive and for most of the game the combat is really satisfying. This is great until you realize every fight ends up playing out almost the exact same as the last. You, as Orcen, cut down your enemy, while simultaneously resurrecting replacements for your ranks. If that doesn’t work, there are no penalties for dying so just try some different minions.
Being the Necromancer
He obtains several different items that lets him use magic, like shooting a fireball or buffing his minions. But even with these options, swinging a weapon and replacing dead minions was the only way to ensure I had a chance at victory. All the tools given in battle aren’t great and I was unsuccessful at progressing unless I was acting like a barbarian. I understand not wanting to have the minions be overpowered to compensate, I just wanted magic to be as effective as swinging a sword would be.
Every item in the game also boosts Orcen and his army’s stats to some degree. Some stats are a given, like attack power or resurrection speed, but your minions all have separate stats depending on if they’re an animal, humanoid, etc. I appreciate the options the developer meant for us to have, but It’s a lot to keep track of. Using the exact same stats for all minions wouldn’t have hurt the game. It would let players have more freedom in customizing their roster of undead. Trying out different and unique armies is the best part of the game and sharing the same stats would encourage this.
The World is Dead
Procedural generation is no where to be seen in the level design. This is something I love to see in indie titles, as procedural generation is quite common these days. The levels aren’t unique or interesting, but I appreciate the effort of actually creating a level from scratch. There’s almost a secret part to each area, which was fun at first, but apart from the secret areas or chests, most levels are similarly laid out. Finding the right area to press the a button gets old really quick and it’s just not a fun design choice.
Every area begins with speaking to one of several caged, similar skeletons you meet throughout the game, who will give you a quest to continue forward. The skeletons have some pretty humorous dialogue which serves as a good contrast to Orcen. And the skeletons puns for names, which takes some serious dedication. The quests the give, however, are mostly uninspired as the game doesn’t have that deep of game play. Most quests end up the same: kill a bunch of enemies, talk to this person, or find and deliver something. There are a few side quests, but the reward was never weren’t worth the trouble.
My hopes were set higher than usual for Undead Horde and it was my own fault I didn’t enjoy it. It’s a decent game and has moments of inspiration, but overall feels underwhelming. I see why others will enjoy the game, however. It’s a low commitment RPG with some witty humor and some okay combat. The A.I. is great and there are a ton of minions for you to summon and create a small army out of. Unfortunately, I’m still searching for my perfect, single player necromancy experience.
You can find Undead Horde on the eShop here.
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Reviewed by Taylor Ivings on the Nintendo Switch. Game provided by 10tons.