Immortal: Unchained is an indie Souls-style game that utilizes ranged weaponry such as firearms in order to provide a new and hopefully refreshing experience, however, Toadman Interactive still has a long way to go before their experience is fully imagined. Find out why in our review.
+A solid story that is ultimately marred by the games overall experience
+Unique weapons and armor systems that stand out from the rest of the Soulsborne genre
+Bossses and enemies are uniquely designed based on the world they are in
-Clunky controls that make combat an infuriating experience
-Extremely linear level designs that don’t offer much in the sense of uniqueness
-Extremely bland and boring worlds that more-often-than-not are designed to purposely kill the player
-Most obelisks will set a player up for immediate death due to swarms of enemies that patrol the areas
-Suffers from difficulty scaling that can’t seem to offer a sense of balance throughout the game
I’ve been here longer than I’ve wanted on this rocky walkway, rain pouring down on my skin as a few enemies pass on by. They’re just a small patrol, one of LED-lit cyborgs that will be taken down sooner than later. Unlike the frigid lands I’d just left, this one’s hot, humid, what I imagined would have been a beautiful cityscape once upon a time; that’s before the end of the world had started and the Monolith began to cease its functioning state.
But my problem is only beginning to exasperate me. I’ve died here countless times to a foe that should be no problem. So again, I click the lock-on button only to find myself whirling into a 90-degree position from where I was aiming only for it to lock onto a target I didn’t need to fight. Due to having charged up the secondary fire beforehand, I find my grenade launcher lobbing one out to a new round of foes who will no doubt grab the patrol that just passed by me and add to an already difficulty encounter.
Now, I’m already in a situation I don’t enjoy, one where I’m preparing to lob out a few more grenades, spend out what limited resources I have before running away. The only issue with that approach? I’m more annoyed than ever before even as I lob out the aforementioned grenades, watching a few of them go hurling off the ledges while two more charges in my direction and before I know it, I’ve used my resources, I have sixty or so rounds left in my rifle and my pistol, well, my pistol has been depleted from two previous encounters.
Sure, I could recharge it, but I don’t have the time as I’m quickly overwhelmed. Two grunts with shields have already charged me, not giving me a chance to fight back for the life of me as their “sniper” shots take out more than two-thirds of my health in a single hit. I’m not enjoying this experience. I’m a Soulsbourne junky too. I’ve played more than my fair share of these games and right now, Immortal: Unchained feels unpolished, clunky, and its tactile sensation as a Souls-gone-shooter, isn’t exactly something I’m enjoying.
The level design, there are aspirations for something bigger, a chance to be something better. All of it feels boring, clumsy, and an attempt to do what Dark Souls had already done once before. Sure, the premise of a sci-fi apocalypse (most notably Ragnarok) with guns is awesome. I love the idea, I really do, but there are more flaws than there are anything else.
And so the bells did toll
When you design a game in the Soulsborne genre, there are a few things you have to keep in mind. First, your combat has to feel fluid, meaningful and your weapons have to feel as if they matter. That’s a major problem that Immortal: Unchained actually has. Weapons don’t feel meaningful as they should. Most of the time, you will find yourself swapping weapons in and out at an Obelisk before running out, putting a few rounds down range into an enemy before running back and swapping weapons out once again.
In concept, this works great. I truly like the idea of a Souls-like with guns. I love this concept as much as anyone else, but here, the execution doesn’t work. I often found myself scrapping weapons in order to upgrade the one I already have in order to increase its damage output, its accuracy, and various other stats. I’ve been with this same gun for almost three maps now, plowing my way through bosses, minibosses, and hordes of foes with its primary and secondary fire.
I’ve even found some weapons in both blue and green rarities. The downside here? I can’t use them. Even with 20+ hours into the game, my stats don’t match what they require. They change a bit too much and their requirements are a bit too steep, which makes them almost inaccessible for a game that didn’t feature a New Game+ at the time we’d begun to evaluate it for this review.
Even without New Game+, weapons are still hard to establish the stats you need in order to use them. More-often-than-not I ended up having to scrap the very weapons I was excited to obtain. +5 damage, +30% better stats across the board; who wouldn’t want that gun? Well, no one really. You’d end up spending 90% of your time grinding out the bits needed to level up that 10-15 times needed to get a high enough perception or strength in order to equip it.
The grind is real and it’s not fun by any means
In a Souls-like game, you are going to grind. It’s inevitable. Grinding is a core piece of the experience. You’ll spend quite a bit of time grinding out some bits (Immortal’s version of Souls) in order to level up and equip the gear you want. In order to level up the needed two-to-three times, I found myself grounding out as many foes as I could, often times nearly cringing as I saw them only dropping between 200-300 bits at most for the bigger guys while the smaller ones would only drop slightly less.
