Every now and then, everybody wants to be a hero. Be it to save the world from invasion, a race from extinction, the galaxy in war or a damsel in distress, we love to play this role. And this is no surprise for anyone since from a psychological perspective, heroes are a representation, a projection, of one’s aspects and aspirations. Movies, comics and games delight on this subject: every week we have the opportunity to become someone’s hero in a new game. Villains, on the other side of the coin, are much more difficult to conceive. They usually are ‘the one to be defeated’, built as the simple antithesis of the hero.
Few villains have enough depth in their construction that justify their existence. There are, of course, great villains out there we all know (and maybe love) like Sephirot (from FF VII), the Joker or Thanos, just to name a few. And few are the players who want to play as the bad guy in a story. And that’s why I find it very bold when a studio places us as the villain in a game, like the Finnish studio 10tons just did with us in Undead Horde, their new title I had the pleasure to review.
The game is a blend of strategy, action and RPG that places you as Orcen, a powerful necromancer in a quest to get rid of the living. Use your dark powers to decimate villages and raise your army of minions and lead them to the victory against their king, the paladin Benevolix. Reanimate your minions, rally your troops and prepare for battle!.. After reading our review.
- Visuals: In Undead Horde 10 tons opted for simple visuals, with a low level of detail and clean textures, giving a very special appearance to the game. Effects of magic and special abilities are simple but good, as much like the animations of your units and enemy unities, almost in a comic fashion.
- Sound: The sound in Undead Horde reminds me of horror-themed parks and their attractions, always with an almost funeral feeling. This feeling is only dissipated by the groaning and screams of pain of your enemies that oscillate between scary and funny. Either way, they do a very decent job.
- Gameplay: In Undead Hordes you play as Orcen, a powerful necromancer in a quest to eliminate the paladin Benevolix. To reach his goal, he’ll use the power of undead soldiers he brings back to life thanks to his dark powers. This undead army of minions will do whatever you order them to help you in your quest to exterminate the living, level after level, and reach Benevolix. The catch is that as your troops are eliminated in the battlefields, you can always refill your ranks with the enemies you defeat: warriors come back as skeleton warriors, archers as skeleton archers, knights as… I believe you got the idea. This provides a sustainable source of troops. Just remember to be careful not to be outnumbered by your enemies: you can only reanimate a corpse once. If the living manages to kill them all, you are going to be in serious trouble. So, it’s always better to fall back to your base (or crypt) of operations, reevaluate your strategy, regroup and only then go back to the battlefield!
- The crypt: As mentioned, the crypt is your base of operations. You have at your disposal statues of enemies you kill. Eliminate a pre-determined number of this same enemy and you will be able to summon him from one of these statues. In the crypt you also will find the commander of the undead, the crypt keeper and vendors who can provide you with equipment to aid you in your quest. Remember you can upgrade these shops to unlock better and rarer equipment. One more thing you will find in there is the sacrifice altar, useful to get rid of any unwanted or weak minion occupying an important slot reducing your troops capacity.
- Locked and loaded: This isn’t Borderlands, but your character has a good array of equipment to choose from. He starts only with a blade, but soon you will find axes, mauls and many other weapons. And magical staves! Besides your weapons, you can equip up to five other items: a pair of magical rings, a necklace, a skull and a book. These last three aren’t used during combat but can be used to increase your status. Finding the combination that best suits your play style will keep you entertained for a while. To help you in this task, the game is very generous with the amount of loot you get, but you can always resort to the upgradable vendors in your crypt for the best gear.
- Challenge in the right measure! The learning curve and evolution of difficulty were really well-balanced in this game. Things only started to become complicated after a couple of hours of gameplay, when I really needed to think my strategies and find the best combination for my equipment to progress in the adventure. That said, it’s perfectly acceptable that, in the first levels, you go on an unstoppable onslaught and get knocked down a few times, respawning back at your base ready to try again. In later levels, though, you will REALLY need to understand all the game mechanics to succeed.
- Knowing your minions: The difference between your many units is related to what kind of attack they use (ranged or close) and their status (their health, cost and DPS). There are few units that have special abilities like recovering other unit’s health or cast a spell that makes units move slower, while some are units can also throw boulders. But that’s all the differences you will find. I really wish they have given more individuality for each unit, making them more/less efficient against a specific kind of unity. Please don’t think things are bad the way they are, where (usually) the stronger of the units win a battle, but I think adding more deepness and complexity to the strategy would be good to the gameplay.
- Repetitiveness: Although the light humor of quests and dialogs and the constant addition of different units help things stay fresh, sooner or later the repetitive nature of the game will reveal itself. But this is something you already could guess due to the nature of the game.
Since Triumph Studios and Codemasters Overlord from 2007 (do you remember?), I haven’t had so much fun playing as the bad guy while controlling my minions and unleashing the chaos! The originality of this game is almost palpable…something hard to achieve nowadays. 10tons did deliver a funny and challenging experience that most players will enjoy. Now rally your troops and prepare to dethrone some paladins.
Developer: 10tons Ltd. Publisher: 10tons Ltd.
Played on: Xbox One X Also available on: PC, PS4 and Switch
Time to beat: Something between 15 and 20 hours
Achievement difficulty for 1000 Gamerscore: There are some hard to achieve
Perfect for: those who enjoy strategy or hack’n’slash games
Xbox Game Store link: Click here
With a history of gaming that goes from his old man’s Atari 2600 to his Xbox One, Rafael or RAF687, our Brazilian editor, has a love for games as old as he can remember. He has already spent countless hours in many consoles (Mega Drive/Genesis, Sega Saturn, PS1, PS2 and Xbox 360) and is always ready for more (as long as his wife is asleep). Raf has been writing for LifeisXbox since 2017, with a passion for games of almost all genres – though we know he has a special place in his heart for RPGs, racing games and anything that includes pixel art. Writing about games has always been a childhood dream to Raf, dream that he has fulfilled reviewing games for you here. You can drop him a message at Twitter, Facebook or Xbox Live at any time.