From the dramatic introduction of our “living weapon” breaking out of chains (a possible GoW parallel) to having to retrieve any ‘bits’ upon dying (Bloodborne/Dark Souls), this third-person shooter will appear as a combination of everything we know and love. The thing is… these games are arguably the best of the best, so Toadman Interactive chose a hard act to follow. Here are my thoughts on whether Immortal Unchained did itself justice.
Developer: Toadman Interactive
Publisher: Toadman Interactive, Sold Out Sales & Marketing Ltd
Genre: Third-person Shooter, Action-RPG
Platform: Steam, Xbox One, PS4 (Reviewed on)
My inner girl is begging me to start with customisation. It’s an absolute delight. You can pick which discipline you want to be; Tracker, Vandal, Raider, Wanderer, Marksman and Mercenary. Each discipline has a different perk and unique style. You can select to be a male or female and let your creativity run wild. Due to how interesting this selection process can be, it took me a long time to make this tough decision.
The narrative is straightforward, amongst the team are Anne Toole (The Witcher) and Adrian Vershinin (Killzone: Shadow Fall, Battlefield 1), so you know you’re in capable hands. You take control of an Immortal being who has been chained up for many, many moons and has finally been released by ‘The Warden’. As in almost everything action-packed, you have the weight of the world thrusted upon your shoulders as you are told only YOU can save it.
As you traverse through nine different worlds, with little to no guidance, you will meet new characters, horrifying bosses and a sci-fi influenced array of weapons and equipment to complete your arsenal.
The gameplay itself is odd. Immortal Unchained has a main selling point, you use firearms instead of relying on melee attacks. Since there is an overwhelming Dark Souls vibe throughout, the shooting aspect is what makes the game unique.
However, if this is going to be the special something, it needs to be done well. Now… I am all for shooters, it’s quite possibly my favourite genre along with RPG’s, yet the clumsy nature of the gameplay turned this into a ball of frustration at times.
The sensitivity is extremely high, and I couldn’t find any way to turn it down. You may be reading this thinking ‘well, git gud then’ but trust me, this game encourages you to make a mixture of strategic and quick decisions. When you have a powerful mob sprinting after you and the mechanics make it near impossible to aim on him, you will die, and all your hard work becomes void.
At least with the likes of Dark Souls and Bloodborne I died because of my skill level, if I didn’t play the way those games wanted me to play, I would perish… simple as that. This game gave me anxiety because I would never know when the game mechanics would next work against me.
You can use R3 to lock onto an enemy which is great especially in boss segments, it made dodging and shooting weak spots much easier. However, when aiming, the lock on will auto target other mobs randomly. When you’re trying to not alert every mob in the vicinity, this can get annoying, fighting one mob turns into fighting two or more because you accidentally shoot them.
It is easy to switch firearms from the weapon wheel, and you can do so very quickly if things get a bit overwhelming. This is particularly helpful when ammo is scarce because certain guns can be equipped quickly to be used against certain mobs. I wouldn’t use my most powerful weapon all the time.
There are a huge range of weapons to choose from, including melee and shields, which you unlock and find as you go. Being able to use them depends on your attributes, like Dark Souls/Bloodborne, which means you will need to be patient at the beginning. It will start off as if you are shooting BB’s. All weapons are mildly effective in slaughtering your enemies, but they can all feel the same after a while.
You also have access to grenades, health syringes and other consumables that you can get to very easily in the heat of battle. I found that there was a huge reliance on being strategic, and although you are using firearms, there is no point charging in all guns blazing. The best part of the game is taking your time to make tactical choices to get yourself through the level. You may do this by using certain weapons for different mobs, taking a path that is safer or carefully selecting what mobs to attack first.
The price you pay for dying is that you drop your ‘bits’. This works the same as ‘blood echoes’ from Bloodborne or ‘souls’ from the Dark Souls franchise. These ‘bits’ are used to level up certain attributes and upgrade weapons at Obelisks (the equivalent of a bonfire). You can collect ‘bits’ that have dropped from your body when you die by returning to that area. If you die again on the way there, they will disappear.
Obelisks will act as your checkpoint, so you can save your game, change your weapons, upgrade and level up. However, they will also re-spawn the enemies around you, so it is important to be tactical when you use an Obelisk. You will come across Armour Shrines which grant a permanent bonus to your character, they will range from increasing med-pack capacity to reducing damage taken from enemies. I liked this addition and felt like I had a chance once I had built up a steady bundle of these benefits.
The variety of worlds within the Immortal Unchained universe is fantastic. From exploring an Icy Tundra to a thick forest, each biome is unique, simplistic yet aesthetically pleasing. The areas weren’t too overwhelming in size considering you have little to no guidance in finding your next objective, which is brilliant when you’re trying to explore everything.
There was appropriate cover and alternative pathways to keep you safe whilst testing your tactical mindset which I enjoyed. Some pathways led to loot which made exploration a bonus! There was a little too much detail, for example: seeing the imprints of footprints when it didn’t seem possible. However, I had a lot of fun uncovering secret paths, shortcuts and new ways to get behind tough enemies.
The mobs themselves were interesting and genre appropriate but could become a bit bland in the environments sometimes. Their element of surprise as they crawl out of the ground complemented their sci-fi creepy appearance well and, admittedly, I did jump out of my skin a couple of times.
However, the bosses themselves were… boring. Perhaps this is because I was always drawing parallels between Immortal Unchained and the likes of Dark Souls and Bloodborne, I couldn’t help it, but no boss compared to the mighty Amygdala or the formidable Gaping Dragon. The sci-fi aspect seemed to transform some of the bosses into the same generic types we had all fought before… only more annoying.