For those who thought Dark Souls needed guns, Immortal: Unchained takes the Souls formula and adds in some third-person shootypoots on the PC. We’re not talking about the ye olde Bloodborne blunderbuss, but futuristic paincannons with lots of neon, and hexagons.
It’s got all the hallmarks of a Souls-like. A stamina-based combat system, a separate health bar (see: Poise) to indicate when you’ll stagger enemies, and invincibility frames on your dash move.
There are no blocks or parries in Immortal: Unchained however, so it’s very much a shoot-scootin’ boogie.
It has bonfires, although here they’re called “obelisks.” And it has souls, although here they’re called “bits.” And you similarly have to run back to the place of your death to regain them. Because nobody likes having their bits out in the open.
It also maintains the oppressive, understated narrative style of Dark Souls. You even start off the game being released from a prison cell!
No Room For Randomness
We liked that everything is skill-based in Immortal: Unchained. Out of the basic array of attributes, one of them allows you to increase your critical hit damage. But instead of crits being luck-based, it’s decided by getting behind enemies to hit their weak spot — a system used heavily in both boss fights we played.
There are no benefits to aiming at the head, so you’re free to lock on and fire at the torso. This also means you can use a controller with no penalty. Recoil on weapons is massive, though, so you will want to manage the distance between you and your enemy.
What it’s done here is interesting. Ammunition is limited, and often weapons will fire in three-shot bursts or something similar. This means the closer you are to your enemy, the more ammo efficient you are. You’re naturally penalised for trying to cheese enemies with distance. But if you get in tight, and play risky but well, you’ll set yourself up with lots of bullets for the boss.
We noticed tracking on enemy attacks is very fast, which isn’t a bad thing. Sometimes it doesn’t matter where you are, the enemy swing will track you and hit you. This just means that you’re relying a lot more on the invincibility frames on your dash to avoid damage. It’s more about timing than placement — and you can put points into a particular attribute that increases your invincibility window.
Alpha is the New Beta
We played a very early “alpha” version of the game, so the world was a bit bare and some things were a tad off. Melee attacks will sometimes hit you even if they don’t hit you. Sometimes melee damage occurs well after the contact.
But we would expect that by release, it’ll fix up the occasional inaccurate hitbox and flesh out the world to make it feel more lived in.
One thing that’s harder to fix is the vanilla firefight — the standard gunfight you have with the standard enemy. It’s currently a little bland, and you’re rewarded for playing in an unexciting way. AI tweaking, enemy placement changes, or some other solution might help Toadman Interactive find the fun here.
Whereas bullet spread was its solution for distance cheesing, it needs a similar solution for cover cheesing. That’s a harder problem to fix so we’ll be watching with keen interest. Bosses were a little more engaging, but the two that we saw had a very similar repertoire of about four moves.
Until we play a later version, we did have fun with Immortal: Unchained. We want to see a bit more from the bosses and fodder enemies. More variety, more intelligent ideas… but this is only the first two levels. With some work, this could very well be the next game to scratch your Souls itch.