While this is something we’ve come to know and see with games such as The Surge and Dark Souls, our experience isn’t solely focused on the idea of the grind. You can still progress, even with lesser equipment and Souls-like fans are fully aware of this very fact. There’s plenty of room for you to grow, to nurture your characters and ensure their survival.
In Immortal: Unchained, you can’t do that. You can’t ensure your own survival. Chances are, the game will find a way to beat you down once again without so much as a wink in your direction. It’s a game that wants to force you to grind, to use stats that may not be beneficial to your class by any means necessary.
Look, I don’t mind a grind, neither do many of us Soulsborne fans, but there has to be a balance between grinding and progression, which there isn’t much of when it comes to Immortal: Unchained.
Combat and control design. We really gotta discuss this.
I know, I know, I know. You’re tired of the fact I’m ragging on an indie game and being as critical as I am, but that’s how the cookie crumbles. I’m the same way with big-name devs as well. The combat in Immortal: Unchained has a lot of potential to become a very fun and very unique experience.
But right now it is a horrible trainwreck that needs some finetuning to be a somewhat enjoyable experience. First off, aiming sucks when you aren’t using the lock-on feature. It’s an absolute unpolished mess. The manual aiming is floaty, it’s imprecise, and it has a rather unpleasant acceleration that will often time see you hitting a target you didn’t mean to hit due to how fast it accelerates. Even if you turn down the mouse or controller sensitivity, it remains too fast to enjoy.
As free aim was added in the later stages of development, you can see that it wasn’t tested, that it wasn’t made to feel accurate or even a primary feature of the game. The lock-on provides a much clearer sense of combat and allows you to target the enemy you prefer to attack. The only downside with locking on is going to be the fact you can’t go for critical shots. So don’t expect to do great as a sniper-focused class. You won’t enjoy it as the free-aim needs a lot of work before it can truly be mastered.
Due to the design, you can’t even use your melee weapons to quickly eliminate the weaker enemies that will appear. Melee weapons have intentionally been designed to be the weakest pieces of equipment within your entire arsenal. Sure, you can try to make them your primary weapon, but I’ll warn you about that choice. You will fail, you will die a lot and you will hate the game for taking that approach.
Because of the focus on guns, there’s a lot of variety to your arsenal in its very own right. Toadman has seemed to have taken a lot of inspiration from the likes of Destiny and Borderlands due to the weapon aesthetics and what elemental effects they can produce. You can get weapons that will unleash a torrent of frost-based rounds into an enemy, quickly draining their stamina before they stagger, opening them up for you to switch to a kinetic or fire-based weapon and setting them ablaze as you fire upon their critical spots.
Unfortunately, Immortal: Unchained just doesn’t play well with others unlike the games it is inspired by. While bosses and larger foes do reward you with powerful new weapons and items to enjoy, combat is clunky, it’s poorly designed and really needs a major overhaul before one can truly enjoy the gunplay the game has to offer.
Much of the experience is troubled by the amount of time you will reload, limited ammunition and extremely scarce resources that can’t be replenished at a vendor of any sort. If you need to reload, you will find yourself cringing during boss fights where some are extremely agile and can attack faster than you can reload your gun, causing you to take some critical hits that could, unfortunately, end that encounter and force you to start over from the very start of that encounter once again.
While reloading does add an interesting mechanic through having its own stat, you may find yourself distancing yourself from it in favor of your already ongoing build. It’s a frustrating system and one that shouldn’t really add as much frustration to the combat dynamic as it does. Now just toss the extremely limited ammo into the mix and you’ll be yanking your hair out before you even make it halfway through the game.
There are some major performance issues with the PC version of the game.
As part of the review, I decided to take the dive and get my hands on both the PC and console versions of the game. Here’s where the game became night and day in how it performs. The PC version struggled to maintain a steady framerate that the developer has in mind for your experience. I often found my framerate bottoming out from the very start, averaging between 80-100 FPS before fights ensued only to quickly drop to lows of 40-50 at most.
Enabling Vsync didn’t make matters any better as it seemed the game wasn’t recognizing the option to be enabled. The most mind-blowing issue with this is the fact I can play every game I’ve encountered in this generation (minus games such as the high-end title Star Citizen) on ultra-high at 1080p and still exceed 60-70 frames at most. However, I can’t do that with Immortal: Unchained by any means necessary.
On consoles, the experience is something a bit more enjoyable as framerates are smooth, responsive and rarely stutter on a PlayStation 4 Pro. While I did experience a few game breaking bugs that have been patched since the launch of Immortal: Unchained, I found myself preferring the console version of the game over the PC version, which doesn’t happen often in recent times.
