The overlooked Kickstarter
We have been spoiled with some seriously fantastic 2D platformers and Metroidvania’s over the past 30 years, with one of my favourite games of all time being the brilliantly colourful Super Mario World. Recently titles like Hollow Knight, SteamWorld Dig, Ori and the Blind Forest and Owlboy have brought sheer quality and further renown to the genre.
If you haven’t guessed, Unsung Warriors -Prologue serves as a free downloadable demo and story precursor to the in-development Unsung Warriors game by Mountaineer and Osarion. Taking control of a Celtic warrior, I was tasked with finding my missing tribesman who had vanished while embarking on a quest to bring truth to the rumours of a crypt chock-full of treasure.
At first glance, Unsung Warriors could be mistaken for a typical 2D platformer with no sustenance, but that would be wrong. Within minutes I became appreciative of the Saturday morning cartoon art style that featured quirky character designs, nicely layered graphics and passable audio, all of which will be further worked on until the games early access release sometime in late 2019 or 2020.
Bringing back memories from my childhood, crouched in front of the TV with a controller in hand playing Super Mario World and Sonic The Hedgehog, Unsung Warriors succeeds in feeling like its predecessors that layed the groundwork in the genre. With near perfect movement controls and the modern convenience of a double jump it is a joy to play, although mid-air movement can feel slightly floaty. An underwater element is here, although extremely short, did not control well at all and came across as utterly lacking compared to the rest of the game.
In true Metroidvania style, there are a variety of weapons and magic spells to purchase from a merchant deep within the crypt. Gather coins by satisfying crushing the bones of your skeletal foes with your starting sword and shield before affording the luxury of purchasing magic spells that can absorb hitpoints from enemies or hurl molten balls of destruction towards those that stood between me and my goal. The array of weapons also showcases the varying degrees of playstyles and the different challenges that come from wielding your newly purchased skeleton-bashers. For example, a one-handed sword and shield combination allows for the blocking of enemy attacks while a two-handed weapon forbids the use of a shield and I seen myself making more use of the dash maneuver to glide through enemies before launching deadly attacks from behind. It is also completely possible to attack an enemy from behind and slice through them in one swift hit – so be sure to make use of those backstabs!
Combat throughout the short experience was a little easy and I was thrown off when I was launched in to a boss fight that was much tougher than my previous encounters. If the enemies throughout the game were a little tougher, I feel like the transition in to this particular fight would not be so jarring. The aptly named Skeleton Boss was fun to struggle against while I frantically attempted to unravel the best tactic to take him down. Unfortunately, he only dropped some coin that can be spent at the travelling merchant – I would love to see the addition of extremely rare items or weapons dropping upon defeating bosses as it would add an incentive to replay boss fights and would provide me with that Diablo-esque addiction for hunting powerful gear. I want to spend more time in your world and this would certainly make me.
Well rendered animations makes the world feel more alive, despite also coming across as empty as the prologue is severely lacking in character variety. However, each weapon type has its own attack animation and there are several death animations attached to enemies depending on whether they are slain by a fireball, an electric bolt or by a good old-fashioned sword. This is in-line with the vibrant detail showcased in each area of the short prologue.
Speaking of areas, I was able to see a forest outside of the crypt which was full of colour, if lacking in detail, and the crypt which was dark, dank and mysterious. Sadly, the background music and some of the audio was not up to the standards that the rest of the game set.
Skeletons, bats and fish are the only three enemy types I encountered and I believe there are only two bats and two fish in the entire prologue, however there are a variety of skeleton types; archers, your typical sword wielding enemy and a tougher variant wielding a shield. I would appreciate seeing some mages, necromancers, rat-men, ghosts and other horrors attached to the jolly world of Unsung Warriors – Prologue.
Expanding on the platforming and extremely basic puzzle elements is a must, as fun as it was to play during the short demo there is a real need for more challenging puzzles, extra secret areas surrounded by new traps and platforming elements and hazards.
Unsung Warriors – Prologue is essentially a free demo designed as proof of concept for a Kickstarter campaign that unfortunately did not meet its funding goal. The title continues to be worked on part-time and the developers are looking to release it in to early access in late 2019 or 2020.
With a joyous vibe, great animations and extremely fun gameplay I would recommend anyone with a passing interest in 2D platformers or Metroidvania’s to download the game for free.