How Metroidvania is it? Medium Fit. A Souls-Like Metroidvania. However, Unworthy is more Metroidvania than Souls-Like. Because the game is designed with restricting the player’s ability to jump in mind, the game gets very creative.
Primary Challenge: Melee Combat
Time to beat: ~12 hours
Review Info: This game was played on Steam
Buy Unworthy if you like…
- Difficult pattern based combat
- Grotesque imagery that leaves a lot to the imagination
- Mysterious Lore that can be pondered upon for hours
- Unique ''no jumping'' design that works well with its limitation
- Discovering well-hidden secrets
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Unworthy’s striking monochromatic look invokes the principles of old film techniques that were created to include violent and disturbing story moments while still avoiding censorship. The truth we discovered from that era of filmmaking is that often the viewer’s imagination can be far more frightening than if the director simply attempted to include a scene of outright violence. Souls-like storytelling has similarly been traditionally obscure, requiring the player to delve into the details and ponder deeply on what little detail is available. The graphics in Unworthy use these techniques to good effect. In shades of grey, the details of the entire portrait tell more than some of the best pixel art in the industry, especially with the silhouettes in the foreground.
Just as important, the sound design is excellent at conveying what we don’t see, and adding impact to what is most important in terms of the gameplay – the combat. Even with limited frames of animation Unworthy strikes that crunchy feeling of weight that makes these kinds of games satisfying to learn and master.
As it is with the best Souls-like games, learning is what it’s all about. Bosses are expertly designed to escalate slowly, helping the player to learn their pattern before adding in new attacks. Each boss combat sequence begins simply then adds in speed increases and tricky new moves to create a complex dance of death that piles on the tension as you go. The mundane enemies also have more difficult combat sequences as you progress deeper into the game’s caverns. Often times I felt it was better to avoid them entirely – which can sometimes be a challenge in itself. I do believe, however, that the best part of the game was navigating the dungeon halls without the ability to jump. The game is clever in its usage of items and abilities to create some really great puzzle platforming. Progress through the game can be slow, perhaps, but I think the pace was a perfect fit for the melancholy atmosphere.
It is a fantastic single play through, and if your favorite part of Souls-like is the combat, then you should buy this game. There’s more to Souls than just the combat though. Souls games are also highly customizable RPGs with numerous options for approaching any given situation. If you’re into that kind of thing it can provide countless hours of replaying the game using a new build. Unworthy however does not have that feature and this is the primary thing that sets it apart from its fellow souls-like Metroidvania, Salt & Sanctuary. There are different options for tackling its challenges, but it’s limited to 4 or 5 weapons and ten or fifteen Hollow Knight style runes that altar your stats. You also level up and gain stats automatically, like in Castlevania Symphony of the Night, removing some of the importance of the Souls/Sin mechanic. But that mechanic really only provides four or so directions of emphasis to choose from anyway. I don’t consider this approach bad by any means, but depending on your preferences it could be a deciding factor on whether you give Unworthy a go.
It’s a little more simple than your typical souls-like, but as far as preferences go, I like both approaches, and I loved my time with Unworthy. With its unique lore and satisfying combat, I think it will stand as one of the best takes on Metroidvania in 2018.
Some of the best bosses in the genre, all well designed to match the player's capabilities
Even though you can't jump, there is a lot of good platforming challenges to face, though combat is a higher focus
You will be well-rewarded in your hunt to discover the true secrets of Unworthy's world, though it may take a couple of playthroughs to discover it all
In conjunction with the platforming, there are some good puzzles to solve
Some thought provoking ideas and themes, and few conclusions
Black and White aesthetic perfectly matches the mood and has a surprising amount of depth when it needs to
Music is good, and always appropriate, but not particularly memorable
Unworthy's biggest weakness, once you discover the secrets available there's little reason to come back and do it again
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All Time: Very Positive
(81% of 388 Reviews)