There are actually quite a few redeeming qualities that help make the game a moderately fun adventure
One of the major changes I found from the Soulsborne games was something a bit more enjoyable which distilled a sense of enjoyment through all of the frustration I’ve experienced with Immortal: Unchained since its release. You won’t be equipping armor as you go. You won’t be finding nifty armor sets to equip, but rather, you’ll find Armor Shrines scattered across each of the worlds you will explore.
Each of these shrines offers a variety of upgrades ranging from 10% damage reduction to increase ammo or grenade capacity. Each of these upgrades makes your Immortal a deadlier force to be reckoned with. Along with Armor shrines, you’ll find aspects throughout the game. Each of them comes in different, but small bonuses to your defense, offense, or utility. Depending on what you prefer, you can equip some that will decrease the amount of fire damage you take while others may increase your stamina regeneration or weapon damage for your rifle or SMG.
While the buffs are rather handy to equip, they aren’t exactly rewarding to find nor are they easy to find. This is a problem that – once again – is attributed to Immortal: Unchained’s level design, which can be bland, confusing and misdirecting. This is all due to how linear the level design actually is. The game will hold your hand as you explore through its claustrophobic level designs, narrow hallways, and straight-forward paths that have little variation from one another.
While the shrines and the aspects are fun to enjoy, they are the only redeeming qualities about the game outside of the developers constantly taking feedback and patching the game on the PC end of things.
The overall design is bland, boring, and is designed to kill you no matter what
I know you are tired of me hammering it out. Trust me, I know, you got the idea the game looks great on paper, but poor in execution. The level design isn’t something to write home about. It’s beyond predictable, boring, and it only grows more problematic as you die-and-repeat quite often only to be thrust back at the most recent Obelisk before wading through the waves of enemies before you once again.
The experience becomes quite tedious when you die half-a-dozen times to the exact same boss or mini-boss that waits for you to encounter them once again. But this isn’t just a “single area” problem. It’s throughout the game that this remains a problem. Everything pretty much looks the same. It all has this Sci-Fi techno-punk gone apocalyptic look.
While there is the occasional flair of color, lighting, and atmospheric effects, the environmental design generally sticks to a dull grey look, causing the game to feel washed out and uninspired. Fortunately, some worlds do stand out from the others. Some are quite colorful, often lit up by the soft glow of atmospheric lighting and various colors painting the landscape.
But these landscapes are far and few between and only really stand out when combat ensues. There’s nothing like seeing the various and vibrant ammo types your weapons have to bring them to life, giving you an idea of just how beautiful the game can be from time to time. This only further proves my point on just how bland the game can actually be as you trek through each of the worlds if you can get past the fact that every level is designed to be an infuriating experience.
Often times, you’ll feel that the design has been made to plot against you as you continue through the game. There were moments on several of the worlds where enemies will actually spawn directly near your Obelisk, attacking you in a swarm and causing you to respawn once again only to repeat the cycle until you finally quit.
I’m done with this headache – The Conclusion
Whether it’s the weird inconsistency with the difficulty, the annoying snipers or the fact enemies have infinite ammo and never seem to have to reload; I’ve grown tired of the overall problematic design. It seems that while Toadman loves their game, they don’t know what they want to offer through their experience. Boss fights are fun, taking out a boss often has a climatic feeling when you see them die due to an underwhelming experience.
There’s a certain quality I expect from these kinds of games and as of late, it’s not being met. I expect games to have boss fights that are unique, challenging, fun to do and don’t feel like enemies I’ve already fought before. I expect level designs to be fun, to be thought-provoking. I expect games to offer a somewhat fair advantage and disadvantage between my foes and myself. I expect a quality experience, one where I don’t feel as if my experience was trivial or infuriating when said and done.
Platforms: PC, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One
Version Reviewed: PC and PlayStation 4
Developer: Frogman Interactive
Publisher: Toadman Interactive, Sold Out Sales & Marketing Ltd.
Release Date: Available Now
Ultimately, Immortal: Unchained is an absolute mess on all accounts. It’s a game that promises a lot through its rather interesting narrative and story design. But due to bad level design, clunky controls, poorly designed boss fights, and its uninspired worlds, I’ll be moving on and I can’t recommend that you take the dive into the worlds that Immortal: Unchained has to offer.
Our review is based upon a retail version that was provided to us by the publisher of the game. For information about our ethics policy please click here.
Final Score: 3 out of 10
About the Writer(s):
Dustin is our native console gamer, PlayStation and Nintendo reviewer who has an appetite for anything that crosses the borders from across the big pond. His interest in JRPG’s, Anime, Handheld Gaming, and Pizza is insatiable. His elitist attitude gives him direction, want, and a need for the hardest difficulties in games, which is fun to watch, and hilarity at its finest. You can find him over on Twitter or Facebook.