Hollow Knight. Blasphemous. Salt and Sanctuary. The 2D ‘Souls-like’ genre is alive and booming, so much so that it’s easy to miss the hidden gems. Is Unworthy one of those gems?
Upon booting up Unworthy, it’s fairly obvious what sets this game apart from the others. The monochromatic art style of the game lends it a unique feel, and then there’s the lack of jumping. I’m not sure why a lack of jumping is touted as a feature of the game, but it does give it a unique playstyle.
A very simple unique playstyle.
Combat in this game is very simple. The optimum strategy, most of the time, is to roll behind an enemy, hit it twice with the sword, and then roll back out and away. If this were all the game had to offer, I might not have even made it through an hour of play. Luckily, there are a some unique mechanics that shine in this system.
For example, when using the mainstay sword and shield, the player has a recharging shield meter. When that meter is full, the next attack to hit the player is blocked. This is a really neat idea that stands alongside the stamina bar to help manage the flow of combat. So long as the player doesn’t make two mistakes quickly in a row, or get flustered, they can stay in the fight!
The bosses (or at least the ones I fought) also shine… to a degree. They begin the battle with only one attack, then increment their moveset slowly over the course of the battle. This gives the player time to learn, and makes getting to that challenging final third of the battle very easy on repeat attempts. I won’t say it wasn’t frustrating, or that the boss movesets were extremely nuanced, but the combat shines most here.
Unfortunately the game is missing some elements I need if I am to enjoy a souls-like game. The exploration is lacking for me, with limited enemy types, extremely simple terrain, and mostly linear level design. There is no allocation of stats and very little depth to character build. I missed the only store available in the first part of the game because there is no indication of it, and spent the game trying to hoard ‘sin’ that I never figured out how to spend.
With the bosses spread across these longs stretches of basic, linear dungeon, I failed to maintain my interest. Unworthy makes the most of its minimal souls-like style, and is a well-fashioned game, but is not for me.
Verdict: Two bosses beaten, unlocked one extra weapon.